Keith Martin

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.

Keith’s Corner: Saying Goodbye to the Volvo 544

It’s time to say goodbye to the Volvo 544. It all started with a 122 sedan we owned a few years ago. That was an okay car, but visually just didn’t hit anyone’s hot button. We sold it and immediately turned around and bought a 544 from a local Craigslist advertisement.

I don’t quite know what it is about the 544 that makes it so appealing. Maybe it’s the hopelessly outdated styling, even in 1964. Or the long, wand-like shifter. Or the cute little radiator blind – each time I pull it up, I imagine I’m starting the car in a snow storm in Sweden.

Making this car has been a real education. It had been owned by the same gentleman for over thirty years, and during that period the suspension and brakes had slowly degraded, to the point where it was just terrible to drive. But he didn’t even notice.

Now, $8,000 in receipts later, the car is reliable, decent and even “fun” to drive, especially now that we have the IPD front bar installed.

We’ve got another four-seat GT car joining the SCM fleet, so the Volvo has to go. But we’ve had a great time with it, and we’ll miss it.


Keith’s Corner: Bloomington Gold and the Survivor Car Show

This past weekend, the SCM  / CM team descended en mass upon the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles Illinois, for the annual Corvette extravaganza called “Bloomington Gold.” I had the chance to emcee the Certification Awards, ate tri-tip steak from the food court area, and generally admired the display of cubic inches.

It was a family affair, with Wendie, Tyler, Alex, and Bradley working the booth.

On Sunday, I enjoyed the Survivor Car Show and met good friends McKeel Hagerty, Dave Kinney, and Rob Sass, all tasked with determining which cars on display actually qualified for Survivor status.

As always, Alex found a couple of cars she liked – but for a change, we actually didn’t buy anything. Oh well, we can fix that this week – there’s always eBay Motors and Craigslist to keep us from getting bored. Read on for a collection of images.

Keith’s Corner: The Road to Reno and On to Bloomington

The B Team has made its way to Reno and back. All three MGBs ran flawlessly, and only Legal Files Analyst John Draneas running out of gas slowed us down. There will be a complete writeup in the issue of SCM we are now working on, but here are a few pictures of six boys and three cars at play.

On Wednesday, the SCM team heads out to Bloomington Gold, flying to Chicago and then driving to Pheasant Run. It’s my fifth time there, and I encourage you to stop by and visit our booth. I will be emcee of the event, my wife Wendie and our four-year-old Bradley will be at the booth, along with our 20-year-old Tyler and 19-year-old Alexandra.

Keith’s Corner: June 14th

The Portland Art Museum has never looked so good. All 16 cars for the Allure of the Automobile have been moved from their transports into the museum, and even the august New York Times took notice.

SCM has been very involved with helping the museum meet and exceed its $700,000 fundraising goal, and SCMers have been generous with their support. The exhibit runs through September 11; if you need an excuse to come to Portland, this exhibit should suffice. Stop in to the SCM world headquarters while you are here and pick up your SCM cap; if you make arrangements in advance we’ll even loan you a sports car or two from the SCM collection to take a day trip to Mt. Hood and Timberline Lodge.

Keith’s Corner: From Rocky Roads to Shakespeare’s Lair

‘Tis the season to be rambling and rumbling, and Team SCM in all its various guises is on the road.

Two weekends ago, we joined the Pacific Coast Rover Club for their annual Memorial Day outing in Central Oregon. Just getting there proved more exciting that we thought it would be – Wendie, her 17-year-old son Drew, our four-year-old Bradley, and I left Portland in our 1989 Range Rover Classic around 4pm the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. Our timing was poor, as it took us two hours to go 45 miles to Salem – normally a 45-minute trip. We probably should have been in compound low as we inched along.

Keith’s Corner: The SCM Fleet is Leaving the Harbor

We continue the rush to get five SCM vehicles ready for two events happening over the next 10 days.

The 2006 Lotus Elise and the 2000 Boxster S have to be ready to launch on this Thursday, heading out in the afternoon to meet everyone in Eugene, Oregon. It’s the start of the 1,000-mile Oregon Region Porsche Club of America Northwest Passage event, sponsored by Chubb Insurance and SCM. The producer of What’s My Car Worth, Roger Williams, is flying in to join the SCM five-car team and will be piloting the Boxster.

Keith’s Corner: May 24th

While the multi-million dollar auction sales make exciting reading, it’s more prosaic stuff that’s keeping the SCM car teams busy this week.

SCM “Legal Files” columnist Draneas took the burgundy MG for a couple of days and came back with this report:

It drives pretty good although not as good as the GT. Here is the repair list:
Alignment is toed out
Leaks oil badly
Excessive brake pedal pressure – master cylinder?
Wipers on constant very slow and need blades
Steering is too heavy
Lopes at idle – too rich?
Turn signal won’t return. Very annoying for people behind me.

All points duly noted. (Though I happen to think that it would be okay for John to learn to return the turn-signal lever manually.)