Sunday Morning Breakfast Run, July 30 2017

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?

 

Tim’s MG-B GT V8

 

The author’s Alfa Romeo

 

Woody’s 911

 

Rich’s Jaguar

 

Ken’s 911

 

Willis’ Corvette

 

Bill’s 911

 

Sal’s BMW

 

Peter’s 911

 

Larry’s Camaro

 

Ted’s 911

 

If you’re near Hackettstown, this place has the Sunday Breakfast Club stamp of approval

 

If we stayed any longer, we would be ordering lunch

 

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

Sunday Morning Breakfast Run, April 9 2017

We eased into our first driving event of 2017, with 6 cars occupied by 8 hungry drivers and riders. After a cool but sunny dawn, we got the weatherman’s promised warmth. In all, it was an almost perfect early spring day for a drive, evidenced by the dropping of several convertible tops.

Our destination was the perennial favorite Silver Spoon Café in Cold Spring NY. They were expecting us, and we were seated by 9:45, and drinking coffee by 9:48. The food was good, the service was exemplary, and as is our habit, we exited the café only to spill out onto the sidewalk to continue our chatter.

We were happy to be able to drive so early in April, and while we’ve said it before, we’ll say again that our intent is to schedule one drive per month for the remainder of our Northeast driving season.

Larry’s 1972 Chevy Nova

 

Jim’s Datsun 280Z

 

Ralph’s Buick Skylark

 

Bill’s 1961 C1 Corvette

 

Rich S’s Shelby Mustang

 

Your author’s 1993 Mazda Miata

 

Along Seven Lakes Drive in Rockland County NY

 

The Breakfast Club

 

In front of our host cafe (hostess graciously agreed to pose with us)

 

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

Sunday Morning Breakfast Drive, Oct. 2, 2016

We had an excellent turnout for our early October outing, with 16 like-minded friends willing to venture out in spite of a gloomy forecast (for the record, it didn’t rain during the drive). All in, we had 12 classic cars, 2 modern Volvos, plus a motorcycle! Several first-timers seemed to like it well enough that they’ve threatened to show their faces again.

You could be forgiven for looking at the photos and thinking that this was a meeting of the local Porsche 911 club, what with four of them (three red) among our assortment. We still had a fine mix of American, British, Italian, Japanese, and other German cars, old and new.

Our ride this day took us north from the Sheraton in Mahwah, along Greenwood Lake, and eventually to New Windsor, NY, where we dined at the Ikaros Diner. The diner staff had a table waiting for us, and somehow, in spite of constant blabbering, we also managed to consume food and coffee.

The diner’s parking lot made for an excellent staging area for group photos. (Thanks to Bill W and Andy M for the panorama photo of us). We must be doing something right, because at the end of the event, most everyone wanted to know when we’re going to do this again. It must be the coffee.

Ken's RED 911
Ken’s RED 911

 

Peter's RED 911
Peter’s RED 911

 

Dave's RED 911
Dave’s RED 911

 

Ted's NON RED 911
Ted’s NON RED 911

 

Jeff's BMW Z3
Jeff’s BMW Z3

 

 

Enzo's Alfa Spider
Enzo’s Alfa Spider

 

Nick's Mustang
Nick’s Mustang

 

Bill's C1 Corvette
Bill’s C1 Corvette

 

Sal's E30 BMW 3-Series
Sal’s E30 BMW 3-Series

 

Tim's MG-B/C/V8-GT
Tim’s MG-B/C/V8-GT

 

Your author's Miata
Your author’s Miata

 

Red Porsche in front, red Porsche in back
Red Porsche in front, red Porsche in back

 

Porsche, Alfa, Porsche, Mustang
Porsche, Alfa, Porsche, Mustang in Miata mirror

 

"I turned left when you went straight"
“I turned left when you went straight”

 

 

The Z3 serves as a nice foreground car
The Z3 serves as a nice foreground

 

As does Richard's Jaguar F-Type
As does Richard’s Jaguar F-Type

 

"I gotta get over there, they're talking about me"
“I gotta get over there, they’re talking about me”

 

All of us with our machines
All of us with our machines

 

'Til next time
‘Til next time

 

All photographs copyright © 2016 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

Boonton NJ Cruise Night, June 10, 2016

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The Boonton NJ cruise night, held on Fridays in the WalMart shopping Plaza, had its first show of the 2016 season on June 10. This year’s festivities were scheduled to start on June 3, but that show was cancelled due to inclement weather.

The cruise night, sponsored by the Starlight Cruisers car club, began in 2007 and has proven to be one of the better attended events of its kind in northern Jersey. The parking lot is roped off to allow parking for up to 250 cars. Because of the show’s popularity, vehicles are limited to those with QQ (NJ antique automobile) plates, or those which are at least 25 years old. The club provides music and door prizes.

The weather on the 10th was perfect – sunny, warm, cloudless, with low humidity, which brought out the crowds. The show cars were 99% domestic product, with a large percentage of them easily defined as “modified” – everything from bolt-ons to full customs in the old-school sense. GM vehicles from the 50s and 60s dominated, but there was also enough variety to keep things interesting for those who seek the unusual. There was a smattering of pre-war iron, including a lovely 1940 LaSalle convertible. Original owner and/or unrestored cars were present, such as a 1967 AMC Marlin whose owner has had it since 1971. And some imports dared to show up among all the Chevys and Fords, including an Opel GT, a Saab 93, and your author’s Alfa.

 

AMC products are rare sightings at any car event. This cruise night featured a number of them, including this Rebel “The Machine”, and this 1978 Concord AMX.

 

This 1967 Marlin was striking in several ways, most notably because its owner told us that this was his first car when he bought it in 1971. His daughter was dutifully deployed to attend to polishing duties. When asked about the missing fuel door, he replied that the door has been shipped to Sweden (!) for color-matching. We were left unclear as to why.

 

The number of Corvettes in attendance easily reached several dozen. What was especially impressive was the large number of C1 and C2 cars.

These C2s lined up their beautiful rear ends
These C2s lined up their beautiful rear ends

 

It is often stated that American car styling reached its bizarre peak in the late 1950s. While that may be true, what is sometimes missed is that interior styling also captured some of that strange creativity, and that included functional items such as transmission controls. This 1958 Edsel and 1960 Plymouth both used unusual solutions for transmission control placement. (Note that the Edsel has a floor shifter as part of a complete drivetrain swap.)

 

 

Studebaker’s history began 50 years before the dawn of the motorized vehicle, when the Studebaker brothers manufactured covered wagons. By the 1950s, they struggled to compete with the Big Three. “Daring to be different” was a strategy employed by them (as well as by AMC), as borne out by this Hawk and Avanti.

 

Despite the dominance of 50s-60s muscle, a few cars from an earlier time were also on the show field. None was more striking than this 1940 LaSalle. The LaSalle brand was a “junior Cadillac”, but alas, could not compete in the marketplace. Production ended in 1940, making this car a representative of the marque’s final year.

 

Not all T-Birds are restored to AACA standards. This '56 was ready to rumble.
Not all T-Birds are restored to AACA standards. This ’56 was ready to rumble.

 

This Saab has been in Boonton before. Although we did not have the pleasure of seeing it run on this particular evening, the owner has kept the 2-stroke motor and has opened up the exhaust a bit, resulting in some glorious albeit raucous noises.

 

DeLoreans never went away; they’ve been hiding in plain sight all these years. For a vehicle which was manufactured for only two years (1981-1982) and in limited numbers, one always seems to turn up. Their collectibility may be on the rise, though, as a recent change in government regulations will allow the “new” DeLorean Motor Company to begin to legally manufacture cars again.

No BttF jokes, promise!
No BttF jokes, promise!

 

In 1970, if you could not afford a new Corvette, you may have been drawn to the Opel GT. Buick dealers sold them as captive imports. Built in Germany, the Opel GT was available with either a 1.1L or 1.9L inline 4-cylinder. You certainly didn’t pay the Corvette’s price, but you didn’t get the Corvette’s horsepower either.

 

This '67 Firebird has the optional hood-mounted tach
This ’67 Firebird has the optional hood-mounted tach

 

The Alfa may have looked lost among the sea of U.S. built cars (it certainly is physically smaller than all of them), but several spectators stopped by to tell the typical “I had one of those” stories. The car ran flawlessly up and down Route 287 that evening.

One last shot before wheeling the Alfa back home
One last shot before wheeling the Alfa back home

 

All photographs copyright © 2016 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

Sunday Morning Breakfast Drive, May 15, 2016

8 a.m.: sunny before departure
8:30 a.m.: sunny before departure

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.

Hey guys, do you want to eat, or would you rather stand around and shoot the breeze?
Hey guys, do you want to eat, or would you rather stand around and shoot the breeze?

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

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 MGB of Rich S
The MGB of Rich S

 

The F-Type Jag of Rich L
The F-Type Jag of Rich L

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.

Enzo's 1991 Alfa Spider
Enzo’s 1991 Alfa Spider

 

The author's '67 Alfa GT Junior
The author’s ’67 Alfa 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.

Peter's Porsche 911
Peter’s Porsche 911

 

John's Audi A3
John’s Audi A3

 

Sal's BMW 325is
Sal’s BMW 325is

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.

Bill's C1
Bill’s C1

 

Ron's C4
Ron’s C4

 

George's C6
George’s C6

 

Larry's '94 Camaro
Larry’s ’94 Camaro

The sole Asian car was Jim N’s Datsun 280Z.

Jim's Datsun 280Z
Jim’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.

The obligatory wave before breakfast
The obligatory wave before breakfast

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.

A crowd favorite is the Silver Spoon Cafe, on Main St. in Cold Spring NY
The Silver Spoon Cafe, on Main St. in Cold Spring NY, survived our visit

All photographs copyright © 2016 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

Sunday Morning Breakfast Drive, Nov. 15 2015

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Our final drive of the 2015 season took place on Sunday, November 15. The day dawned sunny, dry, and as the weatherman might say, “seasonably warm”, with midday temps approaching 60 degrees. The emails with regrets I had received during the week led me to believe that we would have a light turnout. This was incorrect, as we had 11 cars and 15 guys, not too shabby! As has been the tradition this year, two gents new to the group joined us for the first time. We must be doing something right.

We pushed off from our usual Mahwah Sheraton Crossroads departure point at 9 a.m., one hour later than usual, in deference to the shorter November days. Heading down Route 287 South, yours truly was all too happy to cruise in the Miata with the top down, but not too many other convertibles took advantage of the sunshine, at least not at first.

Beautiful day for a cruise (photo courtesy Rich S.)
Beautiful day for a cruise (photo courtesy Rich S.)

Our destination for the morning was Stella G’s, an excellent breakfast joint in Hackettstown, NJ. We’ve been there before, but not this year. The drive consisted of three roads: Route 287 South to Route 23 North to Route 517 South. A new tradition is the now-obligatory pit-stop, christened the “Bill Whited fuel and bathroom break”. This time it was a Quick Chek. Your scribe observed that once we stop and let everyone start yapping again, it can be problematic to get the boys back into their cars.

The others follow the Corvette (as they should)
The others follow the Corvette (as they should)

After a beautiful cruise down Route 517 (we will NOT mention that the chase car made a wrong turn and ended up on Route 80), we were at Stella G’s at exactly 11 a.m. Customer Service in the state of NJ can indeed be spoken about in the present tense, as proven today. We called Stella G’s twice to ask them about seating 15 arrivals, and even though they do not take reservations on the weekend, we walked in at 11 a.m. sharp to find tables reserved and set for our large crowd. The food, coffee, and service were excellent as they always are at Stella G’s (thank you Kate!).

We were having too good a time. It was difficult for the group to leave the restaurant, and leave Hackettstown, knowing that we would not have the opportunity to do this again until the spring of 2016. Since time moves faster the older we get, it remains an unspoken truth that our first drive of the New Year will be here soon enough. To a man, we can’t wait.

 

All photographs (except as noted) copyright © 2015 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

Ladies Join Oct. 17 2015 Drive Event, Everyone Survives

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History was made on Saturday, October 17, 2015, when the New York Mets (sorry, wrong blog) the Sunday Morning Driving Club went out for a ride, and changed all the rules. What exactly did we do? We drove on a Saturday (for the first time); we scheduled a breakfast AND a lunch (for the first time); we visited the Jersey Shore (for the first time); and we allowed drivers to invite their Significant Others along for the experience (for the last time; sorry, wrong blog – for the first of what we are sure will be many more times).

As best as we know, all the participating husbands and wives were still married to each other at the end of the day. Seriously, we think the ladies enjoyed themselves, and got a taste of the genuine fun we men have had for years, namely, riding through beautiful scenery in interesting cars, and sitting down for a hearty meal with affable and like-minded people.

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The formal part of the day started at the Bridgewater Diner in Bridgewater, NJ. Changing with past tradition, attendees arrived on their own between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. and fortified themselves with good local diner food. By 10:30 a.m., after a few who skipped breakfast but were joining the group arrived, we were out of the parking lot, embarking on the first half of the day’s drive. This 30-mile-route, dotted with fall foliage, took us along the Millstone River, through the farmland of Monmouth County, into the historic village of Cranbury, and eventually to a Wawa pit stop, sorely needed by the men after all that diner coffee.

This deserved Wawa-stop allowed us time to hang and chat in the parking lot. Old friends caught up with each other, new friends were made, and Bill Whited bought gas. After sufficient time was given for life’s necessities, the lead Alfa driven by your humble servant (who assigned the 90-horsepower car to lead??), with 11 other cars in caravan, headed east on Route 33 for the second leg of our drive – a 25-mile straight shot to the seaside resort town of Ocean Grove.

We allowed plenty of time for folks to find parking and wander along the picturesque Main Ave. before our 1:30 lunch reservation at The SeaGrass restaurant. Our table was set and ready for us ten minutes early, and our rowdy crowd was ably handled solo by one young waitress who, to her credit, smiled through the whole ordeal. The food was excellent, and more than one person in our party remarked that while not expecting to be hungry after breakfast, the food at The SeaGrass was too good to pass up.

It bears mentioning that as the popularity of our drive events has grown, participants have told friends, who have told friends…. For this drive, we had two drivers who were with us for the first time. Several others had only made their first trips with us earlier this year. By my count, half of today’s drivers are people I’ve met through other drivers. It’s been rewarding to see the group grow in this fashion.

Lunch was over by 3 p.m. The shoppers delayed their departures so they could wander through the many gift shops in Ocean Grove. Others hit the road in order to get back home before the ever-earlier darkness closed the day. Overall, our many “firsts” combined to make this drive one of our most successful, read, enjoyable outings yet.

All photographs copyright © 2015 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.