Even before moving to its current digs in pleasant Plymouth, Mich., the event now known as the Concours d’Elegance of America was considered among the top handful of such exhibitions in the world; it was definitely one of just two or three top-tier concours shows in this country, along with Pebble Beach and Amelia Island. Now, sprawling across the grounds of the ritzy St. John’s Inn, the Motor City’s other international auto show has taken a much higher profile of late—but they still gave me press credentials anyway!
As you may have heard, June 27, 2012, was not the day that Doc Brown set the time machine in his DeLorean to go to in the future in Back to the Future, despite what the Internet wanted us to believe on Wednesday. As an unabashed fan of the Back to the Future trilogy, at first I was mad at myself for missing such a momentous date; I kind of had an excuse in that I hadn’t watched the movies in a while. But then I started to think about how neatly the four main time periods in the trilogy worked out and realized it was just a hoax.
The same friend who first introduced me into the thrills of high-school hoonage—in a late 1970s Chevy Monza—recently bought this 1996 Volkswagen Golf Harlequin, and I was lucky enough to get some time behind the wheel. For those who haven’t read the head Savant’s own piece on the car, from 2009, the Golf Harlequin actually came that way right from the factory.
It would be easy to be jealous of Ken Lingenfelter if you didn’t know the back-story. After all, here’s a guy who had the wherewithal to get into collecting about a decade ago and has since built up a stunning selection of more than 150 of the coolest cars in the world. Of course, not satisfied with just collecting them, he also purchased one of the globe’s top tuning operations, itself boasting more than 30 very successful years in the business and a very familiar name—Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, originally founded by Ken’s cousin, the veteran NHRA champion and engineer John Lingenfelter.
Perhaps since my last article you’ve read a few magazines about your favorite marque and now you’ve got your mind set on one….or maybe you are wavering between a couple marques and/or types of classic cars.
The bad news is you are hooked! And you know you are ready to take the leap; you want to jump in with both feet and join the rest of the poor souls who have been bitten by the classic sports car bug. Congratulations!
Now, the obstacles to purchasing a classic sports car begin to materialize; how to figure out what to buy, maybe you know what you want but are not sure of the best path to acquiring it. Perhaps you feel eBay is the best way to buy, or Hemmings, or you know of one behind a barn in your hometown. How do you avoid buying a true nightmare of a car, how do you know the right things to look for and what to avoid, who can you trust, how do you avoid paying too much?
Iceland is a mysterious place with endless discoveries for literally anybody. To add to the mystique of this island perched precariously on the edge of the world (no, not really, it’s between North America and Europe actually), flying to Iceland is distinctly different from flying to any other country. The clouds over the island seem to cover it like a blanket, making the descent of the aircraft particularly precarious. Upon breaching the cloud cover, the landscape that appears is at once barren and ancient – a stark change from the manicured lawns and large industrial buildings that mark England’s landscape from which I came. The airport, however, must be one of the most modern ones I have ever seen. Elegantly Scandinavian, thoroughly modern and utterly clean. Their advertisements also reflect their way of thinking – simple and effective.
Selling cars at an auction is foreign to me. Where I live in Singapore, we rely almost solely on buying cars privately or from used car dealerships. Among the auctions there is always the impression that ‘something must be wrong with the car’, perhaps a very strong Asian mindset that if one’s car is re-possessed or confiscated, the car itself also contains some qualities of its owner.
EBay, Barrett Jackson, and Hemmings all abound with classic and veteran sports cars for sale and auction year-round, but why do so many people want to buy one – or even more than one?
What makes an otherwise-sane person sink exorbitant amounts of money into an obsolete piece of machinery?
I bought my first classic sports car in the 90’s – a decrepit and pitiful 1978 MG Midget. That was just the beginning; I was bitten as they say. Shortly after the Midget came home, I bought a 1977 MGB, then a 1973 MGB, a 1967 MGB GT, BMWs, Porsches, Triumphs and on and on. Let’s take a look at the reasons why folks might consider buying a classic sports car.
Among the automotive elite, Detroit’s Cobo Hall is well-known as the home of the North American International Auto Show, one of the premier events on the annual auto show circuit. Yet perhaps only the true Auto Savant realizes that, each year, a little more than a month after NAIAS, Cobo is the site of a similarly world-class automotive exhibition that holds the same position in its part of the universe that the other Detroit auto show maintains for the new-vehicle industry. I’m writing, of course, about Autorama, the long-running hot-rod fest that’s now in its 60th year and wrapped up this past weekend.
Reading a story on Jalopnik this morning about how a 1985 Pontiac Fiero was removed from a Houston reservoir after 22 years underwater caused my mind to wander to the last rusty submerged car that I remember seeing in the news. Of course, that car is the 1957 Plymouth Belvedere that the city fathers of Tulsa, Oklahoma buried in front of their city hall in 1957, to be unearthed in 2007 and awarded to the person who most closely guessed Tulsa’s 2007 population.
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