The last step in refurbishing our 1973 Volvo 1800ES was to be a simple one: a minor tune at Harold’s Auto Service, in order to remedy a slight misfire. The news that came back wasn’t so simple—two cam lobes were nearly gone.
Hoping for the best, I had Wayne Atkinson pull the head for an inspection. I burned some incense at the old car temple we have set up in the office and prayed that the car would be back on the road with a simple valve job and cam and lifter replacement.
It wasn’t going to happen that way.
I was straightening up my office and came across a copy of the book by SCM’s Jim Schrager, Buying, Driving and Enjoying the Porsche 911 and 912, 1965-1973. In it he talks about the early 911s as still being affordable, compared to 356s. The book was published in 2007.
That was five years ago. Since then, prices of first-gen 911s have gone up at least 100% – where $20,000 might have gotten you a decent early 911 in 2007, you’ll be lucky to find one you want to own for $40,000 today, and great “S” models have asking prices of over $100,000.
So let’s just call those cars gone when it comes to affordable classic status. They’ve been discovered, for all the right reasons, by a strata of collector that doesn’t think twice about spending six figures for a car.
Where does that leave us if we want to own something from Stuttgart with six cylinders?
The Volvo 1800ES has pulled a fast one on me.
I got it back from Guy’s Interior Restorations last week, with the front seats redone and a very nice match on the blue vinyl. Other items attended to during the general freshening include new interior door hardware, carpet pad in the rear and struts for the rear glass. (I just learned that, the German nickname for the ES was “Schneewittchensarg” – Snow White’s Coffin – due to the car’s large glass tailgate which reminded some wag of the fairytale glass casket.)
I’m sitting in the Jacksonville terminal as I compose this, decompressing from my 15th annual trip to Fernandina Beach, FL, and the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. 17 years have now passed since founder Bill Warner went out on a very long limb and put on the first of what has grown into a world-class event.
The activities this year were not out of the ordinary—for me, the week started on Tuesday with filming for episodes of What’s My Car Worth, along with co-host Donald Osborne. I could say that it is hard work, often with 12-hour days, but then we’d get to the part where I’m riding in the $3.7m Porsche 550, and surely you wouldn’t feel very sorry for me.
Sometimes it’s good just to get away from it all. As you read this, I’ll be on a 6 a.m. flight out of Portland, with an eventual destination of Amelia Island, FL. During my week there, I’ll be shooting episodes of What’s My Car Worth at the Gooding auction, with Donald Osborne as my co-host. I’m also a judge at the Amelia Island Concours.
While on the one hand I look forward to seeing the familiar faces, the terrific cars, stopping by the RM auction and lollygagging around the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton where the concours is held, on the other hand it is my day job and there’s a lot of work to be done.
The SCM gang, both auction reporters and office staff, will be there; stop by our booth at Gooding and at the concours and say hello.
So last Saturday, I jumped at the opportunity to go far, far away at a slow, slow speed. The Pacific Coast Rover Club, of which I am a member, held a snow run in Tillamook State Forest. The Jolly Jeepers were invited as well.
For the past 15 years, I have watched a three-car mini-collection, parked on the street, slowly degrade. The cars all have some interest. They include a 1967 Duetto, a chrome-bumper 914 and a first-generation 1965 Chevrolet Chevelle 300 Deluxe. They were all parked within four blocks of SCM World Headquarters.
All three cars carry current tags, and are drivable. The latter point has now been positively confirmed, as the “collection,” which had sat undisturbed for a few years (as shown in the right-hand image), was recently dispersed around the neighborhood. We surmise this was done because of complaints.
We took the Alfa (non-identical) twins out for their first run together yesterday. The occasion was the (post) Valentine’s Day Tour organized by Neil d’Autremont for the Alfa Romeo Owners of Oregon.
Wendie and I drove the 1967 GTV, and good friends Michael Cottam and Andrea Allen took our 1965 Giulia Spider Veloce. This was the first outing for the GTV since Guy’s Interior Restorations installed the new interior, provided from Italy, by Matt Jones of Re-Originals. Don’t tell anyone, but we also had Guy install seat heaters and pneumatic lumbar supports.
The Giulia Spider hadn’t been run in a couple of months, and I could sense that it just needed to go out and play for a day.
In the end, it was a choice between walking 12 miles in the snow with my wife and our four-year-old, or just turning around. Here’s how the story unfolded.
We made a quick trip to Bend, OR, this weekend, to attend an organizational meeting for this September’s Oregon Festival of Cars (formerly the Sun River Festival of Cars). As the fastest way to reach Bend from Portland is to go over Mt. Hood, we thought the 1989 Range Rover Classic would be the perfect ride.
However, Subaru graciously made a 2012 Impreza 2.0i Sport available, with Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and Vehicle Dynamics Control. It was just a matter of moving Bradley’s car seat and our overnight bags from the Rover to the Impreza, and we were off.
The Martin family had its traditional Super Bowl Party Sunday, and we all wished we had placed a bet on the first possession of the Patriots ending in a safety. Someone, somewhere did, and we hope they’re buying a Ferrari today with their winnings.
Two SCMers from opposite ends of the spectrum brightened up our driveway with their rides. Long-time friend (and American Car Collector contributor) Michael Pierce brought his 1967 427/435 Corvette, and Round-Fendered Volvo Club founder and guru Dean Koehler drove his 1973 Volvo 1800 ES. Parking cars on the lawn is against all the household rules, but Wendie has agreed to a few exceptions – it must be a party day, and the cars must be exceptional.
Dean’s Volvo is a prize-winner at a national level, and Michael’s Corvette has received NCRS recognition. My own Volvo ES is at Guy’s Upholstery, having the interior freshened, the door-opening mechanism repaired and various small things attended to. When I get it back, I’m eager to drive it back-to-back with Dean’s.
When Michael offered me the chance to drive his 427, there was no way I could have refused – especially in the top-down, 55-degree sunny weather we had Sunday.
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.