Keith’s Blog: The Logic Behind Illogical Collecting

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As I buy (and sometimes sell) these old cars, I am following my emotions first and then letting my logical side sift through the debris of acquisition to find some sort of logical thread.

As I have mentioned before, the two reasons to buy a car that is new to you are first, to experience and understand the unique experiences the car brings to the table, and second, to meet new people and participate in events that you haven’t done before.

It’s no secret that Alfas have always been my sweet spot. The duckling imprint is strong – I got my first Alfa, a 1963 Giulia Spider Normale, in 1968 when I was 17 years old (just think – the car was only five years old then – like buying a 2007 car today).

I am becoming Alfa rich – in addition to our long-term 1965 Giulia Spider Veloce, we have the ex-Dave and Colleen Rugh 1967 GTV, the very tidy 1978 Alfetta GT we picked up a month ago and the newbie, a 1958 750E “eyebrow” Sprint Veloce that will be loaded onto a truck next week to head north.

It’s very satisfying to go into the SCM basement and see nice examples of cars that have always had a near-mythic hold on me. And it’s more than just the early exposure. Those of you who have experienced early Alfas know just how intoxicating their high-revving engines can be — and have enjoyed the way they dance down a winding road, making every little twist and turn an excuse to have fun.

I’d like to say I have enough Alfas, but I’m still looking for a nice Berlina and perhaps a Duetto. But these things seem to fall my way if I just give them time and am patient.

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When I decide it’s time to experience a new marque, I tend to dive in fully. That’s why we have two Land Rovers, one for cruising and one for serious off-road driving. We have two Swedish cars, the Volvo 1800 ES and the Sonnett III. Two BMWs, the 1973 2002 tii and the Isetta round out the group. On the modern side, there is the 2000 Boxster S and the 2006 Lotus Elise, both keepers.

Last year we jumped into the vintage Mercedes world with a 219 and a 220S, both gone now.

I feel like it’s time to shuffle some cars around. I was just on a local BMW event, and found the event extremely well run, aVolvo-1800-ESnd the participants spanning a wide range of ages and interests. So I think I’d like to dive a little more into BMW world, hence my interest in a 633 or 635 CSi. As an aside, I have increasing interest in affordable cars that are in excellent condition — and that I consider undervalued. A good, low-miles, documented-ownership, no-paint-work, everything-works Shark fits that description, and they can be bought for well under $10,000. My goal is to own one, learn about Sharks, not spend too much money, and then move on when I feel like my curiosity is sated.

But money and space are not limitless. I’ve had a great time with both Rovers, but have decided the Defender 90 (our off-road weapon of choice) can go. Watch for it on BringaTrailer in the near future. The 1800 ES will probably go to a new home as well – even though the fresh engine is just being RangeRoverClassicbroken in this week. Recall that we had a terrific 544, and we were sad went it sold to Mexico City – but that just opened up the slot for the ES. And even the Isetta may be moving on; it’s a cute car, and a wonderful example, but again, I can’t have everything.

So in what I call my “exploratory group,” the cars that are not Alfas, I will be shifting my adventures from Rovers and Volvos to BMWs. (I’ll keep the Range Rover Classic, as it’s just too useful a rig and we’ve got it in exactly the shape we want it – and it performs well enough off-road for us to enjoy the Rover outings. We just won’t be trying to climb the face of Half Dome in it, the way we would in the D90.)

So, despite all outward appearances, the Cat Lady of Collecting has a plan. I’ll continue to look for Alfas of interest, and find another BMW or two to take on club events here. If you’d like to know more about any of the cars that are going away, drop me a line at keith.martin@sportscarmarket.com. In the meantime keep those Shark leads coming.

Keith Martin

Keith Martin has been involved with the collector car hobby for more than 30 years. As a writer, publisher, television commentator and enthusiast, he is constantly on the go, meeting collectors and getting involved in their activities throughout the world. He is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market and bi-monthly American Car Collector magazines, has written for the New York Times, Automobile, AutoWeek, Road & Track and other publications, is an emcee for numerous concours, and has his own show, “What’s My Car Worth,” shown on Velocity.

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