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MMR Community Newsletter

Posted on February 19, 2015 Comments (0)

A Truncated Newsletter

Snow, shovels, ice dams, leaking light sockets, pails, and more snow to come ... you get the drift. After a huge storm in NYC, Johnny Carson once reported that Mayor Lindsay has discovered the solution to winter storms ... spring. Amen!

Peugeot grill, by Keith Carlson

Regular reader Keith Carlson shares his impression of this year’s Retromobile. Images of the Baillon Collection have a haunting quality which, all things considered, seems rather fitting.

Baillon Collection, by Keith Carlson

Michael Furman

Michael Furman

The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia will be presenting a series of lectures on Automotive Photography. The opening lecture by Michael Furman is Saturday at 11:00 a.m. If you don’t already have plans, please consider attending. This week's image is Michael's photograph of a 1956 FB Mondial 250 Bialbero GP.

1956 FB Mondial 250 Bialbero GP, by Michael Furman

Resource Directory

Our featured supplier from the MMR Goods & Services Directory #2 is Exclusive Escapes, for all the right reasons. If your current environs present little opportunity for change in the near future, consider giving Exclusive Escapes a call and discussing options. The conversation alone could be uplifting.

Featured Classifieds

The Party, a film with Morgans and Peter Sellers

Early Morgans had three wheels and a 2 Cylinder air cooled motorcycle engine hanging off the front. In the award winning movie, The Party, Peter Sellers, playing the part of an accident-prone Indian actor in Hollywood, drives such a car throughout. This model was followed by a series of Morgan 4+4s which acquired a four cylinder engine and four wheels and came in different configurations and engine supplier packages. At one point, they were stretched out and sideways and fitted with a Rover V8. The “Plus 8” was our favorite Morgan, though all were interesting cars.

Have a great weekend and kindly forward this newsletter to everyone you know.

Peter Bourassa
Publisher


My Word: Tread Lightly

Posted on October 22, 2014 Comments (1)

The Great Divide Expedition

Recently I wrote in these environs about Range Rover’s Great Divide Expedition reenactment. The original was 25 years ago and involved a Bill Baker inspired event for motoring journalists taking part in a criss-crossing trip down the spine of the Continental Divide in Colorado.

There were several waves of us taking part in different sections of the route laid out by off-road expert Tom Collins, a.k.a. T.C. He’s still working for Land Rover and furthering that company’s programs of using their capable vehicles to open up back-country adventures for owners and prospective buyers.

Welcome to Tin Cup

On the original Great Divide trip in 1989 I was in the wave that crossed what is called variously St. Elmo or Tin Cup Pass depending on the direction you are headed. The story is just a click away here if you missed what I wrote about my family’s personal connection to the ghost town of Tin Cup (or Tincup) in Colorado. I had not known at the time I sent Peter the story whether or not the reenactment leg I was on in 2014 would include that Taylor Park town.

As it turned out it did not. Our group began in Denver, crawled over the rockiness of Red Cone Pass and the 13,188-foot Mosquito Pass and thence to Aspen with an intervening overnight in Breckenridge. (My story about the trip will be in AutoWeek soon. A link will be provided here.)

Red Cone Pass

Off Road Quad

Why no Tin Cup? The Land Rover instructors, one to each of the posh 2014 Range Rovers in which we drove the splendor of Colorado’s above-timber-line trails, told us that some of the old route for the Great Divide was now unusable. On one section a tunnel had collapsed, on others overuse by the new mosquitos of the off-road—the 4x4 ATVs variously called quads or side-by-sides—have altered some roads through overuse making them more trouble than they are worth.

These ATVs are small, capable and relatively inexpensive. They have made the back-country more accessible to more people, which cannot be bad unto itself. However a goodly number of the newcomers either never heard of “Tread Lightly” or have no respect for the program that Land Rover has championed with the Forest Service for a quarter century.

Tread Lightly

Tread Lightly is a general agreement that vehicles will stay on the existing roads and trails, not enlarging them or—heaven forfend—not ignoring them and striking off across virgin country. And that visitors will leave nothing behind and take only pictures with them. It’s a kindness attitude toward the environment that enough of the new folk either can’t do or won’t try. And, truth be told, the large-huge-wheeled, knobby tired, short-wheel-based, powerful machines just naturally have a different effect on the surface of the earth than an SUV.

In my AutoWeek story I likened the antagonistic mix of users of old roads and trails to that which arose some seasons ago on the ski slopes. Mogul fields were made unusable to the users of long skis when a new lot on short skis took to skiing them. It’s not the intent that changes the terrain, just the way the beast is built. Short-ski skiers recut the moguls and long-ski skiers were out of luck.

Anyway, Land Rover saw fit to eliminate the Tin Cup part of the route which came after the section I was scheduled for anyway. I was told that Tin Cup is as heavily trafficked as Times Square on summer weekends these days. ATVs are everywhere and there is even a traffic light.

Nonetheless my interest in seeing the spot again has been stirred. I want to go back and see for myself. That will not be possible this fall because snow—already fallen in some serious amounts—can make the interesting routes impassible. But there’s another reason: I go in this week for some more reworking of my aging suspension system. Winter looms too large and so I’m thinking early summer of 2015 when the old roads start browning and creeks a-gurgling and the sun climbs higher in the sky.

Log House Tin Cup

The thought struck me, maybe some of you guys with under-exercised SUVS or who haven’t seen Colorado at its height might like to join me/us. Say start here in Santa Fe or maybe Denver or the Springs and join up en route. I’ll get suggestions for likely passes from T.C. at Land Rover. He has at least a nodding acquaintance with every important rock in the Rockies. We’ll find some good passages and we’ll advance on Tin Cup. We’ll find Uncle Will’s log house and my Great Grandmother’s grave and see what ghost towns look like when engines have awakened them.

If you have any interest in such a plan, send me an email. Subject: Tin Cup Trek. We’ll keep you informed. Maybe something will come of it. Anyway we’ve got more ideas on trips—some more for sportive cars—you might like to try. We’ll keep you up on those as well. (One particularly will blow your mind.)

Cars are meant to be driven; hills are meant to be climbed; local cafes are meant to be tried. And I suspect there’s something special beyond that next bend.


My Word: The Re-Discovery of Tin Cup

Posted on September 3, 2014 Comments (3)

By Denise McCluggage

Welcome to Historic Tin Cup

Car companies have gone through several stages in how they introduce the press to their new vehicles. And thus to readers of the publications represented. There was a time when the car makers spent lavishly. One might say even foolishly. The P.R. or marketing folks handed out first class plane tickets to deliver the writers to the posh resorts where the new vehicles were met with and driven. Just to prove that was foolish some of my colleagues would swap the single first class passage for two economy tickets (it was easier and fee-free in those days) and their wives were miraculously whisked to the same seaside or mountain spot.

On the q.t. (all hoped) and housed in a lesser hostelry. When his time at the “Ride and Drive” of the car company ended the writer would transfer to those more modest digs and stay on a few days. (Departure changes were free then, too.) The couple had a pleasant few days with no transportation cost to them.

One fellow journalist stretched his first-class tickets into as many miles as possible even if such a ruse involved more stops. He was compulsive about frequent flyer miles and could probably take every cousin he had around the world. My suggestion that maybe the host car company paid for first class seats so that the writers would be rested when they arrived met with a return suggestion that I mind my own business.

What the hospitality trade calls “room gifts” were equally lavish at that time. Pieces of superior luggage maybe. Almost always a racing jacket with the company logo. Wine. A welter of electronics. The European press really expected high-ticket items, even more than Americans. An oft-told story was a car introduction in which an American company was hosting a collection of European reporters. The gift was something like an iPod with a small note of “hope you enjoy this” or some such. In some rooms this was apparently left on the TV set.

Yep, you guessed it. At checkout time a few of the European journalists came off the elevators lugging a great armful of TV. Hearing of this we Americans tried to imagine embarrassed P.R. types struggling to deal with this cross-cultural misunderstanding.

All the excesses of hospitality faded even before the economy stumbled and car companies cut back to what was after all the essentials of getting a new model car into our hands in a pleasant setting with knowledgeable executives nearby to answer questions about the vehicle, its design and performance and a description of the marketing plans laid out for it. That’s what a public relations department was supposed to do.

Range Rover

The thing is some did it with more class, style and originality than others. And Louis Vuitton garment bags had nothing to do with it. The programs themselves were the draw. Bill Baker, a prince among P.R. people, ran such programs for Land Rover. Everyone wanted to be on a Bill Baker trip because his trips were always germane to the vehicle involved, always well organized and well-realized. And always great fun.

Great Divide Expedition

This week I will be in Colorado’s Rockies to celebrate the 25th anniversary of one of Bill Baker’s programs for Land Rover. The reunion is called the Great Divide Expedition. The original 25 years ago wended its way—working north to south, heading eastward now westward—over trails and passes that crossed that incredible line that split the country into watersheds, east or west. This trickle of melt from summit snowfall will find its way on this side of that pebble then farther on that side of that boulder, joining more glinting run offs, growing larger, more intentional. And quite obviously gaining a destination as these streamlets become creeks and rivers.

It’s the Atlantic ocean for one part of that tiny streamlet; the Pacific for another. That’s the drama of the Continental Divide. You see a drop join another drop, separate from another and a watershed is created before your eyes. Push down here and you’ve altered a destiny for a sun-melted Rocky Mountain snowflake.

Hey, that gets to me.

The Great Divide Expedition

When Bill Baker chose criss-crossing the Great Divide to show off Land Rover’s adept ways with steeps and deeps and rocks and ravines he did not know my family had a history with one of those passes. One called either Tin Cup Pass or St. Elmo’s depending on which way you’re heading. (Tin Cup is on the western slope.) My Daddy at seven or eight—a Kansas farm boy then—had been on a horse-drawn wagon from St. Elmo with his mother to visit his Uncle Will in Tin Cup, an active mining town as the 1800s tumbled toward the 20th Century.

Tin Cup Log Cabinc

In Tin Cup Daddy’s Uncle Will had a sturdy log house that stands to this day and had a store that succumbed to a downtown-devouring fire. The next year the other half of the downtown burned. By the 1930s Tin Cup had one year-round resident—a young man named, if I recall across the years, Ross Seton. He stayed through the snowed-in winter to keep an eye on his gold mine.

I was there in the ‘30s when I was just a few years older than Daddy had been his first visit. Memories pulled my Daddy back to the Colorado ghost town which his mother had not liked. She kept whispering promises of watermelon if he would say he wanted to go home to Kansas. Or so he would tell us as the sun, which oddly seemed to set in the East in Tin Cup, turned the mountain opposite a rosy pink every night.

Daddy’s grandmother is buried in Tin Cup in one of those mountain cemeteries with oddly elevated wooden fences around each grave. We found it on the Land Rover expedition when we went through Tin Cup on the way over the Continental Divide yet again. To St. Elmo. Hey, my kinfolk are in that rugged outpost that Bill Baker had sent a collection of Land Rovers through. And new Land Rovers will do the same this week with old people to drive them.

Tincup PAss Continental Divide

I don’t know if the anniversary visit to the Great Divide will visit either Tin Cup or St. Elmo this time. I’d rather just find out than ask. I’ll have memories stirred either way. There will be some of the original expedition drivers on this return. And Bill Baker will be among them which will represent a strong will and a stalwart spirit. He has spent much of his recent life in a battle with cancer and is recovering with effort.

As for me, I’ll be returning with a right hip and a right knee that are not original equipment. And a left hip soon to be discarded in similar fashion. I’m a lot older than my Daddy ever got to be. I haven’t been to Tin Cup since that first Land Rover trip. No matter what it will be a memorable weekend.

I wonder if the mountain is still pink as the sun drops into a mysterious East.

I know there will be no one lugging TV sets out of any hotel. And I’ve got an iPod, thanks.