Keith’s Blog: Broken Bradleys and Alfa Romeos – My Monterey Week

Monterey Mayhem is done for the year. Thousands of classic cars are streaming away from the Peninsula — some in trailers and some driven.

During the week, I watched RM Sothebys sell an Aston Martin DBR1 for a record-breaking $22.55m, Gooding hammer a Porsche 917K for new record of $14m and Bonhams set a record for a 1995 McLaren F1 at $15.6m.

SCM will have a complete blow-by-blow analysis in our next issue, with more information in this newsletter.

But my focus was elsewhere at least part of the week. The brakes failed on my Alfa GTV and the door fell off SCM’s continent-crossing Bradley GT.

SCM styling analyst Robert Cumberford joined me in the GTV for a flawless 900-mile trip from Portland to Pebble Beach. The car ran brilliantly, got about 24 mpg and used a half quart of oil.

However, I noticed that the brake pedal was getting a little soft as we approached Monterey. By the time I arrived at my rented condo in Pebble Beach, the pedal was going all the way to the floor. Sometimes pumping the pedal 10 or 15 times would bring it up for a few seconds. Other times, that didn’t work at all.

On Friday, I was the emcee of Legends of the Autobahn across town at the Nicklaus-Club Monterey. I briefly considered trying to drive there in the GTV, using the gearbox and hand-brake to slow me down. I quickly discarded that as a really bad idea.

I posted a note on Facebook — and got many offers of help. The one we used came from my co-emcee at Concorso Italiano, Myles Kitchen. He put me in touch with Joe Beale of Classic Coachworks in Monterey.

Hagerty Roadside Assistance (they were offering free tows all weekend) got the car to Joe, and he installed a rebuild kit that day. However, it didn’t solve the problem. Even though the master cylinder was just 3 months old, it had already failed. Sub-standard parts are becoming a serious issue with our old cars.

Ruth Ann at Jon Norman’s Alfa Parts overnighted a new master cylinder from Berkeley to Monterey. On Saturday morning, Joe installed the new part – while I was emcee of Concorso Italiano.

I was sad to not have my GTV as one of the 40-plus GTVs in the class that SCM sponsored. But I was relieved the car was running again — and I hadn’t had an accident.

That night I delivered the GTV to Pebble Beach and watched it loaded on to a Reliable Carrier truck to be shipped to Portland.

Another Alfa adventure had come to an end.

But the Bradley GT adventure continued.

The Bradley GT was a hit all weekend. It made its debut at the Concours on the Avenue on Tuesday, where Alain de Cadenet and Donald Osborne regaled the crowd with descriptions of what a terrible car it is. Alain said the styling reminded him of “a bad acid trip.” Donald wondered if we were trying to corner the market in Bradleys. I replied that it seemed like the Bradley market had cornered us.

SCMer and director of the Forest Grove Concours, Allen Stephens, had driven the car from Cupertino to Carmel. Allen then piloted it to Legends of the Autobahn, where once again it was a center of attention.

SCM contributor Pierre Hedary drove the car to Concorso, where we were going to pick it up — and a new group of SCMers were set to drive it home to Portland.

However, when SCM staffers went to fetch it the car, not only wouldn’t it start, but the driver’s door fell completely off. The screws holding it into the roof had pulled loose.

Once again, Hagerty towing came to our rescue and the car was delivered to Reliable, to be safely slotted next to the GTV.

I asked our resident old-car guru in Portland, Tom Black, if we could drop the Bradley at his place, he wanted to know what he had done to deserve this punishment.

As of Monday morning, both cars were back in Portland. The GTV needs to be washed, and the Bradley, well, the Bradley’s needs are a moving target.

Old cars make their own stories, and the tall tales of the GTV and the Bradley GT from this Monterey Car Week seem to be headed towards a happy ending.

Keith Martin

Keith Martin has been involved with the collector car hobby for more than 30 years. As a writer, publisher, television commentator and enthusiast, he is constantly on the go, meeting collectors and getting involved in their activities throughout the world. He is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market and bi-monthly American Car Collector magazines, has written for the New York Times, Automobile, AutoWeek, Road & Track and other publications, is an emcee for numerous concours, and has his own show, “What’s My Car Worth,” shown on Velocity.

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