Monthly Archives: May 2020

Conversations With People We Value #2

While fulfilling our duty to practice “social distancing” we should embrace the opportunity to  reduce emotional distance. Check in on an old friend. Call a sibling more frequently. Put Adirondack chairs on you front lawn and talk to your neighbors as they walk by. Or in the case of car guys, translate your motoring isolation into a fund raising group opportunity – like the Drivin’ News Food Drive.


Carnucopia Food Drive Results

Over the years Janelle Larghi has witnessed a great deal of need as Director of the Tri-Boro Food Pantry in Park Ridge, NJ. “But, never anything like this,” says Director Larghi.

Since the state imposed its shelter-in-place lockdown, demand on the pantry’s resources has more than tripled. Where last May the pantry normally served 30 families a week, This May it serves 110 families a week.

Larghi’s connection to the food pantry runs deep. Her grandfather co-founded it in the early 1980s. Larghi says, “the Tri-Boro Food Pantry’s mission calls for providing food to anyone in need who comes here for help. Plain and simple”

Serving primarily Bergen County, clients of the Tri-Boro Food Pantry represent a large cross section of people including working class families, senior citizens, immigrant families and handicapped residents from local facilities.

Says Larghi, “I don’t see any immediate end to this situation of people needing assistance.”

“Luckily for us, we have the generosity of the community and a lot of businesses, parishes, individuals and groups like Drivin’ News, Rockland Rodders and the local Corvette Club. All are helping us meet the demand. We couldn’t do it without everybody’s help.” says Larghi.

While the Tri-Boro Food Pantry faces each day challenged to operate at a level far beyond what was once normal, Larghi made a point to emphasize saying, “Anyone who needs food or assistance should put their pride aside and come to us for help because that’s why we’re here.”

For many readers of Drivin News, the idea of the “Food Drive” offered a welcome means for helping people in this challenging time.

Though Memorial Day weekend, an autumn-like chill accompanied the Food Drive participants as they assembled in the deserted Kohl’s parking lot just south of the New York Thruway. An eclectic and wonderful collection, some vehicles represented the fruits of years of meticulous reconstruction while others reflected on-going preservation efforts that sought to stall the ravages of time. Others were messengers from history recalling distant memories of family adventure.

However, as if Andromeda Strain author Michael Crichton had crafted some bizarre perversion of what was once normal life, drivers casually sported face obscuring surgeons’ masks or bandit bandanas plus surgeon’s gloves.

With cars spaced apart every other parking spot, drivers meandered in orbit about their vehicles while maintaining a proper distance from the surrounding drivers.

A year earlier and a life time away, this scene was unthinkable. Much has changed since the ides of March 2020.

As drivers arrived the fleet expanded to include a mix of iconic contemporary and vintage collectible vehicles including a BMW Z8, Nissan GT-R, various Porsches, Mercedes-Benz SLs, Corvettes, 70’s Mopar muscle and a vintage cluster that included an air cooled Corvair, Volkswagen Westfalia and the Drivin’ News F100 pickup.

Departing at 8:30 the masked motorists circled the Kohl’s parking lot to pass the Drivin’ News 1953 Ford F100 pickup and drop off their donations.

Lead by Peter Desbet’s in his 1986 Guards Red 911 Porsche, the group, with masks cast off, burst out onto a desolate Route 17 enroute to Harriman State Park and the two lane roads that snake through its 44,000 wooded acres.

Though restricted by New York State Covid-19 related road closures, the “Food Drive’s” early departure allowed the group to navigate the trip to the Bear Mountain Circle and back effortlessly. It was only later with Harriman left in the group’s tail lights that the peace and tranquility of Seven Lakes Drive would, thanks to New York State mandate, acquire the charm of a Cold War Eastern Block border crossing.

As the participants spilled out of the Seven Lakes Drive exit on to Route 17, they could rumble home having given their cars a much needed workout and the Tri-Boro Food Pantry a much needed $1,000.



By |2020-05-28T11:11:13+00:00May 28th, 2020|10 Comments

Cars We Love & Who We Are #4

It’s spring and young men’s and women’s fancy turns to thoughts of… driving their classic cars. Granted our fancy turns to thoughts of other things too, but right now I am talking classic cars.

Unlike all previous springs the joyous social nature associated with our classic car passion has been knee-capped by the Covid-19 pandemic. Conflicted by our unshakable determination to do the “right thing” and our passion for the open road, we yearn for a responsible solution. How about this?


 Carnucopia offers a classic car driving event that combines helping people in need with food and necessary supplies while affording a gathering of friends an opportunity to enjoy a great drive on country roads. All while practicing proper social distancing.

Carnucopia is both a driving event and a fund raiser. Participation in the driving event requires a minimum donation of $25. Larger donations are welcomed. All moneys will go to the Triboro Food Pantry, a Park Ridge, NJ 501C3 non-profit organization. Click on the link to visit their website. They support families across Bergen County. Donations are tax deductible. Please make out all checks to Triboro Food Pantry.

In essence the plan calls for all participants to gather at 8:00 am on the morning of Sunday, May 24th at the Kohl’s parking lot on Route 17 North in Ramsey NJ.

The Drivin’ News 1953 Ford F100 pick-up truck will be positioned where all participants can stop to make their donation and get route directions. Volunteers will direct participants to alternating parking spots to allow for proper spacing. PEOPLE MUST STAY IN THEIR CARS.

The drive leader will depart at 8:30 sharp.

Key Facts

  • Starting location: Kohl’s, 1300 Route 17 North, Ramsey, NJ 07446
  • A donation of a minimum of $25 is required
  • Arrive time: 8:00 am
  • Depart Kohls: 8:30 sharp
  • Distance: Approx 45 miles
  • Duration: Approx. 1.5 hours
  • Drive leader: Peter Desbets, 1986 Red Porsche 911
  • Directions are provided so that even if you get separated you will know where you are.
  • The drive will conclude at the light at the intersection of Seven Lakes Drive and Route 17 in Sloatsburg.
  • Triboro Food Pantry 501C3 tax ID# 81-1480802

Covid-19 Rules of the road



A head count of intended participants is needed. If you plan on attending, please respond with your name and intention in the comments section. Without sufficient support the drive event will be cancelled.  I need to hear from you by Friday afternoon. By supper time Friday I will send out an email that will state if the drive is on.

The weather looks good.

By |2020-05-20T23:50:29+00:00May 20th, 2020|8 Comments

Conversations with People We Value #1

He never saw this coming. Embedded in the classic car culture Matt Maisano, owner of Motorcar Manor a premier collectible automobile storage facility in Ramsey, NJ, has built his business by being a forward thinking guy. Fortunately, He has always strived to be prepared for the unexpected.

Let’s see what he is preparing for now.


Collectible car culture in a pandemic –

An insider’s perspective

Tell us about Motorcar Manor?

I love classic cars. Whether I own the car or someone else does, I love everything about it. If I did not own Motorcar Manor, I would visit it whenever I could. Other than a world class museum, where else could you enjoy such an eclectic collection of automotive art?
I appreciate the joy each of these rare, beautiful and athletic works of art and genius conveys to its owner. As a business, MCM stores all clients’ vehicles the same as if they were my own. Yes, MCM is a business, but for me it is a passion.

At MCM we store special vehicles. We assist people in buying and selling vehicles. We assist in providing vehicles for film and magazine placement. We recently placed vehicles in The Irishman and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

How has Covid-19 affected your business?

Initially it really has not impacted us. We’re still storing people’s cars because the weather here in the Northeast until recently has been pretty gloomy.

That said Regardless of weather, some clients are like clockwork. End of March the car gets detailed and leaves to return in the fall.

However, some cars are staying longer. This impacts MCM because people usually get a premium detailing before taking the car. Detailing is an important source of income. Frankly, I think until people get a better understanding of the virus some people will choose not to expose their prized vehicles to other people.

As well our vehicle sales have taken a hit. I believe the decline in sales reflects people’s concerns about social distancing. I believe that will soon change for the better as people become more comfortable in knowing how to safely interact.

Frankly, some people may just choose to leave cars here until some kind of normalcy returns. Also, I have a couple of clients that are snow birds. I’m willing to bet those guys are not coming back any time soon.

We won’t feel the impact until June or July.

How do you see Covid-19 impacting auctions?

Through March maybe 10 to 12 different live auctions were cancelled. Some of the higher end auctions have gone the online route. RM did an online auction and was decently successful. They had more potential bidders than they had last year, which was just a normal auction. They did maybe $13.7 million worth of cars, which is lower than what they sold in the past, but the number and quality of vehicles was lower.

I think that we will see more and more online auctions. Not just from the big name guys either. New companies will start popping up because the cost is significantly less to do it online than in person. Also, as a society we are getting increasingly lazy. In the world of Amazon Prime, The new generation of buyers is just far less willing to wait months or years for the right car. We want it yesterday.

Interestingly, Bring A Trailer has done very well. Obviously it depends on the particular vehicle, but they’ve done very well auction wise.

Why do you think Bring A Trailer is doing well?

It’s primarily that Bring A Trailer constantly has auctions. Today, nobody’s doing anything right now. We’re all home. We’re all on the computer if you have a job. So every now and then if you take a break you’re gonna go on BAT. There’s no one looking over your shoulder saying hey, what are you doing right now? And we’re all dreaming of the day that we can go out to shows or drives.

As well, I think it has to do with the age group of the people buying and selling and the type of cars that BAT typically sells. European cars and Japanese Imports even newer domestics have definitely been more popular. Vehicles 25 years old and newer are drawing great “Newtimer” interest. It’s not necessarily that they’re higher value than the older cars. They’re just more popular right now with the age group of people in their late 20s to early 50s that is not as affected by this virus economically.

Based on their life experiences this “Youngtimer” generation of buyers appears to be getting comfortable with a new norm where something bad will happen and then life will get better again. The virus really hasn’t impacted them as it has the older demographic.

With all that is going on, if you’re over 65 with your money is in a 401k you are probably not thinking this is a great time to spend $100,000 on a collectible car.

Could you see live auctions going away?

I think you’ll see a couple of live auctions go away. However, it’s never going to be fully online. Part of the reason live auctions will continue is that auction houses bank on these auctions being a destination.
They make it a weekend long party. Companies like Barrett-Jackson and Mecum will continue live events. Even the higher-end auctions like Bonhams, RM and Gooding want you there. They want friends around you to push you to buy a car. They want you to get boozed up, so you make bad decisions. You know, that’s just all part of it and getting caught up in the whole atmosphere of things.

Have car sales suffered during the pandemic?

Older iron was dwindling down in popularity already, but the age group that would be interested is the one impacted by this virus. Most are already on fixed incomes with money set aside to purchase a vehicle. But now they don’t want to go anywhere. They don’t know what’s going to happen to them. They don’t know what’s going to happen to their loved ones.  Fewer in that generation are at ease making a big expenditure on a classic car with an uncertain future.

However, especially for the new generation of buyers based on their “bad right now, but back to better later” mentality the current pandemic might be an opportunity. Some may view this period as a market correction with a price spike awaiting in the somewhat near future much like after the stock market crash in 2008.

Will Covid-19 affect how you interact with a client’s vehicle?

I have asthma. When a customer brings in a car, we allow them to pull it into the building. Before they exit I have them roll down the windows. I then let the car sit for 24 hours before I go inside. Even then when I do enter the vehicle I’m putting down plastic on their seat. I’m wearing gloves and I’m wearing a mask. That’s just how I’m doing it when receiving a car.


On the personal side, how has the new normal impacted your home life?

I am trying to help out at home. My wife, Jill, is working from home. We have three kids, two girls 9 and 2 and a boy 6. Honestly, I don’t know if I’m making things better. With home schooling, I’m trying. At best, I’m like the gym instructor filling in for a missing teacher. We try to get their schooling done by one o’clock. Then I try to bleed off some of their energy. You know like, hey let’s run around the yard. Does nothing. At times in desperation I put up one of those bouncy houses in my living room.

I haven’t had a haircut since the last week of February. I will not take my hat off.

It’s crazy.



By |2023-01-08T17:03:28+00:00May 14th, 2020|2 Comments

Cars We Love & Who We Are #3

Leaving the cold sun of winter behind, May brings the first hot kiss of provocatively lengthening daylight. Memorial Day approaches. Garage doors open to proclaim wrenching’s transition to a summer sport.

Even as the Coronavirus shroud lingers, the summer sun brings hope. Cars we love, like hibernating bears, prepare to leave their caves. We do all we can to help them. This is one man’s story.

Austin Healey? Nope! It’s Austin’s Crosley


Wayne Carini badly wanted Irv Gordon’s 3-million mile P1800, the world’s most famous Volvo. Bob Austin, who had joined Carini at the Long Island garage that housed Gordon’s collection since Gordon’s passing in 2018, possessed an equally passionate desire. However, though a longtime Volvo executive and Irv Gordon’s good friend, Austin’s yearning focused on another car in Gordon’s collection, a little green golf cart sized Crosley sports car.

Carini’s effort would bear no fruit. Gordon’s 3.2 million mile P1800 would assume its rightful place of honor in Sweden as a star at the Volvo Museum. Austin on the other hand smiled all the way home as the owner of a 1949 Crosley Hotshot with 4,700 miles.

Austin’s taste in automobiles might best be described as eclectic. Austin’s litany of past drives include a Ferrari, Avanti, Willy’s Jeepster, Cobra, Sunbeam Tiger, MG TD, Volvo 740 Turbo station wagon, a Royale Formula Vee race car (which presently resides in Austin’s living room…no really, his living room), but his heart belongs to Crosley. Austin’s youthful dalliance with an NSU Sport Prinz is best considered a telling behavioral marker foreshadowing his lifelong blind love for anything Crosley.

Peering behind Austin’s unapologetic passion for vehicles born of Powell Crosley’s post-WWII foray into the automobile business reveals, as is often the case with curious behavior displayed in adulthood, a childhood experience.

As a 10-year old, Austin loved his father’s 1957 Chrysler. With giant fins, sleek visual dynamics, hemi power and a massive road presence, that Chrysler bristled with character cues that George Barris would later employ in creating Adam West’s iconic Batmobile. However, young Austin could not conceive of piloting that finned chrome behemoth. Boy and beast just did not connect. But then one day…

Young Austin laid eyes on a Crosley. In recollecting that first glimpse, Austin says, “As a kid I thought hot damn! This is a car I can relate to.” For young Austin here was a car built for him. It had little tiny wheels and tires on a kid scale chassis. He could imagine driving a car like this and working on a car like this.

Sporting a smile with roots in a child’s dream, Austin says, “Every time I see one, it takes me back to that joy experienced as a 10-year old.”

Restored in the early 1980s, Irv Gordon’s Hotshot was last driven in 1988. Austin finds the 4,700 mile odometer reading quite believable. Acknowledging the Crosley’s limited comfort, Austin says, “I doubt anyone could drive a Crosley much more than that.” Austin notes that when dealing with hills, the Hotshot’s 46 cu. in. 25.4 HP engine is incapable of breaking any posted speed limit.

Austin’s initial intention simply called for new tires and a fresh battery. However, the Covid-19 lockdown restricted his driving opportunities, severely limited his ability to register the car and expanded his free time. Thus, the Covid-19 pandemic while sparing Austin’s health infected Austin’s Hotshot project with the dreaded “Scope Creep.”

The famous slippery slope witnessed “new tires and a battery” drift into “maybe those kingpins seem a little sloppy’ to presently where the disassembled suspension and brake components litter the floor below the four jack stands that suspend the shoeless Hotshot like Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder in dry dock.

“It will be finished by June,” says Austin. As he lowers the garage door he looks back at the Crosley and flashes a smile that remains forever young.

By |2020-05-07T10:25:59+00:00May 7th, 2020|13 Comments