Shifting Gears (193)

Fifty years from now the Petersen Museum may feature a diorama dedicated to the social gathering once known as an "automotive swap meet." Young children will tug on their daddy's shirtsleeves and ask, "Thousands of people just showed up and walked around for hours, hoping they might find something?" And Daddy will answer, "Yes, and they called it fun."If the display is accurate, few of the vendor and shopper manikins will be wearing Armani suits; variations of denim will be the rule. There will be no Weight Watchers or exercise equipment booths visible, although it would appear both offer services…

Old Car Tricks

Written by November 2006
"Push? We're going to push the car?"It was a balmy day in the Pacific Northwest, so I had decided to take out our orange and black 1979 Triumph Spitfire. My 15-year-old daughter, Alex, was pleased with my choice, as the previous owner had put large speakers behind the seats, making it a perfect car by her standards.After a morning spent shopping (I was surprised at just how many pairs of Citizen jeans and Juicy jackets fit in the small trunk, and how brand-name blue denim rivals Ferrari parts in cost per ounce), we stopped in Southeast Portland for a pizza…
We at SCM have long maintained that a well-filled garage is like a well-stocked wine cellar. Just as different times of day, different events, and different meals call for different pourings, so, too, do different motoring adventures require different motoring choices.And just as each wine has its own trademark taste, bouquet, and color, each car that captivates a collector's interest has its own unique approach to motoring. A car worth collecting has an essence to it: it is a reflection of the time in which it was built, of the skills of the drivetrain engineers and the desire of the…

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…