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 Maybe it’s the hopelessly outdated styling, even in 1964.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.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.)
We’re looking for a couple of drivers to pilot two of our 1974 MGs from the MGA/B National Convention in Reno, back to Portland. The cars would be available as of Monday night, June 13 or Tuesday morning, June 14.
SCM will pay for your gas and publish the story of your trip in our newsletter. There are close to 100 MGAs and Bs headed down for the convention (which ends on Friday morning after a 1,500 MG show-and-shine and concours on Thursday), and we can put you in touch with the Oregon organizers so you can get hooked up with a group.
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.
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.