In Oregon, May 1 is the official beginning of our sports car season. Our garage is soon filled with the chirping of a half-dozen vehicles, each, like a hungry baby bird, crying out for hundred-dollar bills to be tossed under its hood in an annual rite of spring awakening.
Cindy's 1978 Alfa Spider was first out of the gate, with a quick trip to Alfa-meister Nasko for a retorqueing of its head, the final step in the valve job performed last year. As it is impossible to put an old sports car up on a lift without discovering something else that needs to be done, Nasko found that the motor and transmission mounts, original to the car, had become impregnated with oil and gone soft, allowing the sump guard to strike the front crossmember. That, and replacing the rusted exhaust system, would cost somewhere in the $780 range. We'll wait to have the work done until we can find a few more items to push the estimate over $1,000, which we have come to view as an entry-level repair bill for our cars.
We've already made our obligatory $1,000 tithe to the 1984 Mondial Cabriolet, by having Gerry Follett at Ron Tonkin Gran Turismo replace the alternator and waterpump belts and address a variety of minor electrical issues.
While I was prepared for that expense, I was not ready for becoming the subject of so many snide SCM'ers' comments. At our Amelia Island seminars, one participant applauded me for my "collection of trailer-park exotics, including the Japanese Isuzu/Lotus and the celery green with peanut butter interior Ferrari." Another loyal reader cautioned me against driving the Mondial in Los Angeles, as everyone would ask why I was using the gardener's car.
Nonetheless, I've put 2,000 miles on the Mondial in the past 60 days, including several 200-mile roundtrips to our beach house in Neskowin, on the Oregon Coast. The car continues to delight. It starts instantly, has yet to use a drop of oil, the heater and A/C work, and even the top goes up easily so long as you have a crew of five stevedores to help get it latched. And while in Los Angeles or Scottsdale it may be the Corolla of Ferraris, in our little village of Portland it attracts a great deal of attention with its raucous exhaust and striking (okay, unusual) appearance.
The shortcoming of the Mondial compared to the 330 America we formerly owned is that the Mondial is almost too much of a "real" car. With the 330, I was always so amazed that it did things like start, shift and go around turns, that I never really thought much about how well it performed those things. When I once hit 110 mph on a stretch of mountain road, engine bellowing through nearly straight exhaust pipes, mosquitoes perishing on both sides of the road as the straight 40-weight oil went through the mister-a.k.a. the V12 engine-the thrill of the ride was equaled by the terror of the experience.
Our time with the '91 Lotus Elan is nearly up. We've had it six months and it's been a pleasure, even though from many angles it looks like a Geo Metro convertible on steroids. And we do get a bit tired of the waves and honks from aspirational Isuzu Trooper owners.
The Elan is part of our program to own two or three different affordable sports cars a year. We have only one slip in the garage dedicated to this project, so for something new to come in, what's there has to go. Good thing, actually, or pretty soon we'd be overrun with collector cars, the advantages of which Ms. Banzer and I sometimes have a difference of opinion about.
We have "invested" about $15,000 in the Elan, and will sell it for that, while also looking for interesting trades or buys up, down or sideways. Anything from a big Healey to a TR-3 to a perfect BMW 2002 or even a great Saab 96 Monte Carlo has appeal. If you have any thoughts on this, contact me at [email protected], 503/261-0333.
Speaking of Ms. Banzer, it appears she is finally ready to part with her trusty 1982 Mercedes 300 turbodiesel. After 13 years and 125,000 miles, she's got her eye on an E320, which we have always felt was one of the truly great serial-production sedans, even if David E. Davis doesn't agree. We're told $18,000 is the right number for a 1996 320 with 60,000 miles and no surprises; coincidentally, that is exactly what we paid for her turbodiesel in 1989 and, by any measurement, the E320 is a far superior car.
As for the rest of the fleet, our 1986 Toyota 4x4 pickup (the dirt bike hauler) is glorying in its reupholstered front seats with inflatable lumbar support, crafted by interior wizard Guy Recordon of Guy's Restorations here in Portland. A used power-steering unit has been installed, a $250 add-on that has kept parallel parking from resembling a session with a Soloflex machine. And our trusty '91 GMC Suburban seems only to want its oil changed. As it got a new transmission and limited-slip differential last year, maybe it's decided to wait out 2002 and go for something really big in 2003.


You'll notice a fresh look to Sports Car Market this month. Working with our former art director, Scott Abts, our new art director, Tyler Roy-Hart, is bringing a uniform look to the magazine while maintaining its commitment to the efficient delivery of information. Like a race car making its first outings, we'll be fine tuning it for awhile. We welcome your reactions and suggestions; please send them to [email protected].
It's back to Modena this May, where I will be joining our European correspondent Joe Tomasetti in the third annual 1,000-km Modena Cento Ore Classic, driving his freshly prepared Alfa GTA. Joe and I participated in the inaugural Cento Ore in 2000, and found that event-creator Mauro Bompani had created a tasty mix of hillclimbs, circuit racing, touring through the countryside and terrific food and wine. Among other SCM'ers, the preliminary entry list includes Carlo Vogele in his '63 250 GTO and Bruce McCaw in his '53 375 MM Barchetta. The event runs from May 11-14. For more information, visit


English artist James Dugdale depicts Tazio Nuvolari driving a V12 Ferrari 166 Spider Corsa in the 1948 Mille Miglia on our cover. The hood and left front fender of the 166 are missing, due to damage suffered in the race, while mechanic Andrea Scapinelli holds on for dear life as his seat has broken loose. Despite building up a 29-minute lead over eventual winner Clemente Biondetti, Nuvolari was forced to retire near the finish.
Artist Dugdale was born in Rossendale, Lancashire, England. He worked as a package designer and then a freelance illustrator before becoming a full-time automotive artist. His work has been exhibited in England recently at the Silverstone Historic Festival and the Goodwood Festival of Speed, as well as at the Monterey Historic Races in California.
Additional examples of Dugdale's work can be found on l'art et l'automobile's Web site ( Alternatively, the artist may be contacted at 550 New Church Rd., Higher Cloughford, Rossendale, Lancashire BB4 7TN, England.

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