Last week we took our 1971 DS21 Pallas for a quick trip to Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, WA. It’s 46 miles one-way from Portland.
And one-way was as far as we got, as the car failed to proceed on the way home. No harm done, as Mike Christopherson at Pro-Tek Automotive will be working with SCMer Greg Long to get it back on the road.
Skamania Lodge is the headquarters for this year’s SCM 1000 Classic. The event is limited to 45 pre-1975 sports cars and is almost full.
Each time I go there, I imagine a parking lot full of great cars and the Great Room in the lodge buzzing with animated conversation. From the Astoria Column to Oregon Raceway Park, to the dinner cruise on a paddle-wheeler to Bonneville Dam, a great week awaits all of us.
Saturday was a fantastic sun-filled winter day, so I decided to risk fate and take another classic car and see if we could actually complete the round trip.
Our choice was our 2000 Land Rover Discovery II. Is this a classic? Good question. It’s now 22 years old, and certainly the look of the Disco has aged much better than the boxy LR3 that followed it.
Rover guru Doug Shipman of Ship’s Mechanical Services in Portland found the rig for us. Previously, he had ministered to our Disco 1, our Range Rover Classic, our SIII 88 and our much beloved D90 Turbodiesel.
As a result of my stroke three years ago, I was no longer able to climb into the D90 or operate it. But I am fond of the Rover tribe and wanted to stay connected. Doug mentioned a long-time client of his was selling her Disco. It had 214,000 mostly highway miles, and he felt it was solid.
We agreed on a price, and I immediately doubled my “investment” with a major service, new all-terrain tires, rock sliders and steel bumpers from Rovers North, and Bradley’s required “ladder to nowhere” on the back.
I also had Doug install the linkage to manually engage the CDL (center differential lock). This means the Disco is about as trail-ready as it can get without being too extreme. And as an automatic, I can pilot it. It’s a great rig, and I am eager to get it off road.
Now, before you think I am getting too carried away about the presumed reliability of the Disco, I want to report that the dreaded “check engine light” came on as soon as I started it. I think my solution to this oft-recurring issue will be a piece of black tape over the light.
The trip was a delight. We cruised easily at 70 mph, and the heater along with the heated seats worked perfectly.
Lunch (steelhead chowder followed by steelhead tacos) was perfect, and the chardonnay I had with it was delicious.
I have turned a corner on my physical recovery, and have started walking with trekking sticks instead of a cane for the first time in two years.
It was rewarding for me to walk into the restaurant under my own power, standing upright without a walker. I look forward to more progress ahead.
This time out, the SCM Disco got an A- (minus for the check engine light). But in the world of old cars, just coming home on your own four wheels instead of on a flatbed can be counted as a victory.
I know the DS will be back in service soon. It’s one of the choices that Hagerty Grand Marshals Bill and Jane Warner will have as their ride in the SCM 1000 this year. Bill graciously requested the Mercedes SL55 AMG and I graciously responded that it was too new. “But I want to get back to the Lodge each night,” he said.
I’m sure there won’t be any problems. After all, what could go wrong when 45 fifty-year-old cars go on a 1,000-mile tour?