Car shows large and small are just reasons to make memories.
This past weekend I attended the Oregon Festival of Cars. It’s held in Bend, OR, about 165 miles from Portland.
Organized by SCM Legal Files author John Draneas, along with his wife Carlyn, Ed and Barb Grayson of Consolidated Auto Works (who take care of our V12 Jaguar E-Type) and SCMer Jim North, it has been held annually for more than 25 years.
It’s a straightforward show, all about enjoying cars and driving them.
I took our newly arrived 1971 Mercedes 250C as a part of its shakedown. I use my cars often and expect them to behave properly. Most cars that are 50 years old, such as this one, come with a raft of deferred maintenance. The only way to set them right is to use them and note where the deficiencies are. Then you correct the problems, one at a time. It can be a tedious process. But having a dependable classic car that you can use regularly is worth the effort.
A group of us met at Ron Tonkin Ferrari (where I was once a manager) in nearby Wilsonville, OR. Friend and Alfa Romeo Owners of Oregon President Chris Bright, in his 1.3-liter Giulia Super, and I had the only old cars. The rest were more modern Porsches, along with a Jaguar.
Our route took us over Mt. Hood on Highway 26, then down to lunch near the Deschutes River in Maupin, OR.
While the 250C is a solid cruiser, its vexatious dual Zenith 35/40 INAT carbs need some serious attention. They caused the car to buck and snort when first getting underway. It also managed to stall a few times, always at inopportune moments, like busy intersections.
I’ll report more as Mike and Pam at Burback Motors whip it into shape.
Both my co-driver, Schön Hoeschen, and I enjoyed its tall greenhouse. My son Bradley was able to stretch out fully in the back seat — as any 15-year-old would. The ice-cold A/C was a plus across the Oregon High Desert.
The Super and the 250C acted as “sweep” cars for the group. We trundled along at 65 mph while the Porsches flew by us like a SpaceX missile headed towards Mars.
We have travelled many of the same roads on various SCM 1000 tours, and I was reminded of just how expansive the West is. And how many miles of terrific two-lane roads we have.
The show the next day, held at the Deschutes Historical Society, was a casual affair. There were no formal classes. The 75 or so cars on display ranged from custom pickups to modern Ferraris.
One of my favorites was a 1950 Bentley Mk VI with coachwork by Rippon Bros, owned by Michael Cottam. He has been a long-time SEO consultant to SCM.
There were only two awards. The People’s Choice went to a yellow and black 2018 Porsche GT2 RS owned by Glenn Zirkle.
I presented the SCM “Spirit of Motoring” Award to Bill Groesz and his 1966 Saab 96 three-cylinder two-stroke.
I told him we had referred to the car as “Lucky II,” as it reminded Draneas and me of the two-stroke Saab we bought out of a garage in Helena, MT, and tried to drive back to Portland. After we replaced the engine that seized along the way, the car acquired the name “Lucky.”
Bill claimed that modern oils eliminate the smoke that comes with a two-stroke motor. As he left the show, I noted the mosquitos dying by the hundreds as he fumigated them with his exhaust.
In my remarks at the casual closing dinner, I reflected on all of the good times I have had at the Oregon Festival of Cars, and other similar enthusiast-oriented events over the years. A decade ago, I rode with my daughter Alexandra as she drove our 1965 Giulia Spider Veloce. In a prior year, we had made the trip in our 2002 Porsche Boxster S.
I will always remember our trip home in the Porsche. We left early, before dawn. It was a chilly fall morning. We put the top down, made sure the wind-deflector was in place, and turned on the seat heaters. We both had our ski parkas and gloves on. We motored in comfort across Mt Hood as the sun rose. It was a very special moment.
Bradley isn’t legally driving yet; he takes the test for his permit this week. We talked about the various cars he has had a chance to be in, and what he looks forward to driving. While he’s not sure the 250C can take the place of the Citroën DS21 (after all, what could?), he’s expressed a desire to sharpen the stick-shift skills he acquired scooting our Bug Eye Sprite around a parking lot. He thinks the Alfa Junior Zagato would perfect for that.
He’s already talking about driving it to the Oregon Festival of Cars next year. Who am I to disagree?
(P.S. “The Car Knitting Series” will conclude with Part Four next week.)