It’s been a hot summer in the Northeast, but the morning of August 28, 2016, dawned with somewhat cool temperatures. This usually means that while it would still get quite warm, the humidity would fail to be oppressive. Most importantly, it gave every indication of staying dry for our breakfast drive, a gathering which we last did back in May.
Our turnout today was great: 12 cars and 14 participants. Showing the diversity of our automotive interests, we had a mix of 5 domestics and 7 imports, and almost every decade represented from the 1960s through the 2000s. For a switch, let’s list our cars alphabetically by make (OK, I admit it, I want to get the Alfas first):
Alfa Romeo – THREE! Two ’91 Spiders, and your blogger’s ’67 GT Junior.
BMWs – Three: Two Z3s (one an M), and a rather new 2-series convertible.
Cadillac – a ’66 Eldorado convertible.
Chevrolet – Two: A ’72 Nova, and a C4 Corvette coupe.
Dodge – The Green Viper.
Ford – A late-model Mustang convertible.
Porsche – a late ‘80s 911 coupe.
Our breakfast destination was the Readington Diner on Route 22 in Whitehouse Station NJ. Once we got off Routes 287 and 10, the roads were a driver’s delight. The diner was most accommodating, as we called ahead, and there was a table waiting for us when we strolled in at 10:30.
Coffee, food, more coffee, talk, and more coffee finally concluded with the usual “why don’t we do this again soon?” So we will. We’re hoping for at least two more runs this year before our classics are tucked away for the winter.
The good folks at “Hemmings”, publishers of several well-known collector car magazines, held their 11th annual Sports & Exotic Car Show on the grounds of the Saratoga Automobile Museum in Saratoga Springs, NY. The event took place on Saturday, August 6, 2016. In spite of a threatening forecast (and a published rain date of Sunday August 7), the organizers decided to press on, and the weather cooperated, as the show field remained sunny and dry, if a bit warm.
The show was open to “sports cars, GTs and exotics built outside the United States prior to 1992.” Those with newer imports were still welcome to attend, but would not have their vehicles judged.
My good friend Peter agreed to accompany me (and did most of the driving – thanks Peter!). Since I had attended one Hemmings show at the same location two years prior, I had reason to expect a professionally-run event, with a decent turnout and quality cars. We were not disappointed.
Arriving by 10:30 a.m., the show field was almost completely full. Cars were arranged by class, which for the majority of attendees was Country of Origin. As in years past, this show had several Featured Classes, including pre-1992 Jaguars, Porsche 356s, and Toyota Sports & GT cars. The big attractions for me were the two Italian Featured Classes: Fiat 124 spiders and Alfa Romeo spiders. Both the Fiat 124 spider and the Alfa Duetto/spider were celebrating their 50th anniversaries.
The entire event had a relaxed and casual feel to it. Most cars were prepped for judging, but unlike some other judged shows, the owners seemed carefree. (No one was spotted picking blades of grass out of their tire treads.) Everyone lazily walked the grounds, chatted up the drivers, and shared their stories. The verdant setting helped with the “stroll in the park” ambiance.
At 2 p.m. sharp, the Awards Ceremony began. There was a 2nd place and 1st place trophy for each of 13 classes. (I believe judging was done by that time-honored method known as “which cars do we really like?” Nothing wrong with that, either.) The winners were lined up and slowly driven past an admiring audience. By 2:30, it was over.
Hemmings hold two shows each year in Saratoga Springs, this one, and the larger Concours d’Elegance in September. If you haven’t been, either is highly recommended.
This 1968 Triumph 250 was voted “Best of Show”. It was immaculate, and it deserved it.
This Sunbeam Tiger was in a most unusual shade of baby blue, and we’re unsure if the color was an original choice from the factory.
Triumph Spitfires have marvelous engine access.
MG-TFs carried the marque’s octagonal badge shape to the instrument cluster.
This Austin-Healey Bug Eye Sprite was even cuter sans bumpers.
A Jaguar XK8 Coupe.
A rarely-seen Lotus Elan +2.
Porsche 356s were one of the Featured Classes.
Two of the more striking ones in attendance.
This 1960 356 coupe is an unrestored survivor.
One of my show favorites: this 1969 911 has been with the same owner for 25 years. Paint was peeling off the driver’s door. He told us he didn’t care; he owns the car to drive it.
There were German cars there besides Porsche. This Mercedes Benz 230-SL had a side-facing rear jump seat.
An Opel GT, sold new in the U.S. by Buick dealers.
Another favorite: this 1979 Ford (not Mercury) Capri had been privately imported. The car was tastefully modified, was clean and straight, and must be a hoot to drive.
This Volvo 123GT looked authentic; at least it wore the correct badging. I don’t think I’ve seen an actual 123GT in about 20 years.
This was the only Volvo 1800 at the show.
FIAT 124 SPIDERS
There were about 20 Fiat 124 spiders at the show, with cars from the first generation (late 1960s) right through to the Pininfarina-badged cars of the mid-1980s. As a former Fiat owner, it was difficult for me to believe that this many survived. Best of all, the owners were there just to have a blast. Bellissimo!
An early car: in addition to the chrome bumpers, note the slatted grille, and the small, round side marker lights.
The placard claimed this to be an unrestored survivor.
We spoke at length to the owner of the Positano Giallo car. He recently bought this car after it had sat, unused, in the previous owner’s garage for 30 years. There had been a small carb fire, and that owner gave up on it. The new owner refreshed the fluids, washed off 30 years of dust, and here it is.
This beauty took home 2nd place in this class.
More, more, more
The Pininfarina cars got their first dashboard redesign.
Here you see the 124 Spider tail lights evolve and enlarge.
The Alfa class was disappointingly small. However, the cars that were there were gems.
Fine Italian jewelry:
This Duetto, striking in grey, took 1st place in its class.
Modern Alfas, in the guise of a 4C coupe and 4C spider:
After a relatively mild winter, the spring of 2016 has been taking its sweet time arriving in the Northeast. Any fears of summer heat waves in early May have been unfounded, with daily temperatures often running 10 degrees below normal. Our little driving club tried to get an early start on the season by planning a mid-April event, which had to be cancelled due to the threat of snow! Our scheduled drive on Sunday May 15 did successfully occur, in spite of cool weather and surprise showers.
Checking back on last year’s blog entries, we never had more 15 participants on any one run (excepting Spousal Accompaniment Day). Today, we broke that record with 17 gentlemen occupying 12 cars. Obviously, we had 5 passengers, several of whom were joining us for the first time. Our destination was a crowd favorite, the Silver Spoon Café in Cold Spring NY.
We pull over to give those in back a chance to catch up
The cars: we usually count up the Chevys, and then all the rest. Today, the Europeans won the day with a total of 7 cars: 3 Germans, 2 Brits, and 2 Italians. We had 4 U.S. brand cars, and one Japanese. There were old(ish) and new(ish) vehicles in all the subcategories with multiple vehicles.
The Mother Country was beautifully represented Rich S’s black MGB and Rich L’s white Jaguar F-Type.
The 2 Italians cars were both Alfas: EC was the proud papa bringing his ’91 spider out with us for the first time, while your humble scribe brought his trusty, un-rusty ’67 GT Junior.
German marques ruled the roads today with 3 cars: Peter’s stunning red 911, Sal’s BMW 325is, and John M’s new Audi A3 cabrio.
Among domestic product, it was all Chevrolet, including 3 Corvettes: Bill’s C1, Ron’s C4, and George’s C6. Larry ran his reliable Camaro.
The sole Asian car was Jim N’s Datsun 280Z.
We departed the Sheraton Crossroads parking lot (almost) right on time and headed north. As soon as we did, the skies darkened, and the clouds threatened. In spite of the weather, several drivers motored with convertible tops down. After a beautiful ride along Seven Lakes Drive and over the Bear Mountain Bridge, we were at our destination with 10 minutes to spare. The staff at the Silver Spoon had a table for 17 waiting. Coffee was almost immediately served, with hot breakfast plates soon following. As always, the camaraderie around the table made it difficult to leave.
When we finally wrenched ourselves away from the food and endless caffeine, we stepped outside to some slight sprinkles. Those who had left their tops down scurried back to their cars. Several of us continued to linger and chat, not wanting the festivities to end. But end they eventually did. We’ve assured the group that we’ll do our best to get out at least once a month this driving season.