It’s an unintended miracle. At the exact same time that the weather is turning towards sunshine, nearly all our cars are in tip-top condition and ready to go.

After I reported on the errant speedometer in the 1972 250C during last week’s shakedown cruise, our technician reminded me that I actually already purchased the instrument cluster from a 300D. It’s only three nuts holding the speedometer, so soon enough we’ll have the right instrument, with the right internal gears, reading the right speed in that car.

That was the last thing on its list.

We also had a problem with the throttle sticking partway open on the 1971 V12 Jag. Bradley took the car to the Grayson’s Consolidated Autoworks, and after popping the bonnet, Ed spotted the problem immediately.

Somehow the rain shields had gotten slightly bent and were rubbing on the throttle shafts. If the throttle had stuck open on the freeway, especially with Bradley behind the wheel, it could have led to some interesting moments. As a parent, those are the types of things you worry about when you put a young person behind the wheel of a classic car. Brakes, steering and suspension can misbehave in ways that are inconceivable in a modern car, and you hope nothing like that happens.

Ed noted that the modern replacement shields are of a thicker gauge and less prone to deforming, so installed a pair.

The only way our cars will stay reliable is if they are driven on a regular basis. I have cars stored in three locations. Five are at my condo, three at Mike Chrisopher’s Pro-Tek Automotive and four more at the SCM Batcave. Those include the cars that get the least use, the 2006 Lotus Elise, the 1965 Alfa Giulia Spider Veloce and the 1967 Alfa Duetto. As I can’t drive a stick, I rely on the kindness of others when it comes to taking them out for a spin.

The three cars I would most like to have in service are the ‘71 V12 Jag, the ‘75 Porsche 911 and 1991 Alfa Spider S4. They all need to be kept at my condo during the good weather.

It’s not as simple as just starting them up and heading out. Ideally, you’d like to be on an organized event with other similar cars. With the Alfa and Porsche clubs, they have a variety of events that we can participate in. Mostly one day out-and-back, a great way to chat with people and exercise your car. Most of the Porsche events are for newer cars, so we hope our antique 1975 can keep up. We’ll certainly be the only one without air-conditioning in this modern era.

I’ve gone on a couple of Mercedes tours, and they are full of late-model four-door sedans, driven by people as old as I am! This lack of two-lane activity has put the 250C on the short list when it comes to reducing the size of the collection. Drop me a note if you have interest.

Our big challenge this summer is to aggressively pursue touring opportunities with likeminded people and cars. Going on these events won’t happen by itself. We have to stay in touch with the clubs, keep our calendars up to date, and be sure we have the right cars at our fingertips when the weekend arrives.

I assume all of you with a handful of cars are concerned about keeping them all exercised as well. I’d like to know how you go about it.


  1. Hi keith.
    Had exactly the same problem with my Slll XKE. Those skimpy aluminum rain guards bend down when you as much as look at them, and catch on the throttle rods. I just bent mine up and problem solved.

    Safe touring.

  2. Having multiple collector cars entails a commitment of time, effort, and money. As Keith mentions, the only way to keep them reliable is to drive them regularly. Cars are machines and all machines work better when they are used and properly maintained. Letting them sit unused is not proper maintenance and is the worst thing you can do to them.

    But the paradox is that the more cars you have the less time you have to enjoy – meaning drive – each one. Yes, to some owners “enjoyment” comes as much from detailing and working on their cars as it does from driving them, but not me. I’d rather be out on the road which, given where I live, is possible from roughly mid-March through mid-November, but further constrained by the often unpredictability of our weather patterns, not to mention my calendar and other time commitments.

    Regardless, from storing them, to maintaining and cleaning them, to repairing (or having repaired) whatever might break (because it will!), it can all be a real challenge to manage, although certainly is a “good problem to have.”

    As far as driving them, each weekend, and sometimes during the week, (weather permitting) I take one or two out for a drive. It might be just me going out for an hour or so drive or to a local cars n’ coffee on a Saturday AM, or it might be an occasional semi-organized drive with a group of car buddies on some favorite local area back roads for a morning drive followed by lunch and a beer at a favorite watering hole. Being a Porsche guy, I do enjoy our local PCA chapter “Fun Runs”, which they do about three or four times a year, and will try to sign up for those if my calendar (and, again, the weather) permits. I used to do PCA DE (Driver’s Ed) track events but got away from that for the last four or five years ago, but am now thinking about diving back in, or on, the track for maybe a couple of events per year.

    So, I have no real methodology of driving the cars, just whatever strikes me at the time. I do find that I tend to gravitate to a few cars mainly, several tend to sit un-driven, and so I’m thinking of selling one or both of those, which in theory might make it easier to enjoy more the ones I enjoy the most (if that makes sense).

  3. I don’t understand why you would let an “inexperienced” driver take the car on the road with a known problem, especially a sticking throttle. You should have started the car in the garage to check it, then called the Jag tech before ever taking it out. Be safe.

  4. Keith, You can’t let go of that W114 250C. IMHO, it is such a significant piece of automotive history for Mercedes-Benz that one could admire for ever. I’m my mind, the lines are timeless, the “boxey” shape brings back memories of an era when Mercedes-Benz was punching out one of the better mid-class series cars in the business along with Volvo, BMW, and Audi. The “Slash 8” cars as they were often referred to whe I was working in the industry were the workhorse around the world for literally all occupations involving transportation of people. Saw it all over the place in Asia. If I weren’t up to my hips in cars(24+ and more coming) I’d ask you for a number on her and we’d talk. Alas, can’t do just now. Suffice it to say, think you have a real winner there and should keep if only for the prosperity.

    Very Best-
    Hugh Whipple