The New Jersey Region of the AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) held its annual picnic on Sunday August 13, 2017. As is tradition each August, the monthly meeting normally scheduled for the first Thursday of the month is pushed back, and is held in conjunction with the picnic.
Pete Cullen, chairperson for the picnic, is fond of saying: “This is the second-largest car show for the club, after the annual spring meet”. Indeed, according to Pete, there were at least 40 members’ collector cars in the lot. The large turnout was encouraged by the ideal summer weather, warm and sunny, with no noticeable humidity, and no threat of rain.
The Club generously covers the cost of the grilled food, consisting of your American BBQ mainstays: burgers, dogs, and chicken. Members are encouraged to bring side dishes and desserts, and the generosity of the attendees ensured that no one went home hungry.
With lunch consumed, many of us took to the parking lots to survey the wide variety of vehicles on display, ALL of which were driven to and from the event. Plenty of pre-war cars made the trip, and there was the expected quantity of ‘50s and ‘60s American cars.
Fans of foreign marques were not disappointed, especially if you like Italian cars. For this club member, the parking lot contained several vehicles not seen before at any NJ AACA event. A standout was the stunning 1954 Chrysler Imperial 2-door hardtop, resplendent in black. According to my copy of “Cars of the 50s” by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, just 1,249 of this model and body style were produced, at a retail price of $4,560. (By comparison, a same-year Dodge Royal 2-door hardtop started at $2,503.)
By 2:30 p.m., most of the crowd had dispersed, and Pete and his crew were done with the cleaning and packing. The NJ Region, which has been in existence since 1951, has many members who have known each other almost as long. It’s a friendly, fun, low-key crowd, and everyone always appreciates each other’s cars and company. It was my first time at the club picnic, and based on today, I’ll be coming back.
Mecum Auctions came to Harrisburg PA for the fourth consecutive year and held its collector car auction in the Farm Show Complex on August 3, 4, and 5, 2017. A cursory glance at Mecum’s website reveals a litany of events held around the country. In all, 14 different cities play host to a Mecum auction throughout the year, but Harrisburg is the only one situated in the Northeast.
Mecum advertised that “1000 cars” would be auctioned over 3 days. Thursday’s show started at 10 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m., with about 270 cars crossing the block; Friday started at 9:30 a.m. with automobilia, but the vehicle count almost reached 300, and the final gavel fell after 7 p.m.
The mix of vehicles was truly eclectic – while one could count pre-war cars on two hands, there were some gems from the ‘20s and ‘30s. Foreign jobs, as Tom McCahill might have called them, were well-represented by such famous marques as Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, MG, and Ferrari. The largest count, of course, consisted of ‘60s and ‘70s American muscle cars and resto-mods.
A trend that seems to be growing at Mecum Auctions is the inclusion of what I can only refer to as “late model” vehicles, defined as cars and trucks under 20 years old which can be found in abundance on used car lots around the country. Some are interesting, some are not, but most did sell.
In contrast to previous Harrisburg auctions, this writer didn’t see quite so many bargains. The trend this year favored the sellers. An exception may have been the Mercedes-Benz SLs from the early Seventies through the late Eighties (known by their platform name, R107). Prices for these seemed soft (compared to, say, BringATrailer), but so much depends on condition, maintenance, and upkeep.
The sell-through rate was also strong, guesstimated by me at around 70% for Thursday and Friday. (I was not in attendance on Saturday, which is when the premium lots are run, tempered by higher reserves and greater likelihood of not meeting same.)
Below are results for vehicles which I found interesting. Prices are hammer prices, exclusive of any buyer’s fees. Note that Richard’s Car Blog continues to provide multiple photos of each car, and, organize the sold lots in price order, the better for you, dear reader, to make note of what your dollar can buy.
Click on thumbnail photos to enlarge them.
T116 1982 Lancia Beta Zagato, red with black top and interior. The Zagato model has removable top and soft rear window. Odometer (5-digit analog) is 48,000 miles. Only rust is finger-sized hole in floor on left side. Lancia alloy wheels. Dash is cracked. NO RESERVE.
SOLD for $5,000. I wrongly guessed half this amount, thinking that no one in the room would know what a Lancia was. A Lancia fan got a good car in a rare body style.
T58 1987 Nissan 300ZX, grey paint and grey cloth interior, 49,000 on analog odometer. Nissan alloys. Very marked up on outside, black marks on RF fender, alloys very marked, black on stainless trim is wearing away. Spoke with owner, he bought car from neighbor, claims that car was well maintained.
SOLD for $5,000. Good daily driver until it snows.
T169 1996 Jaguar XJR, 4-door sedan, supercharged. 4.0L inline 6. British Racing Green non-metallic paint, tan interior. Cosmetically shows very well. Interior particularly spotless. Sunroof, full power accessories. Some paint scratches around fuel filler door, otherwise paint is good. Mileage reported as 70,000.
SOLD for $6,000. If no mechanical needs, may be a great deal in a car that can soak up the miles.
T15.1 1999 Jaguar XK8convertible, dark red metallic paint, tan top and interior, paint unmarked, 74,500 miles on odometer. V8 and automatic. Condensation in left headlight, touch up of paint chips on right side door edge, staining on top. Doors shut well. Decent overall, but some swirl marks on horizontal surfaces, some scratches on rear quarter.
SOLD for $6,000. These cars have become an auction commodity.
T130.1 1998 Jaguar XK8 convertible, light gold, tan top and interior. 79,000 miles on odometer. All alloys very pitted, driver’s seat bolster shows more wear than expected. Otherwise presentable. Originally a PA car. NO RESERVE.
SOLD for $6,500. Lot # T15.1 was the better deal, if only because the alloys were in better shape.
T155 1972 Mercedes-Benz 350 SL, 4.5 L V8, med blue metallic, with black interior. As a pre-1973 model, has small bumpers front and rear. Analog 6-digit odometer shows 051,545. Automatic transmission. Interior stock, driver’s seat shows minimal wear. Repainted to decent standard. Engine compartment filthy; a detail here would help immensely. NO RESERVE.
SOLD for $7,000. Nice buy of small-bumper R107 Benz.
T35.1 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450 SL, 4.5 L automatic, big bumpers. Dark blue, light cream interior, 169,000 on analog odometer. Driver’s seat bolster worn, and dye worn off, but not torn. Nardi aftermarket wood wheel, interior just looks old. Driver’s door rattles when shut. Chrome shows pitting. Car is a survivor at this mileage.
SOLD for $7,000. Good value if you plan to show it more than drive it.
F92 1988 Alfa spider Graduate, red, black top, tan interior. “Graduate” model was least-equipped of 3 available trim levels, with steel wheels and vinyl upholstery. Aftermarket alloy wheels and rub strips. Driver’s door very difficult to open. Series 3 with duck tail spoiler. Reads 70,751 on 6-digit odometer. Interior is OK as per ‘80s Alfa standards. Whole car could use a detail. NO RESERVE.
SOLD for $7,000. No bargain for a Series 3 Alfa spider in so-so condition.
T5 2001 Mercedes-Benz SLK 230 – 2.3L supercharged inline 4, automatic, retractable hardtop, black with black and red interior, AMG wheels, paint nice, 119,800 on odometer. Bad rattle in driver’s door.
SOLD for $7,500. Cheap fun until something expensive breaks.
F22, 2006 Jaguar X-Type wagon, V6, automatic, AWD, medium red metallic, tan interior, odometer is 108,587. Interior design and execution is “down market” compared to XK8 siblings. Security cover, rear-mounted CD changer (remember those?). Jaguar alloys are unmarked. Paint is OK. Car has sunroof and factory roof rails. Odd duck of a car.
SOLD for $7,500. Great, now what do you do with it? Drive it, because re-selling it may be a challenge.
85.1 1985 Mercedes-Benz 380 SL , dark red metallic paint, tan vinyl interior 85,000 on 6-digit odometer. Drivers’ seat has a little bagging. Floor mats in red look odd, interior has sun-faded to different shades of tan, photo of black soft top shown, so car has two tops.
SOLD for $8,500. Some life left in it at this price and mileage.
T31 1999 Porsche Boxster, non-S model, flat-6, stick shift, red, black top, black interior. Outside looks decent, headlights are foggy. Odometer is 084,558. Driver’s bolster shows some wear. No indication if IMS bearing done.
SOLD for $8,500. Another commodity, sold for what seemed to be market-value.
F8 1979 VW Beetle convertible, silver, black top and interior, 63,814 on 5-digit analog odometer. Wide whites add nice old-school vibe, doors shut well. Some stone chips in front. Car has been driven and maintained, which is refreshing. Very attractive car compared to many other ‘79s for sale.
SOLD for $9,000. A win-win for both buyer and seller. Lots of fun left.
T65 1995 Chevrolet Corvette coupe, 350 V8, automatic, 33,000 original miles, white, smoke top, black leather interior. No second top. Factory wheels are unmarked. Spoke to owner, told me that car has lived in his garage, and he just doesn’t drive it anymore. Car is unmarked and unmodified.
SOLD for $9,000. At lunch, I ended up sitting next to the seller and his wife. They seemed pleased with the result, and he remembered me when I had looked over his car. The couple on the other side of the lunch table from me overheard us, and said they were the BUYERS of this car! The whole table had a good laugh at the incredible coincidence.
T69.1 1949 MG-TC, 4-cylinder, 4-speed, older restoration. Painted non-original bronze, top and interior are tan, engine is red, painted wire wheels. Owner’s son had car here, dad restored car in 1960s, driven 700 miles since. Dad is now deceased, car being sold at NO RESERVE to settle estate. RHD as all TC’s were. Car has nice original vibe, owner claims that car runs well.
SOLD for $11,000. Lots of charm at max of 45 mph. Try to find another running TC at this price.
T96.1 1979 Mercedes-Benz 450 SL, V8, automatic, claimed to be California car. Brown metallic with tan interior, hardtop on car, photo of soft top shown. Odometer reads 110,812. Nardi aftermarket wood wheel, doors shut well, no discernable wear on driver’s seat. Trunk is clean.
SOLD for $11,500. Good value for final year of the 450 SL, possibly held back by color.
T87 1983 Pininfarina (Fiat) 2000 spider, Red, black top, black interior. Claimed 12,600 original miles (possibly), claimed original paint (no way). Giveaway is bottle of body shop touch-up paint in center console. No rust anywhere. Looks like cosmetically well-done restoration of solid car. Engine compartment not up to same standards as paint and interior. New Ansa exhaust.
SOLD for $14,500. One of the nicer Fiat spiders out there, but still highly shocking (and shockingly high).
F42 2003 Mercedes-Benz SL500 retractable hardtop-convertible, “rare launch edition”, warm silver with black interior. Both doors rattle. (What has happened to Mercedes quality?) Odometer reads 63,875, paint is unmarked. Factory alloy wheels. With top down, almost all trunk space is pre-empted.
SOLD for $16,000. There were easily a dozen of these in Harrisburg. All sold for about the same money. This was one of the more attractive ones, in both color and condition.
T40.1 1994 Jaguar XJS convertible, 4.0 inline 6, white, tan top and tan interior, outside has add-on gold badges, alloys with fake wire wheel look, tarnished alloy gas filler. Top is worn along edges. Gold badging on back. Stress/heat cracks in tail lights. 85,000 showing on six digit odometer. Could use a good detailing.
NO SALE AT $7,000. How far could we have been from the reserve?
F20.1 2006 Jaguar XK8 coupe, 4.2 V8, automatic, BRG non-metallic, tan interior. 75,450 miles on odometer. Headliner is OK (known weak spot for these). Minimal driver’s seat wear. Paint is nice, except for hood, which shows blotching in numerous spots. Either something splashed on it, or there was poor prep on a repaint. Both doors shut well. Jag alloys are attractive and unmarked. Car only let down by hood, which doesn’t affect driving experience.
NO SALE AT $8,000. Based on hood paint, seller should have taken money and run to bank before high bidder changed his mind.
For only the second time this year, our informal “breakfast club” got its act together to go for a drive on Sunday July 30. After a prediction of heavy rains for Friday and Saturday, the weatherman promised a good day on Sunday, and we got it! At my 7 a.m. departure, it was actually cool (probably low 60s), quite unusual for midsummer NJ. The great combination of bright sunshine, comfortable temperature, and low humidity stayed with us all day. As Ken said to me, with only the slightest exaggeration: “this isn’t the best day of this summer; this is the best day of the last three years!”
The turnout was impressive, something we don’t take for granted, what with everyone’s summer schedule so jammed. We had 15 vehicles, four of which held passengers, for a total of 19 hungry mouths. We were happy to see some new faces out with us for the first time. We pushed off from the Sheraton Crossroads, as promised, as the clock struck 8:30 a.m. Destination for the morning was a perennial favorite, Stella G’s in Hackettstown NJ.
A casual observer of our motorcade would be forgiven for thinking it was the local Porsche club’s outing, with a few non-German cars thrown into the mix. At least it seemed that way, with a total of five 911s plus a 944 cabriolet. The two additional German cars were both BMWs: a 320 and an E30. Three other European sports cars rounded out that continent’s representation: an MGB-GT with a V8 conversion, a Jaguar F-Type convertible, and your scribe’s Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Junior.
Four domestic vehicles completed today’s field, three of them GM products: a C6 Corvette, a ’66 Buick Skylark convertible, and a ’94 Camaro Z-28. The nineteenth vehicle was a ’64 T-Bird convertible.
After a short run on Route 287 South (we try to minimize highway driving), we exited onto Route 23 north, then turned south / southwest, heading toward Sparta and a rendezvous with Route 517 which would take us the rest of the way to Hackettstown. With a group this large, it wasn’t possible to keep all the cars together on the road, and the back half went their own way in Sparta, eventually taking the highway again, but getting to the restaurant only minutes behind the first arrivals. For those who did stay on the planned course, the roads and scenery made for spectacular driving.
The good news about Stella G’s is that the food is great; the less good news is that it’s packed on Sunday mornings. Our hostess Lauren informed me that “a table for 19” wasn’t going to cut it, so we were seated in waves of three. The seating arrangement didn’t affect the food and coffee, which were top-notch as always.
And what did we do after breakfast? We did what we always do: we retired to the front sidewalk, where the yapping continued for an unspecified amount of time. The party broke up by 11:30 am, which put everyone home by early afternoon. We start early, get a lot done, and still get home in time to tackle that honey-do list. What’s better than that?
The Alfa Romeo Owners’ Club (AROC) held its 2017 annual convention in Montreal, Quebec, in conjunction with the Alfa Romeo Club of Canada. Billed as “Alfa Expo17”, the choice of this city was not arbitrary. This convention celebrated the 50th anniversary of the showing of the Alfa Romeo concept car at Expo ’67 in Montreal. When the car went into production a few years later, it was named after its debut city. Alfa Expo17 promised a significant showing of Alfa Romeo Montreals, as well as some special events planned around this very special vehicle.
This was my first participation at an AROC event. My 1967 GT 1300 Junior turned 50 this year, so partly in honor of the car’s birthday, we drove the car there, the decision helped by Montreal’s relative proximity. My wife accompanied me, because she likes riding in the Alfa (claiming that it’s the most comfortable collector car I’ve owned) and because we’ve enjoyed our previous visits to our northern neighbor.
When the convention’s agenda was published in the club magazine, I was somewhat surprised to see that “activities” were scheduled to begin as early as the Monday before Sunday’s concorso. Taking that much time off was not practical for either of us, so we decided to arrive early on Friday July 14. To help with that plan, we departed from home on Thursday evening the 13th, and spent the night near Saratoga Springs NY, almost exactly half-way to our destination.
Friday’s convention agenda included lunch at the Orange Julep fast-food restaurant in downtown Montreal, followed by a gimmick rally for the afternoon. We decided to aim for lunch at the Orange Julep, and take a wait-and-see approach to the gimmick rally.
Our planned lunch arrival of 12 noon was missed by almost two hours, because the combination of rain, traffic, and road construction had us crawling at 10 mph for much of our time in the city. (Oh, and this driver, unable to read street signs in French, made a wrong turn and drove in circles through a residential area for 20 minutes.) As we finally pulled into the Orange Julep parking lot, the threatening skies opened up again.
There were perhaps four Alfas remaining in the lot. We ordered our food and said some quick hellos to a few Alfa owners. As soon as we had our food in hand, the rain picked up and the temperature dropped. The Orange Julep only had outdoor seating. My wife asked if we could eat in the car. THAT was not an option. I gave her my hooded jacket, we found seating in an outdoor shed, and wolfed down lunch as quickly as possible. The gimmick rally was not going to happen for us.
With the rains continuing, we dove back into the car, and began to plot our route to the hotel. Next issue: both of our phones lost internet coverage, so, no Google maps. The filling station across the street sold me a street map of Montreal, and we were back on the highway, again brought to a crawl by traffic and construction. What should have been a 20 minute ride took closer to an hour. We were happy to arrive and get into a warm and dry hotel room. It was not the best start to our holiday weekend.
Friday night’s dinner was on site, so there was no need to get back into the car. We sat down and met all the other couples sharing our table. For the first time but not the last, we were treated to the warmth and openness of our fellow Alfa owners. Everyone was gracious, humble, and willing to make us feel included. My wife, who is not a car person, managed to gain the sympathetic ear of several of the other ladies who understood that she was not at the dinner to discuss double overhead cams, oil viscosity, or Spica fuel injection.
At the conclusion of the meal, about five Montreal owners lined up their cars along the back entrance of the hotel, and Wes Ingram, Spica guru, gave a technical presentation. All the cars had their engines started, and it was an incredible sound to hear these V8 engines roaring.
Saturday’s schedule included a number of optional events. For those who wanted to test their driving skills, autocross-type drives were conducted at a nearby raceway. That’s not my thing, especially when the car in question is also my transportation home, so we opted instead for a bus tour of Old Montreal.
With the rain holding off, the bus departed the hotel at 9 a.m. sharp, and our driver/tour guide, a pleasant local chap, was knowledgeable if a bit difficult to understand through the accent. The bus meandered through town, then parked for a 2-hour lunch break, which put us out on our own. The gloomy weather was changing over to sunshine, and it was nice to walk around. Back on the bus, we finished the tour and we returned to the hotel by 3 p.m. I didn’t mind being a passenger for the day.
By this time my wife was ready to relax in our hotel room. The sunny skies meant that this was my window to prep my car for Sunday’s big show. The hotel provided a wash station, complete with hose, soap, bucket, and wash mitts. Of course, about 50 other owners had the same idea, so there we all were, having turned the back lot of this Holiday Inn into a major preen and primp area.
But Alfa owners never miss the opportunity to engage fellow Alfisti in banter. I made about a dozen new friends in our mutual admiration society as we compared notes regarding the history and authenticity of each other’s cars. Modestly, my car garnered some significant attention because of its originality, with owners of similar Giulia coupes interested in knowing, for example, if my 3-spoke steering wheel is original (it is).
Saturday evening was another arranged dinner at the hotel, this time with speeches and awards. The winners of the gimmick rally and the time trials were presented their due. Cindy Banzer, the president of AROC, gave the keynote speech in English AND French, impressing us with her bilingual skills. Things wrapped up by 11 p.m., and good thing they did, as we would all be rising early Sunday morning.
The Sunday Concorso, arguably the highlight of the weekend, was not at the hotel, but rather in “Petite Italie”, French for Little Italy, in the city center. Planning an 8 a.m. arrival, but dreading the traffic, we departed the hotel by 7:30 a.m. Of course, we breezed right in. The weather was perfect.
The show was held in conjunction with the Fiat Club of Montreal, and was billed as “Montreal’s Official Italian Automobile Festival”. In addition to the dozens of Alfas, there were Fiats, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and DeTomasos. All the cars were parked on Rue Dante, a main drag through Little Italy, and the locals came out in force to take in the sights and sounds. The neighborhood featured Italian restaurants, bakeries, and shops, so breakfast and lunch were closer to what you’d find in Rome rather than Paris. Given star billing at the head of the street were eight Alfa Romeo Montreals parked in a row, a sight that I never thought I’d see.
AROC members had the option to choose “judge my car” or “don’t judge my car”. I chose the latter, if only because I didn’t want to spend Sunday morning on detail alert. My plan was to relax, take in the sights, and continue to chat up my fellow Alfa owners, which is exactly what I did. At 2 p.m., the AROC judges announced the winners. As an especially nice touch, cake and champagne were served at the awards ceremony.
With that, Alfa Expo ’17 was officially over. We had decided to stay in Montreal Sunday night, and take our time driving back on Monday. We left about 9 a.m. Monday, drove through some nasty but brief storms, and once on the other side of that weather, had bright hot sunshine for the rest of the trip. We arrived home by 6 p.m. Monday night, exhausted, but pleased with our active weekend.
These were my takeaways from my first AROC convention:
Unless the Alfa in question is a non-street-legal track car, almost every owner drives their Alfa to an Alfa convention.
Alfa Romeo owners, as a group, are the most friendly, knowledgeable, yet humble car folks I’ve ever met.
The AROC Organization, which has quite of few of these events under their collective belts, puts on a top-notch event.
The “pre-convention driving tours” (the reason for planned activities starting a week before) are a Big Deal to Alfisti, who love to drive their cars.
Alfa Romeo owners like ALL Italian cars.
Alfa owners love to drive their cars (did I say that already?).
My GT 1300 Junior continues to amaze me. We drove 880 miles round trip. The car started, cold or hot, on the first turn of the key. We comfortably cruised on the highway between 70 and 80 mph. There were no unwanted noises or behaviors. With a trunk full of spare parts including plugs, wires, a coil, and a fuel pump, none was needed. (My theory is that the quantity of spare parts on board is inversely proportional to their need.) The car used no oil, and never missed a beat.
The AROC has announced that the 2018 convention will be in Olympia WA. I’m already plotting my trip out there.
The final day of official events for the AROC (Alfa Romeo Owners Club) arrived. The Concorso was held in the Petite Italie (Little Italy) neighborhood in Montreal, populated with Italian restaurants, shops, and bakeries.
The AROC show was held in conjunction with the Fiat club of Montreal. Hence, many Fiats, Ferraris, and other Italian exotics joined.
The weather was perfect, and the crowds were large and enthusiastic.
A full event report covering all three days will follow.