Where Have All the Cheap Cars Gone?

The first issue of SCM roared off the presses (or more accurately, was spit out of a mimeograph machine) in 1988. We were just in time to ride the upsurge in the market through its crest in early 1990.
I was buying and selling sports and imports at the time, and day after day through February 1990, my fax machine kept spitting out orders from European clients. Selling nearly anything wasn’t the problem; finding something to sell was.
One Read More

The End of Collectible Cars

It’s time we all stopped pretending. For all intents and purposes, the last collectible serial production car rolled off the assembly line sometime in the mid-1970s.
SCM has long maintained that the 1955-73 period will be regarded as the Golden Age of collectible cars, when the automotive equivalents of Van Gogh, Puccini and Frank Lloyd Wright were churning out landmark vehicles, one after another.
From the 1955 Chevrolet 210 to the 1973 Carrera RS, cars simply got better and Read More

Of Miatas and Mini-Cars

The 1974 Mustang II, by nearly any standard, was a pathetic shadow of the original. It was also a terrific sales success, its 384,000 units sold far outstripping the 134,267 of the 1973, final-year, “Big Mustang.”
The reason Mustang IIs flew out of the showroom was simple. Gas prices zoomed as a result of the 1973 fuel crises, and the Mustang II was, compared to the car it replaced, a small, fuel-efficient vehicle.
Fuel prices are again on the Read More

Grandpa’s Mod-Con Mercury

While I’ve never been to a 24-hour race, the Speed Channel coverage of the 2005 Barrett-Jackson auction came close. Although my duties in the broadcast booth were spread over four days, that’s a lot of hours to put in watching the world’s shiniest used car lot in action.
Bob Varsha and Brock Yates, my boothmates, were as delightful as ever to work with, and the three blockmeisters, Alain de Cadenet, Mike Joy and Rick Debruhl, found something engaging about Read More

The DMV Reunion

I celebrated a birthday recently, which was marked in part by an obligatory journey to the local DMV to get my license renewed. The good news was that I weigh nearly 30 pounds less than I did eight years ago when I last renewed, thanks to my daily before-dawn five-mile run. The bad news is that I’m still eight years older.
Having recently moved, I asked the clerk to update my address. He poked a few keys, then Read More

The SCM Superbird

We don’t do things halfway here at SCM. I’ll offer as proof my first muscle car purchase: A 1970 Plymouth Superbird, Vitamin C orange with a black vinyl interior.
The year was 1989, and the following advertisement appeared on the front page of the local Autotrader: “1970 Superbird, 29,000 original miles, 4-speed, 440-4bbl, bench seat, window sticker, original paint, $13,500 or best offer.” The car was in Salem, Oregon, 45 miles away.
This was about the same time that Read More

Getting Our Kicks

I’m going to blame this one on Ed Welburn, General Motors design chief. The two of us were kicking tires at the RM Amelia Island auction last March, and came across a 1966 Sting Ray coupe. Welburn mentioned that it was nearly exactly what he wanted, a car in driving condition with a small-block.
“But it really needs to be a ’63,” he added. “A split-window. And maybe Sebring Silver, the color of the original show car.”
Generally Read More

Giuliettas, GTs and Gullwings

Imagine a car collection to be like a well-stocked wine cellar, with each flight contributing its own particular palate, body and boquet. During the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to drink deeply from three quite different appellations, that of the Ford GT, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing.
I was just 17 when I got my first Alfa, a 1963 Giulia Spider Normale. During the last three decades, I don’t think there has been Read More

You Can Never Have Too Many Rotors

The SCM E-type has come and gone, but its brief time with us was memorable.
White with black leather, it was a 1967 4.2-liter Series I coupe. My co-conspirator in this latest adventure was Dave Stewart, of Aurora, OR, whom I met when he attended an SCM Insider’s Seminar at Barrett-Jackson some years ago. (At that same event, Stewart bought a 1934 MG PA coupe, which he described as being, “Perhaps the most stylish and undriveable car on the Read More

Forever Young

Austin-Healey was really a one-trick pony, a company that produced a single design and a few variations on that theme. From the first svelte, unadorned 100-4, with its graunchy three-speed gearbox and fold-down windshield, to the final ornate and luxurious BJ8, all the models we now call Big Healeys shared the same basic look. But the company of Donald Healey lasted barely more than 13 years.
That’s not very long for a car marque to live. After all, Mercedes Read More