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.

Read More

Birth of an Obsession

A red 1972 Chevrolet Impala convertible was the very first car I bought at an auction.

It was 1995. My then-wife Cindy Banzer and I drove seven hours north from Portland to Bob LeFlufy’s AutoClassic auction in Vancouver, B.C. Alexandra, just 4 years old, accompanied us.

“LeFluf,” since deceased, was a classic-car raconteur, the Canadian equivalent of SCM regular Uncle Raymond Milo. When the two of them, both inveterate smokers, got together, the evenings were long, the wine consumption formidable — Read More

Heart vs. Head

There are two cars that always pull at my heartstrings.

The first is a 1956 Mercury Montclair. My grandfather bought one new. I have fond memories of riding in the backseat of that car. It was two-tone Bumblebee Yellow and black. My grandfather loved that car — it was a step up from the Mercury he had owned before, and offered an upscale driving experience.

Some years back, I was working as the color commentator for the Barrett-Jackson auction broadcast. Read More

It’s the Memories That Matter

My son Bradley was 10 when I bought him a 1960 Bugeye Sprite two years ago. I was setting us up to make father-and-son memories together.

I chose a Bugeye because that was my first car. The day I turned 16, I was first in line to take my driving test. An hour later, after shelling out $30, I owned my first sports car.

Getting Bradley a Bugeye was no different than a father wanting his son to play the Read More