Every first of January marks a new beginning.

Go out to your garage, and take a look at your sleeping beauties.

Think about how much effort has gone into finding, selecting, buying and refurbishing each one.

Note that I didn’t say restoring, as now that we are grownups, we’ve all decided to buy cars that other people have restored rather than flagellating ourselves that way. Haven’t we?

Which cars we buy, and how we use them, is an intensely personal decision. Just like you can’t make someone like a crisp Oregon Pinot Noir if they’ve had their palates ruined by that syrupy, fruit-bomb California stuff, nor can you expect a Ferrari 308 lover to fall head over heels for a 911 Porsche.

My resolutions for the coming year start with a continued focus on clarity. Why do I want a certain car. Which model do I want? What is my budget? How do I intend to use it?

I’m not of the age where I can squander months or years with a car that has no clear role in my life.

That’s not to say that I might not buy a car and change my opinion and sell it. That’s exactly what happened with our Porsche 928 S4. It was a great example, but I simply didn’t bond with it. The car always felt heavy and dark to me. After a few months and a few thousands of miles, I sold it for about what I had into it. No harm, no foul.

At the moment, my vision for the Mercedes 250C’s place in the SCM fleet is clear. I want to use it on the SCM 1000, then drive it to Monterey Car Week and back to Portland. Even though the car is not yet fettled, I’m already looking for a high-speed rear end from a Mercedes 300D to let the car cruise more comfortably.

Of course, as Editor-in-Chief Jeff Sabatini commented, “You haven’t even driven this car with the Webers on it. Why not wait and see what you think before making more changes?”

When it comes to logic, my hearing isn’t as sharp as it once was, so I couldn’t really understand what he was saying.

I envision the M-B as a comfy long-distance cruiser. We’ll see how things play out when it’s actually in service.

My manual-shift Alfas present a more complicated conundrum. My stroke-affected left leg may never be clutch-capable for the 1965 Giulia Spider Veloce or the 1967 Duetto. I still get great pleasure out of being a passenger in those cars. For the coming year, I’ll rely on the kindness of others to let me enjoy their incomparable visceral connection with the road.

In one fantasy, my son Bradley takes a liking to them, and we go on a few events together, son as driver and father as navigator. As much as I like thinking about that, I also realize that he is 15 years old. Chauffeuring his dad around might not have as much appeal as another round of video games with his friends. It’s his decision as to what activities we will do together, and I respect it, whatever it is.

The “angel” part of me says I should pare down the fleet a little. (I now have somewhere between 10 and 12 cars, but who’s counting?) The “devil” side counters, “They are all paid for and have good storage, so why do anything?”

As 2023 begins, take a look at your own cars, and ask yourself why you have them and what you intend to do with them. If you’re not driving them, then you’re a furniture collector and what fun is that?

Allow yourself to dream a little. Think about going on a tour or a road trip. I’m hoping to get five or six cars to join me on my drive to Monterey. Find new ways to enjoy your cars. And if you have decided to purchase a used car for yourself and your family, it is vital to do some research and look for the best used car dealership in Spring Lake before you spend your money.

In the end, dream about using them, then use them to make those dreams come true.

I’ve made the 250C into my fantasy road-trip car. What car in your garage is the one you think you’ll drive the most next year?

 

7 Comments

  1. Nick Daffern

    Happy New Year, Keith. I always enjoy your perspectives on all things automotive. I’m sort of the opposite of you. Not being in the business, and being of relatively modest means, I keep my cars for a long time. I had an Alpina modified 3.0CS that I bought new in ’74 and kept for 30 years and I only sold it because I got into Porsches and needed to make room in the garage for a 58 Speedster. I still miss it. It was such a nice blend of sportiness and luxury. My first Porsche was/is a 928 which I bonded with more than you did yours. Our ’69 280SL rounds out our hobby cars. All three are distinctly different and all three are fun in their own way, and I doubt I’ll sell them so long as I’m still able to drive. I envy your ability to not grow too attached to your cars as well as your ability to sample so many automotive flavors. Living vicariously through you and your writers is one of the reasons I’ve been a long time subscriber. Cheers.

  2. Lord Richard D Pirtle

    Unfortunately due to doctor’s order I had to give up my 87 Black Twin-Turbo Callaway Corvette that I sold brand new to Dan Hanna then brought back in 1991. I never drove the car since it was too fast. I only put 1500 miles on it when I gave it to my son in 1990. I also gave him my 6900mile DeLorean which I loved driving and my weekend cruiser a dark purple Jaguar XKS Convertible.
    All I have left are two Geo Tracker Convertibles 4X4s tow cars behind my 40ft Monoco Dynasty Diesel Pusher Motorhome and my wave runner which the doctor also tried to take away. I actually enjoy my Geo Trackers as they are funcars to drive and love putting the top down on nice days during the summer. My fur baby Marley loves to ride in them.

  3. Guylain De France De Tersant

    Happy New Year Keith
    Your comments are always interesting to see and the car you drive are an eclectic mixed. Collecting 10 to 12 cars is not so difficult as I do the same but the problem is which ones are you using regularly… and this is where the real crux is as if a car spend months and year in a warehouse what good is that… My perfectly balanced car is a Gemballa GT750 Aero based on the Porsche Cayenne nothing can beat this either as a daily driver or a pure speed car as it goes above 325kmph…and is a unique one as it was build to spec for the original owner.
    However the fun is really the DB7 Aston Martin Vantage Cabriolet which is my daily driver… for the highway pleasure the BMW 850 is hard to beat and for the evening out the Bentley Continental close the loop.

  4. Happy New Year,
    Well I was able to start my new year with a wrench in my hand and my 92 300CE, that I purchased before thanksgiving. It is a great car with 80k on the clock and garage kept(no dings and plenty of shine). However, judging by the plugs, rotor, cap and volt regulator that I replaced yesterday it still needed some love. I too got this to give myself a brake from my stiff clutch in my daily 04 SRT-10 Truck and to feel more comfortable then my low ground hugging 69 vette on the local roads. I brought the car and drove it over 300 miles (KY/West VA to the DC area in the snow) not realizing that it had been last registered in 2012 and been stuck in the garage since. I will never do that again, but when you take your young one along, you sometimes find yourself doing things that you would not do alone. I’ve been joking that I am driving the MBZ into submission as I been pushing that old gas out etc. (filters and all fuses were a few weeks ago). In the mean time I hope to continue the battle rhythm of turning a wench and embarking adventures with my young one. Again, Happy New Year!

  5. Bob FitzSimons

    “Somewhere between ten and twelve” or, as we call it in English… Eleven. Unfortunately, I know what you mean, Keith. Do I have to count THAT car? I have figured out I will probably never fix it. Or THAT one? I told a friend he could have it. All of our lives we have enjoyed the hunt and the getting. Few of us are willing to admit that having and maintaining- or worse- unexpected fettling do not carry the excitement of a new discovery. Who wakes up and says “I hope my injection system fails today” or “Gee, it’s going to be fun paying for that air strut.”? But, as Keith observes, a part of growing up is recognizing the best allocation of scarce resources. And fixing the car you have and know is far better than opening a new can of worms.

    Happy New Year

  6. “No longer restore, just buy cars others restored…”

    In August 2018 after I pulled up to some officious looking guy at Concorso Italiano to be handed a “Best of Marque” trophy for my 1960 Alfa 2000, the guy asked “how long have you owned this beautiful car?”

    I replied “18 months” and he instantly turned his back to me in disgust at being someone who apparently bought his way to a trophy.

    I took delivery of a pile of boxes and a rusty shell on a trailer 18 months earlier.

    If I don’t bleed on them, I’m not going to own them.

  7. Why oh why aren’t you plotting an SCM Monterey Car Week Run??? Nothing as elaborate as an SCM 1000, but loosely coordinated so those who want to can join in along the route. So many SCMers and friends will be headed that direction from the Pacific Northwest, and upper Northern California. They do this from Southern California to Monterey midweek of Monterey Car Week.

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