Every Car Is a Book

Think of the world of collectible cars as a giant lending library.

While every book is different, most have just five chapters.

Aware. Acquire. Activate. Exult. Farewell.

These are the five chapters that mark the relationship with every collector car that comes into your life. When the last chapter is completed, it’s time to close the book and return it to the shelf.

When its next caretaker selects the same volume, it is new to him or her — and Read More

A Time of Transformation

This pandemic sucker-punched all of us.

In the past 30 days, the collector-car world has gone from hoping that things might stay the same to realizing they are changed forever.

The cancellation of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Queen Mother of all car events, sent a clear signal.

Is our future uncertain? Yes. Are we afraid? Yes.

But it is okay to be nervous and worried when facing the unknown.

Ultimately, we will pull through this and recover, moving Read More

The Road Forward

“Despite the challenges we all face today, we believe the Pebble Beach Concours will be able to take place on August 16, as originally scheduled…”

The email from the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance selection committee arrived like a flashing beacon in my inbox.

It was an early sign that there is a New Normal ahead. There surely is, but we just don’t know what it will look like. And we don’t know when it will arrive.

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Two-Pedal Mettle

I broke “The Draneas Rules.” Again.

Our “Legal Files” columnist, John Draneas, constantly says that you should never buy a car without an inspection — and you should never send money to someone you don’t know (for a refresher, see this month’s column on p. 48).

After willfully and intentionally disregarding both these maxims, I added a new car to the SCM fleet. From finding to owning took less than four hours.

While my clutch leg is coming along nicely, Read More

A New Year’s Day Ritual

On January 1, vintage-car tribes gather in the early morning darkness. From snow-covered Montana to sunny San Diego, old-car lovers prepare to “start the new year right” with a cruise in a classic.

For more than two decades, the local “Round-Fender Volvo Club” has hosted a New Year’s Day run.

Organized by longtime SCMer Dean Koehler, the club caters specifically to the 444/544/1800/122 models of Volvos. “Bricks” (the square-fendered 142/144 series that followed) and later Volvos are not allowed.

As Read More

Culling the Collection

I’m thinning the SCM collection.

My mentor Martin Swig once said, “We don’t choose the cars, the cars choose us.” As I prepare to send these cars on to their next caretaker, I reflect about how each car chose me and came into my life.

Why now? I just have too many cars and not enough time to drive them all. I’d rather focus on the ones that mean the most to me.

As for the ones that must go, Read More

You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone

I’ve been driving something for as long as I can remember. It started with the blue-and-white pedal car my grandfather got me when I was 3 years old.

Soon enough I had a Hawthorne 20-inch single-speed coaster-braked bicycle. We ordered it from the Montgomery Ward catalog and picked it up from their local store — a precursor to the modern-day Amazon locker.

I wore out several stacks of baseball cards by attaching them with a clothespin to the bike frame Read More

Hands-On Experience

I first met Gary Bartlett at a small gathering of Americans participating in the Mille Miglia in 1992.

We were in the small town of Soragna, near Brescia, Italy. Longtime SCMer Joe Tomasetti organized the dinner.

This was before the “MM” became a bucket-list event for wealthy enthusiasts from all over the world. There were few Americans. We were strangers in a strange land as we piloted our old cars across the Italian landscape.

Our little group included Cindy Banzer and Read More

I Missed Monterey Car Week

For the first time in 31 years, I missed Monterey Car Week.

On the weekend before the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, I can usually be found leading a ragamuffin “Catch Me If You Can” group of sports-car fanatics on a road trip down the Pacific Coast from Portland, OR, to Carmel. It’s SCM’s annual Caravan to Concorso.

Not this year.

I continue to make measured progress from my January stroke — as a dear friend always says, “Slow and steady Read More

Conducting the SCM 1000

Steven Harris was a modern-day Herbert von Karajan, conducting the Bridal Chorus from Wagner’s “Lohengrin” in downtown Baker City, OR. Two by two, he brought forward and arranged the multi-colored array of Porsches outside the Geiser Grand Hotel, which is located on the historic Oregon Trail.

Harris, a noted Porsche collector and New York City-based architect, arranged the front row of 911s the way an artist works with his palette. A vibrant green 1974 Carrera RS 3.0 was his contribution.

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