Keith’s Corner: May 10th

Portland car season is heating up, and the pace of car repairs and refurbishments at SCM proves it.

SCM staffers Chad Tyson and Tony Piff have been running a non-stop MGB shuttle program, running the three cars between the SCM Garage,  Guy’s Interior Restorations (for new seat cushions, new dash pads), and Harold’s Auto Service (new ignition switch for the MGB-GT, tracking down why the burgundy roadster smells like a fuel refinery after a sharp turn, etc.). The Road to Reno, now in the company of at least 30 other MGs, starts here in Portland at 8 am, June 12. We’ll forgive you if you’re not there for the kickoff party – watch this space for parts depot addresses where you can send “mercy packs” of points, condensers, and wheel bearings.

Keith’s Corner: From Infineon Raceway to Seabrook, Texas

This is the season. As the weather continues to improve, enthusiasts begin bringing their winter-stored beauties out for tours, rallies, and shows.

Wendie and I spent a delightful four days on the California Mille last week, starting in front of the tony Fairmont Hotel. Organizer Martin Swig and sponsor Chopard graciously provided us with a 1956 Giulietta Spider Normale for the tour.

A very solid car, it had been upgraded with a 2-barrel Weber downdraft carb, and the rear end swapped out with a 4.1 in place of the standard 4.5, for a significant increase in pulling power at low rpms. The mechanical operation of the two barrels, which open simultaneously, is a great improvement over the primitive OEM Solex, which had a vacuum-operated secondary, and the long legs provided by the 4.1 rear end made the car an absolute delight to drive. The experience caused me to rethink the whole notion of Veloce vs Normale.

A Young Guy’s First Impression of an Old Classic

Just back from a lunchtime fish taco rally in the burgundy ’74 MG with SCM advertising homeboy Cody Wilson. Not particularly sunny out, but any April day without rain is occasion enough for two dudes to drop the top in Portland. Despite a love of old autos, my experience with both convertibles and British sports cars is approximately zero, so this was novel on every level. Here are my impressions:

Keith’s Corner: One Day in Palm Springs

Sitting in the airport at Palm Springs, waiting for my flight back home to Portland.  Forecast here is a sunny 93 degrees today—I’m afraid to look at the weather report for Rainland.

I came down to Palm Springs yesterday, flying in Lear-jet luxury, courtesy of Portland Art Museum supporters Eric and Ronna Hoffman. Sports Car Market is actively involved with bringing the show, “The Allure of the Automobile,” to Portland, and helping to raise the $750,000 needed to make it happen.

Keith’s Corner, April 12th

Charlotte Autofair, The B Team Update and Alex Goes Off-Road

Just back from spending a weekend shooting four more episodes of “What’s My Car Worth” at the Charlotte Autofair in North Carolina. I was joined by dealers Peter Klute and Mark Hyman, and Auctions America CEO Donnie Gould. The three circled the swap meet looking for cars—and then tried to buy them live, on TV. In fact, only two cars of the twelve we shot went back to the infield. Mark bought a 1964 Ford Galaxy convertible for $22,750, and Peter a 1948 Willys Jeepster resto-mod, with a 502-ci Cadillac V8, for $22,500. The season starts April 17 on Discovery HD Theater, and this episode will probably air in June.

Peter Klute’s 1948 Willys Jeepster resto-mod
Mark Hyman’s 1964 Ford Galaxie

Keith’s Corner, April 5th

Where’s My Sunscreen? The La Jolla Motoring Classic and Other Adventures

I’m just back from a weekend in La Jolla, where I was the emcee of the 7th Annual La Jolla Motor Car Classic. The weather was fantastic, and the setting, on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, couldn’t have been better.

On the Saturday tour, Wendie and I got to drive Paul Emple’s 1930 Isotta Fraschini Type 8A Flying Star. Powered by a 400 cubic inch V8, it’s a beast of a car. (Who needs first gear?)

Wendie went to the event with me, and SCM contributor and etceterini specialist Donald Osborne, along with Frank Garofolo, helped take care of the booth. Wendie brought Patricia Hai from her company, Enthusiast Media Group and had some nifty metallic-red SCM water bottles as subscriber giveaways.

Keith’s Corner, March 29th: See You in La Jolla on Sunday

Escaping from what must be the wettest winter on record, Wendie and I are headed to the 7th Annual La Jolla Motor Car Classic this weekend.  At the concours on Sunday, I will be the Master of Ceremonies and the Guest of Honor – I was honored when good friend, Alan Taylor, of Alan Taylor Restorations, asked Wendie and me to participate.

Saturday morning, there will be a tour of classic cars, and we’ll be driving a 1930 Isotta-Fraschini Type 8 “Flying Star,” which I’m sure will be slightly different than the 1974 MGB that I picked up from the shop this morning. But more about that below.

Keith’s Corner, March 22nd

From broken axles to sheared rear ends to rebuilding vintage Becker radios, it’s been a busy week in the SCM stable.

We took our 1973 Land Rover SIII 88 to Tillamook State Forest, and headed into the snow from Roger’s Camp. This was my first run since I installed an ARB compressed air rear locker, and I had been warned to be gentle. Well, a few miles up the trail I momentarily forgot the advice of my mentors, and managed to shear off the ends of both rear axles while trying to rock myself out of a deep snow hole. Our leader, Doug Shipman of Ship’s Mechanicals, got me turned around, and once on level ground he pulled out the rear axles, dropped the rear driveshaft and I drove home with power to just the front wheels. I view it as a very expensive driving school; hardened axles on the way.