From Lamborghini Huracans to 1300-cc Alfa Supers, it’s been a car-centric weekend.

But first, am I the only one who noticed the classic low-rider Chevrolet convertibles in the Super Bowl halftime show? Or the VW Thing in one of the ads? Is this Gen-X nostalgia?

My weekend started with a conversation with collectors hosted by Sheri Harbour de Vos of Avants Portland. It was held at Mike Christopherson’s Pro-Tek Automotive, where we keep some of our cars.

My partner in crime on the panel was Paul Duchene, former executive editor of SCM and a long-time collector car raconteur and all-around good guy.

The questions that were posed addressed a variety of topics. One young man talked about the three Lamborghini Huracans he had owned (still two currently) and why he liked the spider the best.

I recalled that when I tested a Huracan for The New York Times, I had to sign paperwork agreeing that I would not exceed the posted limits. Of course, that’s ridiculous. I think I wrote that “up to 65 mph the car handled brilliantly. But above that I don’t know as I never went any faster…”

I got a chance to expound on two of my favorite topics. First, while I appreciate the “live-wire” feel of air-cooled Porsches, in terms of being a good all-around car, the water-cooled cars are better in just about every way.

I owned a 1978 SC with 125,000 miles on it that I bought for $10,000. I sold it to Duchene after a couple of years for $10,000. A few years later he then sold it to someone else for $10,000. They were $10,000 cars forever. At $10k they were fun and a great value. At today’s $30k-$40k, maybe not so much.

Both my 996 Twin Turbo and Carrera were wonderful cars, and much easier to live with. And better. Now you have my two-cents worth. But I appreciate your air-cooled mania.

The other topic I spoke about is what Miles Collier refers to as “notional horsepower.”

I believe that for typical street and touring use, anything over 150 horsepower is wasted.

I’m sure that’s partly because I have grown up on small-bore cars, starting with a 948-cc Bug Eye.

On the Sunday Alfa Romeo Club Valentine’s Day Tour, I had the pleasure of riding with Chris Bright, founder of Collector Part Exchange. We were in his 1300 Giulia Super. He was busy rowing through the gears, and I was busy enjoying watching him.

Other cars passed us on some of the long uphill grades, but we passed them back on the downhill curvy stretches.

I’ve driven Bugatti Veyrons and various McLarens, along with plenty of miles in my 493-hp Mercedes SL55. I have made the decision I will never again drive at triple-digit speeds on public highways. First, it’s just stupid and dangerous. Second, what’s the point? You’re not getting a trophy for arriving first at the La Quinta Inn at the end of the day.

The reason track days exist is so that you can enjoy the potential of your car in a reasonably safe situation. Exercise your super car there.

I get sleepy every time someone brags about a 0-60 mph time. So what? Skinny tires, a small motor and a good five-speed gearbox are a path to automotive nirvana for me.

With classic cars, we are behind the wheel of anachronistic vehicles that represent technology that is typically 50 or more years old.

Just like I’m not interested in “fresh wine”, I want my driving experiences to take me into a past when drivers and cars and roads were evenly matched. When you could easily scare yourself silly at 50 mph as you skidded around turns.

I’m sure enthusiasts who have grown up with BWM M cars and Mercedes AMGs look at things differently. But I am set in my ways.

I am not saying that cars with more performance are not better in every way, just as my Twin Turbo 911 was superior to my SC.

But just as we each have favorite meals and pairings, we each have types of driving and cars that make us happy.

My 1965 Alfa Giulia Spider Veloce has a 1600-cc engine, my Citroen DS21 a 2.1-liter. I doubt either one could see 100 mph without it being a challenging (i.e. terrifying) experience. Yet I could easily drive either of them on the SCM 1000 and have a wonderful time. And while I might not be the first to finish each day, I wouldn’t be the last either. There’s more to performance than 0-60.



  1. And we are stil loving the 996 here in Tampa, Fl. Has been a great ride and continues to be a reliable and fun ride. Love getting it off the crowded roads and out in the countryside to fully enjoy the car. Thanks again.


    AMEN about Old Cars. 44 years and almost a million miles in, the Porsche I have used the “most” of was my 125HP, 5 speed, ’71 T Targa. Every one since has just been more and more “unused” capability.

  3. Yep, I noticed them. Near as I could tell, a ’61, ’63 and ’64. Saw the VW Thing in the Taco Bell ad? (Maybe?) Shows how some of the ads didn’t do a great job of focusing on the product they were supposed to be selling. The Kia ad with the robo-dog wasn’t well received but I thought it did great job of making the car look ultra-modern. The Koreans seem to have all the great new designers.

  4. I noticed the classic low-rider Chevrolet convertibles in the Super Bowl halftime show and was horrified to see dancers jumping up and down on the hood of each car! And yes, I loved the Kia robo dog ad. I think my 2001 Mercedes SLK320 exhibits some of the fun you talk about albeit in older vehicles with less power. I too keep my speed down and focus on the car and what it is telling me.

  5. Being a owner of a slightly restrorodded 61 Invicta, I appreciated the use of the Impala’s. I had a 64 (one family owned, SO. AZ car) Impala, that was bone stock when I lived in LA and it was a joy to see peoples faces when I went anywhere from Brentwood, Hollywood to Inglehood. I think the use of these platforms has brought in a whole new era of appreciation for the big designs of GM, especially if you can add some modern touches.

    The cars used were a 62 (Corona Cream, my favorite color) 63 and 64. Some of the earlier songs really placed a spot light on the 64 and were widely seen in videos and still all over the streets in LA. So, as much as I enjoyed that tie, my skin is still cringing at watching the dancers on the hoods.

    As building excess, I have been amazed to hear of the level of horsepower some of the EVs are working towards. One of my Viper Club buddies, who has a highly modified viper shared with me a story of him almost passing out in a Tesla Plaid. I’ve said for years where are you going to take this high HP cars to use those capabilities as well as being nervous that the young collectors will be more interested in the hp than the magic felt by driving a unassisted car.

    Thanks for Sharing,

  6. I too saw the Low Riders and was horrified to see the dancing on the hoods. How could that not do damage? Ok, so you get a perfectly good replacement hood for your Low Rider but will the new paint match the rest of the car? Maybe do the whole car? Then again, maybe the value is increased? Having your Low Rider be part of the Super Bowl LVI (100 million viewers?) offsets the diminished value caused by the mismatched paint or soft roll dents in the hood.? Just thinking, maybe keep the dents as proof and call it Patina? Maybe they were only shells of Low Riders bought and made as needed for the performance and then sold as a “Project Car formerly in Super Bowl LVI” .

  7. Dave Hedderly-Smith

    Thanks, Keith. I’m a small bore guy too. Been through MGAs, Bs & Cs, several motorcycles and a couple of Corvairs. I loved my ‘65 911 coupe and drove it to Alaska and across the country and back. My speedster replica (an older Intermeccanica) is a hoot. But my ‘98 Boxster is the most fun to drive of them all. A mid-engined 200 hp and a 5-speed on a 2800-pound superbly handling chassis works for me! You can enjoy that Lambo if it fits your style. I like small, quick and affordable.