As our launch date of August 14 draws closer, some of the puzzle pieces of our trip are coming together. Please join us for some or all of it.
At the moment, it appears the SCM contingent will include our 1972 Mercedes 250C, along with my son Bradley’s recently acquired 1982 Corvette Collector’s Edition.
It’s a 2,000-mile round trip. Some might think that taking 40- and 50-year-old cars on this journey is kind of ridiculous. But I was told the same thing when I announced I was creating a market letter for Alfa Romeos 35 years ago.
Getting these cars ready has been no small deal. Both cars were solid but with needs. Fundamentally, they are not high-strung cars, and the trip is mostly highway miles. So, in theory, once they are set right, they should stay right.
For the 250C, what’s left is to replace the electric fuel pump that was installed on the SCM 1000 when the original mechanical one failed.
It is only through use that little, annoying things become apparent and can be solved. SCM has always maintained that one of the most overlooked parts of finishing a restoration (or putting a car “back into service”) is taking the time to drive it enough so that flaws become apparent.
We took a quick 150-mile road trip up Mt. Hood to Government Camp in the 250C Saturday to try out the A/C that good friend of SCM Mike Christopherson, owner of ProTek automotive, had repaired. It had lost its max-chill factor near the end of the SCM 1000. We put 1,700 miles on it start-to-finish on the tour.
He fixed the wiring to the refrigerant pressure sensor, and we once again could make ice cubes in front of the dash cold air outlets. As our world becomes warmer, and we become more “mature,” functioning A/C is taking on a role of importance I could never have imagined 20 years ago.
The Shark is having its A/C tuned as well. Mike converted it to R134, and now is replacing the clutch on the A/C compressor. It’s a solid, never-abused, 95,000-mile car and we expect that once it is fettled, it will be road trip-ready.
Bradley already had his first old car adventure when he took the Shark out, alone, and a failed alternator caused it to die in a friend’s driveway. He now pays attention to the voltage gauge and knows that a reading of “7” is not good.
He nursed it to Chip Starr at Race Car Resurrections here in Portland, and they made a quick trip to a parts store for a replacement. (For you NCRS guys: The alternator on the car was not the original one, so we didn’t worry about saving it.)
What’s the message here?
My personal relationship with classic cars has always revolved around “value in use.” Our old cars were once reliable, and they can be made to be reliable again. It requires a willingness to open your wallet, often to unbelievable widths. But also to drive, break, repair, drive, break again and repair again, until our cars settle down.
If we can’t use them, what’s the point in owning them?
I look forward to seeing you in Monterey in a few weeks.