Keith Martin

Keith’s Blog: “Working Girls” at the Kirkland Concours, and Another Affordable Classic Search

We’re just back from the 9th Annual Kirkland Concours, and my 8th as morning host and co-emcee with Ed Herrmann for the awards ceremony. The weather was sunny, and in fact a record-breaking high temperature in the 90s was recorded. If I’d swathed myself in Saran Wrap under my sportcoat and tie, I surely could have come home at least ten pounds lighter.

In some ways Kirkland is my favorite event of the year. It brings together the intimate feel of a regional event with very nice cars, and a sprinkling of notable autos that would be perfectly at home at Pebble Beach. The setting at the Woodmark Hotel, Yacht Club and Spa (a sybaritic trifecta in that name) could hardly be more alluring, with Lake Washington sparkling in the background and the Olympic Peninsula in the distance.

Keith’s Blog: Back Home Again, In Indiana

We finished our first day of shooting at Auctions America by RM in Auburn,Indiana, and for me it was a typical love-fest of driving old cars. During the day, I got the chance to evaluate and drive a 1966 Shelby GT350H with just 20 miles on a fresh restoration (oddly heavy steering, high idle (1,200 rpms), spongy brakes, and a tendency to run hot). The owner wanted $120k or so, which might be justified by the visuals only, but it just was not there yet mechanically.

Then I drove a restomod 1957 “Black Widow” Chevy 150 2-door post. I’d give the car a B-, as the modern 350 engine was strong, the updated front disc brakes stopped well, and overall the car was extremely attractive. It just didn’t handle well. If it were my car, I’d send it off to Colin Comer and have him dial it in. No one is saying that old cars handle like modern Ferraris, but they don’t have to be like pigs scrambling on a wet clay bank either.

Keith’s Blog: Puerto Vallarta and Potty Humor

Wendie and I are just back from the Mexican coast near Puerto Vallarta. Our five-day trip was a much-needed respite after the maddening crowds of Monterey.

We arrived at the airport and picked up a new Jeep Wrangler, equipped with a delightful and economical V6 engine and a 6-speed gearbox. It turned out to be the perfect choice for the trip we had planned, as once you’re out of the city and off of Highway 200, nearly every road is a Jeep road. The Jeep was so nice, in fact, that I might go so far as to say that my 1984 Turbo-Diesel Land Rover Defender 90 seemed crude by comparison—but I don’t want the local Landie gang to stone me with Whitworth wrenches.

Our destination was Costa Careyes, where a private casita awaited us, with a splashing pool and walls open to the sea. What we learned was that Mexico in the summer is HOT. Really hot, and really humid, with lots of meat-eating bugs that feast from 5pm until 10pm every night. Bug spray and long-sleeved garments turned the tide.

Keith’s Blog: Monterey – Where Million-Dollar Cars Are Falling Like Leaves from a Tree

It’s Sunday night at 7pm, and I’m sitting in the Gooding tent watching a 1932 Alfa Romeo 1750 Series V  Zagato-bodied Grand Sport hammer sold at $1.4m. Now, in most situations, that would seem like a lot of money. But this weekend, it’s just another million-dollar car. It takes something like a Mercedes 540K at $9m or a Ferrari 250 TR at $16m to get anyone excited.

I don’t have any overall totals, but I can say that the uncertainties of the stock market don’t seem to have reached the Monterey Peninsula. In our seminar on Saturday, several of our experts noted that gyrating stock prices, miniscule interest rates, and a depressed real estate market are all leading to more interest in, and escalating prices for, blue-chip collector cars.

Why are the most expensive cars getting even more expensive? Because those that can afford a $500k, or $1m or $10m car already have money. They’re not worried about losing their jobs or their homes, they’re just trying to get a better return on their funds. And compared to a lot of financial instruments, collector cars look pretty good right now.

Keith’s Corner: Bicycle Crashes into Alfa GTV; Everyone Loses

Could it be any more ironic? Our family (Wendie, Bradley, Drew, and me) had just finished the annual Portland Bridge Pedal. Once a year, the freeways around the city are closed down, and close to 20,000 enthusiasts wearing tight shorts and jerseys grab their bicycles and go for a pedal. (I might say that a few of the jerseys on the “mature” men could have been just a bit looser.)

Bradley did well on his Trek tagalong, and in two more years I expect he’ll have his own bike.  He insisted on wearing his Spiderman costumer and cast imaginary webs at passersby.

When we got home, I moved the 1967 GTV from the driveway to the street, so Wendie could get her BMW 5-series out of the driveway. I opened the door to get out, and smacked a bicyclist passing by. The rider, an elderly lady, didn’t fall but sustained a couple of pretty good scratches to her leg.

Keith’s Corner: Off-Road Rovers, On-Road Porsches, and a Sinking Boat

We tried to sneak away for a few days, to recharge our batteries before the Monterey whirlwind.

The Martin family spent four days at Morrow County OHV Park in central Oregon. With six motorcycles and a scooter, the days were spent cruising and crashing on one-track trails; at night we gathered around the barbecue pit and enjoyed good Oregon Pinot Noir.

Keith’s Corner: Record-breaking year for SCM

Thanks to you, SCM has set new records this year in number of subscribers, number of editorial and advertising pages, website activity and revenue. Plus, our newsletter list keeps growing, as you choose to receive our notices, and our opens and click throughs are far above industry norms.

In addition, we were named “Best Collector Car Magazine in the World” by

Our promise to you is that our stable of excellent, informed, and witty writers will keep offering the absolute best insights into the collector car world, give the “back story” on featured cars, and continue to “take no prisoners” when it comes to auction reviews.

Keith’s Corner: Buddy Can You Spare a Berlina?

The past weekend was an orgy of sports car action. Saturday, BMW and Mercedes were the featured marques at Cars in the Park, the “everyman’s section” of The Allure of the Automobile exhibit at the Portland Art Museum.

The SCM Isetta was featured next to a BMW 507 (owned by SCMer Brown Maloney) and and an M1 (owned by SCMer Tom Anderson, owner of Carrera Motors in Bend, OR). Our four-year-old Bradley decided the Isetta was his personal mobile playset, and invited other kids to come scramble around on it.

Keith’s Corner: Alfas, Planes, and Rain…

I am writing this on the plane from Portland, Oregon, to Albany, New York, where I am headed to host a new show for Discovery HD called “Million Dollar Collections.” In the next few weeks we’ll be shooting unusual and generally unknown collections of cars, guitars, and sports memorabilia.

The four days leading up to my departure were action-packed: Friday was the Alfa Romeo National Convention in Lexington, KY, where I gave the keynote speech; I departed Lexington at 6am Sunday, arriving back home in Portland just in time to emcee, at 1 pm, the rain-soaked Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance; and now I’m bouncing Eastward again.

Keith’s Corner: Vintage Cars Come in and Vintage Cars Go Out

The SCM garage sale continues. Our Volvo 544 has gone to a new home in Mexico, the Guzzi is going to Seattle, and the white ’74 MGB has gone to Los Angeles.

This week we’ve got our daily-driver extremely original Mercedes 219 with a 220S engine on eBay, along with the 1974 MGB-GT, the best driving of all the MGBs. Take a look at the listings here.

The newest addition to the SCM collection aka menagerie is the ex-Colleen Rugh 1967 GTV. Restored by her husband Dave 25 years ago, it’s a car that I have admired for decades. It has a complete Rugh suspension, and a mild 1750-cc engine. It is far and away the best driving Alfa I have ever had the chance to be behind the wheel of.

And our 1984 D90 Turbo Diesel got a real workout this past weekend in Tillamook State Forest, going with the hardcore gang from the Pacific Coast Rover Club. The rig was terrific, the diesel providing most of its power near idle and letting me just crawl up the double-black-diamond trails.

This weekend, it’s Forest Grove Concours time, and SCM will be well represented by our award-winning 1964 Nova Wagon, the 1965 Giulia Spider Veloce, the Alfa GTV and the Defender 90. Donald Osborne and I are the emcees, and we look forward to seeing you there.

See the photo gallery and some videos below the jump.