Unique Machines


The first underwater sports car, the ultralight AirScooter II, the new suborbital space plane, and more.  Tusk & Turf: the international elephant polo championship in Thailand.  Also, Rolls-Royce redefined, the one and only 100EX convertible.

From This Issue

Appliances: Brew Hubs

A jolt of caffeine has been the genesis of many a brainchild. The cappuccino Juergen Pluess was sipping late one night in Barcelona’s fashionable Marina section is a case in point. As he mused over his frothy brew, Pluess, international marketing manager for Miele kitchen products, came up with the idea of a machine for the […]

Furnishings: An Architectural Frame

Furniture created by architects has a room of its own in the world of interiors. The pieces are designed to mesh with their environments, and the most notable examples stand the test of time: Furnishings by such virtuosos of modern architecture as Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier remain icons of 20th-century design. Now […]

Travel: Compound Rapture

Willemstad is Holland in Caribbean dress, an architectural treasure trove of gabled, sherbet-colored buildings on the shores of St. Anna Bay in the Netherlands Antilles. The city, capital of the island of Curaçao, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, an act that set off a wave of historic preservation, first in Punda, […]

Journeys: Veld Done

“We’re having trouble with one of the elephants,” our guide, Piet Marimane, informs us as the safari vehicle in which we are traveling lurches to the right to avoid a tree felled by a bull looking to snack on its leaves. Though I have come here to Lebombo—one of the five lodges in this region […]

From the Editors: The Most Unique Machine

In 76 b.c., the captain of a merchant vessel from Rhodes veered too close to the cliff-lined shores of an insignificant island off the farthest southern tip of the Greek peninsula, wrecking his treasure-filled ship. As sculptures, jewelry, transport jars, and the hull itself descended to the ocean’s floor, currents of human knowledge and history […]

FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar August 2004

The Glenlivet Cellar Collection 1964 While the Glenlivet arguably remains America’s most widely consumed single-malt whisky, this venerable Speyside institution has gained a substantial reputation among the cognoscenti for its vintage releases. In 2002, master distiller Jim Cryle unveiled the 1959 Limited Release—a delicious blend of floral essences, dark rum spice, and a touch of […]

Dining: Green Days

John Hunt’s day begins at dawn. There are hundreds of avocado trees to plant and 10 tons of fresh-picked citrus to pack. As a farmer, he always has a fence to mend, a leaking hydration pipe to fix, seeds to order, or staff to hire. But Hunt’s duties—which also include leading VIP tours of his […]

Wine: A Stag’s Leap of Faith

Contrary to the wistful pronouncements of lore, the transformation of the Golden State from bovine Valhalla to the world’s fifth largest economy was not predicated upon its natural charms, but on a succession of well-orchestrated PR campaigns, beginning with the sundry promotional guides that lured Midwesterners along the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s. In the […]

Spirits: Still Life in Napa

Traditions run deep in California’s wine country. But none runs as deep, or can be traced back so far, as that of the little known firm of Domaine Charbay. Beyond the small, unassuming sign that marks its location on Napa Valley’s Spring Mountain, and within the rusticated farmhouse in which one finds a cozy tasting […]

Art: French Polish

The one drawback to the Biennale des Antiquaires, which takes place September 14 through 28 in Paris, is that it only occurs every other year. However, by staging the event on a biennial basis, the Syndicat National des Antiquaires, sponsor of the fair, ensures that the Biennale remains a rare treat. A total of 103 […]

Symposium: From Commodity to Classic

The way Bill Samuels Jr. tells it, his family had been making bourbon for seven generations when, in 1954, his father decided to create a whole new style of whiskey. To dramatize his determination to break with the past, the distiller took the only remaining copy of his family’s 170-year-old recipe and set it on […]

Sport: Fit and Finish

While veneration is duly accorded to Ferrari and Lamborghini for their iconic, candy-colored beasts, another Italian marque can claim a similar head-turning, race-winning distinction for its vehicles. The machines of Pinarello, however, race on two wheels and are powered not by 12-cylinder engines but by healthy legs and lungs. At its factory in Treviso in […]

Golf: The Rise of Falls

The current trend in golf course design emphasizes a natural approach, one in which architects move as little dirt as possible and make best use of a site’s existing attributes. But every now and then an audacious designer shoehorns a course into a site Mother Nature clearly never intended for golf. The Falls Golf Club, […]

Feature: Trunk Show

It was an idea that could have been conceived only in a bar, when the vodka was working its magic, and a fanciful notion seemed perfectly reasonable.   Two relative strangers, both Britons and both blessed with adventurous souls, were quaffing Bloody Marys together at the St. Moritz Tobogganing Club in 1981. One was a […]

Watches: Finishing School

Is 100 years of experience really required to produce an exceptional watch? Jérôme De Witt does not think so. In only four years, he and his fledgling company, De Witt, have made significant progress in building genuine, high-quality timepieces—and he is not even a watchmaker. Jérôme acknowledges that his curvaceous New Age collection and the […]

Wardrobe: Worldly Goods

Michael Tapia has always considered himself a citizen of the world, and rightfully so. The Mexican-American menswear designer was born and raised in Southern California, earned most of his professional training working with Ralph Lauren in New York, and now heads his own signature collection based in Paris. What’s more, Tapia’s clothing is made in […]

Jewelry: British Invasion

Only the cognoscenti are aware that the venerable British crown jeweler Garrard has opened its first American salon—signage is limited to a discreet nameplate on the doorbell at 133 Spring St. in the heart of New York City’s SoHo. In keeping with this exclusive insider theme, Garrard’s new salon appears more like a chic downtown […]

Feature: Edge of Time

One-upmanship infects even those in the most sophisticated circles. Consider Swiss watch designers, who lately seem more like teenagers adding chrome and horsepower to their muscle cars and less like the keepers of hallowed tradition. This extreme turn in product development has actually been evolving for years. In theory, anyone can make a complicated watch […]

Feature: A Grand Experiment for the 21st Century

The auspicious year 2004 finds a spate of automobile manufacturers celebrating their centenaries, and more than a few relative youngsters ushering in their 50th and 75th anniversaries. The avalanche of marques turning 100 is no surprise if one recalls that the automobile industry had hardly chuffed and lurched into the new 20th century when Rolls-Royce […]

A Grand Experiment: Far from the Maddening Crowd

With its 75-year history, the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este is the quintessential old-world concours for automobiles. As upscale as it is understated, the event is a striking contrast to the frenetic, crowded, commercial endeavors such as our own Pebble Beach. While Pebble may attract the largest assemblage of the world’s most perfectly restored cars, no […]

Unique Machines: Bother of Invention

Some years ago, an entrepreneur wrote a two-page note to the Smithsonian Institution on his company’s letterhead. It was the type of letter that the Smithsonian often received, requesting information relevant to a project the sender was interested in pursuing. “I am an enthusiast,” the writer scribbled, “but not a crank in the sense that […]

Wheels: Master and Commando

In addition to death and taxes, the life of a farrier, a person who shoes horses, includes another certainty: At some point, an ornery client will deliver a potentially lethal kick. When that time arrives, a farrier’s second hope—the first is that the horse misses—is that the kick connects early in the swing; such a […]

Back Page: Futures That Never Were

As intriguing as current concept cars are, past models can be even more compelling, especially those that never came to fruition. These cars, while now an easy target for derision, also offer a glimpse of how car design might have unfolded—if DOT regulations in some instances and good taste in others had not prevailed. From […]

Boating: Ranger Reborn

During their prime in the 1930s, J-boats, vessels measuring from 75 to 87 feet on the waterline, dominated international racing, and among this elite fleet, Ranger was the swiftest. Harold Vanderbilt’s boat, launched in 1937, successfully defended the America’s Cup that year and went on to win 35 of 37 races in its career—averaging speeds […]