From Imogene Pass, snow-covered at 13,114-feet in the Rockies, to the sea-level canyons of Manhattan, it was a busy month. First, taking a break from the world of vintage cars courtesy of Land Rover, I had the opportunity to drive a Range Rover across the Colorado Rockies. We passed through Ouray, Telluride, Gladstone and Old Ophir, names legendary in off-road and Jeep Jamboree lore. Having a ski cabin on the slopes of Mt. Hood requires that we always keep a pair of real 4WDs in our stable (rather than the "add cladding and another driveshaft to a station wagon" AWDs so fashionable at the moment), and we wanted to find out how the Rover would stack up against the Grand Cherokees, Durangos and Suburbans we're familiar with.
As we descended from Big Bear pass (12,840 feet), on a path barely wider than the vehicle itself and with a 6,000 foot, no guardrail, sheer drop on one side, the Range Rovers crawled securely along in compound low, working like thoroughbred mountain goats. Their off-road composure was even more impressive when coupled with their ability to whisk us, at near triple-digit speeds, down the expressway in leather-clad luxury-car comfort. In an era of bloated-pretenders ("my SUV's longer than yours"), and vehicles built from multi-purpose chassis, the performance of the Range Rover as it clambered up rocky hills, traversed streams and edged its way along gravel embankments was a revelation. While the Rover never lost its composure, my colleague, Larry Edsall, from AutoWeek did manage on a particularly steep, boulder-strewn section, to become the only driver to get stuck and require winching - but we promised not to tell.


Departing from Gunnison, Colorardo, my next stop was New York City to serve as a judge at the Chrysler-sponsored Louis Vuitton Classic held in the heart of Manhattan at Rockefeller Center. During my days in NYC as a passion-driven and consequently destitute modern dancer studying at the Juilliard School, I would walk by Rockefeller Center and peer over the fence at the exclusive gatherings within. I can now report that being on the inside has its advantages.
Vuitton-Maestro Murray Smith has brought a fresh energy to the concours world, having the courage to display everything from the expected, such as Chip Connor's spectacular 1937 Talbot Lago T50C "Teardrop," to the invigorating, a WWII Willys Army Jeep belonging to Malcolm S Pray, Jr., just uncrated and with sixty miles on the odometer. The Vuitton Classic is a massive undertaking, but a worthy one - it brings exotic cars directly to the center of the Big Apple.
I had the fortune to judge the historic NASCAR group, assisted by David E. Davis of Automobile Magazine, Skip Barber of Barber Racing Schools and Michael Dwyer, Vice President of Sales for Lacoste, whose mission is to revitalize the clothing branded with the tiny alligator as it re-enters the U.S. market. Everyone's emotional favorite was Ivan Zaremba's 1951 Hudson Hornet, fresh from the Carrera Panamericana. But first-in-class, earned by its engaging authenticity, went to the ex-Richard Petty #43 1974 Dodge Charger, now owned by Tim Wellborn and still wearing its Day-Glo pink and blue STP period livery.
Without revealing the inner workings of the "Best of Show" decision process, I admit casting the solitary vote for Bruce Meyer's "1934 Pierson Brother's Coupe" hot rod as the recipient of that award. As important and impressive as the gathered Duesenbergs, Auburns and the like were, the classic hot rod stands as an icon of the American affection for the automobile, and the willingness of enthusiasts to transform a pedestrian vehicle into something exotic and purposeful.
Ralph Lauren's black 1938 Bugatti 57SC Atlantic ("Ralph, please put it back to blue," said Smith as it rolled up for its trophy) was the deserved winner of Best of Show, but personally, I was just as engaged by the vintage Jeep. At least we could take it to our cabin, and it's hard to go trout fishing in a Bugatti.


Our Easter Egg is gone, to be replaced by a Rice-Burner. Two months ago, Terry Godbout, of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho found a micro-car enthusiast eager to own our 1958 Isetta 300. The final price was $8,000 and the new owner paid Godbout a commission as well. Nearly the same day we watched the Egg trundle off, an e-mail from an SCM subscriber arrived, offering us his 1972 Datsun 240Z, completely original, fully documented and with just 36,000 miles covered. His price was "$13,000 firm," we countered with the $8,000 hot ex-Isetta dollars burning a hole in our pocket, and settled at $8,000 plus a multi-century subscription to SCM and some Showcase Gallery ads to help him sell his 275 GTB.
In 1969, when the 240Z arrived on our shores, it was both mystifying and intriguing. For the same price as the already dated and about to be emasculated MGB-GT, the Z offered sleek styling and a powerful 6-cylinder engine. The Bob Sharp-prepared Zs became a familiar site taking the checkered flag in SCCA C-Production, and, unlike most cookie-cutter Japanese cars, the Z-car represented an automotive elan that Nissan is still struggling to rediscover.
We've always wanted to own one, and as soon as Intercity Lines trucks it from its home just outside Chicago to Portland, we'll slide it into the garage along side the Ferrari 330 America and Ms. Banzer's '78 Alfa Spider, and see how they all get along.


A pair of early, bent-window pre-356 Porsches sit "Waiting for Spring" in the water color of the same name by Sandra Leitzinger on our cover this month. A member of the Pennsylvania Society of Watercolor Painters, Leitzinger's paintings of race cars, drivers and pit activity have been exhibited at "Auto Art" at Lime Rock and the Paddock Club at Watkins Glen during the U.S. Grand Prix.
While this particular print is no longer available, other works by Ms. Leitzinger, along with a catalog of works by a variety of artists, are available from long-time automotive art and automobilia enthusiast Jacques Vaucher. He may be contacted through his business, l'art et l'automobile, in Hampton, New York (516/ 329-8580, fax 516/ 329-8589).

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