Sea Lions and SLs: The 11th Annual La Jolla Concours d’Elegance

I take part in many concours and car shows around the world each year, and the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance continues to stand out. This past weekend I returned for my fifth year as emcee.

The setting is wonderful, right on the ocean at Ellen Browning Scripps Park. Sea lions bask in the sun at a nearby cove, and at times you can hear them bark — not something you will experience at many other car shows.

Chairman Michael Dorvillier has Read More

Planning Out My Old-Car Year

I just got a call from Nasko, our local Alfa guru here in Portland, telling me that my late-model differential has arrived from Berkeley. Jon Norman of Alfa Parts did the build.

It is going into the 1958 Sprint Veloce. The diff that’s in the car now is noisy, and although it will probably last forever, it makes cruising on the freeway uncomfortable.

I thought about trying to save the original 750 Series rear end, but Norman talked me out of Read More

When Numbers-Matching Matters

I’ve just returned from Auctions America in Fort Lauderdale, FL. I was shooting episodes of “What’s My Car Worth?” While there, I looked at the 400 cars on offer, and I read their descriptions.

 (To see my FB photo album with over 150 pictures from the Ft. Lauderdale Auction, click here.  You do not have to be a member of FB to view them. )

When it came to describing engines, there were many familiar phrases used, such as “numbers-matching,” “date-correct,” Read More

Selling a Needy BMW 318i — and Buying an MGA Twin-Cam or Datsun 2000?

After more than a half-decade of use, the 1995 BMW 318i’s time with us is done. The car served as Alex’s daily driver, and she put more than 50,000 miles on it. 

It’s a four-door with 5-speed. I recently spent over $2,000 replacing a computer board in the car, and I thought we were good for another couple of years.

But then it started misfiring. I took it to Boyd Motor Werks, and they diagnosed a slight leak Read More

Twelve Days in Florida — The Revs Symposium and Amelia

Over the past 12 days, I’ve traveled thousands of miles, seen hundreds of classic cars and shared the joy with countless gearhead enthusiasts.

My trip started with the 8th Biennial Symposium on Connoisseurship and the Collectible Car presented by the Revs Institute. It took place at the Revs Institute for Automotive Research in Naples, FL.

Scholar, collector and frequent SCM contributor Miles Collier founded the Institute. The Symposium brings together about 60 students and a dozen faculty to Read More

Why Road Trips Matter

I was looking at my motoring schedule for the next few months, and I got to thinking about why I go through all the effort to prepare my cars for these events. I was reminded once again that it’s not really the cars that make these excursions so satisfying and enjoyable – it’s the great people with a shared common interest. The fact that we’re in wonderful cars on wonderful roads is a bonus.

If everything goes according to plan, I’ll Read More

Upgrade Your Classic With a 5-Speed?

Should you upgrade the transmission on your vintage car?

That’s one of the debates in today’s collector car world. The discussions revolve around “as built” correctness versus upgrades for driveability.

Most of the small-displacement, under-2,000-cc vintage cars from the ’50s and ’60s handle, stop and start reasonably well. You simply adjust your driving style to accept the car’s limitations.

But there’s nothing you can do about engine speed on the freeway. If your car doesn’t have an overdrive or a Read More

The Alfa, Viper, Volvo, Méhari and Me

A Gearhead’s Trip Through A Vintage-Car Theme Park

You can tell the weather is getting better because I’m spending more time in the SCM/ACC garage.

It all started last week when seven-year-old Bradley asked if I would take him to school in the Viper. I asked why that car, and he replied that he had never been in it. Which seemed like reason enough.

The Viper has an airbag-disable switch on the dash, so taking a child in it doesn’t Read More

Old Cars: More Reliable Now Than Ever

I was giving a talk at the local MG club meeting last Friday evening.

We were discussing road trips, and the SCM “Road to Reno” adventure came up.

In 2011, we bought three 1972-73 MGBs (two convertibles and a GT), refurbished them and drove to Reno for the All-MG Register gathering and then back to Portland.

They performed flawlessly. Someone in the audience mentioned that they had caravanned down with 50 other MGs, and that only a couple of them Read More

A Badass Volvo 1800S Joins the SCM Fleet

“It’s black, and it’s slammed.”

That was my first thought when I set eyes on the ’64 Volvo 1800S. My daughter Alex and I had just arrived at iRoll Motors in San Martin, CA.

I purchased the car in July, but it took this long for the shop to address a variety of mechanical issues and for our schedules to align.

We took a 6 a.m. flight from Portland to San Jose. Mike Dudek, the owner of iRoll Motors, Read More

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