Keith’s Blog: What’s Going on in the SCM Garage?

As the year comes to a close, this is a good time to survey the SCM fleet.

Compared to years past, there is very little heavy lifting going on.

The only car sidelined with engine issues is our 1996 Autozam AZ-1. We blew the head gasket on the Autozam on the way to Monterey. It appears that the speed governor (set to about 60 mph) was removed from it, and that the engine boost had been turned up. I’ve learned that these are common modifications to these little pocket rockets in Japan.

Consequently after an hour or so at running at 80 mph along with the SCM 1967 Giulia Super, Brad Miller’s 1972 Berlina and Greg Long’s 1966 Citroen DS21 cabriolet, the Autozam’s head gasket expired.

The car is at MPH Specialties, our regional go-to shop for micro cars and obscure marques. Previously they overhauled our Isetta 300.

They’ll have to drop the engine to remove the head, as it’s a tight fit. Our IT specialist — and Japanese car expert — Brian Baker sourced a top-end overhaul kit from Japan some weeks ago.

When finished, we’ll go for a couple of drives and then the car will move on.

The 1961 Sprint Speciale is waiting for leather, vinyl and carpet from Matt Jones’ Re-Originals. Matt has found the original suppliers in Italy. He’s also getting us a windshield, as the current one is delaminating. We have to pull the glass to replace the headliner, and there is no sense in putting the old windshield back in.

I’ve asked Bill Gillham to source a correct spare-trunk tie-down, and he says he can do that.

We’re still trying to figure out why the engine runs cold. Also, Jon Norman at Alfa Parts found some competition springs for it in Germany and they are on the way.

I’ve decided not to restore this car cosmetically. To strip it, re-spray and re-chrome it could easily approach six figures — and take a couple of years. Frankly, I have no interested in having a concours SS. The driving pleasure won’t change, and I prefer a car that wears its scars proudly.

When Matt Jones was looking over the 1958 Sprint Veloce at the Alfa National Convention in Olympia, WA, last September (where I accidentally bought the Jr. Z) he noted that the rubber around the door openings didn’t fit correctly. He is sourcing rubber from Italy now (there are three choices, of course) and I’ll have Guy Recordon install it when it arrives. Otherwise it’s ready to go.

The Duetto is done except for a little detailing here and there. Same with the 1967 GTV, the 1967 Super and the 1965 Giulia Spider Veloce.

All six Alfas went 1,000 miles on the SCM 30 Tour last summer, and they are really in fine road-trip shape. It’s taken years and thousands of dollars to get them into this condition, but it was well worth it. Now I can just head to the garage, pull out the one I want and hit the road.

The 1971 Junior Zagato has a few small needs. It continues to have a strange intermittent draw from the battery when parked. Also I want to have the correct steering wheel, which I sourced locally from Stu Moss, installed. Then Guy will re-stuff the driver’s seat cushion – something that generally needs to be done with any old car you buy.

Our 1960 Bugeye is all set to go. It could use a new windshield wiper motor, as the one in it fails when it gets hot in a heavy rain (a perfect time to lose your wipers). The Lotus Elise is simply on the button, as you would expect from a pampered 19,000-mile car.

I’m toying with having a different radio head put in the Lotus that would allow for Pandora — and perhaps better speakers. But I should probably just enjoy the exhaust note and forget about tunes.

For the 1975 Ferrari 308 GT4, we’re waiting for new door and window rubbers. For some reason, the passenger door rubber is jamming up and causing the door to be very hard to open. I want to get this repaired before I break the latch by pulling on it too hard.

When the rubber arrives, I’ll have Tom Black repair the dent I stupidly put in the body behind the driver’s door. Once that is done, I’ll continue my research into bringing the a/c back to life. Currently, I’m thinking that I won’t monkey with trying to fabricate any S2 vents, but just see how the interior cools down in our Oregon summers using the factory dash-mounted S1 vents.

I’m also going to have Guy reupholster the front seats in the correct brown cloth. The combination of the hazelnut exterior, boxer black panels and cloth interior is not only period correct but very attractive.

And finally, the 1984 D90 200 TDI is at the shop as the driver’s door has decided to stay permanently locked shut. Once Doug Shipman takes care of that it’s back into storage waiting for the next opportunity to get muddy.

At the moment there are no motors in pieces, or transmission gears strewn around or camshafts, crankshafts and gasket sets on order.

By attacking the small needs now, these cars should be ready to go when the weather gets better.

Keep old cars up-to-snuff is a constant struggle. But the rewards are worth it.

 

Keith Martin

Keith Martin has been involved with the collector car hobby for more than 30 years. As a writer, publisher, television commentator and enthusiast, he is constantly on the go, meeting collectors and getting involved in their activities throughout the world. He is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market and bi-monthly American Car Collector magazines, has written for the New York Times, Automobile, AutoWeek, Road & Track and other publications, is an emcee for numerous concours, and has his own show, “What’s My Car Worth,” shown on Velocity.

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