"As hobbies go, buying, restoring and driving old cars is a harmless-though often expensive-indulgence, far removed from the worlds of global politics and terrorist plots."
That was the lead sentence for an article I wrote last month for New York Times, exploring the reactions of the collector car community to the terrorist attacks on America.
As our October issue went to press, television screens were filled with horrific images of death and destruction. This month, headlines scream, "US Strikes Back: Cruise Missiles Launched." Will this dark chaos ever end?
In this electronic age, we are subjected to a continuous barrage of information. Global events, over which we have no control, permeate our lives.
In communications with subscribers all over the world since September 11, including Sam Mann in New Jersey, Giuseppe Tomasetti in Milan, Raymond Milo in Los Angeles, Chip Connor in Hong Kong and Donald Osborne in Manhattan, a common thread has emerged. Our world has changed forever.
Osborne, who watched the first World Trade Center tower collapse while standing outside his office in lower Manhattan, said, "We don't know what a normal life is anymore. So we have to keep doing the things we used to do, and see which ones now feel right."
As with our lives, the attacks have had their effect on our hobby. RM's sale at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan, scheduled for September 22, was canceled. Aside from the logistical impossibilities of transporting 50 classic cars into Manhattan so soon after the massive destruction, RM's CEO David Gooding said, "Some clients told us it just didn't seem right to be bidding on million-dollar cars so near to where so many thousands had so recently died." The premier cars from the Waldorf-Astoria auction have been added to RM's January 18 sale in Phoenix.
Bonhams & Brooks reluctantly canceled their sale scheduled for October 12 in Hershey, Pennsylvania, citing reduced airline schedules and anticipated customs delays. Brooks added that the Hershey sale will return next year, along with a new auction to be held in the Northeast during the first quarter of 2002.
The inaugural Hershey Auction, presented by Don Williams, Richie Clyne and the Blackhawk collection, also scheduled for October 12, was continuing as planned. A US-based company, they faced fewer logistical challenges than the English-based Bonhams & Brooks. According to Rob Williams, general manager of the Blackhawk Collection, "We have to continue, like the President says."
On October 27 and 28, the eBay Motors Pacific Coast Classic, presented by Kruse, is proceeding as scheduled.
The SCM tour to the Goodwood Revival, which began on September 12, was held, although in an abbreviated format. On the morning of September 11, Ms. Banzer and I, laden with colorful hats, bags and other souvenirs for the tour participants we were to meet in London, were about to go to the Portland Airport. A call from a concerned friend alerted us to the unfolding horror in New York City, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. A day meant to be spent traveling became a day of watching televised images of terrifying explosions and collapsing buildings, over and over again.
Fourteen members of the SCM group were already in England, and tour organizer Steve Austin (also stranded in Oregon, and along with us never able to catch a plane to join the group) worked the phones, faxes and e-mails for ten days to make sure that the event continued and those attempting to travel were kept informed of the ever-changing situation.
None of us can foresee what the future will hold. Metal detectors at the entrance to the Pebble Beach Concours? Searches of every car entering the green at Concorso Italiano? Security guards posted around the perimeter of Barrett-Jackson? Will we ever again be able to congregate in large numbers without casting a nervous eye around us?
Life goes on, and just as with other hobbies, the collector car world will resume its car shows, concours, auctions, swap meets, tours and monthly meetings. Through these activities, in whatever altered form they take, the new daily rhythm of our lives will emerge.
It is only through this resumption of normalcy that we will reclaim the simple joys and comforts of everyday life, so long taken for granted, and, seemingly, at the moment, so distant.


It's Jean Alesi in his 1993 Ferrari F93A Formula One monoposto streaking across this month's cover. Artist Charles Maher calls this painting, titled "Ferrari F1 (Alesi)," a celebration of color and motion and speed.
Maher grew up in Florida and received a degree in fine art from the University of Notre Dame in 1968. An independent artist since 1988, he travels to a dozen art shows per year, including those at Amelia Island, Meadow Brook and Pebble Beach. Last year, he created the posters for the Meadow Brook historic races and the Woodward Dream Cruise.
The original painting of "Ferrari F1 (Alesi)" has been sold. An edition of 50 signed and numbered prints, created using the Giclee process on canvas, are available at $450 unframed, and $650 framed in wood and with a linen liner. Maher lives in Bloomfield Hills, near Detroit. He may be contacted at 248/851-7560 or via e-mail at [email protected].

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