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.
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.
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.
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 About.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.