Our former headquarters covered 6,000 square feet, and had both individual offices and conference rooms. Best of all, we had a 10-car garage in the basement.
When my Alfa collection was at its peak, I recall the vanity and conceit of arranging the cars by coachbuilder, (Bertone, Pininfarina, Zagato), and then rearranging them by year. And then by engine type (750, 101, 105). I entertained myself endlessly.
Our new offices are far more modest and have no garage, as our editorial staff now works from home and the magazine is produced virtually.
Where do we put them all?
This means we have had to find new ways to take care of the cars. I thought I had diminished the collection by selling some of them.
But somehow with the addition of the Mercedes SL55 AMG, Jaguar V12 coupe, the Land Rover Discovery II and, most recently, the Citroën DS21 Pallas, I seem to be back where I started.
For many years I have owned a house in Southeast Portland that I rent out. I bought it from a man who built hot rods. The house covers just 800 square feet, but it has an eight-car garage behind it. It has two driveways, along with 220-volt power and a reinforced area to attach an engine hoist.
For a car guy, the relationship between the size of the house and the size of the garage seems about perfect.
We have also developed a partnership with Mike Christopherson at Pro-Tek Automotive, a secure car-storage facility and gearhead social club. He’s a great guy and his services include washing and detailing cars, as well as running them to other repair shops. Pro-Tek also does mechanical work itself, and even handles Oregon state smog testing.
I also have three slots at my condo. Which cars should go where? (I understand this is a First World problem.)
For immediate all-weather use, at the condo I will be keeping my 2021 Hyundai Elantra, the 2000 Land Rover and the 2004 SL55 AMG. From snow to sunshine, I am covered.
Reserved for tours
For winter storage at the SCM garage, we are keeping the Lotus Elise, the Alfa Duetto and the Giulia Spider Veloce.
All of these are fair-weather cars, and unlikely to see use unless there is a club event or tour.
I’ve had the Giulia over 30 years. At one time it was my daily driver. I recall taking my daughter Alexandra to high school in it. (She went to Lincoln, the same school my son Bradley is now attending.) One winter day it was pouring, and she said to me, “Dad, are you ever going to own a car that doesn’t leak onto my right knee in the rain?”
I’ve put thousands of miles on the car, sold it once and bought it back some years later. It has its original 1600 Veloce engine which has been brilliantly and expensively rebuilt by Conrad Stevenson in Berkeley, CA.
A few years ago, I took it to restorer and guru Bill Gilham in Albany, OR, to see about “freshening up” the trunk floor and the rockers.
The modest sheet-metal touch-up evolved into a much-needed stripping of the car to a bare-metal tub. It is now gorgeous, and my bank account is six figures lighter. It was worth every penny that I spent.
This car has now entered what I call its “immortal” state. Always properly garaged and religiously over-maintained, barring some sort of accident, the car will never rust again or need major mechanical overhauls.
It is now as much jewelry as it is a car. Its value is in the low-six-figure range, so I’m thoughtful about when I take it out. It’s a part of my personal heritage, and a living testimony to all the adventures cars have brought to me.
I will always have a soft spot in my heart for our 1967 Duetto. In 1970, I had one as my daily driver. (It was just three years old then.) I put almost 50,000 miles on it driving between Reed College in Portland and my grandmother’s home in San Francisco.
The svelte body lines become more attractive with each passing year. The impossibly frail and exposed nose and tail speak to an era when designers were king.
For any type of tour, the Duetto would be my first choice.
The 2006 Lotus Elise was another car that I sold and bought back. It has long been claimed by Alexandra and it is a perfect fit for her.
That leaves the 1971 Junior Zagato. It is ready for me to pick up from the shop, with a vacuum-operated hand clutch now operational. It will go into Pro-Tek along with the DS21 and the Jag V12 coupe. I will have 24/7 access to all three cars and will wait for a sunny winter day to exercise them.
As our cars age and the world changes, the ways we use them become more specific. I’m pleased with the breadth of the current collection, and with the different experiences each car offers. ♦