The SCM 1000 is less than six months away.
It will be an all-inclusive 1,000-mile romp on select, challenging two-lane roads of eastern Washington. With a hub in Spokane, in the heart of the restaurant district, the route will take us to the Grand Coulee Dam, rustic Lewiston, ID, and more.
The decision that confronts me is which car to take. I understand that this is a first-world problem. However, it’s not an unusual one for those of us who have a garage full of classic sports cars.
Tour applications are welcomed for any pre-1975 car. For information about space availability and joining us on the tour, email SCM 1000 Executive Director Sue Counselman.
She will be able to answer your questions and help you put all the pieces together, including transporting and storing your car and more.
I’ll list my top three car choices, and let you help me decide.
At the head of the list, primarily because it is new to SCM, is our 1972 Mercedes 250C. First brought to our attention by SCMers Ron and Deborah Rader, it’s a one-owner car that has been nicely taken care of but never refurbished.
It’s covered an impressive 211,000 miles, and still wears the “VOL” (for export) plate installed at the factory in Stuttgart, Germany, when it was picked up.
Local W114 whisperer Chip Starr has taken on the task of prepping and optimizing it for classic car tours.
He has installed dual Weber DGVs, an electronic distributor and a high-speed (3.46:1) rear end from a 300D.
The a/c was just rebuilt and will freeze you out of the car.
In the 400-mile trip I took to the Oregon Festival of Cars, I became enamored with the 250C’s tall greenhouse and resultant great visibility. When Chip is done with the build, it will be a handsome autobahn cruiser.
Second on the list is our 1971 Jaguar E-type V12 coupe. Having covered just 25,000 miles, it also has great a/c and cruises effortlessly at 80 mph.
Nothing tops the aircraft-style gauges and switches of the dash, or the view over the impossibly long hood and power bulge needed to clear the four (yes four!) Stromberg carbs.
I’ve now done two SCM 1000s in this car, and it’s a joy to drive.
The sportiest choice would be our 1971 Alfa Romeo Junior Zagato. It’s been upgraded from a 1300-cc to a 1750-cc engine by a previous owner. While philosophically I’m not in favor of that type of engine swap, I admit to enjoying the extra horsepower and torque.
For my use, it’s been fitted with a hand-clutch by local racer Fred Lux. As with the Mercedes, I have installed a higher-speed rear end (4.1:1) which turns long transits from tedious to relaxing.
Alas, there is no air conditioning in this car. But it is by far the sportiest of the three, and the air flow from spirited driving might more than make up for the lack of R134a.
So those are the three cars I am considering for our tour, the M-B 250C, Jag V12 coupe, and Alfa Jr. Z. Which would you choose for me?
And if you were to join the SCM 1000, this year or in the future, which of your pre-1975 sports cars would you most like to drive and why?
Deutschland Uber Alles. Drama-free, in a good way. Plus, you’ve already taken the Jag on previous events. My 2c.
Yep, you chose the 250 partly because of this tour, and the car surely understood your intent. If you don’t take it, it’ll curse future attempts to smooth things over in a very Germanic way. Take the blue coupe.
I agree with Adam’s – take the 1972 Mercedes 250C
You’ve done the Jag, let it rest. The Benz seems like a restored luxury car. The Alfa is the choice because it’s most likely to write some interesting stories. Fear not!!
Howbout you take the Alpha and I follow as closely as possible with the MB? [good fortune with the tour]
Having owned a 1969 Mercedes 230/8, multiple Jaguars and an Alfa 164 I can assure you of this. I am certain that the Mercedes will get you there in glorious style, lavish you in fantastic highway driving as it is a superb road car and pretty much guarantee you a hassle free trip. The Jaguar will please all of your senses in every way BUT might be a bit finicky. As with all 8 of my Jags however, there is always a way to get home, even if you are an owner of a “Prince of Darkness” Series II. The Alfa will surely delight your ears from beginning to end. I would take the Jag as I always enjoy the possibility of an adventure
Take all three. Have your kids drive, and when you get to Spokane you can draw straws to see who drives what that day.
Given your theme of German cars, the choice is clear: The 250c.
The car of mine I would use in keeping with this years featured nationality would be my 1972 BMW 2002 that needs a little of everything (or in the case of carpet, all of it) but runs well. Living in WA I suspect it might even make the drive! It would provide a nice “proletariat” contrast to the ” bourgeoisie ” complete, pricey and dare I say nice vehicles usually found on tours. If ignoring the age limitations I would take the 1999 BMW E36 M3 convertible which I greatly enjoyed driving through that area of eastern WA in the late summer of last year. Additionally with it’s auto transmission I would give it to you to have a rip in and appreciate how it drives. Have fun in the Merc!
Already taken the Jag and you definitely need AC. Mercedes for sure!
I’d go for the Mercedes. The Jag was too much of a compromise, losing the sporting nature of the original XKE and a long trip in a car without A/C seems kind of uncomfortable these days. The 250C is a really nice compromise of a car.
Mercedes for long haul comfort and ease of driving. Also advantage to its revived AC and a recent inspection/revamp of mechanicals, including reliable electronic ignition. Ironically this is the one to fly to Berlin and back.
Definitely the Mercedes for total comfort.
Mercedes for sure. But, buy a new set of15 X 7 bundt wheels and tires so it doesn’t look like you borrowed your aunt Betty’s grocery getter!
I’d vote Jag, but you’ve been there/done that, twice. Got to be the Benz.
As a new member of SCM, and a long time mechanic, I was always been a fan of the classic American muscle car. However, I have come to appreciate this segment of the collector industry, and Keith Martin, ever since watching “What’s My Car Worth” – man I miss that show! My vote would be for the Mercedes. What a great looking car – very dignified! If I were driving myself, I’d choose the only foreign car I’ve ever owned – an Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce.
Your blue MB is likely going to get the 1000 ‘thumbs up’ and it would be a great choice. BUT, I have always wanted an Alfa sports car and for me the most fun is in the smallest, sportiest cars. Back in ‘93, my soon to be wife (now of 29 years) got word that Alfas are unreliable (harsh) and so out went my hope for a new Spider. I’ll drive the Alfa if you’re asking!