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, when I started this culling process, I had seven Alfas, a Bradley GT, an AutoZam, a Bugeye Sprite, a 200 TDi Defender 90, a Lotus Elise and a Ferrari 308 GT4 (I’m not counting the seven dirt bikes, or the Suburban that hauls everything around). Like an HR expert performing exit interviews, I sat down in front of each car and had a frank talk with it about our experiences — where and how it had fit into my life and into my collection, and why it was time for it to move on to another collector.

Why it’s time to say farewell

The Bradley GT had managed to travel from Fort Lauderdale, FL, to Monterey before it lost first and second gears and its door fell off. It had a high grin factor — but it didn’t offer much in the way of driving pleasure. It was a one-trip wonder. The AutoZam was quite the pocket rocket, and its diminutive size appealed to my son Bradley. But as we learned when we tried to drive one to Monterey from Portland, they really don’t want to be pressed much over 65 mph — and not for very long. So that one was easy to let go of. The “cool” factor was tremendous, but it wasn’t really a car suited for driving in the United States. The Bugeye was tough. My first car was a Bugeye, and thanks to the ministrations of Chip Starr and the near-complete depletion of my bank account, it was by far the best-driving Bugeye I had ever experienced. The one road trip I took in it with Bradley was a joy. He learned how to put the side curtains up and asked me, “Dad, is it supposed to rain inside the car?” However, when I got my Bugeye it was 1967 — 52 years ago. Our world of automobiles is totally different today than it was a half-century ago. In the hands of a young, inexperienced driver, the Bugeye would be a potential death trap on wheels. A Miata with contemporary safety equipment will serve Bradley far better when he gets his permit in 2½ years. As his skills increase, he can take on older, more-dangerous cars in controlled situations. I did have the satisfaction of watching Bradley learn at age 11 to operate its 4-speed gearbox in a deserted parking lot. I treasure the video. The 308 GT4 was another tough decision. As a Hazelnut Series 1 GT4 with a velour interior, the car had eyeball and performance. The Series 1 cars are 600 pounds lighter than the Series IIs, and have more horsepower as well. What made the decision slightly easier is that there always seem to be a few GT4s for sale. If I decided I really needed another one, chances are that with patience, I could find a good one.

Goodbye to the crown jewel

I’ve been asked why I sold the crown jewel of the collection, the 1958 Giulietta Sprint Veloce. A “Confortevole,” it marked the transition between the lightweight Sprints and the later, heavier 101-series Veloce coupes. I had looked for an “Eyebrow Veloce,” aka “Confortevole,” for a decade, not knowing that fewer than 200 were built. I bought mine while exiting Concorso Italiano some time ago for $40,000 because it “needed nothing.” After $60,000 more and four years later, it became a very sweet car. But compared to our 1967 GTV with an upgraded 1,750-cc engine, it was primitive. And as much as I enjoyed the high-revving 1,400-cc engine, if I had just one Alfa 2+2, it would be the GTV. I had achieved my dream of ownership and use with the Sprint Veloce. So it moved on to its next enthusiast owner without regrets. The 1961 Giulietta Sprint Speciale with a completely rebuilt drivetrain will be the next to go. I have a strong affection for this incredible car. It drives beautifully and has a fabulous patina. The doors shut better than on any Alfa I have ever owned. I don’t believe the chromed bumpers have ever been redone. I found it, brought it back from the dead and drove it on a 1,000-mile tour. I’ve had my Italian cake and eaten it as well.

Each car’s song

I’ve done long and short tours in every one of the cars I’m selling. I’ve experienced the endless heartache of ground-up restorations — and the exultation of seeing the car back on the road. I have listened as each car sang its unique song to me, from the thunderous basso profundo of our ACR Viper GTS to the lilting 2-cylinder chanson of the Mehari. Each time a car chooses me, I’m the better for it. My life is the richer. And with each new car, the new stories begin. Saying goodbye to cars that brought so much to my life and watching them move on is just a part of a never-ending cycle. ♦

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