Built for speed

by Paul Feinberg & Britt Benston // photo essay by dave lauridsen

photography by Dave Lauridsen

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The multi-hued antiquing on the Bugatti Type 22 Brescia. As legend has it, in 1934 in Italy, a Swiss playboy won the car in a poker match from race car driver René Dreyfus. When the car was being driven back to Switzerland, the customs fees on the car were too expensive for the new owner, and so the car sat at the border for a few years. After that, Swiss law required that the car be destroyed, so they simply submerged it into Lake Maggiore, next to where the car was at the time. It became a favorite destination for divers over the years, and finally in 2009, the car was exhumed - but not merely for a car collection. Around that time, a local youth named Damiano Tamagni lost his life in a random and brutal beating at the area carnival. Out of heartfelt sympathy, a local diving company decided to pull the car from the lake, and subsequently fund the Fondazione Damiano Tamagni, a charity created to stop youth violence.

photography by Dave Lauridsen

Peter Mullin has a favorite car, and this is it: the 1938 Talbot-Lago T150CS "Goutte d'Eau" Teardrop Coupé. It has won numerous awards and is widely hailed as a rolling sculpture. The restoration on this particular example took 10 years.

photography by Dave Lauridsen

The logo on the grille of a Hispano-Suiza. The marque was more than an automaker; it worked on aircraft components, weapons, heavy trucks and more. Its engineering - in addition to its beauty - make it one of the most prized marques by collectors today.

photography by Dave Lauridsen

The swoopy Delahaye Type 235 Roadster is one of the few post-World War II cars on display, with its enclosed fenders and wide grille. Like many higher-priced marques in the pre-World War II period, production ceased during the war, and Delahaye was no exception. When Delahaye resumed, cars such as this were not in high demand, especially due to high taxes on larger engines at that time.

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Peter Mullin, one of UCLA Anderson's most esteemed supporters, says his involvement with the school was sparked by its entrepreneurial programs and his deep belief in the value of higher education.

Throughout his career, Peter Mullin has been a driving force: of MullinTBG, which he founded and still serves as chairman emeritus; of M Financial, where he is both founder and chair; and of organizations like UCLA Anderson, which he supports with his philanthropy and serves as a former chairman and current member of its Board of Visitors.

Mullin, though, may be happiest when he's just driving.

The SoCal native admits to a lifelong love of cars. His first was a 1953 Bel Air convertible - "Cool because it had '54 tail lights," he says. His first collectible was a French-produced Talbot-Lago. "It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen," says Mullin. "In the '30s and '40s, French cars were the top of the heap, the fastest, the most beautiful. It was the Golden Age of automobiles." French cars of that era were at the center of the Art Deco movement, born in 1925. The movement married the functionality of industrial items with beautiful design.

Today, Mullin's considerable collection is housed in Oxnard, California in The Mullin Automotive Museum.

It includes Bugattis, Delages, Delahayes, Hispano-Suizas, and Mullin's favorite, a '38 Talbot-Lago. "It's the ultimate in design. There's not a bad angle; every curve is complex. You cannot find a fault with it and it competed at the Le Mans race in '39." In keeping with the functional spirit of the Art Deco vehicles, Mullin doesn't just display the vehicles - he drives them in races and rallies around the world.

"The common denominator between great cars and great companies is the core," Mullin says, drawing a comparison between his own two passions. "The core is what they both stand for; the excellence and the energy that's been poured into them. Great cars and great companies share these things. It means no short cuts are taken. Because there are no short cuts to excellence."