17 States in 20 Days and One Pair of Underwear | Days 3–4–5

1957 Caddy

A good night’s sleep in Cranberry and on the road to Detroit well after the morning rush hour. This is Thursday and a hot Thursday at that! The distance here is not measured in miles as much as time. The 400-mile run through the Rockies from Denver to Santa Fe could be a whole day and every minute pleasurable. Pittsburgh to Detroit on interstates in 90+ degree weather makes the minutes behind the wheel very long.

Due to prearranged meetings, my plan for the trip dictates that I leave Cleveland and Toledo for other days. I stop at a Walgreen’s on the way out of Cranberry and a pretty fellow shopper kindly helps me choose a proper sunscreen lotion. I am so unaware of these things and bashful. And she was such a help. She loved the 308 and said I reminded her of Tom Selleck. There was no sign of her Seeing Eye dog, but I know she has one somewhere. I took a picture of her with the car. I told her she should be a model. I’m so bashful.

On the road, finally, the car is running well and there are no signs of the fuel issues that we encountered on Day One. In late afternoon, as we reach the outskirts of Detroit, the traffic comes to a crawl, in the broiling sun, in my black car, with no air conditioning and the top down, the car begins to overheat. The gauge normally runs at 90 degrees Celsius. It is now edging 120 and the oil temperature is also climbing. When I bought the car, John Tirrell of IFS (Independent Ferrari Service) suggested we add a pressurized “Accusump” three-quart auxiliary oil tank. With the lines to the engine, this probably adds an extra 3.5 quarts of oil to the existing seven quarts in the system. The car lost a little trunk space but I have never regretted the investment. Especially at moments like this! With the exception of when I have been using the car at the track on a hot day, I have rarely seen it run this hot. Fortunately, the traffic cleared up after 45 minutes or so, the temperatures came down somewhat and I made it to my hotel without further issues. I have always said and often written that we motorsports enthusiasts in the Boston area are blessed to have facilities like the Larz Anderson Auto Museum and the wonderful crafts people at hand that we do. And until you do a trip such as this, you can never appreciate just how very fortunate we are.

My tour guide for the next two and one-half days was the knowledgeable and affable Richard Hinson, former Associate Editor of Autoweek and certified Motorhead. He has arranged an excellent and very reasonably priced hotel and made reservations at a nearby restaurant where, joined by his forbearing wife, Leslie, we enjoy a fine dinner and he lays out our ambitious schedule. We are among the last patrons to leave the restaurant and discover, to our surprise, that we must reach our cars and then drive home in a thunderstorm. The valets have left the 308 in full sight at the door and I confess that in a downpour, in the dark and illuminated by occasional flashes of lightning… it looks fabulous! Reality defeats romance however when I am forced to drive the three very long suburban blocks to my hotel. The 45 MPH six lane road is heavily trafficked and I must cross three lanes to do a U-turn into oncoming traffic within the next block. Daunting enough in the dry daylight, but suicidal in these conditions. Speaking of conditions, wipers on 1978 Ferraris were engineering afterthoughts and judging by the amount of water pouring in through the Targa top windshield junction, so is weather-stripping. Somehow, aided by California cabernet, the wine that makes better drivers of all of us, I made it. As I entered my hotel lobby, I was suddenly aware that the leaking top had made a wet impression a foot wide across my lap; a vivid reminder to all that men my age are oft afflicted with incontinence. Questioning eyes appeared to beg the question; how can he afford a Ferrari and not buy Depends? I smile at all graciously as I waft by, pretending that the “Look at Me! I Just Pissed Myself Look” is all the rage in places more chic than Detroit.

Friday is a magnificent day and Richard has arranged for us to visit a small number of shops to meet fellow Motorheads and find out about the Detroit area resources that might be added to the Goods & Services Directory on the MMR website.

I hoped to have lunch or dine at Vinsetta Garage, the Autoweek garage/studio/restaurant that they are developing but I learn that the restaurant part is not yet open. Pity.

Richard introduced me to Peter Stuyck and Bob Count and they give me the names of the knowledgeable service people in the Detroit area. Peter is a consultant and Bob is a retired banker and both know a hell of a lot about cars and they know an equal amount about food. Peter’s wife is a gourmet cook and Richard tells me that an invitation to her table is the holy grail of dining. We spend an equal amount of time talking about both and I ask them about favorite books. Peter’s favorite fiction is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and his non-fiction choice is Ludvigsen’s Porsche tome, Excellence Was Expected. Bob liked The Art of Racing in the Rain and Blue Highways.

Friday night I drove to Dearborn, another suburb of Detroit, and met Dave and Cindy Robison for dinner. They own a company called BlueFusion and are independent designers servicing automotive manufacturers. As you would expect, Dave has toys. His driver is a 993 Cab and his significant other is a Rossi. Pictures are attached. A Rossi has a stock C-6 powertrain and chassis with upgraded braking, wheels, suspension and interior. It has all the great Corvette Stingray styling cues and a modern drivetrain that maintains its GM warranty. Neat.

I was impressed by the design’s attention to detail and particularly the dash and use of LEDs throughout. I innocently asked him where he sourced this neat gear and he looked at me as though I had three heads. “This is Detroit” he said, “I just called a friend in the business and gave him my design.” That is the special difference about Detroit. Many places have enthusiast who love cars. Detroit has more of them and a significant number of them are in the business of designing and building them. Add the words talent and passion to the equation and you understand why Detroit is a special place.

Cindy, Dave and I had dinner on the patio of a nearby seafood restaurant. The place was on the outskirts of a high-end mall and there were several newer Ferraris and Lambos occupying the view. The Rossi would have been a lovely addition.

Saturdays in Detroit.

Despite the excellent Ford Museum in Greenfield Village and the many car references on restaurants, buildings, street signs and billboards, the true center of activity for our MMR style community is Pasteiner’s Auto Zone on Woodward Avenue in Bloomington.

Steve Pasteiner and his son Steve Jr. operate a hobby shop that caters to people like us. They sell magazines, books and model cars in an airy and cheerful atmosphere and they are real car people. And, like the MMR Community, THEY GET IT! Every Saturday morning, from 8:00AM to 10:00AM they host a parking lot gathering entitled Parking @ Pasteiners! The gathering caters to their following of knowledgeable and interesting car people.

Steve Sr. was with GM for 22 years. In 1988 he left his position as Assistant Chief Engineer at Chevrolet 1 to start his own prototyping company, Advanced Automotive Technologies. Check out the cool stuff on this site and particularly the Corvette Nomad story. AAT built 200 Commemorative Edition roadsters and Nomads on a C-5 platform. What a cool car!

1988 was also the year Steve started up Pasteiner’s Auto Zone, now operated by his son Steve Jr. My Saturday morning visit was everything I expected it would be. There is a picture in the group of me sitting in a gold colored Buick Riviera, truly one on the most beautiful American cars ever built. What a gorgeous car. It is second to my very favorite America car, a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz. Simply spectacular. What’s yours?

So those were my three days in Detroit. Quite a positive experience.

1957 Caddy front fender

1957 Caddy front grill

1957 Caddy rear seat