What My Cars Want for Christmas

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I thought I had my key Christmas gifts all wrapped up. Seven-year-old Bradley is getting a Sphero 2.0 that he can race around the house. Alex will get a visit to trendy clothier Mario’s, with carte blanche in her selection, as long as it costs less than the overdrive rebuild on the 1964 Volvo 1800S.

But this morning there was a pile of notes on my desk. They were from my four-wheeled friends downstairs in the SCM garage. Here’s what they read:

From your favorite car, your ’67 Alfa Romeo Duetto: Please have Guy’s Interior Restorations redo the steel Pininfarina factory hard-top you bought me so I can pretend I am a four-seasons sports car. Also, I know you think it’s okay that the heater valve is stuck on now that it’s winter, but recall our experience on NW Passage last year when it was blowing hot in 100-degree weather. I thought it was cute when you deflected the hot air through the defroster to get it off of your feet. How did you like it blowing on your face?

From your other favorite car, your ‘58 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce: Let’s get that snapped tach cable replaced with one from Jon Norman, so that you can rev me up with some comfort. And then there’s that little chip in the paint by the hood that makes me crazy when I look at myself in the mirror…

From the Alfa you’ve always said was number one on your list, your ‘65 Giulia Spider Veloce: Can we get the new fuel sender that you got from Centerline installed? How many more times do you want to run dry on the freeway at night? That was more excitement than you bargained for, especially with Bradley strapped into a child seat. And please email Bill Gillham and make sure he has a slot for us, so I can get my rockers properly welded (That old chassis stability thing, remember?) trunk patch panels tidied up.

From your favorite four-door Alfa, the ‘67 Giulia Super: I’d just like to be driven. I’ve got that wonderful, fresh, balanced 2-liter engine with hot cams, and my 4.1 rear end should make me a great freeway cruiser. But the only way you’ll ever find out is if you take me for a nice, long road trip — after you get my heater valve unstuck, of course. I’ve chatted with the Duetto, whose valve is stuck open. Mine is stuck closed, so I get nothing but cold air. That will be fine this summer, but it’s a little chilly in the car right now.

From your favorite (and only) ‘67 Alfa GTV: I thought you were going to rebuild my tranny, but it looks like the 75/90 Red Line NS gear oil Nasko put in has really quieted things down. Still, the faces of the fuel and oil temp gauges are so smoky I can hardly see you behind the wheel. Isn’t it about time you replaced the glass?

From your all-time favorite Swedish beauty, your ’67 Volvo Amazon 122S: Can we get the Line Up Shop to adjust the rear drums just once more? I’m glad you decided to put on new front calipers and new rear shoes, all using Porterfield racing lining. But it takes a pump before my pedal gets firm, and it shouldn’t be that way.

From the car that, without question, is about to become your favorite, your ’64 Volvo 1800S: I’d just like you to come get me. Thank you for having Mike Dudek at iRollMotors rebuild my overdrive, seal my third member and install a rear sway bar. And it’s been fun to watch Mike put in a dashboard that doesn’t have a huge hole cut in it for a modern radio. (I pleaded with the previous owner not to do that to me, but I guess he just wanted to play some CDs.) I’m not that far away — you could drive me home on Highway 101 through Eureka, and then take Highway 1 from there. I promise I won’t break down. Bring me home!

And finally:

From your best friend through thick and thin, through snow and mud, and who kind of likes it when you run into trees and never complains, your trusty 1984 Land Rover D90 200 TDI: I’m pretty happy. The ARB rear locker works great, and having the on-board compressor to air up after a run is nice. I’d like a new CB radio because I think the old one shorted out internally when we fell off that big ledge on the Hogsback Trail in Tillamook Forest in early December. And I’m so glad you are having Doug Shipman install LED taillights and turn signals. It is kind of like putting lipstick on a pig, but then again, I’m happiest when I’m wallowing in the mud.

I’ve already got their stockings, which are actually tool bags, hanging in the garage. Now I just need to chat with Santa. Since the garage has no fireplace, he’ll need another way into the garage. Besides, getting the Duetto hard top down the chimney would be difficult.

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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