15 March 2009

Inside the Sports Car Market Magazine Fleet

To call the Sports Car Market (SCM) magazine fleet “eclectic” would be like labeling Howard Hughes a mere eccentric. Any group of cars that includes a front-engine dragster shaped like a dragon and a Siata Spring must be singled out for special mention. But in truth, the SCM fleet is simply a reflection of the philosophy of founder and publisher Keith Martin. While deadly serious about reporting on the nuances of the collector car market, Martin never loses sight of the fact that car collecting is a hobby, not a blood sport—it’s supposed to be fun.

1964 Volvo 544 Sport

1964 Volvo 544 Sport
In a sort of grayish blue, the SCM Volvo 544 Sport rather resembles Eeyore the donkey crossed with a ’46 Ford. In fact, it’s one of the nicest examples of this sturdy Swede you’re likely to find, totally rust-free with excellent paint and interior. Oddly enough, no one on the SCM staff smokes a pipe, wears a tweed jacket or teaches an abnormal psych class.

2002 Porsche Boxster and 1978 Porsche 911SC coupe
2002 Porsche Boxster and 1978 Porsche 911SC coupe
It’s inconceivable that any fleet belonging to a magazine with the words “Sports Car” in the title wouldn’t include at least one Porsche. And in the case of SCM, the fleet includes two, one old and one new. The silver Boxster has been providing excellent service to Publisher Martin and his wife Wendie for over a year and the Guards Red 911 has been in the hands of Executive Editor Paul Duchene for almost two years. Duchene is a recent Porsche convert stating that before he owned the car, he just didn’t get what all the fuss was about. “Now I get it, this is really all the car you need, it does everything well and it’s dead reliable.” Pretty impressive considering its 180,000 miles, but for a 911SC, it’s really just middle-aged. These are after all, the Volvo 240 of sports cars.

1968 Siata Spring 1968 Siata Spring
There’s a popular bumper sticker in SCM’s home base of Portland, Oregon (swiped from Austin, TX I think) that says “Keep Portland Weird.” Executive Editor Paul Duchene is certainly doing his part with the Siata Spring. Rescued from his across-the-street neighbor, an auto wholesaler, the Spring is actually a coachbuilt Fiat 850 Spider built by the manufacturer of some pretty famous Italian race cars from the 1950s. Sold new in Beverly Hills, Duchene’s Spring is rust-free, has real Borrani wire wheels and provides fun transportation on those 75 or so sunny days in Portland. Rare doesn’t begin to describe the Spring. The Sports Car Market Platinum database of auction sales goes back to the 1980s yet doesn’t record a single sale of a Siata Spring at auction.

1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider
1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider 
The pretty sky blue Alfa is a car with a history for Keith Martin. Sports Car Market actually started out as the “Alfa Romeo Market Letter” and it’s his second time owning this particular car. This time around, he’s certainly done right by it. Martin recently spruced up the cosmetics and had the engine rebuilt by a specialist in Berkeley, California. It’s now in the condition that Martin likes all of the cars in the SCM fleet to be in, not perfect—but with brakes, suspension, engine, gearbox and electrical on the button— ready to jump in and drive 100 miles at a moment’s notice.

1977 Daimler Sovereign Vanden Plas

1977 Daimler Sovereign Vanden Plas
Executive Editor Paul Duchene’s latest acquisition is certainly one of one. This already rare Daimler version of the Jaguar XJ6 is fitted with a four-speed overdrive manual transmission. Built by a notoriously fussy UK specialist as his forever car in anticipation of a permanent move to the US, things didn’t work out and the sinister looking black Daimler with a manual transmission stayed behind to be acquired by Duchene, another Englishman. Duchene is unlikely to ever sell it—clearly a case of good car karma.

 Drakko

Drakko
When Publisher Martin showed me a photo on his digital camera of the car that he bought at Barrett-Jackson in Las Vegas, I really didn’t think he was serious. But perhaps after Robosaurus – which was on display at the Mandalay Bay – Drakko, the dragon shaped front-engine dragster was one of the most attention-getting sights at the auction. The attention didn’t, however, turn into bids and Martin was able to buy it for a song. Martin’s father-in-law, a well-known Seattle-area drag engine builder advised him it was a no-brainer at the price.

 To see the Sports Car Market magazine crew in action, check out these videos.
Publisher Martin offers tips on buying a car at auction, talks to the owner of a ’69 Camaro SS and profiles a ’58 BMW Isetta.

0 Reader Comments

Join the Discussion