Keith’s Blog: Keith Martin, Car Schlepper

It’s been a busy week at SCM World Headquarters. Oregon is having its annual days of fall sunshine, with temperatures in the mid-70s. The leaves are turning and it’s a perfect time to enjoy sports cars.

It’s also great weather to run them back and forth to repair shops. The 1967 went to Nasko for a new master cylinder, provided by Jon Norman at Alfa Parts. The Bradley GT was back at Always V-Dub to figure out why, once a rebuilt transmission was installed, the car started puking oil all over our garage floor.

The 1965 Giulia Spider Veloce made a quick trip down to Bill Gillham’s shop in Jefferson, OR (about 50 miles away) and he tweaked the steering again. Friend Doug Hartman gave me a ride down to get the car in his gloriously presented 1969 GTV, stunning in dark blue over black. It was smooth, quiet and comfortable.

While following Doug back to Portland (after stopping at a couple of wineries along the way — after all, this is Oregon and the Willamette Valley), I thought about just how good these Alfas from 1956-74 are, even as they approach and cross the 50-year-old mark.

They work very well today, in every circumstance except the freeway. There, 7,500-lb monster SUVs with distracted drivers thunder by at 80 mph and more, oblivious to the fact that they actually in traffic with other vehicles and humans around them.

Our goal now on tours is to find as many back roads as possible, and few if any freeways.

I had a chance Sunday to exercise our new 2003 996 911 (the “waterpumper with the pancake headlights” as my friends so delicately put it). On twisting roads around Mt. Angel, OR, it was a delight. Our Legal Files analyst John Draneas piloted the car for the first stretch.

I always enjoy being the passenger in one of my own cars, when a competent driver is behind the wheel. John is a long-time SCCA spec racer, and he put the 911 through its paces.

Although this Porsche is 15 years old, it’s a very modern car by SCM standards. It’s 330-hp and six-speed gearbox make a perfect combination for whizzing along a brisk but comfortable pace. This car is not equipped with Porsche’s “nanny-aid,” PSM, so if I get in over my head in a turn, it’s up to me to find a way out. I enjoy that.

If I’d been in one of our ‘70s cars I would have been going 20 mph slower, but it would have FELT much faster.

My repair list is growing shorter. Nasko has the mechanicals in the 1961 Sprint Speciale nearly done, and then it is off to Tom Black for paint and bodywork. The 1958 Sprint Veloce needs some front brake attention. My goal is to get all the cars in top shape and ready to roll so that when spring comes, I can go downstairs, take whichever car I want, and head out on a new adventure.

I don’t mind being the head schlepper this week, as it means the SCM fleet will be ready when duty calls in the spring.

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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2 comments

  1. Keith, Your 996 has the “good” headlights, not the early 996 “Pancake” units. I think the 2nd generation configuration is attractive and will eventually become desired. That couldn’t have anything to do with my owning a 996 GT2, could it? This leads me to ask that at some point you compare your current 996 to your old 996tt. I love my GT2 but find the extreme performance rather frustrating. If I could just USE the performance without fearing jail time! It’s a thrill but it’s not fun- too serious. My wife has a 2006 Boxster S which has plenty fast for real world performance but is actually “fun” to drive. Just thinking. Glad you are getting your collection finished up and perhaps you can spent more time enjoying using them. I owed a string of Alfas a while back and still think about another one. I particularly miss my old SS but the prices have gone beyond what makes sense to my sense of performance/$$ [You need to consider that I had intended to vintage race my SS prior to discovering how impossible it was to find body/trim parts. I used to dream about building an SS with a Monteral engine, etc.. so you can disregard my opinions as you please. Yes, I am familiar with Tom Zat’s creations.]

  2. Keith;
    I am a long time SCMer, your magazine alsays has pole position on my coffee table. At cocktail hour it is always first out of the shoot.
    I will not be able to attend Arizona but wanted to know what went on at your seminars. Do you transcript any of the discussions.
    Keep up the great work! Cheers

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