Shifting Gears (197)

It's been nearly ten years since I last drove in the California Mille. Dodge was the primary sponsor then, and I enjoyed the Northern California countryside from behind the wheel of a Viper.After growing up driving Alfas, with their puny 4-cylinder, 80-ci engines, mashing the throttle on a 450-horsepower, 488-ci V10 rocket sled was like lighting the fuse on a Saturn V. With a small-displacement foreign car, passing on a two-lane road takes cunning and guile. Can you really get past that mini-van before the next turn? What if the Taurus speeds up when you pull alongside? Does that Winnebago…
It's been nearly ten years since I last drove in the California Mille. Dodge was the primary sponsor then, and I enjoyed the Northern California countryside from behind the wheel of a Viper.After growing up driving Alfas, with their puny 4-cylinder, 80-ci engines, mashing the throttle on a 450-horsepower, 488-ci V10 rocket sled was like lighting the fuse on a Saturn V. With a small-displacement foreign car, passing on a two-lane road takes cunning and guile. Can you really get past that mini-van before the next turn? What if the Taurus speeds up when you pull alongside? Does that Winnebago…
The Grays Harbor Indoor Professional Rodeo is a three-day event, and includes Bronc Riding, Bull Riding, Calf Roping, Breakaway Roping, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Barrel Racing, and more.My wife's father has a race-engine shop outside Elma, Washington, where the rodeo is held. Located between Olympia and Aberdeen in central-western Washington, it's just two hours from our home in Portland.Two hours, and about one hundred years-at least as far as rodeo is concerned. We collector car types agonize about where the next generation of collectors is going to come from. Questions like, "How will someone who grows up driving a Honda…
I propose we take a break from the constant bric-a-brac of the market. At least for a few days, let's transport ourselves back to a simpler era, when the fundamental question wasn't how much your motorcar was worth, but whether it could actually travel 60 miles without breaking down.In conjunction with Steve Austin, we will be hosting a tour to the 2009 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. It's been on my short list for some time, and with the appreciation of the dollar against the pound, this seemed like a propitious time to head across the pond.The tour, October…

The New Market

Written by April 2009
Since the end of the Scottsdale auctions, the flow of emails, letters, and phone calls has been relentless. Half are shrill diatribes, demanding that SCM support the market. Any description of prices as falling, or buyers being cautious, is viewed as sabotaging the market.The second half contends that SCM is soft-pedaling the truth and doing our readers a disservice by not pointing out just how bad things really are. They accuse us of whitewashing the trends of the past six months, and painting a happy face on an Emmett Kelly-style frowning clown.In our opinion, reality lies somewhere in between these…

One Fine Day

Written by March 2009
Sometimes you just need a break. So last Saturday, we pulled out the 1965 Alfa Giulia Spider Veloce and the 2000 Boxster S. SCM Legal Analyst John Draneas and wife Carlyn fired up their Lotus Elise (or would have had it actually started; more about that later), and CM Contributor Michael Pierce and his significant other Linda unleashed their 5-speed Dinan-tuned 1988 BMW 7-series.Our goal was a boutique wine-making facility, the Carlton Wine Studio, in Carlton Oregon-in the heart of Oregon's Pinot Noir country, about 40 miles from SCM world headquarters.While the supposed intent of the trip was to taste…

"As on a Darkling Plain."

Written by February 2009
If ever we needed a respite from being pummeled by bad news, it is now. Scarcely a day goes by without a headline about an investment firm failing, a newspaper declaring bankruptcy, or a car company down to its last few billion dollars.The Dow continues to swing unpredictably like the needle of a magnet exposed to lodestone; nearly 40% of its value has evaporated. And the U.S. market rates a winner compared to that of most European and Asian stock markets, some of which have losses in the 80% range. Even the weather seems to be colder, wetter, and darker…
We've had quite a run-up in the past few years, so a modest correction will still leave most collectors far ahead of where they were in 2004 At SCM, we sometimes feel like we are in a small spotter's ship, stationed in the middle of an ocean. From time to time as we crest a swell, we see an auction analyst sending us his report in terse Morse-like code: "Bonhams does $7.3 million at Owls Head, bidding strong for good stuff," or "RM sells $23.7 million in London, sales down from last year, yet McLaren brings record $4 million."Our job…
The headlines have been relentless. "Dow plunges another 600 points." "Consumer confidence slips again." "Banks in every country facing liquidation."Those of us who have been around the collector car market for a while can't help but think of the crash of 1987, which started the flow of funds into the collector car market. The trillions of dollars being pulled from stock markets around the world today will be put somewhere, and it's not unreasonable to think that some portion of it will go toward old cars.But there are some differences from 1987. Then, collector cars were just beginning to make…
The continued buoyancy of the market at the top end is proof that America has the largest number of wealthy people of any nation in the world The Monterey vintage week takes up about four months of every year. There are two months of preparation for it, which at SCM means poring over each auction catalog as it arrives, and placing our bets in the office pool concerning what the grand total for the weekend will be. Then there is the actual week of activities, with so many things going on that it takes a month of energy to absorb…