This is all Martin Swig's fault. The iconoclastic, San Francisco-based collector and enthusiast has been trying to lay us away in a Ford for some time. Not just any Ford, mind you, but a 1954 Mainline Six Business Coupe. "It's the model Piero Taruffi drove in the '54 Carrera," Swig related. "It was sponsored by Floyd Clymer Publications, and you're a publisher, so it's a natural fit."
Over the years, we've learned never to dismiss a Swig concept, no matter how hare-brained it might seem at first glance. After all, in 1982 he was the first American to enter the Mille Miglia Storica in his 1900 Zagato, long before Mille participation became a rite of initiation into the collector car world for the ultra-wealthy. He then went on to found the California Mille, the Carrera Nevada and has become involved with the reincarnation of Brock Yates' Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea exercise in attrition and motor-madness.
So back to the Ford. A few months ago Swig called on his cell phone, beside himself with excitement. He had come across the exact '54 Ford he needed, languishing in the back row of a used-car lot somewhere in Southern California. The Mainline Six was the base model, with a horn-button instead of a ring, a single sun visor and an armrest only on the driver's door. The car entered the Swig collection after the princely sum of $1,000 changed hands.
Yesterday, as Swig was getting ready to leave for Retromobile in Paris, where Ms. Banzer and I will be joining him, he called to offer us the car for $1,200. Two weeks earlier, at Barrett-Jackson, we had watched him buy the world's best 1953 Bristol 403 alloy-bodied coupe, and the world's not-so-best 1951 Tatra Tatraplan saloon. Perhaps he had to sell the Ford to pay the car hauler for delivering his new acquisitions.
We'll soon make the deal, most likely next week when Cindy and I sit down with him for jambon and beer in the back corner of Retromobile. Then we'll be on the way to building our very own Fakey-Doo, right here in Stumptown. We've convinced Brian Ross, hot rod, sand rail and custom car builder extraordinaire to take on the project, and he's already sourcing the extra carburetor ("We'll have to split the manifold, just like they did back then"), the overdrive transmission and other various parts it will take to make this into a race car that is true to its 1954 configuration.
To make room in our garage, the 1969 Duetto race car will have to go-in truth, we've used it just once a year since 1995. (There's an advert for it in this issue's Showcase Gallery.) We'd like to put the Ford into the Carrera Nevada, and Swig keeps salting our conversations with tempting phrases like, "This car would be perfect for the Argentine Mille."
We'll keep you posted. I only hope the Alfa Romeo Owner's Club of Oregon, of which I am a past president, won't revoke my membership, and the local Porsche Club, to which I also belong, doesn't make me mount the engine of the Ford sideways in the trunk.


The world of collector cars is chock full of great people, interesting cars and fascinating events. Auctions, with their live drama and instantaneous value decisions, are terrific entertainment, as well as providing a valuable and much-needed service for sellers by turning their cars into instant money, and for buyers by providing them with an array of intriguing and immediately available cars to choose from.
But there is a dark side to auctions. As with any business, there are those who abuse the system for their own gain. And whether the shysters are fast-talking dot-com venture capital solicitors, scabrous mobile-home salesmen or Backyard Billys pawning off an Alpine as a Tiger, everyone involved becomes the poorer for the experience.
SCM has been asked by two leading auction companies to help in the formulation of an "Auction Bill of Rights" that would more clearly spell out the expectations and responsibilities of consignors, auction companies and buyers. All interested auction companies, consignors and bidders are invited to participate in the process.
Let's be clear that the overwhelming percentage of auction deals go down smoothly; Craig Jackson, speaking at the SCM Insider's Seminars this year, mentioned that of the 567 cars sold at their 2000 event, only one sale eventually had to be unwound.
Nonetheless, there are still consignors who view the vehicle information form as a license to write creatively while re-inventing history, and buyers who think the 40-year-old sports car they have just acquired should have the same warranty, and perform as flawlessly, as a 2001 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Further, in our litigious era, it simply doesn't work when an auction company heavily promotes a vehicle, attracts bidders from around the world, then proclaims, "Well, according to the seller, this car is a." and then disclaims all further responsibility.
SCM has no interest in any involvement beyond helping to formulate a set of standards for auction companies, consignors and buyers to consider. With some thoughtful and creative fine-tuning of expectations, which are agreed to and put in writing by all parties involved, the industry can go a long way towards improving the sense of comfort for all participants in the auction arena.
I welcome your comments on this subject; all submissions will remain completely confidential. E-mail me at kmartin@sports, fax 503-252-5854, snail mail: Keith Martin, Bill of Rights, 6833 SE Pine Court, Portland, Oregon 97215.


Titan Legends depicts Tazio Nuvolari in an Auto Union V12 supercharged 420-horsepower D-type and Hans Stuck driving a V16 C-type at the Nürburgring. The painting, by English artist Barry Rowe, is of a fictional moment, the Type C appearing at the Nürburging in 1936 and the Type D not until the following year.
Nuvolari, driving No. 4, replaced Bernd Rosemeyer who was killed in an Auto Union car in January 1938 when he crashed, at 492 mph, on a road course in Germany while attempting to set a land speed record.
Rowe's evocative works have appeared regularly on the cover of SCM, and, in addition to numerous commissions and awards, Rowe has been responsible for the 1998-2000 posters for the Pebble Beach Concours. Thirty by twenty-inch prints of Titan Legends, from an edition of 150, are available for $195. Contact: Steve Austin's Automobilia, 800/452-8434 (OR), e-mail [email protected].

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