To celebrate his magazine’s 30th anniversary, SCM Founder and Publisher Keith Martin, a veteran of countless driving tours in vintage cars, planned a tour of his own — and invited magazine subscribers to join him.

Keith’s impressive guest list included Miles Collier, SCM columnist and founder of the Revs Institute; David MacNeil, chairman of WeatherTech; noted Beverly Hills car collectors Michael Leventhal and his wife, Katharina; Jakob Greisen from Bonhams; popular SCM contributors John Draneas and Donald Osborne; hotelier and vintage-car enthusiast Charles Mallory; ex-racers Archie Urciuoli and Bob Bailey; and this writer, driving with Brian Ferriso, director of the Portland Art Museum.

Keith wanted the inaugural tour to reflect the best elements of the many long-distance drives he’d taken over the years.

No pressure, right? 

The event kicked off on July 7 with all the Tour cars on display at the Portland Art Museum. More than 5,000 people attended “Cars in the Park,” in conjunction with the Portland Art Museum’s newest exhibition, “The Shape of Speed: Streamlined Automobiles and Motorcycles, 1930–1942,” guest curated by this author.

Exhibition highlights included a streamlined Mercedes-Benz flown in from Germany, and a one-off 1942 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 by Bertone, owned by Corrado Lopresto, and shipped from Milan via the Panama Canal. The Alfisti were delighted.

After a gala welcoming dinner Sunday evening at the historic Heathman Hotel, some 46 SCM Tour cars embarked on Monday morning from downtown Portland. Keith is especially proud of Oregon, so he and route master Neil d’Autremont planned a 1,000-mile route to highlight some of the state’s scenic treasures.

Keith seems to have had a way with the weather gods as well, because the sun shone brightly the entire week.

Miles Collier and the author take a breather next to Mike and Liz Simmons’ 1965 TVR/Griffith 200 at Crown Point overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. Photo: George Olson

For the first leg, I drove Keith’s 1967 Alfa Giulia Super, a spirited green 4-door uprated with a 2-liter engine, which he purchased so he could drive his son Bradley in a child seat. For a door-slammer, this car was no slouch.

Our first stop en route to Sunriver was the stone Vista House high atop the scenic Columbia River Gorge.

The parking lot quickly filled with exotic iron. David MacNeil brought a Ferrari 275 GTB/C and an Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato. Less exotic but of keen interest was Mike and Liz Simmons’ TVR/Griffith 200, and the Leventhals’ silver “Outlaw” Porsche 356, studded with rare Carrera racing upgrades. Other tour cars included three Mercedes-Benz 300SLs, a Ferrari 250 GT Lusso, a Morgan drophead coupe and a 1928 4½ Litre Bentley.

A crowd favorite was Gregg Blue’s unrestored ’57 Porsche Carrera GT, pulled from a barn after 47 years of storage. Temporarily running a 912 motor (while the 4-cam is being rebuilt), the still-dusty coupe was a rolling inspiration to all of us. (And that’s just a few of the cars. Check out the list.)

Summer skiing and breaking news

Our next stop on winding Cascade Mountain roads was the magnificent Timberline Lodge, a tall, wooden hotel and ski resort that was painstakingly handcrafted as a WPA project during the Depression.

Moviegoers recall it as the facade of the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.”

As we lunched on local salmon, summer skiers trudged back and forth to the lifts that whisked them atop the snowy glacier that makes skiing possible in July.

David and Maggie McGirr’s 1928 Bentley 4½ Litre Vanden Plas Tourer and the view
from Mount Hood. Photo: Darren Frank

Later that afternoon, just south of Bend, we arrived at the Sunriver Resort, formerly a World War II Army camp that was updated and modernized into a luxury resort. At the end of a dusty, long day’s drive in an old car, there’s nothing like a perfect Pinot Noir, overlooking a lake.

Over drinks, to an appreciative audience of SCM insiders, Miles and Parker Collier revealed that their rare, ex-Gary Cooper Duesenberg SSJ Speedster would star at Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach sale.

Five-day tune-ups

Next day, I switched to a darling little 1958 Alfa Giulietta Sprint Veloce. With its surprisingly lusty, upgraded 1,400-cc engine, the tiny coupe bounded up the mountain roads.

The operatic trill of its Weber-fed twin-cam four was so intoxicating, I repeatedly revved it high and reveled in the Giulietta’s uncanny ability to juke through the tightest curves with reckless abandon as we headed for flatter ground.

Blasting through the Oregon high desert, our destination was the Running Y Ranch in Klamath Falls. The route book was extremely well done, so we could simply focus on enjoying the drive.

It’s a funny thing about these tours. After a couple of days, dormant engines “clear their throats” and begin to run so much better. A tour is like a five-day tune-up, and you’re rewarded with a driving experience that improves daily.

The inside story on that Ferrari 250 GTO

That evening, David MacNeil treated us all to an ad hoc discussion about his recent Ferrari 250 GTO purchase, reportedly the highest sum ever paid for an automobile.

Every driver was an SCM subscriber, and we got the inside skinny, even before Simon Kidston’s article in the magazine’s September issue. MacNeil’s GTB/C had a little problem, so he switched to his silver Ferrari 275 GTB/4, and he never missed a beat. (There’s gold in those fitted floor mats.)

On Wednesday, I changed Alfas once again to Keith’s 1967 GTV, an understated dark blue coupe with a freshly tuned engine and a short-shift gearbox. This Alfa had the punch, balance and verve of a much more powerful car.

Irv Kessler’s 1965 Aston Martin DB5 Vantage at the Watchman Overlook on Crater Lake. Photo: George Olson

Our destination was the breathtaking Watchman Overlook at Crater Lake. If you’ve never seen this marvel of nature — a 7,700-year-old collapsed volcano that is now an impossibly clear, deep lake — you should add it to your bucket list. Crater Lake is over 2,000 feet deep, iridescent blue and simply unforgettable.

You can tour Wizard Island or just admire the historic lodge hotel.

But we had many miles to go, ringed by snowcapped mountains, aiming for the Elk Lake Resort on the Cascade Lakes Highway, and following an old trail established by John Fremont and Kit Carson. Scenic America calls this route “one of America’s most important byways.”

Many of us were asking: “Who knew Oregon had so much beautiful scenery?”

McKenzie Pass knifes through the mile-high Cascade range for miles. Sinuous Route 242, we’re told, is only open from July to November because of snow.

Parked amid the lava fields of McKenzie Pass. Photo: George Olson

Our most momentous stop, after wending through tall woods savaged by fires, was the Dee Wright Observatory, a building made completely of rough-hewn lava stones and built in 1935 by the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

We climbed up and enjoyed the multi-mountain views.

Then we enjoyed the best part of the drive. I followed Kevin Blount in his 300SL Gullwing. Kevin’s big Mercedes had no trouble with the descent, a long, long series of switchbacks, S-curves and decreasing-radius turns. But for me, following closely, the GTV’s capability was almost underutilized.

Okay, more than a decade separates the two cars, but the plucky GTV had half the SL’s horsepower, yet keeping up — even nipping at the SL’s heels — required little effort. I was beginning to see why Keith so likes these Alfas.

Loving life without ABS

Problems were few. Larry and Ellen Mack’s 300SL lost its generator. When roadside repairs failed, owner Larry and his wife switched to the backup car, a new Porsche Carrera, while the SL was trailered to our next stop.

They sent for a replacement generator, which met us at the hotel. After a smooth installation, the Merc was back in the hunt.

Photo: George Olson

One car that never skipped a beat was Donald Osborne’s ex-Martin Swig 1957 Alfa 1900 Berlina, driven with his partner Frank Garofolo.

David MacNeil summed it up for many of us, saying, “This week is all about enjoying everything that most modern cars cannot offer you, and you get to do it without the aid of ABS, traction control and stability control.”

Lunch that day was amazing — a killer BLT and a marionberry pie with a shortbread crust at The Pointe. And there’s another advantage to these special tours — they had scoped out the best places to eat (spots you might easily have missed), and all you had to do was get there.

After a lakeside barbecue lunch, Brian Ferriso kindly drove the GTV for a while and I drove Charles Mallory’s 300SL roadster.

An early drum-brake example, it had the effortless acceleration and seemingly endless top gear I recalled from similar cars. The fuel-injected, tubular-framed SL was a technical marvel in the mid-1950s. A well-tuned SL is a perfect long-distance tourer. The generosity of fellow travelers meant several people swapped rides so they could experience something new  …er, or old. Thanks, Charles!

I kept the GTV for the final leg, reveling in its knack for straightening curves while I enjoyed the joyous whoops of its Weber-carbed engine.

Heading home, we wound down from the mountains across fields that were dotted with bright flowers and grazing livestock. Just outside Oregon City, we passed through Mount Angel, a former German colony with several Bavarian restaurants, an historic abbey, and a colorful old church that could have been transplanted right from Europe — and probably was.

The sightseeing on this drive had been wonderful. All too soon, we were back at the Heathman for a riotous farewell dinner with a few fun awards sprinkled in — just to make the proceedings even more special.

Keith is already planning next year’s drive. My advice? Sign up as soon as you can. 1,000-mile tours remind us why we love old cars, and we especially like driving them together with old friends and new. Sure, something might go wrong, but you can fix it — that’s part of the fun. You’ll see new sights, thrill to country backroads and make new memories. And your car will likely be running better at the end — especially if it’s one of Keith’s vintage Alfas. ♦

SCM 30th Anniversary Tour Participants

1 Donald Osborne and Frank Garofolo, Rancho Mirage, CA
1957 Alfa Romeo 1900 Berlina

2 Bill Scheffler and Liz Scheffler, Palm Springs, CA
1956 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider

3 Joe Hensler and Gayle Hensler, Fair Oaks, CA
1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider

4 John Draneas and co-driver Jim North, Portland, OR
1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider

5 Rich Darling and co-driver Scott R. Darling, Long Beach, CA
1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce Lightweight

6 Miles Collier and Parker Collier, Naples, FL
1958 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce

7 Bob Bailey and co-driver Archie Urciuoli, Sarasota, FL
1958 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce

8 John Boccardo and co-driver Derek Esplin, Santa Clara, UT
1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciale

9 Tim Gallagher and co-driver Mary Kay Gaido, Asheville, NC
1961 Alfa Romeo Sprint Speciale

10 Peter Fodor and Barbara Fodor, Aspen, CO
1960 Alfa Romeo Sprint Zagato

11 Roger Groves and Rhonda J. Groves, Monarch Beach, CA
1960 Alfa Romeo Sprint Zagato

12 Jon Goodman and co-driver Marc Goodman, Philadelphia, PA
1961 Alfa Romeo Sprint Zagato

13 Jim Champa and co-driver Brooke Sanderson, Darby, MT
1964 Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider 

14 David Word and co-driver Judi Beisler, San Francisco, CA
1964 Alfa Romeo 2600 Touring Spider

15 Rick Duffy and co-driver Rusty La Scala, Delray Beach, FL
1967 Alfa Romeo Duetto

16 Joseph Angel and co-driver Susan Corey, Portland, OR
1967 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT

17 David Rugh and Colleen Rugh, Hayward, CA
1967 Alfa Romeo GTV

18 Dan McCallum and co-driver James McCallum, Vancouver, BC, Canada
1967 Alfa Romeo GTV

19 Ron Rader and Deborah Rader, Inglewood, CA
1974 Alfa Romeo GTV

20 Jay Iliohan and co-driver Jacob H Iliohan, Silver Creek, NY
1971 Alfa Romeo Montreal

21 Brian Ferriso and Ken Gross, Portland, OR
1967 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super

22 Keith Martin and co-driver Darren Frank, Portland, OR
1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider Veloce

23 Brad Miller and Michael Hummel, Portland, OR
1972 Alfa Romeo Berlina

24 Steven Harris and co-driver Jeff Smith, New York, NY
1957 Porsche 356 Carrera Speedster

25 Gregg Blue and Chris Cassler, Haiku, HI
1958 Porsche 356 Carrera coupe

26 Michael Leventhal and Katharina Leventhal, Beverly Hills, CA
1959 Porsche 356A coupe

29 Bob Lucurell and Lynn Lucurell, Seattle, WA
1965 Porsche 356SC coupe

30 Jim Edwards and co-driver Barbara Christenson, Show Low, AZ
1966 Porsche 911 S Targa

32 Devon MacNeil and Cooper MacNeil, Hinsdale, IL
1962 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato

33 Michael Weisberg and Jillion Weisberg, Los Angeles, CA
1963 Ferrari 250 GT/L “Lusso”

34 Irv Kessler and co-driver Barbara Anderson, Paradise Valley, CA
1965 Aston Martin DB5 Vantage

35 Charles Mallory and co-driver Asher Schlusselberg, Greenwich, CT
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster

36 Larry Macks and Ellen Macks, Naples, FL
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster

37 David McGirr and Maggie McGirr, Greenwich, CT
1928 Bentley 4½ Litre Vanden Plas Tourer

38 Ted Springstead and co-driver Cindy Finnie, Denver, CO
1962 Jaguar E-type convertible 

39 Jakob Greisen, San Francisco, CA
1959 MGA 1600 roadster

40 Fred Nuttall and Bonnie L Nuttall, Portland, OR
1958 Jaguar XK 150 DHC

41 Mike Simmons and Liz Simmons, Indianapolis, IN
1965 TVR/Griffith 200 Series

42 Anthony Varni and co-driver Tom Sanborn, Hayward, CA
1965 Morgan drophead coupe

43 Chris Lambiase and co-driver Nick Lambiase, Irvington, NY1973 BMW 2002 tii

44 Mike Christodolou and Kat Christodolou, Fountain Hills, AZ
1967 Chevrolet Corvette convertible

45 Michael Pierce and co-driver Jim Smalley, Portland, OR
1967 Chevrolet Corvette convertible

46 David MacNeil and co-driver Fabrianna Ferrari, Hinsdale, IL
1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C

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