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Murray Walker receives IHMA Lifetime Achievement Award

London's St Pancras Renaissance hotel was filled to capacity for the third running of the International Historic Motoring Awards, sponsored by EFG and Octane, with racers, specialists, enthusiasts and industry personalities such as designer Peter Stevens and TV presenters Quentin Willson and Steve Berry. They came from as far afield as Canada, Kuwait, Florida and Japan to celebrate the best in the world of classic cars.

Among many highlights of the awards ceremony was Evert Louwman’s Museum of the Year acceptance, relating the important of originality to the concept of changing the colours of Van Gogh’s sunflowers from yellow to blue on the whim of an owner.

The Motoring Event of the Year turned out to be a straight tie between two very different events, the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and the VHRA Pendine Sands Amateur Hot Rod Races, the awards presented by Lord Pembroke and EFG’s Keith Gapp. Amelia Island’s Bill Warner, over from Florida for the awards, said the concours was the result of ‘70 years of misspent youth’.

Nick Naismith, accepting the Rally or Tour of the Year for the 20-Ghost Club Centenary Alpine Trial, explained that ‘We did it [the Trial] in 16 days and we were knackered. One hundred years ago they did it in six days!’

The most enthusiastic applause of all was saved for Murray Walker, receipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was handed to Murray by none other than Sir Stirling Moss. 

Murray commented that he and Sir Stirling both started their careers at the same time – ‘I’m in the presence of one of the greatest racing drivers of all time. Unless I’m very much mistaken he started his career in 1948 and I started my career in 1948’ and went on to tell the audience that they are often mistaken for each other: 'We're both folically challenged, we both wear glasses, we have the same shape head…” He recounted an incident on a cruise on which they were both giving talks, when a woman grabbed him and said, 'You make racing come alive. That commentator chap is good but you’re much better.'

Reminiscing about his decades with Formula One, Murray added, “I miss Formula One desperately. I was lucky enough to be involved in F1 – 1000 people, the best in the world at what they do, travelling the world together, staying in fantastic hotels together, eating in fantastic restaurants together. The camaraderie is like being in the Army, the Navy or the Air Force. I miss it so much.”

He also admitted to missing Formula 1 ‘desperately’, and shedding a tear at the memory of James Hunt’s death, he also recalled his early career.

‘People think I’ve been commentating all my life but that’s not true; I started off in advertising. “Pal dog food Prolongs Active Life”; ‘A Mars a day helps you…” [audience chants ‘, rest and play’]; “Opal Fruits made to make…” [‘your mouth water!’ shouts the audience]. 

For more on the awards go to the International Historic Motoring Awards website.

Preview: RM Auctions in New York

The cult of exclusivity continues to help manufacturers to sell their most outlandish creations, but even the likes of Koenigsegg and Pagani have never exploited our strange obsession with limited-production cars quite like Dual Motors did in the 1950s.

Originally a builder of twin-engined trucks, Dual Motors was owned by Eugene Casaroll, who overcame the obvious challenges posed by his sketch-comedy name to become a very wealthy man. Convinced he could replicate his success with a premium-market car, in 1956 he bought the rights to the Dodge Firebomb, a striking Ghia-bodied show car scrapped by Chrysler before production began, and the design had soon evolved into a car desired like few before or since: the Dual-Ghia.

Consisting of a modfied Dodge chassis and 'Red Ram' V8 married to a convertible body by Ghia, the car was an instant sensation with the glitterati of the day, thanks in no small part to Casaroll’s determination that it should be made available only to a select few. Would-be owners had to apply for permission to buy one, with the first few awarded to major stars such as Lucille Ball and Rat Pack crooner Dean Martin. 'A Rolls-Royce,' commented columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, 'is the Hollywood status symbol for those who can’t get a Ghia.'

As sought-after as the model was, a mere 117 were made before a combination of factors including Casaroll’s ill health and the fact that he lost money on every single no-expense-spared car ended production for good. The flawless 1957 example soon to be offered at RM's 'Art of the Automobile' sale in New York, then, is a special thing. Estimated at $ 400,000-600,000, it should make at least double the amount a similar car would have commanded only five or six years ago – but, whatever its eventual price, it will look like an absolute bargain compared with the auction’s highest-profile consignment.

Given its racing history, the 1954 Ferrari 250LM pictured to the right is in stupefyingly original and undamaged condition and, having been hidden away in Japan for the last 30 years, chassis 6107 is set for quite a coming-out party: the 24th of 32 250LMs is expected to fetch at least $ 12 million – meaning that the group of potential new owners is very exclusive indeed.

See the gallery on the right for more of our favourite lots from the auction, which is set to take place on 21 November. The list of consignments is as interesting and varied as any we've seen in recent years, so the full catalogue, available to view here, is well worth a look.

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