What do you think the ideal cutoff date for a vintage tour should be? Or should there be one at all?
The cutoff for the SCM 1000 is 1974. We chose that year as stringent smog and safety regulations began to take effect on US cars in 1975, altering the appearance and performance of later cars.
We also entertain applications for continuation cars that were similar in later years. For instance, our 1975 Porsche 911 S is very much the same as the 1974 model. But a 1997 Carrera is a completely different animal.
Other tours have different cutoffs. For some it is as early as 1957, with liberal allowances for similar cars. Years ago, the founder of the California Mille, Martin Swig, told me he would allow my 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider Veloce on his event, as it was in the “same spirit” as the earlier Giuliettas that ran in the Mille.
Some tours have a year limitation, but include a caveat that says, “and any modern super car or sports car is welcome.”
In my experience, mixing newer cars with older ones disrupts the flavor or feel of an event.
Fifty-year-old cars are much more difficult to drive than modern ones. They also accelerate more slowly and are more challenging to brake and to negotiate turns.
At 80 mph in my Giulia Spider Veloce, I can feel the skinny tires grabbing the pavement and hoping for grip.
If I’m not in the right gear, I fall out of the power band and the car is most unhappy.
Old cars are also inherently less reliable. There is a reason we will have two tow vehicles with trailers on the SCM 1000. We had none on last year’s SCM 1000 AMG Invitational, where the oldest car entered was built in the 1980s.
The newer a car is, the less it asks from you to make it perform.
One of the things we learned from our AMG Invitational was that driving a modern car took some of the fun out of a tour. I never worried about the electrical or fuel systems failing in our 2004 Mercedes SL55 AMG. In fact, our biggest challenge was getting our luggage to fit in the miniscule trunk when the retractable hardtop was down.
Also, with newer cars it is easy to exceed posted speed limits and drive at speeds that are, frankly, dangerous on public highways.
We have been asked by some potential entrants if we would consider raising the age limit on SCM 1000 tours to 1980, or even to 2000 (those cars are now nearly 25 years old, which is one way we define a classic). Some suggest we should eliminate all age-related requirements.
As a tour presenter, we are always looking for the balance between the flavor of an event and having a full slate of entries. On one hand, having no age requirements should offer a larger field of potential entrants.
On the other, vintage car drivers might not be so enthusiastic to have their MGA passed by a McLaren F1.
I’m curious as to your thoughts here. As the years pass, should we slide the cutoff date of our event up to include more modern cars? Should there be any limitations at all? What is your ideal mix of cars?
Or do we keep the current 1975 cutoff and keep the event as is?
I look forward to your comments below.