SCM is gearing up for our annual madcap tribute to Martin Swig.
Swig, the founder of the California Mille, was famous for setting off on car trips at the drop of a hat. Thanks to him, I participated several times in the California Mille, along with the Carrera Nevada — a dash across the back roads of Nevada in vintage American cars.
The Third SCM Caravan to Concorso is a Swig-inspired event that runs from Portland to Monterey for Car Week and Concorso Italiano.
This year the SCM-featured models at Concorso are Junior Zagatos (it’s the 100th anniversary of Zagato) and Giulia and Giulietta Spiders. I’m planning on taking our Junior Z — and perhaps another Alfa as well.
All cars are welcome on the Caravan to Concorso, but older, less- reliable cars — and those more likely to create roadside excitement —are preferred.
There is no formal organization, or meticulously planned meal stops or centrally-made hotel reservations. Aside from email and/or What’s App communications, we simply start our engines and go.
Last year’s slightly deranged participants included me, my son Bradley, and SCMers Luke Chennell, Richard Lincoln, Greg Long and Brad and Nancy Miller.
Our group of cars included a 1967 Giulia Super, a 1972 Berlina, a 1986 Autozam AZ-1 and a Citroën DS21 cabriolet. The Zam made it 159 miles to Elkton, Oregon before the head gasket let go in spectacular fashion.
It coasted to a halt next to a Porta-Potty. I called a tow company and said, “We’ve got a car and a toilet stranded in Elkton. Please bring one of them back to Portland. Your choice.”
Luke and Richard distributed their stuff into the other cars (that’s one of the advantages of having three 4-seat cars in the group) and like a WWII flight of B-17s over Europe, the three of us soldiered on missing a wingman.
The master cylinder on the Super began to fail on the two-lane, no-guardrail roads of the Lost Coast Highway. We had it replaced in Berkeley. The DS21 temp gauge began to get excited. Eventually we all made it to Monterey.
We will leave this year on Saturday, August 10 from Portland. Heading south on Interstate 5, we will cut over to the coast to have lunch in Bandon. From there we will follow the coast to Eureka, where we will spend the first night. There are plenty of two-star hotels to choose from — all with complimentary stale pastries and bad coffee in the morning.
This year, on day two we will skip Fortuna and the Lost Coast as we head south. We’ll stop at the Trees of Mystery for our obligatory photo in front of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Great Blue Ox.
After that we head for the 2,400-year-old Drive-Through “Chandelier Tree.” Then we will cut over to the coast and follow Highway One all the way to Novato, where we will spend the second night (a sprinkling of three-star hotels there, with the same complimentary breakfast feast).
That makes Monday an easy run across the Golden Gate Bridge, avoiding rush hour. We will pick up Highway One again and follow it to Monterey, arriving early Monday afternoon.
I’ve found that if I take an easy three days to get to Monterey, it’s good for me and for the 50-year-old hearts and souls of our vintage cars.
I’ve driven straight through from Portland to Monterey in 12 to 15 hours more than once. I’d rather lock myself into a clothes dryer set to spin cycle before I do that again.
An added bonus is that we have old cars to drive during Monterey week. To make sure my experience ends on a positive note, I load my car onto a transporter after Concorso Italiano Saturday evening. I jet back to Portland on Monday, and either the car arrives before I do or within a couple of days. Car and driver both arrive rested.
So that’s the drill. If you’re interested in being a part of this goofball exercise in two-lane indulgence, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking forward to seeing you in August!