Keith Martin

Keith’s Blog: To Gatorland and Back, 700 HP Later

The weekend was fast and long, with me flying to Kissimmee and back in the span of just a few days. It was my first time attending Mecum’s mammoth Florida auction. With over 2,000 cars on offer, I’d liken the experience to wrestling with a porcupine – there was no way I was walking away without something to show for it.

The American Car Collector editorial gang has insisted loudly that the magazine needs its own swagger-worthy set of wheels, and I had a feeling Mecum would be the place that it would happen. When I glimpsed the 1963 Dodge 440 with built 700-hp Hemi, tubbed wheelwells and roll cage built to 9.9-second regulation, I was barely able to calculate my maximum bid before the red mist set in.

Keith’s Blog: Blazing From Scottsdale to Kissimmee

Another Arizona Auction Week has come and gone in a whirlwind. In addition to the SCM gang hosting another wildly successful Corvette seminar, consignment tours at RM and Gooding for Platinum subscribers, booths at Gooding, Russo and Silver, we managed to attend every auction and pretty much every after-hours gala event. 

The What’s My Car Worth? production team had two film crews working simultaneously to keep Donald Osborne and me perpetually evaluating cars. We looked at 16 cars total, and test drove 14, including a 1955 Ferrari 250 GT Europa, a 1968 Aston Martin DB6 Vantage and, of course, Herbie, the 1963 VW “Love Bug” Beetle.

And now it’s on to Kissimmee, for Mecum’s annual mega-auction. I’ll be doing a meet-and-greet there on Saturday, January 28 at 2pm. RSVP by Wednesday if you’ll be attending. See you there!

Keith’s Blog: 911 SC Update

Alex and I took the Boxster S out for a delightful, top-down drive a week ago. Despite 40-degree weather, the interior space was cozy, thanks to a factory windblocker between the roll hoops, windows rolled up, heated seats and a prodigious heater.

We went out along the Sandy River, through a variety of backroads towards Mt. Hood, and ended up at the Zigzag Inn – where I’ve been taking Alex since she was in a bassinette. The S once again impressed me with its combination of  effortless power and comfort – but not, alas, enough to make it a permanent keeper.

Keith’s Blog: This is NOT About Arizona

This week’s newsletter is chock-full of information about the upcoming Arizona auctions, and I’m sure I’ll see many of you there. But buying interesting cars (and trucks) is only the beginning of the experience. The next step is to actually use them in the manner in which they were intended, to begin to understand what makes them special in the first place.

Last weekend Alex and I spent Saturday in the mud of Tillamook State Forest, in Oregon, leading a group of four Land Rovers across hill and dale. I haven’t given our 1984 RHD Defender 90 Tdi nearly the seat time I would like to, and relished the opportunity to flog it for the day. With its competition suspension and brutish torque, it was nearly unstoppable.

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Keith’s Blog: To Denver and Back in the Same Morning, Plus New Year’s Resolutions

Facebook followers already know that my day started early on Friday, December 29, with a 5:45 am flight to Denver from Portland. At 11:25 am, I flew back home. Of course, to most of the world this would seem like madness, but just 1,850 miles from achieving coveted “Premiere Executive” status on United, it was a small price to pay for bonus miles, faster upgrades and the like for all of 2012.

It seems to me that jets have become the Greyhound buses of the 21st century, with constantly full flights, crammed overhead bins, surcharges for nearly everything and constantly rising fares. As a result, the mere notion of waived luggage fees and a nominally bigger seat feels like personally discovering the Holy Grail.

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But the New Year has arrived, and it’s time to talk cars. (Suddenly even the most austere Bug Eye Sprite seems like an upgrade from coach on Frontier.) You’d think that after all these years of buying and selling, some the resolutions described below would be self-evident, but I’ve proven myself a slow learner when it comes to navigating the passion and logic of adding a car to the SCM collection.

Keith’s Blog: It’s My Birthday, and I’ll Buy If I Want To

Last Thursday marked one more happy year of existence on this planet for me, and unsurprisingly, it put me in a car-shopping mood. I casually posed the question of  what to buy on my Facebook wall and had twenty responses in less than six hours. Here are some of the highlights.

Harvey Briggs recommended an Austin-Healey 3000.

Alex Martin-Banzer recommended a Porsche 911 SC.

James Long recommended a 1960s Mini Cooper S.

Joe Beckner recommended an Alfa Sprint Speciale.

Keith’s Blog: Look Homeward, Volvo!

As SCM readers are keenly aware, the key to buying any old car is turning the process into an adventure. I knew that picking up the newly purchased 1973 Volvo 1800 ES with four-year-old Bradley would have to be full of first-times if I wanted the experience to compare with fresh and visceral memories of Disneyland, whence we had just returned.  (We rode every thrill ride his 43” height would allow, including the Hollywood Tower, where he remarked in the plummeting elevator, “Gee, Dad, those ghosts don’t look very real,” and the Matterhorn—“I didn’t know snow monsters had red eyes”—as I struggled to keep from tossing my cookies.)

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Keith’s Blog: Last Year You Sold me a Range Rover, This Year Sell Me a P1800!

It’s Road Trip Time

It’s time for my annual fly-and-buy road trip with my daughter, Alex. She’s returning home for Christmas break after a semester studying marketing and business management in Grenoble, France, and she’s already asking what we’re going to buy this year.

Last year I was on the hunt for a Range Rover to use for our “civilized” off-roading; the crude part was served by our Series III rig (which has since gone to Colin Comer’s father  – I know, if Colin REALLY loved his dad why would he stick him in a mobile Waring Blender?). The SIII was replaced by our turbo-diesel D90.

SCMer Jeffrey Stout of Manhattan Beach contacted me, and I was immediately seduced by his 1989 Range Rover Classic – in fact he had even taken Sir Stirling Moss for a ride in it (presumably not off-road). Alex and I flew down and drove it back to Portland, where it has become a much-beloved member of the SCM stable.

Keith’s Blog: What Do You Want Under Your Tree This Year?

For those in need of a reason to buy a car, the holiday season offers the perfect excuse. As my birthday comes near Christmas, I conjure up even more fantastical justifications.

It’s the time of year that you’re likely to hear phrases like these from around the SCM office:

     “It’s Christmas, I deserve an Alfa Sprint.”

     “I haven’t bought a car in months, and I need one more Lotus before the year is out.”

     “If I buy a TR6 before the end of the year—for business purposes of course—I can take an entire year’s depreciation.” 

Keith’s Blog: Audi S6 Avant vs. P1800—And the Rovers Are Ready To Rumble

Well, 73 blog comments later, my search has narrowed. I appreciate the knowledge, enthusiasm and opinions you’ve all shared during the past week, and you have definitely propelled things forward.

Here’s where we stand. I’ve located a gray / gray 1995.5 Audi Avant in the Pacific Northwest that seems like a good candidate for the SCM fleet, with an asking price of $7,000. I’ve forwarded the information to my new-best-Audi-friend, Mark Weiner, President of Concours Cars of Colorado. He is the SCMer responsible for the Audi shenanigans; his email to me mentioned that he had extensive experience with all three of the cars I was considering—the BMW 2002tii, the Volvo P1800 and the Alfa Berlina—with two in his shop at that very moment.

As much as he liked the cars, he thought the one-year-only S6 Avant would trump them all and offer a worthwhile new driving experience for us here. The one I’m currently considering is the only Avant I’ve found available in the entire country. So I’ve sent him the pictures and history, and I’ll let you know his recommendation.

At the same time, three gurus from the local Portland Round Fender Volvo Club have banded together to help me sift through the surprisingly large number of P1800s for offer on both Craigslist and eBay. Dean Koehler, Cameron Love and Peter Eulau are evaluating the links I’m sending them, and Dean has even gone so far as to make a couple of phone calls on my behalf. It’s the first time I’ve ever had my own personal scouting team!

The search has narrowed.  There is a white/blue 1973 wagon (ES) listed in Washington; same owner for many years, properly maintained, with a Buy-It-Now price of $15,000. It looks nicely used.