I’m a planner. There’s always a chance that my clutch leg won’t be fully operational time for the 2020 SCM 1000.
I plan on driving the route, so I’ve been musing about affordable, 1974-and-earlier two-pedal options.
If I had an unreasonable budget, my first two choices would be either an Iso Lele or a Maserati Ghibli coupe. Both have engines powerful enough to mask the power-and-joy-robbing characteristics of the 3-speed automatics from that era.
However, both cars are well over $75,000, and I don’t see this as a long-term ownership play.
I wouldn’t mind an Alfetta sedan, but the smog-crippled engines coupled with the dreadful ZF automatics don’t really make up for how affordable (cheap?) they are. The best one in the world should be under $10,000.
I’ve learned that you soon forget a bargain price when you get behind the wheel of a deficient car. You instantly wish you had spent more and gotten something better.
Just to sour the pot a little more, ZF forced Alfa to buy their load-leveling rear suspension for the Alfetta when they sold them the automatic. Luckily, by now most of those complicated and unreliable rear suspensions have been swapped out for a simpler stock unit.
My two favorites for the tour would be a Series III V12 Jaguar coupe or a Citroën DS21.
I owned an auto Jag coupe, and it was a delightful cruiser. One of the advantages of any sports car with an automatic is that the engines were rarely — if ever — run hard. The transmissions of the era simply weren’t built for quick shifts up or down.
The V12 makes prodigious power, and the a/c, power brakes and steering make this an exceptionally comfortable cruiser. While the hunchback 2+2 styling is unfortunate, it does provide space for luggage in the back. And friends with short legs will fit perfectly into the rear seats.
I think I could find a nicely fettled one for $30k to $40k — especially in these winter months, as the market continues to cool down.
Aside from the styling, the only drawback is that these are large cars on the outside, with cramped footwells on the inside. However, I can see enjoying 1,000 miles of Oregon two-lane roads in one.
Finally, I’m getting a hankering to own a Citroën DS21 automatic. I owned a down-market ID19 when I was growing up in San Francisco. A 1959 model, it was only seven years old. It was fun, comfortable and quiet.
For all things Citroën, I refer to our resident baguette specialist, Greg Long of Citroëns of Cascadia in Seattle. Join the Facebook Group Citroens of Cascadia to learn more. Or go to: https://www.foundmotorcars.com
If I edge closer to a purchase, I know he will provide me with a mind-numbing amount of minutia. But I’m not quite there yet.
Long says a good DS21 should run $25k to $35k, and he just happens to have a couple for sale. Funny how that happens.
I’m in no hurry. My clutch leg is improving daily and I fully expect to be driving my Alfa Junior Z on the tour. But it never hurts to be thinking ahead.
I welcome your thoughts and suggestions on this topic.