I recently completed the 2022 SCM 1000 AMG Invitational.
There were 25 performance Mercedes of various vintages entered. The star car was the 2009 SLR McLaren Stirling Moss entered by Wynn McCaw.
The event was set up exactly the same as SCM 1000 Classic events we have put on in the same location. It was a hub-and-spoke tour, with the Hilton by Doubletree in Bend, OR, as our host hotel.
The tour featured the glorious landscape and cultural history of Oregon’s High Desert. Like all SCM 1000 Tours, it was all-inclusive, with all meals covered, cultural stops included and our nightly “Conversations with Collectors.”
My ride was my 2004 Mercedes SL55 AMG. I purchased it two years ago with just 48k miles. I’ve covered an additional 8,000-plus miles since then, including 1,000 on this tour.
I have driven most parts of this tour route before in a variety of vintage cars, ranging from a 1971 Jaguar E-type to a 1967 Alfa Romeo Duetto.
Being in a modern car was different. Having air-con was nice, as was Apple Car Play. But the best part was not constantly worrying about a breakdown of one sort or another. Even the most sorted of 50-year-old cars will still surprise you with fits of recalcitrance.
The Mercedes Classic Center was along to support us, but only had to change one wheel that an entrant damaged on a curb.
As I sped through the Painted Hills, I asked myself if I was having any less fun because I was in a modern car.
I drove thoughtfully, and never exercised all of the 493 horsepower of the SL55. Instead, I got to enjoy the scenery and the winding curves of the road in comfort.
I never checked the fluids or the tire pressures (the car has built-in systems that take care of those things). Instead, I had a relaxed conversation with my co-driver about the history and geology of Oregon.
At the end of each day, I was refreshed rather than exhausted.
As the tour came to an end, I thought about my experiences on tours in old cars versus new ones.
When tours first started 30 years ago, they were the only chances we had to exercise our old cars. Few of them were maintained well then, and tools and spares were required.
Times are different now. Taking a quick glance at Facebook or Instagram will show posts from tours of varying lengths in all parts of the country.
Is part of the adventure of an old car tour the thrill of the unknown (“what might break next?”) or the camaraderie of owners of similar classic cars?
It’s probably a combination of both.
But it makes me wonder if there is a place for tours for modern sports touring cars that have the same all-inclusive nature of our classic tours.
These tours are not inexpensive. Entry fees range from $8,000–$10,000 for five-day events. Club-based tours, where you make your own room and meal arrangements are significantly less expensive.
I’m interested in your thoughts on the modern vs. classic approach to long-distance, all-inclusive tours.
What do you think? Is there a place for these events, staged for modern cars from the 2000-2022 era? Or are 1,000-mile events best suited to classic cars built pre-1974, where simply finishing the event is enough of a challenge to provide the event with an added attractiveness?
At the moment, I’m still trying to figure out why I am so rested and relaxed after a 1,000-mile tour, instead of feeling as if I have just spent five days in a dryer set on the spin cycle.
Click here to see images and video from the 2022 SCM 1000 AMG Invitational.