The Cuban Galapagos of Yankee Cars

Sometimes we collectors should just leave well enough alone.
A recent article in the New York Times about American cars in Cuba, written in part to preview a PBS program entitled “Classic American Cars of Cuba,” extolled the creativity of the owner/mechanics there. Since the embargo in 1959, no American cars or parts have been allowed onto the island.
The result has been an automotive time warp with a Latin twist. American cars from the ’40s and ’50s are Read More

SCM, Phase II

In October, 1963, Austin-Healey introduced the BJ8, with an updated interior including a wood-veneered dash. Several months later, the so-called phase II version of the Big Healey was unveiled, with many updates such as dual lenses for braking and winking, and exterior refinements including such advanced features as locking door handles.
SCM is moving at a slightly faster pace. Last month, we presented phase one of our redesign, simplifying the interior look of the magazine without sacrificing any editorial Read More

A Thousand Here, A Thousand There

In Oregon, May 1 is the official beginning of our sports car season. Our garage is soon filled with the chirping of a half-dozen vehicles, each, like a hungry baby bird, crying out for hundred-dollar bills to be tossed under its hood in an annual rite of spring awakening.
Cindy’s 1978 Alfa Spider was first out of the gate, with a quick trip to Alfa-meister Nasko for a retorqueing of its head, the final step in the valve job Read More

Give That Car an “A”

At SCM, we often describe cars as being “first tier” or “second tier” collectibles. These terms are used intuitively, rather than being based on any analytical system. While putting together this year’s Pocket Price Guide, we were reviewing our five-star short-term appreciation rating, and felt it left something to be desired.
The short-term appreciation scale, which we created five years ago in our first Pocket Price Guide, awards one to five stars to each model, based on our appreciation Read More

Shamed by Swig

Ferrari Mondials and snow-packed roads don’t mix very well. That was just one of the many thoughts that crossed my mind as we slid sideways towards the edge of the mountain road.
I hadn’t planned on using the Ferrari as a snowmobile, but Martin Swig has a way of rearranging reality to suit his priorities. Initially, he had offered to store our newly purchased metallic green 1984 cabriolet at his facility in San Francisco until a trucker could Read More

My Green Ferrari

The car hauler should be pulling up any day now, delivering the newest addition to the Martin-Banzer menagerie. Or is that collection?
It’s a 1984 Ferrari Mondial Cabriolet, in the distinctive color of light metallic green, with a tan leather interior. A birthday present, sort of, it came into my life this past December 22, the day I was celebrating (or ruing) the beginning of my 51st year.
SCM subscriber Harry Hart, of Belmont, California, called to discuss his Read More

Mooners and Masterpieces

January and August are the two busiest months on the collector car calendar, but they are as different as desert and ocean. August in Monterey is a three-day spectacle of disposable wealth, with million-dollar cars selling haphazardly across the Peninsula the way oils are splashed on a Jackson Pollock painting.

January in Arizona is more like a Georges Seurat exercise in pointillism, with hundreds of smaller transactions combining to make the collector car market visible as a whole. Nearly Read More

Shuffling the Deck

It’s a good thing we thrive on change. During the past two months, the Martin-Banzer garage has seen a lot of comings and goings.
It all started back in June when our 39,000-mile 240Z went off to a subscriber in Lorton, Virginia. With a slot in the garage to fill, we were immediately on the hunt.
On July 22, our newest find arrived, a 1963 Lancia Flaminia Zagato, equipped with a 2.8-liter, triple-carbureted V6 engine. But our joy Read More

Where Do We Go From Here?

“As hobbies go, buying, restoring and driving old cars is a harmless-though often expensive-indulgence, far removed from the worlds of global politics and terrorist plots.”
That was the lead sentence for an article I wrote last month for New York Times, exploring the reactions of the collector car community to the terrorist attacks on America.
As our October issue went to press, television screens were filled with horrific images of death and destruction. This month, headlines scream, “US Strikes Read More

A Done Car

For the past month, I’ve been enjoying the company of an old friend. It came into our life in 1988, just after I had left my position as artistic director of Ballet Oregon and become a sales manager for Ron Tonkin Gran Turismo, hawking Ferraris, Alfas, Maseratis and Lotuses.
Cindy was in elected office as a State Representative. I recall that it took all of her formidable political skills to convince me that her buying a green 1978 Read More