Sunday Morning Breakfast Drive, August 4, 2019

It’s been 10 years or more since the Sunday Morning Breakfast Drives started; my partner-in-crime Larry and I have been spearheading the events for at least the last 6 or 7 years; and the format is almost always the same: rendezvous at the Sheraton Hotel in Mahwah NJ; drive a pre-planned route, with all our vehicles following each other; and arrive at a breakfast joint for food and coffee.

However, we’re always looking for ways to mix things up for our little group, so we decided to try something different this time out. We opted for our own “cars & coffee” type of gathering, in lieu of an actual drive along scenic country roads. So while our participants had to drive to get to today’s destination, The Fireplace Restaurant on Route 17 in Paramus NJ, there was no caravan per se. For consistency though, I still used the word “drive” in the subject line.

A dozen or so cars arrived promptly at 8am in The Fireplace’s parking lot, and as is our wont, we chatty men loitered and gabbed for about 20 minutes before Larry yelled “hey, let’s get some breakfast before it gets too crowded in there!” I confess, one aspect of The Fireplace that I enjoy is that it’s each person on his own for ordering and paying. The usual gig at a diner is for the bill to come to me, and after I’ve calculated the tip and grand total, I’m collecting money from 20 heads. The Fireplace affords me the chance to forego that responsibility.

“When I hit 100 I shifted into 3rd, and passed that Vega like it was standing still!”

After a hearty breakfast, we headed outside to admire the hardware. It’s been a hot summer in NJ, and today was not any different. The temperature differential between 8am and 10am was noticeable, but that did not dissuade us from checking out each other’s rides. Several of our regulars arrived in vehicles we’ve not seen before: Julio in his very original Dodge pickup, and Sal in his “I just bought it yesterday” Alfa spider.

We heard no complaints about lack of a tour, and everyone seemed to enjoy the meal, the cars, and the camaraderie. By 11am or so, the group started to break up and head back, which points out another wonderful aspect of our Sunday runs: most of us are home by early afternoon, leaving the rest of the day free for whatever occupies one’s time on a hot sunny August Sunday. Larry and I promised each other that we’ll get another event on the calendar ASAP.

Bob’s Mustang Cobra

 

Dan’s Porsche 944 cabrio

 

Larry’s Nova

 

Richard’s Miata

 

Bill’s 911

 

Pete’s 911

 

Nick’s Mustang

 

John’s Land Rover Defender

 

Sal’s Alfa Graduate

 

Paul’s Camaro

 

Jeff’s BMW Z3

 

Julio’s Dodge pickup

 

See ya! Til next time…

 

All photographs copyright © 2019 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

Sunday Morning Breakfast Drive, June 9, 2019

Our second Sunday morning breakfast run of the year was held on June 9, 2019, starting as always at the Crossroads Sheraton Hotel in Mahwah NJ. The assembled group consisted of 12 people in 10 cars. Our eclectic collection included Chevys, Porsches, Miatas, a BMW, an Alfa, a VW, and a Buick. This time, we headed south, with the Readington Diner in Whitehouse Station NJ as our destination. We pushed off at 8:35 am, but not every vehicle was destined to make it to the diner…..

The morning queue awaits the starting flag

 

The Buick, a ’67 Skylark convertible driven by our friend Ralph, had engine trouble on the way. This was unbeknownst to me in the lead car, but I learned later that billows of smoke were wafting from the engine compartment. Ralph quickly got to the shoulder of the highway, and just as quickly, 3 of our other drivers stopped with offers of assistance. A peek into the engine compartment revealed a connecting rod (connects the crankshaft to the piston) extending itself through an aperture in the side of the engine block where previously there had not been an aperture. This is colloquially known as a “blown engine”, and cannot be fixed with Gorilla Glue. Sadly, Ralph missed breakfast.

Everyone is smiling, so this is obviously after we’ve been served

 

While Ralph waited for the flat bed tow truck, one driver who stopped needed to return home, and the other two, having long lost our caravan, found their own way to the diner. In the meantime, a dawdler who had missed our departure came rushing down the same highway, saw the blown Buick, stopped for a brief chat, then continued to the eatery. Yet another driver, residing well south of our destination, came up on his own and met us there. So we still ended up with 12 at the breakfast table!

1966 Corvette adds glamor to diner sign

 

The wait staff at the Readington Diner was outstanding as always; those of us who require morning caffeine were never without hot java. With bellies full of food and beverage, we meandered back into the parking lot, admired each others’ cars, then headed home to enjoy the remainder of what was certainly one of the most weather-perfect Sundays we’ve seen in the Northeast this year.

 

Our own impromptu parking lot car show

We plan to do this again soon. We also hope that Ralph can get his car fixed, because we like Ralph, and want him to be able to enjoy breakfast with us next time.

Porsche 911 Targa

 

1993 Mazda Miata (1st gen, NA)

 

VW Golf GTi

 

1967 Buick Skylark

 

1991 Alfa Romeo Spider

 

1967 Corvette 427

 

Porsche 911

 

BMW Z3

 

Mazda Miata 2nd gen (NB)

 

1969 Chevy Camaro

 

1953 Jaguar XK-120

 

1966 Corvette

 

All photographs copyright © 2019 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

Sunday Morning Breakfast Run, April 14, 2019

The first breakfast drive of 2019 was held on Sunday April 14, 2019, and while the weatherman and weatherwomen of the greater NY Metro area may have earlier tried to dissuade us, their forecast eventually pushed the predicted rain back into the latter part of the day. We made the go/no go decision on Friday, and the Sunday skies were bluer and air temperature warmer than expected.

The sunny Sunday lineup

We Alfisti almost got away with turning this into an Italian breakfast run, as the first 3 cars to show were all from the fabled Milanese marque. But diversity ruled the day, with one Japanese car (Miata), one domestic vehicle (Nova), and 6 German machines (3 Porsches, 2 BMWs, and a VW GTi) in attendance.

Green, red, and silver: nice Alfas come in many colors

After a long winter’s hibernation, it was great to see so many familiar and friendly faces. We pushed off from the Sheraton Crossroads parking lot at 8:30am sharp. Eleven cars, 15 hungry car-centric folk, and a scenic one-hour drive along Greenwood Lake had us at the Empire Diner in Monroe NY by 9:30 am.

The view from the sweep car

The friendly staff at the Empire had tables ready for us, and we were ably attended to by two of the diner’s finest waitresses. As usual, we lingered long after plates were cleared and 6th refills of coffee were served. Car guys never seem to run out of things to talk about. We found our way back to the parking lot, said our goodbyes one last time, and as always, promised each other to do this again as soon as practical.

Mr. Empire himself waves from the diner rooftop

Our Sunday morning breakfast runs have taken on a life of their own. As your humble scribe glanced around the breakfast table, he saw former colleagues he has known for 30 years, and also saw fellow diners who have just recently become “regulars” because they were recommended to us. The group makeup is certainly not limited to “old friends”. We had cars from the ‘60s, ‘80s, ‘90s, and the 21st century in the lot. It’s not about whose car is the fastest, or shiniest, or priciest. We’re all passionate about our four-wheeled modes of transportation. It’s not about anything but a chance to spend an all-too-brief few hours with each other, driving together and dining together, doing what friends do, which is sharing our lives with each other.

1991 Alfa Romeo spider

 

1991 Alfa Romeo spider

 

1967 Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Jr.

 

Porsche 911 Targa

 

Porsche 911

 

BMW 325 iS

 

BMW M3 sedan

 

 

1972 Chevrolet Nova

 

Mazda Miata 2nd gen (NB)

 

VW GTi

 

 

Porsche 911 cabrio

 

The (mostly) Italian table

 

The rest of the crew

 

A Honda Accord coupe is smallish; a Ford Fusion is smallish; they make the Alfa look toyish

 


All photographs copyright © 2019 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

Sunday Morning Breakfast Run, September 16, 2018

The weather prediction for Sunday September 16, 2018 said “sunny, warm, no rain”. Never mind that the reality was a 7 a.m. fog so thick that traffic signals were all but invisible until you were almost on top of them. They promised the fog would burn off, and it did. After a summer filled with excess heat, an overabundance of precipitation, and more cancelled driving events than I can count, our chosen date for a Sunday morning breakfast run was promising to turn out well.

A perfect morning for a breakfast run

The weather awakened something in many of our driving buddies too, as 22 participants in 17 cars made it for the 8:30 push-off from the Crossroads Sheraton in Mahwah NJ. We had not been on a Sunday run since early June, so expectations were high for a nice drive and a tasty breakfast. We were headed to the Empire Diner in Monroe NY, a first-time destination for us. The route we chose was scenic and not too drawn out. Since driving time was just about an hour, there were no planned pit stops. (The group must be learning; everyone had enough fuel in their rides to make it to the diner.) Perhaps most amazingly, traffic was light and the 17 cars managed to caravan for the entire run.

Lined up for a rest room, I mean, for the diner parking lot

Word continues to spread about our adventures: a VW GTi and a Porsche 944 were driven by two gents who were making their maiden voyage with us. Most of the rest of the fleet consisted of old and new domestic iron, a host of German cars, a Jag, and two Miatas. Alas, the Italians stayed home today.

Following Danny’s Porsche 944 cabrio

The Empire Diner had tables waiting for us at 9:45 (thanks, ladies!), and the food and service were exemplary. Any waitress who swings by every 10 minutes with a hot coffee pot in her hand gets my vote. As usual, the men did their best to out-gab the females, and after the meal the chit-chat spilled out into the parking lot. Speaking of our better halves, several drivers brought their significant others. The ladies are always welcome as long as they can tolerate a bunch of guys sitting around talking about cars all morning.

We managed to fit all 17 cars into the Empire Diner’s smallish lot

The first day of autumn is one week from today (and this scribe wishes to say ‘thank goodness!’). More than one driver asked when we plan to run again. With Carlisle and Hershey coming up, the best we can hope for is late October. And with what had better be cooler weather by then, we should have another beautiful drive.

 

Larry’s ’72 Nova

 

Stevie’s heavily worked GMC pickup

 

Woody’s 911

 

Ralphie’s ’67 Buick Skylark

 

Paul’s ’69 Camaro

 

John’s 944

 

Peter’s 911

 

 

John’s 2003 Miata NB (2nd gen)

 

The author’s ’93 Miata NA (1st gen)

 

 

Richard L’s Jaguar F-Type

 

Bill’s ’39 Ford with ’40 font clip, driven by Corey

 

Jeff’s BMW Z3

 

Danny’s Porsche 944 cab

 

Bill’s ’67 Corvette

 

Art’s VW GTi

 

Rich S’s Shelby Mustang

 

While we all did fit in the lot, it meant blocking some cars in…

 

 

All photographs copyright © 2018 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

Sunday Morning Breakfast Drive, June 3, 2018

This is what we do: we get up early on a Sunday morning, earlier than many of us would otherwise arise on a day off from work. We hop into our toy car, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a 40-year-old gem we’ve owned for many a decade, a recent “beater” that’s a work in progress, or a brand-new supercar. (One rule in this club that has no rules is, we do not criticize each other’s cars based on age, marque, horsepower, color, or relative value.)

 

The lineup: the cars and their owners

We meet at a pre-arranged spot, and then we drive. It’s almost always delightful, verdant, winding, two-lane roads, which may take us north, south, east, or west. We delight in the sights and sounds of our friends’ cars in front of us and behind us. Sure, we drive in a spirited fashion, but there’s no reckless behavior on the road; we respect each other too much for that. (Rule #2 in this rule-less club is that overly aggressive driving will certainly ensure you’re disinvited to our next soiree.)

 

“So I opened the hood, but still couldn’t find the battery….”

 

Upon arriving at our destination, we anxiously await our morning treat: hot coffee, good breakfast food, and lots of conversation. Some of us have known each other for 25 years. Some of us met about 90 minutes ago. It doesn’t matter. We share a passion for our internal-combustion-powered devices, and we’ll talk about them and the exhilarating freedom they provide until the waitresses toss us out (pity the future generations who will not know the thrill of piloting such sporting machines).

 

Following the Ferrari on the way to breakfast

 

Some of us break from talking long enough to glance at the camera

 

With breakfast done, our desire to continue the chat is all too obvious, as we spill out onto the sidewalk, inadvertently blocking the restaurant’s entrance. Finally, as the noon hour approaches, we reluctantly wish each other a fond “see you next time”, and head back to our machines, and back to whatever reality awaits the remainder of our Sunday.

This is what we do.

 

Buick Skylark convertible

 

Chevy Nova

 

Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce
Volvo C70 Coupe

 

NA (1st gen) Mazda Miata

 

NB (2nd gen) Mazda Miata

 

Porsche 911 Targa

 

Jaguar F-Type

 

Shelby Mustang convertible

 

I had a hard time keeping up with this guy on my way home

 

As we exited the Bear Mountain Bridge over the Hudson River, Rich S took these photos, and they are used with his permission:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All photographs copyright © 2018 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

Sunday Morning Breakfast Drive, April 29, 2018

Richard’s Car Blog has been documenting our Sunday morning breakfast drives going back to 2015, although the drives themselves predate that by a number of years. A quick review reveals that the date of each year’s first drive varied quite a bit: in 2015, it was April 19; 2016’s inaugural run didn’t happen until May 15; and last year, we were out early, driving on April 9.

Every year, my co-organizer Larry and I say the same thing: “We simply must get out there and go on a drive as soon as possible!” With Easter arriving early this year (April 1), we saw that as an opportunity to organize a drive as early as April 8.

Except, it snowed that weekend.

The next best date that worked for us was April 29. Certainly, it HAD to be warm by then….

After a glorious and sunny Saturday which saw temps in the 70s, Sunday dawned with sprinkles, a temperature of 55 degrees, and a stiff wind. Nevertheless, ten intrepid souls ventured out for a drive to the Readington Diner in Whitehouse Station NJ, where good chow and hot java awaited us.

Waiting for takeoff

One of the many things I personally enjoy about our informal club is that we have no rules regarding what you can drive. New, old, domestic, import, high-end, rolling wreck(!), if you think it can get you there and back, then we accept you into the fraternity. On some level, everyone’s car is interesting. This can result in quite the eclectic mix of cars, and today’s group was exactly that. We had:

  • Three domestic cars: a ’39 Ford (wearing a ’40 front clip), a ’72 Nova, and a late-model Mustang.
  • Six European cars, broken out as two Italian (both Alfas), two German (BMW and Porsche) one British (Jaguar F-type) and one Swedish (Volvo 1800S).
  • One Japanese car, an NB (2nd generation) Miata.

 

BMW E30 2-door

 

Jaguar F-Type

 

1972 Chevy Nova

 

1967 Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Jr

 

Second-generation (NB) Mazda Miata

 

Andy’s Volvo C70 Coupe (he didn’t join us for the drive)

Another enjoyable aspect is the chance to meet new people. John in his Miata and Tom in the Volvo (which he’s owned for only a month) were both with us for the first time, and I dare say that they enjoyed themselves enough that we can expect to see them again.

Porsche 911

 

1964 Volvo 1800S

 

“This ain’t no ’40, this ain’t no flathead, this ain’t no foolin’ around”

 

1991 Alfa Romeo Spider

 

“Mustang Sally” 21st century style

We shoved off from the Mahwah Sheraton parking lot at 8:28 (early for once, as the group was shivering), and headed south on Route 287, destination Morristown. Taking route 24/510 west through Morristown and Mendham, we ended up in Chester, where we made a quick pit stop (for Bill).

 

“… and it’s got 3.90 gears so the mileage isn’t too bad….”

 

Tom’s gorgeous 1800 at the rest stop

Continuing on Route 513 through Chester, we turned left in Long Valley and had a spirited drive along the winding curves of Route 517 South. A quick right turn onto Route 22 West had us motoring only another half mile before arriving at the diner.

 

A favorite car club eatery

Andre the Magnificent served us mightily (anyone who brings coffee refills every 10 minutes is my hero), and as is our habit, we lingered long after the plates cleared. It’s obvious that the camaraderie is there; after all, most of us had not seen each other since last fall. As one participant exclaimed, “we really are CAR people!”

 

As we exited the diner, we finally saw some sun (enough for Nick to drop his top)

 

Let’s hope that we have many additional opportunities for Sunday breakfast drives in 2018.

 

All photographs copyright © 2018 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

Sunday Morning Breakfast Runs – The Early Years, Pt. I

Our Sunday Morning Breakfast Runs, about which I’ve blogged so much, started well before I joined the fray. I believe I had been told that the initial trio who launched these events began back in 1999 or 2000.

Earlier this year, someone in our group who had joined around the same time as I did asked me, “when did all this start?” Great question, I responded to myself as much to anyone else, and decided to pore through my photos to see how far back I could trace my involvement.

The earliest photographic evidence of my participation takes me to early spring of 2006. Since the trees in the photos have yet to bloom, I would pin the timeframe as late March/early April. The photos were taken in Cold Spring NY, which was a frequent destination for many of the early runs. We parked our cars around a little cul-de-sac, with the Hudson River in the background, and this served as a wonderful photo op (that’s Burton standing on the bench, primed for some excellent shots). Note that there are SEVEN cars, a typical number for our group at that time.

My ’68 Mustang California Special (GT/CS) had been in my possession for only 2 ½ years. The year 2006 would be the year in between driving that car in the ’05 and ’07 New England 1000 rallies.

The next time I photographed a Breakfast Run was June of 2008, and since the pictures reveal that our destination was Granny’s Pancake House in Hamburg NJ, I know that this was one of the, if not THE first time that Larry and I “hosted” the run. Granny’s had been recommended to me by a colleague at Volvo, and it proved to be a tasty breakfast place.

The GT/CS at the start of the run

As we exited the restaurant, I asked each driver (and passenger, if there was one) to pose next to their automobiles. As is always the case, the eclectic mix of vehicles is a big part of the draw. Our NE1000 buddy Ron dared to show up in his 1937 Packard convertible. I can report that he doesn’t baby the car on the road, as I had to keep my foot into my 390 to keep up with him!

Again, there were seven cars, which made it easy to keep everyone together in a caravan. Little could we imagine the size to which our outfit would expand.

In a future post, we’ll continue to look back at some of our older Sunday Breakfast Runs.

Our June 2008 participants (NOT the dude standing up at the left)

 

Ken and son with Porsche 911

 

Peter with Porsche 911

 

Larry with Chevy Monte Carlo

 

Richard with Mustang GT/CS

 

Ron with Packard

 

Rich and son with Mustang

 

Bill with Corvette

 

Spotting the Packard over the Mustang’s hood

 

Summer of ’08: check out those high fuel prices!

 

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


FUN FACT OF THE WEEK

A 1937 Packard Super Eight convertible coupe, with a 135 hp, 320 c.i. inline-8, cost $2,680 new. Or, one could purchase a 1937 Ford DeLuxe cabriolet, with an 85 hp, 221 c.i. V8, and pay $719 (27% of the Packard’s cost).