Shifting Gears (199)

Modena Cento Ore 2015

Written by August 2015
  It was 6 p.m., and we were driving towards Perugia, the capital city of Umbria, in central Italy. It was 100 degrees, and we were in the thick of rush-hour traffic. Our day had started in Rome, and we had completed four laps at the Vallelunga track as well as three timed hillclimbs on closed roads. The interior of our 1974 Porsche Carrera was stifling, and we were tired and sweaty. Our group of four cars, including Team SCM in the 911, a 1975 Lancia Stratos, a 1973 Ferrari 246 GT and a 1961 Ferrari SWB, was barely moving.…
  We’ve read about many court cases involving collector cars, but here is a new one — a father and son in a bitter court battle over the ownership of a four-car Lancia Stratos collection. The cars are a 1971 HF, a 1975 HF Silhouette Turbo, a 1975 Stradale street car and a 1975 Safari. After successfully defending himself against criminal charges in Austria and Germany, the son lost the ultimate battle in the London High Court, which ruled that the father was the rightful owner of the Lancias. The disappointed son has vowed to appeal, and to seek redress…
  Cars are safer than ever. The fatality rate per million miles traveled in 2013, the most recent year for which data are available, was 1.1 — a nearly 25% decline since 2004, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Not only do cars handle and brake better than ever before, they are also loaded with safety features including airbags, anti-lock brakes and stability control. However, as cars have become safer, their drivers have become less so. Some say this is related to texting while driving and cell phone usage. According to a study published by the Cohen Medical…
  Having me co-host a television show about cars sold at collector-car auctions is like turning a chocoholic loose in the Hershey factory. When evaluating cars for “What’s My Car Worth?” a TV show I co-host on the Velocity channel, I find myself slipping from the objective to the subjective. “This ’67 Healey BJ8 drives nicely and will probably sell for $80k” moves all too quickly to: “I’d really like to own this car. It’s been months since I’ve had a Big Healey.” So it should have come as no surprise that on a recent Sunday I found myself waiting…
  The market has redefined itself over the past decade. We’ve watched it happen from the SCM crow’s nest. From multi-million-dollar catalog auction sales to text-only postings on Craigslist, we keep a finger on the ever-changing pulse of the market. Prices have soared in the category we follow most closely — sports cars from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Yet, we find a logic to most of these high fliers, and I believe they are indicative of a healthy, thoughtful market. Collectors, voting with their dollars, have neatly divided all collectible cars into three primary categories. I call them “The…
It was a weekend to remember. At 6 a.m. on a Saturday in February this year, my daughter Alexandra joined me on a flight from Portland, OR, to San Jose, CA. We’d bought a 1964 Volvo 1800S last July, and it was time to bring it home. Mike Dudek of iRoll Motors picked us up at San Jose International Airport, and soon we were at his shop in San Martin, south of San Jose. The Volvo was better than I expected — by a long shot. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it had a “lived and loved” feel…
  This all started innocently enough. A friend gave me a ride to a Porsche event in her black 993. I hadn’t had a sip of that clattering air-cooled elixir for some time, and it was intoxicating. I immediately emailed my good friend and Porsche guru Jim Schrager, and asked him for the best buy in late-model air-cooled 911s (the 993 models). His response was immediate and definite. Forget the 993s. A first-gen 996 turbo with a Tiptronic (automatic) was his favorite. He owned one and drove it daily. He felt the turbo was a much-improved engine over the stock…
We had just crested the 4,311-foot Cardenal Antonio Samoré Pass, crossing from Argentina into Chile. The 1969 Series 1.5 Jaguar XKE we were driving was performing brilliantly. It was a clear day, and we were surrounded by the snow-covered peaks of the Andes. This was the second day of the 26th Annual 1000 Millas Sport de la República Argentina — the premier classic-car rally in South America. SCMer Martin Sucari introduced me to this rally eight years ago. This year, the Club de Automóviles Sport, which hosts the rally, invited me back for another go. Damian Pozzoli graciously provided us…
  Our collector car world has four epicenters, and each has its own anchor event. The vintage car calendar starts with Monterey in August, followed by Arizona in January, Paris in February and Amelia Island in March. The signature event for the Monterey Classic Car Week is the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It follows the auctions, marque shows and historic races. All eyes are on the cars displayed on the 18th Fairway that Sunday. Five months later, and now nearly upon us, is Round Two: Arizona Auction Week. In the desert, it is Barrett-Jackson that is the once and future…
There are many stock phrases in the vocabularies of car collectors. They range from “that’s one of one” to “wonderful patina” to “I never should have sold it.” The one that seems to get me in the most trouble is, “Well, I’m not really looking, but…” You know the drill. You have a vague interest in a certain car. In my case, it was a Volvo P1800, the sports coupe Roger Moore drove in the television show “The Saint.” Not yet admitting that I was sliding down the slippery slope towards ownership, I started asking a few gurus what the…
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