Death Waits for No One

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The email arrived on July 1, 2016. It was from my oldest and dearest friend, Bjarne Holm:

Hi Keith. Bad news on the health front. I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer early last month. My prognosis is a few months to a few years, depending on how I respond to treatment. … I’m trying to make the best of it, and the response to treatment so far is pretty good. Fortunately I have Robin, who is doing a fantastic job Read More

From Chateaus to Lava Fields

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Each August and September, the collector car world hits high gear. Everything that happens before just anticipates the explosion of activities that mark the end of summer.

Normally, this is a busy time for me — and the gang at SCM. But this year, hectic, frenetic and “my hair was on fire” seem too-mild adjectives.

My August began by driving the SCM Alfa Duetto down the Oregon and California coasts to Monterey. In the 30 Read More

Monterey Week Isn’t Just About the Money

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The pundits didn’t wait for the Monterey Car Week auctions to end before weighing in with banshee-like wails of market distress.

“Saturday night auctions fail to meet 2015 levels” The Los Angeles Times headlined before the Gooding auction on Sunday.

Bloomberg weighed in on Monday, “Monterey Auctions Continue to Slide after 2014 Peak.”

“Next month, if these trends continue, Cobras will be free!” (Okay, I made that one up.)

If you Read More

Money is Big, But Passion Drives the Hobby

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Each year, this issue falls in the lull just before the great Super Bowl contest that is Monterey Car Week. Each of the auction companies on the Peninsula has its lineups set. All the seven- and eight-figure, market-defining cars have been extensively promoted and the potential bidders courted.

Within a few days after you read this, we’ll all know if this year’s totals exceed the $400m of last year (I predict they will, by at least $25m), and like a Read More

Why We Do the Things We Do

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According to Jerry Tilley, captain of the Aleutian Ballad, a crab boat featured in TV’s “The Deadliest Catch,” the scene in which a 60-foot rogue wave catches his 107-foot boat broadsides and flips it onto its beam end is one of the most-watched excerpts of the hit show on YouTube, with more than 1.45 million views.

Yes, the captain and crew do it for the money — a $1 million payday is not unusual for a good haul — but Read More

Mind If We Gawk?

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It was just three months ago when, in this column, I pompously and piously pronounced that I would never again drive at excess speeds on a public highway. I referred to the 140 mph I had averaged testing the Ford GT in 2006.

Two days later the call from Lamborghini came, asking if I would like an extended test of a Huracán. I sensed that my newly-found resolve was going to be tested.

The successor to the wildly successful Gallardo, Read More

Saying Goodbye to the Amazon

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It was two years ago that we watched our 1967 Volvo 122S arrive on a car hauler from Madison, WI. And now we’re going to watch it leave.

Owning the Amazon has been a delightful and enlightening experience. It was a good car when it arrived (unlike so many of the cars that I acquire), and we spent two years making it even better.

We took it on tours, to cars and coffees, to Volvo club meetings and more. Wherever Read More

You Can Go Home Again

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As you read this, the 2006 Lotus Elise that we sold in May of 2013 is in a car transporter and headed from Connecticut back to SCM World Headquarters in Portland, OR.

We first drove an Elise in 2009; Legal Files contributor John Draneas has one. We were entranced. Weighing just 1,984 pounds, and propelled by a 190-horsepower, 1.8-liter Toyota engine with a Yamaha-tuned cylinder head, the Elise was very quick indeed. The spartan — yet purposeful — interior made Read More

Here Comes the Judge

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What do a 1968 Ford GT40 Mk III, a 1967 Porsche 911S, a 1972 4.9 Ghibli Spider SS, a Toyota 2000GT, a 1972 Ferrari 246 GT and a 1968 DeTomaso Mangusta prototype have in common?

These are exotics with 6- and 8-cylinder engines placed in the front, middle and rear of their chassis. The GT40 is a barely disguised race car, and the Dino is a high-speed grand touring car. Imagine the 911 as an extraordinarily original survivor, and the Read More

How Fast Is Too Fast?

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It was October of 2004. I was watching the speedometer hold steady at 140 mph as I rocketed down Highway 395 in Nevada headed toward the Furnace Creek Inn in Death Valley.

I was reviewing the new Ford GT for The New York Times, and I was the first journalist turned loose with the car without a horde of Ford handlers observing every move.

Accompanying me was SCM “Legal Files” columnist John Draneas. In the review, I wrote, “My co-pilot Read More

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