MMR Blog

Sandy on Assignment: On the Road to Monterey

Posted on September 16, 2013 Comments (0)

Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

Three times is a charm and that’s how I felt returning from my third year at Monterey and Pebble Beach. Never claiming to be an expert, but having hit most of the major events and attractions over the past three years, I am both thrilled and eager to share what I know. Like all of my motorsports adventures, the key is to plan ahead, especially if you want to kick Pebble off your bucket list.

Always a winner, this 1912 Packard 307 Passenger Touring still enjoyed by Phil Hill’s family, is a wonderful tribute to a great legend.

Always a winner, this 1912 Packard 307 Passenger Touring still enjoyed by Phil Hill’s family, is a wonderful tribute to a great legend.

What excites me most in sharing is the breadth of activities and experiences one really can comfortably pack into a week. That’s the key, a full week - Monday to Monday.

Some may remember how my motorsports adventures started… a query into Peter on how to approach, or should I say attack, Pebble Beach, a sort of Olympics with classic cars and the Grammy for automobiles. After four hours of discussion, clutching a year old copy of Sports Car Market’s, Insider’s Guide to Monterey, I walked away with two pieces of advice, one you already have - go Monday to Monday. The second was to discover what it is about motorsports that interests you… then build your week around those activities.

Yes, the color is original on this 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis Boano Coupe caught rolling off the transporter.

Yes, the color is original on this 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis Boano Coupe caught rolling off the transporter.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I love it all! This year, I grabbed for the gusto, taking time to mingle with people and hear their stories. I also crave the intellectual side, so seeking out the premier automotive museums on the west coast and taking in a SCM seminar satisfies my appetite. My love for sports car racing definitely shines through in my adventures, so meeting the racers and following them on the track at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is a must. Living the week vicariously is exhilarating… especially during the auctions! And then there are the concours cars; so spectacular each receives a personal invitation to Pebble Beach. Over the course of the week, watching them evolve from their vulnerable position early Thursday, to full maturity on the concours field Sunday morning, is magical… for me.

So, let’s get started. This year I flew into LAX and departed out of San Francisco. Call it luck, but I was able to rent a car through Enterprise with no drop off fees. What tickled me most was being asked, “What are you driving?” “The least expensive, fuel economy, compact car available”, was my response. My first year at Pebble, I rented a fancy convertible for the same cost as my lodging for the week... forget that! All you need are wheels, especially those that can squeeze into tight parking spaces.

The real Jay Leno in his garage!

The real Jay Leno in his garage!

My personal 2013 motorsports plan includes museums, so the Petersen, Nethercutt and Mullin Automotive Museums, in the Los Angles area, were a must. All three are doable, using Monday as your travel day. I cheated, flying in Sunday evening so I could visit family. Around 10am Monday morning, the phone rang and the caller said, “This is Jay Leno, is Sandy there?” Yes, I admit it… it just slipped out. “Is this the real Jay Leno?” I asked. Within 45 minutes I was one-on-one with Mr. Leno, walking through his collection and restoration shop. It’s still a blur. I was in seventh heaven and forever grateful to Keith Carlson who recently sold Jay his Bristol 403 and orchestrated my meeting.

Tuesday I enjoyed the Petersen and Nethercutt Museums. Just up from Beverly Hills, where I was staying, is the multi-story, soon to receive a face-lift, Petersen Museum with streetscapes taking you back in time. Open, at no charge to the public, the Nethercutt Museum is just north in the San Fernando Valley, showcasing more than 100 vehicles. Like the Mullins collection, there are several cars that won top awards at Pebble Beach. Wednesday, prior to Monterey week, the Mullins graciously opens its doors to guests. I was extremely grateful, as the collection was superb and one I would have missed otherwise. Where to stay in order to take in these treasures? The Crescent Hotel with only 35 rooms is quite a find, nestled a couple of blocks up from Rodeo drive.

Only two or three of these French roadsters left in the world – the1930 Gar Type B5 from the Mullins collection.

Only two or three of these French roadsters left in the world – the1930 Gar Type B5 from the Mullins collection.

I went on-line to reserve my entrance to the Mullins Collection, as reserved times are both required and limited. Located in Oxnard, less than an hour north of Los Angeles, you’re ready to jump back on 101 after your visit and head north to Monterey or Carmel, both about a 5-hour drive if you switch over to scenic Route 1 at San Luis Obispo. If you like to drive, and why wouldn’t a car person, you’re in for a treat!

What you miss, by visiting the museums, is Tuesday in Carmel for the Concours-on-the-Avenue, a casual jaunt through town, viewing over 175 multi-marque cars lining the streets. Then again, you just saw three magnificent collections! Also, be willing to cut short shopping and browsing at Automobilia Monterey, held only Tuesday and Wednesday, in the Embassy Suites Hotel in Seaside. Keep in mind a much smaller version of Automobilia takes place just inside the main pedestrian entrance to the Pebble Beach Concours called Pebble Beach RetroAuto, the rest of the week.

Speaking of shopping… buy all the Pebble Beach Concours clothing you want the first few days you arrive… or it will likely be sold out on Sunday. Shopping is definitely something to entice the non-motorsports enthusiast to attend! Between Beverly Hills, Carmel and the Concours art galleries and boutiques, everyone’s happy.

I haven’t mentioned where to stay in the greater Monterey area. Anyone already on the list probably won’t! Again, start looking now. If you get in a bind, email and I’ll put you in touch with our 17-room boutique hotel to check for an opening. The advice I received my first year was to stay in a place you enjoy… for me, it was Carmel. This year I joined friends, staying in Monterey, and it worked out beautifully. Getting to the track, auctions, and Pacific Grove was a breeze. If deciding to attend at the last minute, just knowing that 60 days out most B&Bs require confirmation and full payment may help you snatch up someone’s cancellation.

Owners are only too happy to chat with the Hagerty Youth Judges… and anyone else who’s interested, at Pacific Grove.

Owners are only too happy to chat with the Hagerty Youth Judges… and anyone else who’s interested, at Pacific Grove.

I mentioned friends. No surprise that everything in life is more fun when enjoyed with friends, and that is especially true for Monterey week. We are fortunate to have Keith Carlson, a Monterey week aficionado, in our Jag Club. Peter and I took Keith’s advice, discovering the Thursday street show put on by the Rotary Club of Pacific Grove. Don’t be surprised if you see some of the same cars Sunday on the lawn at Pebble Beach! Pacific Grove is one of those places the crowds haven’t fully discovered… yet. We met up with Denise McCluggage for dinner at Aliotti’s and Favaloro’s - two fabulous Italian restaurants on the main street, Lighthouse Avenue.

Up and ready to go.

Up and ready to go.

I hope you’ve found some of the information helpful so far… now for the good stuff! I’m an early bird and for Thursday, you should be as well! Beginning between 5:30-6:00 am, with the fog and the mist, I get to watch the heavy doors of the transporters open and the magic of Pebble Beach commence, as the cars are lowered from their beds and roll down the ramps to make their first debut of the week - the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance. I just love this adventure. Often, it’s not until the cars are off the transports that the owners appear, some seeing their cars for the first time after restoration! It’s a time when the cars are rather naïve, polished but not primped for Sunday’s big day. The same goes for owners. Some are a bit nervous and unassuming, especially if this is their first invitation to Pebble.

Bought new by the current owner’s grandfather, the 1921 Duesenberg A Bender Coup (chassis 601) is a car of many firsts.

Bought new by the current owner’s grandfather, the 1921 Duesenberg A Bender Coup (chassis 601) is a car of many firsts.

What are the chances of watching the very first Duesenberg ever built, roll out of a small single trailer tucked at the end of the transporter row… next to the porta potties, no less? With no crowds, close to 100 cars leave their transporter guardians and prepare to line up for the Tour… a find, as far as I’m concerned. The cars line up around 7am, leaving in waves with the first section departing at 8am from the equestrian center area across from the Gooding Auction tent. Gradually the spectators fill in around the cars, but nothing like the mobs you’ll experience once the cars roll into Carmel at noon following the Tour.

Onward… leaving at 8am, the Tour ends at noon in Carmel.

Onward… leaving at 8am, the Tour ends at noon in Carmel.

Between watching the cars wake up and a late lunch in Carmel once most of the crowds subside, you have some time for auction previewing. A reservation at Casanova, Keith’s favorite and now mine, on 5th Avenue between Mission and San Carlos, is a terrific choice. You’ll still have time to swing through more auction previews afterwards before heading out Carmel Valley Road for a down home evening at the Baja Cantina Grill and Filling Station. We had a blast at the Baja Cantina during their weekly Thursday car night! An eclectic mix of cars and people was enough to keep us and several hundred others entertained for hours. We got there later than I would recommend… I think 6:30pm would be better, next time.

I love this car! Estimated to go between $125-150,00, the 1972 Porsche 911 “STR II” design by Magnus Walker went for a surprising $302,500 at Gooding.

I love this car! Estimated to go between $125-150,00, the 1972 Porsche 911 “STR II” design by Magnus Walker went for a surprising $302,500 at Gooding.

This year, I focused on the RM, Gooding, and Russo and Steele auctions. Previewing sometimes has a nominal fee while attending the auction is a bit more. I consider auctions a not to be missed attraction. RM with auctioneer Max Girardo is a must for at least Saturday night and Gooding is a nice way to wrap up the week on Sunday evening after the Concours. Besides gaining an appreciation of market values, there are historical moments. Being in the audience when the hammer went down for the highly desirable 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider auctioned off by the Smith family, in honor of their father, was amazing. All funds from this $27,500,000 sale, and supposedly second highest car ever sold at auction, will go to charity.

I’ve attended two sought after, what I would call lifestyle, events in the past and decided to pass this year, unless someone had kindly offered me a ticket. My first year, I was advised to get into the lottery for a coveted Quail ticket. Three years ago, that ticket was $400. I saved the receipt. This year, I’m told it’s more. Another event I sought out that first year was the McCaw Motorworks Revival. At the time, the ticket was about half that of the Quail for this hanger party - now it’s up to $325. If you are going with a group of friends, where the price of admission doesn’t matter, both are rather interesting events… the people are just as famous as the cars!

So this is how it all starts… the car guy of tomorrow, at the Legends of the Autobahn.

So this is how it all starts… the car guy of tomorrow, at the Legends of the Autobahn.

A first for me this year was the Friday Legends of the Autobahn not far off Route 1 on Carmel Valley Road at Rancho Canada. We went early, around 9:30am, thinking we would stay for about an hour. Six hours later, seriously, we headed out. This free, yes free, event was more of a car show, not a concours-styled event. You saw a little bit of everything German, several historically significant cars, race cars, and a lot of fantastic people. I’m not suggesting spending this much time, but it’s a great change of pace and a stop I would highly recommend.

Last year I waltzed among the red cars at the Concorso Italiano on Friday. If you don’t have the luxury of seeing 800-1,000 Ferraris and other Italian cars back home, this is another one of those events to catch, at least once. For 2014, Concorso will move to Saturday, so it won’t conflict with the Quail, also on Friday. The show moves to Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Courses in Seaside. I personally wouldn’t sacrifice a day at the track for a lifestyle event. Heck, racing is the best lifestyle event I know!

What I would recommend is splitting Friday between the track and the Autobahn event. Taking in the track Friday, would be a good opportunity to get a lay of the land, so to speak. Walking up and down the paddock, you meet the owners who are most likely the racers of these pretty cool vintage cars. Me being me, I asked someone looking official in a golf cart if there was a tour of the paddock area. I thought that would be a great idea. He agreed, yet said there wasn’t such a thing. No problem, he invited me to jump on board and off we went for a personal tour!

These must be the car girls of tomorrow!

These must be the car girls of tomorrow!

Yes, I was really there…perched up in the Starter’s Box!

Yes, I was really there…perched up in the Starter’s Box!

I picked up some tips to share. Start your explorations of the paddock on the periphery and work inwards. Be patient, stay on course, and go up and down the aisles. I jumped around, which meant I missed a lot. Hike up the hill to the corkscrew for a panoramic view of the track. Bring chairs in a bag, if you want to watch for awhile. It’s breathtaking! Visit the car corrals and witness the featured marque for as far as you can see. Most important, watch the races! No kidding! You would be surprised how many people are distracted by the eating and shopping.

This year I high-tailed it to the track Saturday morning, which meant I missed the SCM (Sports Car Marketing) seminar held up at the Gooding Tent. I found the seminars (by paid reservation) very informative the two years prior and was a little sad to miss it this year. Had I split up my track days, it would have been worth arriving a little late on Saturday. The only drawback to arriving after 10am at the track is parking… and that’s a big drawback.

George Wingard, collector of prewar racing cars, heading out to the awards stand on Sunday!

George Wingard, collector of prewar racing cars, heading out to the awards stand on Sunday!

Finally, it’s Sunday and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Be prepared, you’ll be joined by a throng of spectators, also working Pebble off their bucket list. What I strongly recommend, and something I need to do myself, is come up with your own tour of the Concours cars on the field. Everyone gets a handy pocket guide listing all the cars by class location. I arrived late on the field, around 8:30am, once parked and settled. The field was already pretty crowded, to my surprise, even though the general public isn’t allowed in until 10am. The Hagerty Dawn Patrol is early, sometime before 5am, yet a great opportunity for spectators to watch the fog and the cars roll out before the crowds roll in… if you don’t mind getting up around 4:00am!

Watching the judging is a show in itself…and yes, all the lights and signals must work.

Watching the judging is a show in itself…and yes, all the lights and signals must work.

Years past, I’ve been pretty much finished looking at the cars by 10am. This year, I wanted to watch another layer of the show… the judging. It’s fascinating to watch the judges move seamlessly around the cars looking at their particular specialty to judge.

Enjoying the moment.

Enjoying the moment.

This year, I also stayed on the field until the end, walking around just soaking in the cars and their proud owners as they drove by. I’m thinking next year I may even bring a couple of chairs and a picnic to enjoy more of the atmosphere of the day. My suggestion is to enjoy the moment. Yes, it’s all about the cars at Pebble, but as you can see, it’s also about taking away great memories from the week.

And if this isn’t enough car excitement, the Blackhawk Museum graciously hosts Monday after Pebble to attendees wanting to make the short detour on the way to the San Francisco airport. Admission is waved and refreshments are served, but the real prize… another exquisite automobile collection. Just when I thought the week couldn’t get any better… it got better, at Blackhawk.


Sandy on Assignment: Northwest Classic Rally… The Perfect First

Posted on August 8, 2013 Comments (0)

by Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

There could not have been a more perfect rally to be my first… the Monte Shelton Northwest Classic Rally. All I can say to every classic car enthusiast is, “Get out and rally!”

Flagged on by the March of Dimes family, the rally started in downtown Portland. Photo courtesy of Joe Cantrell

Flagged on by the March of Dimes family, the rally started in downtown Portland.
Photo courtesy of Joe Cantrell

Organized by the Alfa Romeo Owners Club of Oregon with the Monte Shelton Motor Company as its long standing presenting sponsor, this is the oldest, still running, classic rally in America. Celebrating its 25th year, this true time, speed, distance rally (TSD) drew a record 102 entries for the four day event, starting out of Portland, Oregon the last weekend in July.

Never far behind, the Healey joins the Benz for a pit stop.

Never far behind, the Healey joins the Benz for a pit stop. 
Photo courtesy of Bring-A-Trailer

I was to be the navigator for veteran ralliest, Ralf Berthiez, so I knew I would be in good hands. Having done the NW Classic twice before with his Dad, Ralf graciously agreed to drive his beautiful light blue metallic 1975 Mercedes 450 SL down from Anacortes, Washington to Portland, before shipping it back home to Virginia.

Entered as vintage we were one of three classes; touring, vintage, and standard. The distinction—special interest cars manufactured before 1981 were within the vintage and standard classes with vintage restricted to the use of original equipment—speedometer and odometer. Touring vehicles, without any age restrictions, simply ran the route without time restraints in a follow-the-leader scenic tour, leaving before the other two classes.

Thursday evening street gathering the night before take off.

Thursday evening street gathering the night before take off.

The weekend started Thursday evening in downtown Portland, with a mix of classic cars lining the streets in front of the Monte Shelton Jaguar dealership. We picked up our registration packets then gathered around Rally Chairman Reid Trummel, and Rally Master Simon Levear for instructions. A show of hands for number of years in attendance was impressive—many 5, 10, 15 year veterans with two having rallied the Classic for 25 years!

This year, participants were given their spiral bound general instructions and rally route books, the night before. Rally book in hand, I headed off to rally school—yes, there is such a thing! The first priority for participants, we were told, is to always remain on course. Sounds simple enough, yet I discovered there is an art to reading the instructions, which are in a sort of rally code. Just one slip-up throws everything off.

I shot my hand up during the Q & A, asking, “How does the navigator communicate all the instructions to the driver, at once?” A fair question, since there were often five pieces of information per route instruction—keeping in mind the TSD format—along with an average of 12 instructions per timed section, or regularity, as it’s called. I knew if I were driving, I would probably forget what was said in a nanosecond. “It’s up to the driver and navigator to get in sync”, was the short answer. After school, I asked Ralf how he would call out the instructions, if he was the navigator—he rattled off the pieces of information he needed to drive the rally… not everything at once… almost like repeating verses in a song… bingo, I knew we would be in sync!

Under the watchful eye of the BOSS, the Benz is ready for an early morning start. Photo courtesy of Bring- A- Trailer

Under the watchful eye of the BOSS, the Benz is ready for an early morning start.
Photo courtesy of Bring-A-Trailer

We tucked the Benz into the Westin Hotel garage for the night. The next morning we discovered a sharp looking orange 1970 Mustang BOSS 302 with a front window sticker, Bring-A-Trailer, behind the Benz almost watching over it. How cool was that, I thought!

Ready and poised for my first rally!

Ready and poised for my first rally!

We all headed off to the Monte Shelton dealership, the start line of the rally. I had my post-its on the dash for quick rally lingo translation! Being car #52, we left at 8:26am the first day, using the rally time formula, although our rally start time was 8:00am in the rally book. Needless to say, we had two watches to keep everything straight! Cars left in 30-second increments at the start, then one minute apart for the rest of the rally… enough space so we didn’t pile up on each other, if we got ourselves into a timing jam!

The Drive Away Cancer Car #51 was our beacon, stealing the hearts of everyone.

The Drive Away Cancer Car #51 was our beacon, stealing the hearts of everyone.

I was so excited! We were off… sandwiched in between a strange looking 1965 Triumph TR4A in front, with names written all over the car in Sharpie and a coordinating sleek blue 1965 Austin-Healey 3000 MKIII behind us. It wasn’t until the final dinner on Saturday evening that I learned the touching story behind John Nikas and his Drive Away Cancer cars… teary eyed, I took the Sharpie and added my parents’ names to the car.

Day 2, the touring group sets off from the Oregon Garden Resort.

Day 2, the touring group sets off from the Oregon Garden Resort.

Sandy joins friends Cindy Banzer and Sue Halton of Portland, for a photo next to their 1978 Alfa Romeo Spider 2000.

Sandy joins friends Cindy Banzer and Sue Halton of Portland, for a photo next to their 1978 Alfa Romeo Spider 2000.

Much of both rally days was spent driving, with a stop for lunch, which gave us a chance to begin meeting the enthusiasts and their cars. The eclectic mix of cars included a 1935 Bentley, 1953 Allard J2X, 1958 Peerless GT and a plethora of Jaguar E-Types, 356 Porsches and of course many Alfas from the 60s and 70s.

Ralf and Sandy join rally chairman Reid Trummel and guest speakers John Nikas and Denise McCluggage.

Ralf and Sandy join rally chairman Reid Trummel and guest speakers John Nikas and Denise McCluggage.

Friday evening, we heard from Tom Kreger about setting land-speed records in his Saab on the Bonneville Salt Flats… quite a venue, to say the least! Ever entertaining, Denise McCluggage shared her competitive rally stories with us Saturday evening, making me think we were on track when it came to getting ourselves out of our own rally jams!

What a beautiful setting to run out of gas.

What a beautiful setting to run out of gas.

This was my first trip to Oregon, another reason why rallies are the perfect vacation for classic car enthusiasts. If it hadn’t been for the rally, I doubt I would have ventured into this beautiful state. The rally, culminating at our final destination only 45 miles out of Portland at the Oregon Garden Resort, took us over a contrast of farmlands and vineyards onto the fringes of the breathtaking Cascade mountain range.

Even though we passed the B-A-T team at this point, they managed to make up time with a fantastic 23rd place finish in the vintage class. Photo courtesy of Bring-A-Trailer.

Even though we passed the B-A-T team at this point, they managed to make up time with a fantastic 23rd place finish in the vintage class. Photo courtesy of Bring-A-Trailer.

The rally book gave the exact time (to the second) and mileage that we should be at every designated turn, sign or landmark. Every timed stage had a mystery check point where two volunteers would record the exact time we passed a certain location. The idea is not to be early or late, to the second. Early on, we missed the SOL (sign on left) for a turn. We circled and circled, looking for it. Finally finding it, we floored the Benz, Denise style, and got back on track. We stumped ourselves again, this time trying to figure out what, “Observe Stop OR Right @ 105th” meant. What it did not mean was to make a right at the stop sign! Thank goodness for the Benz, again. As we were flooring it, we noticed other cars doubling back, with a feeling of relief we weren’t the only ones off course! Day 2 found us in a slight dilemma. After a quick right then left turn from the instructions, we high tailed it down a street that looked like the next instruction, except for an additional word inserted onto the street sign… again, we put the Benz to the test to get us back on course! Fun? You bet!

Teams and cars celebrated with a beer wash at the end of the rally. Photo courtesy of Jim Cantrell

Teams and cars celebrated with a beer wash at the end of the rally.
Photo courtesy of Jim Cantrell

With 80 registrants already signed up for 2014, it’s easy to see why participants look forward to returning year after year. Registration is reasonable, $650 per car which includes the Thursday Welcome Reception, two days of rallying and meals, Saturday Afternoon Beer Wash, along with a Sunday Awards Brunch… all for two! Lodging, gas and travel to the event are additional. I would say there were a handful of participants, from other parts of the country, mostly there because they had a reason to be in the area. All others were from Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. Not to say that this should deter anyone from attending. Supporting the March of Dimes, this rally is another motorsports gem I highly recommend.

The Duster! NW Classics first American car rally winner.

The Duster! NW Classics first American car rally winner. 
Photo courtesy of Jim Cantrell

Both in sync after two days of fun and rallying!

Both in sync after two days of fun and rallying!

The overall winning rally car was a 1974 Plymouth Duster, with a score of only 42 penalty seconds… compared to over 40 penalty minutes for the last car! It goes to show it takes three to win a rally—driver, navigator and car… all in sync! Just how I felt after two full days on the road… all in sync, having had a blast on my first rally! 


Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS:
Wiper Blades

Posted on July 24, 2013 Comments (2)

For Want of a Blade a Horse Was Almost Lost

I bought the WASRED 308 in Chicago and drove it 850 miles to Boston in a day and a half. The spare wheel and tire were in the passenger seat, it had a slow leaking front tire, an expired Texas vanity plate that didn't belong to me and a non functioning radio. Ah! But I was driving a Ferrari! And the combined fear of speeding in a strange car, heightened by the anticipation of being caught and then having to explain my total lack of proper documentation was intoxicating. Life on the edge. I loved every minute of it. 

Once I had driven the car for a few days, I realized I didn't have an Owner’s Manual and I had questions that it might address. My local Ferrari dealer seemed the logical place to find a manual and some answers. As I introduced myself to the parts man, I saw tears well in his eyes. I proudly spoke of my recent purchase, confessed my complete ignorance of all things Ferrari, told him how much I had in the bank and that I counted on his assistance to fill the list of parts that I gave him. He hugged me and kissed my hand before I left. I could tell that God hadn’t sent him an idiot like me for a long time.

On a warm sunny day, Targa top safely stowed, there is nothing more exhilarating than driving a 308 with the carburetor intake sound in your right ear and the mechanical engine and transmission sound coming in over your left shoulder and the Ansa exhaust bludgeoning them both. And all that happened at 40MPH in second gear! I remember cruising back to Boston alone from Lime Rock late on a warm summer’s night with all this and the Eagles and Steely Dan competing for my attention at 90 – 100 MPH for very long stretches. Bliss… like slow dancing with a strong woman.

However, on a cold rainy night, on a two lane road, when the defroster isn’t working, rain is leaking in on your now quiet passenger, the headlights useless, people are going by you honking their horns, and the wipers are smearing road grime across where you think the road might be, a Camry seems like a good idea—a suggestion that may have come from the passenger seat… several times. That was before things got wet and quiet. Strong women can be hell at times.

308 Wiper Blades

A note about wiper blades: Several years ago, in preparation for one if my trips to Amelia Island in Florida, I installed a set of newer-design wiper blades. I believe they were Bosch units. Instead of the conventional light spring blade with holes along the arching support, this was the single solid unit plastic blade with a rubber contact insert. Though they looked different, in light rain they seemed to work fine. On the way back, on Rte. 95, at night, in a heavy rainstorm, a side gust of wind ripped the whole arm off the driver's side. That was exciting! It broke at the base and I could have stopped to look for it but I would have been killed. The arm was probably 30 years old and who really knows what shape it was in, but it did cause me to think that maybe these newer style blades, with a design that doesn’t permit air to flow through them, put undue stress on the arm. 

The 308 wiper system is hardly the equivalent of the systems on newer cars but I have found that it works well enough. I bought a used wiper arm from Fred Petroske at Mostly British in Chaumont NY, returned to conventional styled blades, and all is well.


James Dean as Friend

Posted on July 18, 2013 Comments (0)

Denise McCluggage

From the July 8, 2013 Issue of Autoweek
By Denise McCluggage

Lew Bracker is a first-time author who swore he would never write about what he now writes about—his friendship with James Dean, the talented young American actor and Porsche enthusiast who starred in three movies, raced in three races and died on a California highway driving his new Porsche 550 on the way to run another race. Lew Bracker had met the rising young star through his cousin’s husband, Leonard Rosenman, who wrote the scores for the first two Dean movies. Covering the last 16 months of James Dean’s life, Jimmy & Me: A Personal Memoir of James Dean is a moving story of two young men with a mutual respect for cars and each other. The direct simplicity and honesty in the telling of this developing friendship and its tragic interruption is a sincerely moving story.

Jimmy and Me a Personal Memoir of James Dean by Lew Bracker

While the October 2011 Rennsport was going on at Laguna Seca, nearby at The Quail was another gathering of old Porsches, some rare ones from the factory museum. Present, too, was a clutch of old Porsche drivers who either raced those cars in their shared freshness of youth or others like them.

But the true importance of that gathering turned out to be a dinner at a hilltop golf course and the guy seated at my right elbow. It was Lew Bracker whom I had not met before because he’d done his racing mostly in Southern California and I in the East. Elkhart Lake was the Pacific to me.

Seems someone Lew referred to as “my friend Jimmy” was responsible for getting him out of his gaudy American road cars, into meager little German sports cars, onto Mulholland Drive and eventually into a race. Jimmy himself had three races to his credit but his participation was on hold. Seems Jimmy’s more formal name was James Dean and he was making his first three movies one on top of the other. Studios frowned on fun mobility like motorcycles and race cars. Instead, he was crew chief at Lew’s inaugural race.

Jimmy and Me a Personal Memoir of James Dean by Lew Bracker

Lew’s personal story of the last 16 months of James Dean’s life from the day the two met is now a book by Fulcorte Press, the eBook Publisher to the Car World and readable on any device with a Kindle app. And soon available as a print-on-demand paperback.


Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS: Mirrors

Posted on July 18, 2013 Comments (3)

In 1995 I bought a 1978 308 GTS Euro spec Ferrari with a rebuilt engine and 13K miles on the long non-functioning odometer. It had had a serious accident on the right front corner. This is the twentieth in a series of short articles about how we repaired and updated it.

The Car Designer’s Curse

Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS Mirrors

Upgrading a 1978 Ferrari 308 GTS Mirrors

Though the process was at times humiliating, I still remember the amazing sense of wellbeing that always accompanied the wearing of my first tailor made suit.

The salesman said I had a perfect body. It would complement the fabric, he said. The tailor’s notes indicated my back was hunched, one shoulder was higher than the other, same with the hip on the opposite side, and my knees were bowed (three fingers). Almost perfect.

Though far better, few automobiles today are a custom fit. In 1978, owners were expected to fit Ferraris. Ferraris were not made to fit owners. Elsewhere on the site I have discussed the minor adjustments made to steering wheel and pedals to better accommodate my body and driving style, now let’s talk about mirrors.

Other than the need to identify creeping constabulary, good drivers are constantly checking rearview mirrors to know what else might soon be a part of their immediacy. This is generally done with the centered rearview cabin mirror. The WASRED 308 center mirror is perfectly proportioned and positioned. The daytime/nighttime detent feature is controlled by pressing the mirror across a plastic strip containing a small ridge. One side of the ridge holds the mirror to deflect nighttime headlight glare, the other gives you a daytime image of everything behind you. With time the plastic detent strip wears or breaks and leaves you with only the daytime position. You cannot replace the strip. You must replace the mirror and you must then make a Ferrari ownership decision involving cost and value. A single position is fine on the WASRED 308.

The outside mirrors are where the custom suit analogy applies and since these mirrors are affixed at the factory, it doesn’t. The model for the 308 driver is 5 ft. 8 inches tall, has a 24 inch inseam, a 34 incharm length and weighs 150 pounds. An adult chimp would do fine. He can sit comfortably below the removable Targa roof and also see the two side mirrors reasonably well through the quarter windows. I am 6 feet tall with a 30 inch inseam and 31 inch sleeve length and I weigh 175 pounds. Other than the aforementioned deformities, I am reasonably well proportioned. The seat cushion has been depressed with age and use and I now have ample head room. BTW, the seats are amazingly comfortable for me. My problem is that the position of the side mirrors requires me to lean forward and down in order to use the mirrors and even then, the rear quarter outward view is very limited.

European mirrors offer a split rear view, with a partially convex portion of the mirror, allowing a view of vehicles that may be slightly behind and away from the view offered by a simple flat mirror. For some reason that is not allowed in North America.

I initially replaced the original mirrors with Vitaloni mirrors that I liked better. That was an improvement. Later, with the help of The Garage Valet, Jim Miga, we drilled new holes in the door and repositioned the mirrors lower.

It aint Pretty

Still dissatisfied, I added a small convex mirror that I purchased from Griot’s Garage to give me a hint of the action that may be taking place in an area I could otherwise not see. Perhaps, I should add another to the passenger side.

Driver’s view

Purists shudder. Then again purists don’t have 150K+ miles on their speedos either.