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

Ferraris as Everyday People

I remember the first time I saw a Ferrari being used to haul lumber. It was in the late ’80s and I was in the midst of rebuilding my front porch. I’d driven my 1983 Jeep Grand Wagoneer to the local lumberyard for a couple of sheets of plywood.
In the parking lot, a fellow in blue jeans and a plaid Pendleton shirt was loading a half-dozen eight-foot 2x4s into his red 308 GTS. One end went down Read More

Monterey, Then and Now

It was July of 1985, and the Monterey Historics were just a few weeks away. The featured marque was Alfa Romeo, and for the first time in a decade, I didn’t own one. My 1969 boat-tailed Spider with rusty floors had just gone away, and I was desperate.
In those days when my day job was directing the Keith Martin Ballet Company, anything to do with Alfas was a really big deal. And the 75th anniversary celebration was about Read More

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