There’s a lot going on at SCM world headquarters this month, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
There’s been a milestone occurrence in the Martin-Banzer family. Last weekend, our 11-year-old daughter, Alexandra, learned to drive.
Early piloting is a tradition in our family; My grandfather, Tom McDowell, taught me how to operate his early ’50s Ford 8N tractor on our farm in Novato, California, when I was eight years old. He showed me how to set the hand-throttle and explained the importance of letting the clutch out slowly. He demonstrated which pedal worked the front brake and how the left and right rear brakes each had its own control.
My first course was a simple one and zig-zagged through the Bartlett pear orchard, looped between two walnut trees, went past the pampas grass and then came back around the artichoke patch to Start/Finish, across from the crabapple tree. I would guess my average speed was somewhere between nearly stopped and a slow walk.
By the age of nine, I was a veteran tractor-boy, and I recall the sense of pride and accomplishment I felt each spring when I would head out to the barn to fire up the machinery for the weekend’s work. Operating a tractor will do that for you.
Alexandra’s mount wasn’t a tractor, but it was pretty close. The most recent addition to our increasingly oddball fleet is a 1973 VW Thing. As our daily cars become more complicated, the simplicity of the Thing has its own appeal.
I found it at a local specialty shop, Always V-Dub. Never rusted, and with both vinyl and fiberglass tops, the price was $4,500.
The 90-mile drive to our beach house was entertaining, the Thing’s 1600-cc engine requiring a constant rowing through the gears to keep up with traffic. Doors removed and windshield folded down, the car was one of the stars of the annual Fourth of July
parade in Neskowin.
The next day, Alexandra announced that, as she was going to be 12 years old in August, it was time for her to learn to drive. “After all, Daddy, you learned to drive when you were eight,” she reminded me. When I told her that, at 4’2” and 62 pounds, she was surely too little to reach the pedals, she replied firmly, “Just watch this.” After carefully piling two phonebooks and a pillow onto the seat and stretching her legs out to the maximum, I had to admit that she could reach everything she needed to.
Doors still off, we went to the Pacific City beach. In Oregon, at certain times of the year, it’s legal to drive on designated sections of the beach. There is a sign posted that declares, “Licensed operators only,” but we figured it didn’t really apply to kids on holiday weekends. On the way over, with me behind the wheel, she had practiced shifting the car when I put in the clutch.
I thought the beginning of the session would be marked by the same kinds of abrupt starts and stalls that I recalled from my own experience. But the low gearing and instant torque, such as there is, of the VW engine, coupled with her willingness to bury the throttle, meant we were moving along in first right away. Shifts up into second and third were accomplished with aplomb, and within a few minutes we were scaring seagulls all along the beach.
You can never tell how the lives of your kids will play out; those of you who are parents know that we all do the best we can, never sure if it’s the right thing or not, and then stand back to see what happens. I can only say that the sparkle I saw in her eyes, and the joy she seemed to exude as we motored along, shifting up and down and up and down and up again, was a remarkable thing. I’d like to believe that my grandfather, who passed away many years ago, was watching it all with a smile.
A Perfect Change
Responding to your numerous requests, we’ve started a department devoted to vintage race cars. With veteran racer and certified car nut Bruce Trenery as our prime resource, we’ll look at a different race car each month and examine it both in terms of value and functionality. Expect race car market reports and price guides, as well, in the near future.
Due to increases in both numbers of subscribers and advertisers, we have expanded SCM to 108 pages, in a perfect-bound format.
At the same time, we have signed a long-term contract with a major newsstand distributor, so tell your friends to look for SCM at a Barnes & Noble, Borders or other bookstore near them.
In order to attract the attention of a newsstand reader, those retail sale issues will have a completely different cover. The rest of the magazine is unchanged.
To comply with newsstand expectations, we have moved the date of our cover up one month, so this is now the September issue. We have extended all of your subscriptions by a month, so there will be no change in the number of magazines you receive.
You’ll find information about our featured artist, Barry Rowe, on page 17.
It’s Monterey Madness
SCM will have a presence at nearly every event during the crowded weekend, from our booths at the Historic Races and at Concorso Italiano to our seminar at the RM auction, with distribution of magazines at the RM, Christie’s, Bonhams & Butterfields and Russo and Steele events, and even special placement in all the rooms at the Inn at Spanish Bay and the Lodge at Pebble Beach.
Many of the SCM staff will be in Monterey, including our art director, Tyler Roy-Hart, SCM Gold manager David Slama, Editorial Manager Stephen Siegel and of course Ms. Banzer and myself. If you’ve got a few hours to kill, ask Donald Osborne (who is also director of advertising sales) about his Lancia Fulvia Zagato and newly acquired 1950 946-cc Crosley HotShot Special.
Please visit with us; without your loyal support, and that of our valued advertisers, we couldn’t have kept pushing forward these 15 years. Our pledge to you is to keep improving SCM, and to continue to provide information that will help you make informed decisions in your collecting. And to keep having fun in the process.u