I played hooky from work last week and took our 1971 Jaguar E-type V12 coupe for a 150-mile drive.

Our lunch destination was Skamania Lodge, the home base of the 2022 SCM 1000. It’s about 50 miles away. There are a couple of ways to get there. My co-driver, Lou Tauber, was a friend from the Rover Club who has both a vintage Land Rover 109 and a Tesla Model 3.  We decided to take the scenic way out.

That involved leaving my condo in downtown Portland, getting onto I-5 North, and crossing the Columbia River. It was a bright and sunny day.

The first 15 minutes were a nightmare. The traffic was dense, with giant pickup trucks tailgating us and weaving in and out of traffic.

Each time I drive an old car, I feel more vulnerable. I worry about cars with better brakes than mine (which is every car on the road today) stopping short and my rear-ending them. When I’m stopped in traffic, I worry about being rear-ended at speed by someone texting while driving.

At the same time, I’m watching the gauges. Is the temperature gauge slowly climbing or is that my imagination? Is the voltmeter slowly falling? Is the oil pressure as high as it should be at this engine speed?

Instead of enjoying the silky-smooth power delivery and wonderful sound of the 5.3-L V12, I was just stressed. I imagined having the SCM CH-47 Chinook twin-rotor helicopter come pluck me off the roadway.

This all changed the instant we left the freeway and headed west into the Columbia Gorge on Washington SR 14. At first it was a four-lane highway, which soon gives way to a two-lane scenic byway.

Freed from the aggressiveness and thoughtlessness of other drivers, the Jaguar came into its own. It loped along at 70 mph, a/c blowing ice cold. I still watched the gauges, but now I was reassuring myself things were good.

As we pulled into Skamania, I envisioned what the SCM 1000 parking area would be like this week, filled with 45 classic, pre-1975 sports cars. Walking through the lot, you will be able to visually survey a swath of automotive history.

Alfas, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Lancias, Porsches and more will be there, each performing their daily 250 miles of exercise on back roads.

Leading the pack will be a sole Citroën, driven by Hagerty Grand Marshal Bill Warner and SCM contributor and noted journalist Ken Gross. Having an Italian-car themed tour led by a French car seems in keeping with the irreverent and all-embracing way SCM participates in the world of collector cars.

My steelhead omelet at lunch was tasty. The drive home, starting with crossing the Bridge of the Gods and then heading east on I-84, was delightful for 30 miles.

And then we were surrounded by the terror of modern traffic once again.

While we were cruising at 70 mph, cars would routinely pass us at 90 or better. It’s just the way things are today.

The Jag got us home safely, completing its pre-tour test. Lou noted that while his Tesla 3 was a much faster car, it was also a very different car. Not better or worse, just representative of a different time in automotive history.

My takeaway from the day was that part of collector car ownership in 2022 is to make sure you are not putting your old cars in situations their limited performance capabilities cannot handle.

Our old cars stopped being daily drivers decades ago. Now let’s reserve them for special occasions, on special roads, with enticing destinations and people who share our vision of what an automotive adventure can be.  

 

13 Comments

  1. PAUL EBELHACK

    Hey, Keith, I understand your stress but I think it may be rooted in YOUR age, not just the Jag’s! I’m 71, still love driving my 5-speed turbo Jetta and constantly watch out for leviathan Escalades and blinker-less BMW’s! Hang in there my friend!

    • Richard Merrell

      It is amazing that BMW has built so many automobiles without turn signals. Most new and late model cars come standard with that handy and necessary safety feature but it appears BMW drivers must check the box “Turn-signal Delete” when purchasing their automobiles.
      /s

  2. Jim Rosenthal

    My car collection, if indeed it even merits that title, begins in 1938 and ends in 2000. My guitar collection begins in 1966, and ends in 1990, roughly, although the 1990 guitar was a gift to me, so it sort of doesn’t count. My daily driver guitar is a 1966 Gibson.

    There’s something to be said for old guitars as daily drivers. They don’t overheat, they sound GREAT (better than modern ones, I can tell you), the more they are played the better they sound, and they always have good oil pressure. They do not, however, have A/C.

    All kidding aside, there are few places left anywhere on earth where there are enjoyable roads that are easy to reach, manageable traffic, and (above all) civil people on the highways with you. Perhaps there are no such places left. I’m glad your test run of the Jaguar went well, and wish everyone a great time on the event. As for the lead car being a DS, but of course! If there is a Goddess present, she should naturally lead the way.

  3. Rand Wintermute

    Keith .
    Your “Malady” is a symptom of aging.
    I too discovered last week , during the Lewis & Clark rally through beautiful Coastal scenic roads , the symptom of aging , having the desire to pull over and take a 15 minute nap.
    It’s time to retire ; after 45 years of TSD rallying and driving the Monte Shelton Rally for about 32 of those years , nature is telling me to “retire” from rallying . Thus, I am hanging it up this year , and will leave it to the younger guys and gals who can handle the “pucker stress “ of rallying ….think I will just enjoy now the French countryside where I live half of the time now ….C’est La Vie….
    Time for you to retire too !
    Avoir,
    Rand

  4. J. Parrish

    I can tell you, after living on the West Coast and AZ. I got spoiled by being able to drive my older cars as daily’s. I remember when I had a BMW M3 at one point while living in LA, I found myself having to pay for a service almost every month due to the miles being driven. I decided then to buy a one AZ family owned 64 impala with fact a/c and the 327 for my daily. I loved it and that car like the M3 was a true icon of the roads I traveled.
    This enjoyment created my desire to expand the capabilities of my other cars. Which is more of adding modernizing my builds by adding more gears, efi, elect fans, bigger brakes etc.
    So, I find myself worried less of performance, but more worried of unaware drivers. As I am now living in Northern VA, although I have discovered one of the greatest group of collectors of various makes unlike i have never seen before. However, it did not really hit me on why I never see those cars besides early morning events, until I drove my 69 vette on a main artery recently. I was white knuckling my steering wheel in sheer terror as I had to look up at 95% of all those around me. Everyone seemed to be in some type of truck and between texting and driving looking down to see what was next to them did not seem to be a option, even with my fire breathing 427 blowing though side pipes. I actually was considering an offer that I turned down the week before on my vette, as so much of the joy it gave was replaced with terror. I will give it another try, but realizing why I seem to gravitate to my 04 SRT 10 Single Cab Truck when traveling the roadways here…..

  5. Todd Warren

    Keith, I hear you. I’m in the Metro NY area. It’s not just your age, it’s genuinely getting worse out there, and rapidly. In any car I care about, new or old, it’s getting harder to enjoy driving them. There is little courtesy, and very few people pay any attention at all. It shows in the highway fatality rate which, after many decades of steady and significant declines, has been shooting up for the last several years. There is one overwhelming reason — texting (or similar) while driving. It’s EVERYWHERE. It’s beyond appalling, and it’s clearly lethal. Reprehensibly, the NHTSA and IIHS tell us that the increasing fatality rate is primarily due to speeding. They barely even mention texting. Truly shameful.

  6. john Lobre

    I too am finding that it is less and less fun using my Citroën ’67 D wagon. Newer cars are more and more easy and capable to be driven fast. Combine this with less and less regard for traffic rules or any kind of sensibility for that matter, and you have a deteriorating situation independent of one’s age. Think of it as an example of entropy. Our old cars are simply out-matched with the flow and characteristics of modern day traffic. We are essentially taking a knife to a gunfight.
    With my car it is less the brakes which are pretty good, massive disks, but the clear mis-match in acceleration and top speed that is the issue. And yet, most people are happy to see the ol’ car out and about.

  7. John Gillespie

    I can sympathize with you Keith. Portland metro area traffic has steadily gotten worse and I don’t see it improving anytime soon. And It’s not just a Portland phenomenon, I experienced the same issues in central California, Seattle and Reno, NV or recent visits. Trying to navigate such traffic in any vehicle (let alone a classic car) that is not a giant pickup or SUV is downright intimidating. Pickups and SUVs have virtually replaced the “family sedan” as the preferred vehicle of choice nowadays. I don’t really understand why someone thinks they need a lifted 4WD Super Duty with monster truck tires protruding a foot out side of the fenders for daily driving. Especially when they will never see any off-road use ever. But then I don’t get a lot things. I love that summer is finally here but I have yet to take out my convertible sports car yet. If I can’t get out in the country on some scenic road with some good twisty bits it is hardly worth the stress of in town traffic. I too am getting old.

  8. Shawn Kolbe

    SCM Jaguar was spotted on hwy 26 heading west at about 10am on July 19th…
    Looked great !!!
    Couldn’t get close enough before my exit to hear the V12 sing…

    Have a great rally!!!

  9. Tom Colbert

    One way to enjoy your collector car beyond the occasional Sunday drive is to purchase a car which is both pleasant to drive and provides organized touring opportunities. A few years back I bought a Silver Ghost and have since enjoyed a number of tours organized by the Silver Ghost Association. The roads selected for these multi day tours are done with the capabilities of the car in mind and I have found this, along with the reliability and drive ability of the these cars, to make for an excellent time behind the wheel and the best way to enjoy your collector car.

  10. Brad Miller

    You know I’m not going to criticize the “demonstrations” of 800 hp cars that occurred on the brand new and beautiful 6th Ave viaduct in Los Angeles. We all have things that we are embarrassed about with cars when we were young – well at least I do.
    This was a seminal moment for LA and that community that had not had the respect of the LA government until they built that bridge. I wish they had recognized that opening the bridge in a respectful way to the community where they could do “donuts” would have made this something that everyone could have appreciated.
    Cultural differences are exactly that – differences to be celebrated – I have watched the videos and just smile – with all of the motorcycle riders and bike riders doing wheelies just enjoying the night out – I’m pretty sure this is why we continue to embrace the mobility that cars provide all of us – Don’t judge – enjoy that there is another generation waving the flag for the enjoyment of cars !

  11. Paul Hardiman

    One thing that resurrecting the old Escort after nine years has highlighted: there must be more traffic on the roads without me having noticed – and I live in rural Oxfordshire. In 26 years I’ve never got around to fitting a cooling fan (it should have an electric one but space is so tight with the oil cooler in the way I worry about restricting airflow and making things worse). I’ve always managed without, by careful route planning, timing of journeys etc, and putting the heater on full helps for a few minutes if you do get caught at traffic lights.
    But not any more. Every time I’ve used the car in the past week or two I’ve run into traffic, which soon has the temperature gauge edging up. I’ll have to bite the bullet and visit that nice Mr Ken Lowe, which will mean some rewiring, as the fusebox has run out of spare feeds.

  12. John McConnell

    I have a 1968 Camaro — modern Wilwood brakes and fuel injected, so it could be worse — I insist on driving a pretty good bit in daily traffic. When I let it sit, I always think about selling it. Yes, it’s far more dangerous than a modern car. I’m sure it would fold up like tinfoil against a new SUV. Still, I just focus my mind and drive the thing in traffic. I try to drive with pageantry. Some people do notice; other people just think it’s an old car. Well, I’ve done much dumber things in cars back in my teens and twenties so I’m betting I’ll make it.

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