Shifting Gears (190)

Somebody Stop Me!

Written by September 2006
Perhaps SCM should be in the soft adventure business. But rather than offering a chance to parachute off mountaintops attached to a safety-line, or fly a Russian Mig with an instructor who will keep you from nosing into the ground, we have something even better.Last year, my former editor at Automobile Magazine, Joe Lorio, announced that he had purchased the car, or actually station wagon, of his dreams: a 1968 Mercury Colony Park.When I was last in Detroit, Lorio proudly showed me the wagon and mentioned in passing that he was thinking of selling it. At that very moment, a…
"How did you get started with cars?" is a question I'm often asked.While I have been fortunate to have a variety of careers and occupational passions, cars and machinery came first.My earliest memories of the mysteries of the internal combustion engine revolve around my grandfather, Thomas Lester McDowell, who, along with my grandmother, Dorel Evelyn, raised me.Although our family home was in the Parkside district of San Francisco, Gramps, as the family called him, had what would now be referred to as a "gentleman's farm" at 365 McClay Road, in the town of Novato, California, then a distant suburb 30…

Riding High

Written by June 2006
Sometimes ignorance is bliss, and other times it leads to nothing but trouble.Our 1978 911SC is a perfect case in point. Relatively pampered, in mostly original paint, and with 177,000 miles on it when it joined our stable last year, it rode low and had an appealing "boy racer" look.It also had a rock-hard ride that was so uncomfortable I simply stopped driving the car. I assumed that all SCs rode this way, and that to make the ride more reasonable, I should follow our Porsche analyst Jim Schrager's advice and switch to 15" wheels, which were the stock choice…
"That's a good piece, you should buy it."The auction catalog description read, "Persian Heriz carpet, geometric central medallion and stylized floral decoration on madder red ground with ivory spandrels, 9' 6" x 11' 9". Estimate: $700-$900."Offered by local auction house O'Gallerie, the rug met my three criteria: It was the right orange-red color; the size was right for my living room; and the estimate was within my budget.That the other, seemingly more sophisticated rug aficionados in the room also blessed my choice was a plus, but not a deciding factor. I still don't know what the terms Heriz, madder red,…
The two emotions dominating the market today are exuberance-especially from new collectors-and wariness, from those who have seen this all before.I've just finished participating in the three-day, Miles Collier-hosted symposium, Connoisseurship 2006. This was my third time attending, and the second time I have been privileged to be a member of the faculty.In addition to Collier, who offered thoughtful presentations on the current state of collecting and restoring, other instructors included auctioneer and now collector-car financier Simon Kidston, historian Doug Nye, journalist and hot-rod specialist Ken Gross, custom coachbuilder Steve Moal, and collectors Fred Simeone and Eric Zausner. David Kelley,…
For the past decade, we've been watching the price of real estate escalate, seemingly without an end in sight. Some houses seem to double every decade, and, despite the increases, there appears to be no shortage of eager, willing buyers. So why are we so surprised when GT350s, worth $50,000 five years ago, routinely sell for $200,000? Or when Z/28s, worth $35,000 in 2003, go for $100,000? A great deal of the increase in values is due to the fact that many collectors buying today were not in the hobby five years ago. They don't have the historical perspective of…

The Year of the Car

Written by February 2006
The 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit heralded the return of the car. As gas prices soar, customers are looking for-and manufacturers are competing to offer-products that are decidedly European in flavor. Compact size, styling, affordability, efficiency, and performance all seemed equal parts of the equation, and were a welcome respite from the unending deluge of supersized SUVs we enthusiasts have endured for the past decade. Ford debuted the Reflex, its first notable new model in years. A small 2+1, it has aggressive styling and shows some promise that Ford is capable of doing more than just recycling…

You Can Go Home Again

Written by January 2006
If knowledge is power, SCMers are about to become an even more formidable group of collectors. The information on all 40,000 cars in our database will soon be available to you 24/7, from anywhere in the world, via your handheld devices.Starting at the Scottsdale auctions in January, anyone with a Treo, Blackberry, or similar device will be able to query our database by sending an e-mail to \n This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . If you enter "1967 Jaguar XKE" in the subject field of your e-mail, you'll get recent…

Frommer, Zagat, and Me

Written by December 2005
What makes a car collectible? And what makes one car more desirable than another? We all might agree that a 1967 911S is more desirable that a 1977, but exactly why? At SCM, we have long felt there was a need for an evaluation and rating system for collectible cars that considered more than just transaction prices. After all, market value can fluctuate wildly. Consider the Maserati Ghibli. Its value has gyrated from $150,000 in 1990 to $35,000 in 2000. Yet the underlying characteristics that make it collectible haven't changed.To help understand what sets the Ghibli and other special interest…

An Affair Revisited

Written by November 2005
Just after Monterey, I got a call that delighted the enthusiast in me, and terrified what remains of the sensible adult. In 1995, I sold one of my favorite cars, a 1965 Alfa Giulia Spider Veloce, to Ken Metzger, a friend in Belvedere, CA, for $22,000. Now, a decade later, he offered the car back to me at the same price-after putting $10,000 into it. He cautioned that, despite being coddled, it was showing its age.Owning this car again wasn't in my thoughts or the SCM collector car budget. In addition to our 1978 911SC, SCM had just purchased a…