Chess Pieces in the SCM Garage Are About to Get Shuffled
As my daughter, Alex, pulled out of the driveway this afternoon in our 1967 GTV, en route to a 500-mile Labor Day weekend road trip, her parting words to me were, “Don’t buy too many cars while I’m gone!”
Last week she referred to me as the Cat Lady of Collecting. My feelings were hurt, so the only way I could make myself feel better was to post on Facebook that I was in the hunt for a vintage BMW 6-series (aka a Shark). With each new listing my enabling friends sent me, I felt a little better.
The “duckling imprint” theory of collecting continues to rear its billed head around the SCM offices.
Many years ago, I had an Alfetta GT as my daily car. While it was a profoundly poorly-constructed vehicle and cost me thousands of dollars in my short period of ownership, nonetheless I was always taken with its rakish lines: the way the front edge of the hood protruded like the eyelashes of a sultry Italian vixen, and the curious placement of the instrument cluster between the driver and passenger. That it has a transaxle confirms the link between my car and the famous racing Alfetta GT monopostos of the 1950s.
I’m taking a break from the sports car world and have joined our local Pacific Coast Rover Club for a five-day off-road camping trip. I’ll be out of cellphone and internet reach until July 5. (How will I stand not being able to text or post?)
For the sixth consecutive year, I’ve been a part of Bloomington Gold—a mecca for Corvette enthusiasts in Pheasant Run, Illinois—and managed to come back to Portland without buying a Corvette.
For a car-a-holic, going to any marque-specific meet is tough. You think, “Everyone else has a Sting Ray, why don’t I?”
It gets worse if there is an onsite auction – in this case, held by Mecum. People just put their hands in the air, and suddenly they own a Corvette! Heck, I can put my hand in the air just like they are doing, and I’ll be a Corvette owner too.
I’ve said goodbye to my new best friends at United, Air Canada and Delta – at least for three days, when I check in with my other best friends at Alaska. But we’ll get to that in a second.
This weekend marked the high school graduation of Wendie’s youngest son, Drew. So the family trundled up to Auburn Memorial Stadium in Auburn, WA to watch the ceremony. Her oldest son Tyler drove his 2009 Chevrolet Camaro SS Transformer edition, Wendie and Bradley took her 2009 BMW 525i and Alex decided it was the 1972 BMW 2002 tii that we would hustle up in.
Unbelievably – and happily – I’m back in Europe for the second time in less than a month. It seems like I’d just unpacked my bags from my trip to the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, where I saw many friends and wonderful cars, before packing up again and boarding a plane for France.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks, full of the old car stuff that we dream of.
I landed in Munich on a Wednesday evening, and Thursday morning I set off on a caravan of BMW 7-series old-timers, across the Alps to Lake Como in Italy.
I drove a variety of BMWs, the earliest being a 1939 335 four-door cabriolet. My favorite was a 3.3 iL, which, even though it was an automatic, had a crisp-feeling suspension and a terrific “sit-high” driving position. The most powerful was the late-model 750 iL. Although it was a wonderful performer, it didn’t have the personal connection offered by the earlier cars.
Every once in awhile, a gearhead’s fantasy trip comes along. And mine is about to begin.
Thanks to BMW, I’m heading to Munich tomorrow. There, I will join three other journalists from the U.S. and we’ll set out for two days of driving vintage BMWs from the BMW Classic Center. Visions of 328s and 507s are dancing through my head.
Porsche guru Jim Schrager has been my advance scout in the search for a 1984-89 911 Carrera. A lifelong Porsche man, he has a substantial collection himself, and has bought and sold literally hundreds of cars. This, of course, is in addition to his day job as Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business – and as the Founding Editor of the Institutional Investor’s “Journal of Private Equity.”
Schrager and I have been sharing horror stories (and good ones – but the scary ones are more fun) about 356s and 911s for more than two decades. In fact, when I was writing a weekly column for a wide-circulation car magazine, Jim helped me buy and sell a couple of 911s that became fodder for my column.
When I found a 1968 911 L, he took charge of my education, so that when the engine started making noises like a washing machine with a bucket of bolts loose in side of it, I knew the chain tensioners had collapsed. (Luck was with us – we had just completed the 1,000-mile NW Classic Rally and pulled into our driveway when the tensionsers let go.)
I’m writing this on the plane, en route home to Portland after a weekend filled with people, the cars they drive and the boats they pilot.
Keels and Wheels is unique among shows, as the setting at the Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook, Texas (near Houston) allows for equally compelling displays of vintage cars and vintage wooden boats. The atmosphere is casual, without the stuffiness of some concours, and there is an air of mutual admiration between boat and car aficionados.
This was my fourth year as emcee of the boat awards (Saturday) and the car awards (Sunday). Chair Bob Fuller and co-chair Paul Merryman have been instrumental in helping me learn a bit about boats – and my involvement with K&W has surely contributed to our family now having two boats in the garage.