Now that December is upon us, it’s a good time for us (and you) to survey your collection and take care of little things that have been nagging you. Here’s what we will be emailing to Santa.

With the 2006 Lotus Elise, the list is short.

Last summer when we took the car in for emissions testing, we found that the car’s computer managed to eat its own VIN number. Consequently, its registration could not be renewed. Editor-in-Chief Jeff Sabatini took the Elise to the nearest Lotus dealer, Park Place Ltd. in Seattle, to have the software updated.

While there, they discovered two problems. On the drive up to Seattle the ABS light came on. It seems that the plastic clips that secure the wheel speed sensor wiring had broken on both sides of the car. Freed to dangle loose in the wheel well and rub against the brake rotors, the wires were all severed. Some soldering and a pair of zip ties should make this right again. The power door locks in the Elise had also stopped working, which will involve replacing or rebuilding an electronic module. So, for the holidays, I’d like this all fixed.

The tires on the car are also more than a decade old now. They have plenty of tread, but that’s not the point, is it? My wish is that the car goes on a couple of 1,000-mile rallies this summer, in which case I could justify spending the money on new tires. Other than that, the Lotus has no other needs, although the newly installed Bluetooth stereo seems to have popped a fuse.

The 1971 Mercedes 250C is nearly on-the-button.

It needs the ignition timing advanced to “fatten up the idle.” Unlike the stock Stromberg carburetors, the dual Webers Chip Starr installed don’t have an automatic throttle kick-up when the A/C is on. But the car pulls much more strongly than it did when stock and, all things considered, I’m glad we made the change.

Chip will also need to put the rubber bumper trim on the right rear corner back in the correct position. It appears that while we were in a parking lot, someone grazed the bumper just enough to pull the rubber out of its slot. Was there a note on my windshield? What’s your guess?

Other little needs include repairing the washer fluid reservoir and installing a passenger-side mirror I sourced from Germany. By driving the car on the SCM 1000 and another tour last summer, we have really “shaken it down,” fixing all the little things that became apparent. Getting the car into this condition has not been quick or inexpensive, but it is now a delight to drive. I consider this money well spent.

My son Bradley took our 2000 Land Rover Discovery out for his first off-roading experience, and he came back hooked. With a manual mechanical center-diff-lock installed in place of the hopeless electronic traction control that was stock on this rig, the Disco was a beast off road.

He just had the rig out to Ship’s Mechanical, where they burped the cooling system to restore our ability to heat the car. They also replace an LED headlight bulb that had gone bad.

Like with the Benz, it has not been cheap or quick to get this rig into service. But again, it was worth it, as Bradley can now go and get muddy with the gang whenever there is a trail run.

With both the Alfa Junior Zagato and the Mercedes SL55 AMG gone on to new homes, there is space in the SCM Batcave for the 1975 Porsche 911S when it returns from getting its Sportomatic transmission rebuilt. I’ll have a progress report on that, the Alfa Duetto and Giulia Spider Veloce and the 1982 Collector’s Edition Corvette next week.

What little tweaks do you plan on making to your cars this winter?


  1. “Fettling” Keith. A word I learned from you while I faithfully watched and loved: “What’s My Car Worth”.
    I have a little of that to do over the winter season myself.
    Best of the season to You, Bradley and the SCM crew.

  2. I’m trying to repaint some of our 2015 Jaguar F-Type’s interior parts that have gotten sticky. Honestly, soft-touch coatings are not worth it!!! I wish manufacturers would realize this and stop using it.