There’s been a lot of change in the SCM garage the past few months, and all of it for the good.
In the recent past, we’ve been sampling cars that have always intrigued us, to see if they had staying power once they were daily drivers.
I’ll be the first to admit that collector-car hot buttons are intensely personal, like choices in wine or which sports teams you choose to follow. Duckling imprinting has a lot to do with it; I grew up in San Francisco, so I will always be a fan of the Giants and the 49ers. (Joe Montana certainly made it a lot easier to turn on the T.V. once the Super Bowl rings started piling up.)
My first car was a Bugeye Sprite bought the day I turned 16, and the second was an MGA. From 1969 on, there has always been at least one Alfa in the garage.
After my circling of the affordable classics in the collector car world, here is what has ended up staying at SCM World Headquarters.
2000 Porsche Boxster S. It continues to be easy to live with, offering huge performance for no money, a top that goes up easily, heat and a/c that work and seat-toasters that are perfect on crisp mornings. I continue to rate the Boxster S as a “best buy” in terms of value per dollar. Things to do: replace clutch at some point, but it’s not slipping now.
1972 BMW 2002 tii. It took us over a year to get the injection sorted out, but once we did, the car brings nothing but smiles. It has a terrific greenhouse and pulls strong from low RPM. It has a “planted feel” that is different from the Alfas, and it’s fun to imagine them racing back in the ‘70s. This ex-Ned Scudder car has been lowered and fitted with an upgraded suspension. There is a surprising amount of room in the back seat for Bradley, and we’ve fitted a non-inertia shoulder belt back there for his safety.
1964 Chevrolet Nova wagon. This was a two-year restoration of a pretty good car. It has its original 283, and we converted it from a 3-speed on the column to a 4-speed floor shift Saginaw with Hurst linkage. We also added SS buckets and an SS gauge cluster. It attracts a lot of attention (when was the last time you saw a properly-restored gen-I Nova wagon?), is good for hauling our booth to events and doesn’t have temper tantrums like some of the other cars. Needs? A little readjusting of the driver’s door fit, some fiddling with the headiner and some trim on the carpet around the spare tire well.
1984 Defender 90 200 tdi. With the Range Rover Classic gone, this has become our weapon of choice for off-roading. I think of it like having a large-displacement dirt bike that you only ride a couple of times a year. Since we replaced the timing belt, rebuilt the head, rebuilt the injection pump and installed an ARB rear locker and on-board compressor, the D90 has simply been a beast off road. I need to source a good roof-rack for upcoming week-long excursions, as when you’ve got adults and kids inside, there’s precious little storage room. I’d also like to install a rear step – with the lift kit, it’s a bit of a reach for Bradley. And a couple of small things like running lights need to have the rusty sockets replaced. But overall, the D90 is exactly the “Mr. Scruffy” I want it to be.
1965 Alfa Giulia Spider Veloce. This is a car I have owned on and off for over 30 years. It was mechanically rebuilt by Conrad Stevenson seven or eight years ago, and just cosmetically refreshed by Tom Black last month. It’s a member of the family. Its only need is that the brake pedal has always been soft, and I wish someone could figure out why.
1958 Giulietta Sprint Veloce “Confortavole.” We bought this last August in Monterey at Concorso Italiano, thinking that it needed just a little fettling to be perfect. $30,000 later and still counting, a ½-inch of Bondo has been removed from the nose, the front half of the car has been resprayed, the transmission has been rebuilt (using what might be the last set of N.O.S. tunnel-case synchros in the U.S.), and the engine is completely apart. We’ve finally located a head that can be made to work (our fourth), and we have cams with a modern grind and a “cheater” 1,400-cc kit ready to go. The car won’t be ready for this year’s Alfa Convention in the San Francisco Bay Area, so the next goal is the Monte Shelton NW Classic, and then the Colorado Grand. It needs the drivetrain reassembled, and then it should be good to begin the tedious “fettling” process.
1967 Alfa GTV. We bought this car from Colleen Rugh about two years ago, and it has been a joy. We haven’t done much to it except put in a new Matt Jones interior. After some minor rust repair to the rear fender arches by Gillham, it should be good to go.
1967 Alfa Giulia Super. This just arrived a week ago from Santa Barbara. It has a nicely patinated feel, everything works, and it came from a good Alfa family that didn’t hesitate to spend what it took to have things fixed. I love driving this car, and Bradley likes it as well. It needs a strong detailing of the engine compartment and a rear shoulder harness installed.
So that’s about it, except for the 1967 Volvo 122S two-door I am close to owning — but that’s a story for the next blog.
Do you think this collection is headed in the right direction? Appreciate your thoughts below.