Yearly Archives: 2021


Cars We Love & Who We Are #24

Surprises, life is full of them. Always good friends at the gym, Shane and I drifted out of touch years back when, first, her career advancement played havoc with her workout schedule and, then, the gym closed.

Years passed until recently, while at a local school where I teach a class on collectible automobiles, who walks by but my old friend Shane. Now an author, among other things, she is at the school on a book tour promoting a book she authored.

In catching up, I came to learn that, previously unbeknownst to me, there exists a rich vein of classic vehicle enthusiasm running through her family with her, her husband and teenage daughter all possessing a strong affinity for classic vehicles and the collectible vehicle culture.

Meet Shane and Rich Svorec and their next generation of classic car enthusiasts.

Hot rod love, family style


A highly successful competitive business owner, consultant and published author, blonde, green eyed Shane Svorec carries with her an appealingly confident air of someone both accomplished yet approachable. However, before you get too far into framing an impression let’s take you out to the famous Lake George Cruise Night.

Lake George’s Autumn Cruise event exhibits an ever more powerful draw for eastern automotive enthusiasts seeking to celebrate the classic car culture. A steadily growing Adirondack version of the Woodward Dream Cruise, the Lake George Cruise Night sees people line up five to ten deep as far as the eye can see. They have gathered to share in a dazzling parade displaying classic examples of custom and original vintage cars proudly representing the full spectrum of vehicles residing at the heart of automobile enthusiasm.

The crowd boils with a frenetic energy creating a frenzy of wide eyed anticipation feeding the adrenalin of drivers eager to unleash the throbbing heart of their ride and “smoke’em” to earn the roaring cheers of the crowd.

Shane with her ’55 F-100

Shane says, ”While it’s bumper to bumper, it’s kind of cruise etiquette to give a guy a little bit of space so that he can get on it and smoke the tires. The crowd goes crazy and chants ‘do it again, do it again.’” So as Shane sits at the wheel of her rumbling, not stock,1955 Ford F-100 pickup she gets caught up in the vibe of the crowd. Shane finds herself revin’ up the husky Mopar V8 that had taken up residence were the Ford inline 6 used to live. She says, “I start to really goose it. You know, gettin’ on it.” The crowd spots this pretty blonde at the wheel of a fat tired, snorting pickup truck. Shane says, “The feeling seemed to be that I was some gal at the wheel of my husband’s truck. That I was just gunning it but wasn’t going to smoke ‘em. I just smiled.” She let space open up in front of her eager F-100. She pinned the throttle and unleashed all that the Mopar 383 under the hood had to give.” She left about a thousand miles of rear tire tread across a long stretch of the boulevard. She smiles again as she says, “The crowd went wild.”

Shane says, “I love to prove people wrong. I love to break barriers. I love to deliver the goods in the face of low expectations. Hey you know, a woman? A woman who loves an old pickup truck. Yes and why not. I love classic cars and trucks.”

It was Shane who actually got the classic car ball rolling in her family. That said she had the benefit of a very strong wind at her back. That supporting force existed in the person of Paul Svorec, her father-in-law who passed on a love of classic cars to his son, Shane’s husband, Rich.

Shane’s husband, Rich, talks about his dad with a reverence for the engineer father’s technical acumen, native intelligence and his penchant for plunging fearlessly into any car problem in any car and come out the victor. Rich says, “So many car problems loom like those teenage horror film scenes where everyone fears descending into the dark unknown of the basement. Not my dad.”

Rich in speaking of his father says, “Growing up, none of my friends had fathers like mine who were serious hot rodders, who got their kids into it. And hot rodding is something that, once you get into it, that’s it. It’s like a wonderful sickness. Once you get it you can’t get away from it. And don’t want to.”

Teenage daughter Lainey clearly has inherited the gene from her grandfather. She says, “Well, my grandpa, he’s always been a car guy, always fixing up cars and he taught my dad everything. He knows my dad kind of passed that all along to me and I’ve always been interested in old cars.”

Rich and his ’31 Ford panel truck

Clearly the Svorec family tree was rooted in fertile ground to allow Shane’s suggestion to bear fruit.

Rich says, “I mean how good is this. I married a woman who loves old cars. I’ll never forget the day. Shane comes home, probably eight years ago and says, “you know, I was driving through town and I saw an old pickup. It reminded me of growing up in Nebraska. I would really like a classic pickup truck.”

Shane says, “You know, for the people out there in Nebraska, that pickup truck, that’s a part of your life, Right? Still to this day, you’ll find classic cars and old pickup trucks on people’s properties and in barns, you know, what are they called, Barn Finds? Those pickup trucks, though, I grew up with them. That was just a way of life. So it’s always been a piece of nostalgia for me. I grew up with family members having pickup trucks. Not only was it practical, but it was fun. And to me, unlike,  maybe some women, I found it to be very empowering to drive a pickup truck. I found a strength in a pickup truck. You know, an American made Ford, you know, this was America. That’s why I love my truck.”

Rich, whose first car at 17 was a nasty 1970 AMX with a worked 401, says, “You know what I was thinking. I find her the right classic pickup and to maintain family balance I will need to find something for me.” Game on.

Shortly after Rich found Shane’s pickup, Paul offered his son a deal he could not refuse. The senior Svorec told Rich, “I’m looking for my 66 Plymouth Satellite Hemi or a 67 Corvette. If you can find me one, then you can have my 1931 Ford panel truck hot rod.” Paul had owned the rare truck since the 1960s. It was totally original. Paul personally carried out the stunning green on green rebuild.

The limbs of the Svorec classic car family tree had begun showing fruit.

Pulling up alongside Shane’s 1955 Ford F-100 came Rich’s 1931 Ford panel truck with a powertrain out of a 1966 Buick Electra. It included a worked 425 cu. in. nailhead V8 with dual quads putting out over 400 horsepower. But wait there is more.

Shane speaks lovingly about her oldest child Lainey. Shane says, “Yeah. I always felt like she would be the one that would connect with classic cars. She has an old soul which is beautiful to behold when watching a young woman blossom. Especially one you love dearly. Lainey came into this world with big, big eyes. Just curious about everything, and you could tell she was from another time. So it didn’t surprise me. One bit. You know, she loves Elvis, she loves classic music. That’s just her vibe.”

Lainey with her ’68 T-Bird

Lainey, though at the time still too young to drive, had her heart set on getting a classic car. And she would buy it with her own money she had earned, thank you very much. When asked why a classic car Lainey says, “Well, I was never really a fan of the way these newer cars look. There was always so much technology. And I mean, my dad’s new pickup truck, he has this big IPad in the middle of the console. I just I didn’t like it. The old cars were just always nice looking to me.

What did Lainey’s search look like? Certainly reality reared its ugly head when she showed her father a picture of the car she had settled on, a 1959 Cadillac. He gently inquired if she had six figures in her piggy bank. While Lainey seemed drawn to mid-fifties vehicles with fins, tri-five Chevies especially, she found her true love in the form of a 1968 Ford four-door Thunderbird Landau Sedan.

Lainey says, “my dad found it and showed it to me. it looked pretty badass. Black interior and exterior, leather seats, four-door, suicide doors, 429 cubic inch V8. I really love that car. It’s really fun. I can’t wait to take my friends driving in it someday.”

425 cu. in. Buick V8

As to the Svorec’s two younger children son Jack, age 14, and daughter Destiny, age 15, signs exist that they too carry the gene.

In summing up the Svorec family affair with classic cars each member has a perspective.

Rich says, “In reflecting on my relationship with my father and his old school craftsman friends, I can only wish that I could become as skilled as they are. The would love to spend more time with them. To learn what they do and how they do it and then try to pass it along to my children and have them keep going and pass it on. With classic cars as a common interest it is my hope that our values and these vehicles are around forever.”

Shane says, “I could not be more grateful, more blessed by the family I have. That I met a husband who came from such a rich family history with a father who loves classic cars. And that we’ve instilled in our children, respect and appreciation for real traditional values and craftsmanship.”

Lainey says, ”I think life’s too short to drive boring cars.” Old soul indeed.


Drivin’ News will be taking a holiday break. We will be returning in the new year.

My best wishes for a 2022 noteworthy for peace and joy

Merry Christmas to all

By |2022-01-06T18:58:52+00:00December 10th, 2021|1 Comment

Conversations With People We Value #31

Cars & Coffee, Caffeine & Carburetors, Cars & Croissants, you get the idea. Starting somewhat organically in 2006, the original Cars & Coffee came to life on a spacious (organizers thought) corporate parking lot in Irvine California. It’s astounding and fatal success created a new class of casual auto event. In the case of Cars & Coffee Irvine, its demise came abruptly on December 20th of 2014 when 2,000 classic cars showed up. Cause of death – too popular.

In 2013 an enterprising 20-something Jerseyite decided that North Jersey needed a branded source of events with its own distinctive character. Thus was born Cars & Caffe. Caffe is Italian for coffee. Hey, this is Jersey.

Meet the man behind Cars & Caffe, Tony Boniello

Cars & Caffe’s Tony Boniello is always looking to

brew up something new


So, what if you threw a party and 10,000 cars showed up. Ask Tony Boniello. In the fall of 2017, Boniello in partnering with other groups held a Sunday Cars & Caffe event that filled a major North Jersey shopping mall parking lot and drew 20,000 people in addition to the 10,000 very cool cars. Tony openly admits that that event stands out as an outlier significantly contrasting with the 500 to 1,000 car events associated with the Cars & Caffe name.

Matt Maisano and Tony Boniello

Drivin’ News caught up with Tony at this year’s final Cars & Caffe event. Taking place at well known classic car storage facility Motorcar Manor in Ramsey, NJ, and co-hosted by Motorcar Manor owner Matt Maisano, it provided a perfect venue to display Tony’s vision of a classic Cars & Caffe event.

Tony’s path to staging an eclectic array of distinctive classic car events began as a pre-teen. A fascination with automobiles at an early age evolved into a driving (literally) passion as Tony aged through his teens becoming a true automobile enthusiast. During the journey his desire to classic car event manage took shape.

The essence and attraction of the original and oft copied Cars & Coffee concept resides in its simplicity. It many ways it resembles a slow motion classic automobile flash mob. Tony explains saying, “it’s really intended for like-minded car enthusiasts. The crowd is welcome, but it’s really a car event for car people.“  For the event, enthusiasts’ cars casually assemble at a designated gathering site. Tony says, “It is a very laid back gathering of automotive enthusiasts from across all spectrums of the car world, muscle cars, exotic cars, hot rods, pre-war, post-war, brand-new and JDM (Japanese Domestic Market).” The event exists to provide a communal assembly for like minded enthusiasts. Tony says, It is not a cruise. It is not a concours. There’s no judging. It’s car people engaging, enjoying and bonding with other car people.” Events normally do not promote to spectators though they are welcome. Events take only a few hours on a Sunday morning, never past noon.

Co-Host Matt says, “Enthusiasts drive their car to the event. They hang out for just a couple of hours and then they leave. There’s no entry fees, no registration, no trophies, no ceremonies, no DJs it’s all about the cars. There’s nothing but car people enjoying each other’s cars and conversation. It’s pure. It’s a quick event. You can leave whenever you want. It’s perfect. You can enjoy a great car event and still have time to get stuff done with the rest of your day.

As a teenager Tony witnessed first-hand the promise and problems by attending the original Cars & Coffee Irvine event. Back on the east coast a very successful version of the Cars & Coffee concept called Caffeine and Carburetors blossomed in New Canaan Connecticut. Tony recognized the New Canaan groups commitment to the concept and their professionalism. It all came together when at the age of 20 Tony decided to bring the Cars & Coffee concept to Bergen County. So why not Cars & Coffee?

Tony Says that the owners of the Cars & Coffee brand wanted a five-figure licensing fee. As a college student, the idea of a debt that size held no appeal. Tony decided that he would develop his own branded event.

Tony says, “I didn’t see the advantage of shouldering that debt. I chose rather to build my own brand. I created my own database, my own network and my own business model.” He admits that it remains a work in progress.” His attitude embraces the “Build it and they will come” philosophy with a version that states “Keep building it better and more will come.” And what about the name?

Tony says,  “I wanted to do something unique, something with a little Italian flair. There’s a lot of spin-offs of Cars & Coffee. Being Italian I had a fondness for the Italian word for Coffee, Caffe.

Tony believes that over his eight years in operation, Cars & Caffe has developed a reputation not unlike Caffeine and Carburetors which he clearly respects. Tony says, “The New Canaan event is synonymous with upscale collectible vehicles old and new in the Northeast. I like to believe that Cars & Caffe is at home in that category.”

Tony acknowledges that rules, control and being a good neighbor play a critical role in the ongoing acceptance and success of an event. Rules, if violated will result in a person and vehicle being banned. Rules are simple: No engine revving, shut your audio system off, no burnouts, no donuts (They don’t mean the Dunkin kind) and no speeding.

Tony has incorporated fund raising and food donation as an integral part of the Cars & Caffe culture. His first show featured a Hurricane Sandy fundraiser. The event at Motorcar Manor combined a very successful food drive and a fundraiser to help defray the medical costs facing an 8-year old stroke victim.

Over the years Tony has shepherded the character of Cars & Caffe events with the goal being to promote an ever more eclectic composition. He notes that early on the location of the event would significantly impact the type of cars that would show up. Tony says, “When we were at Ridgewood High School early on, we got a lot of vintage American cars and vintage European cars. As I moved the events around it became more Supercar heavy.” As Cars & Caffe has developed its personality, it has become a more consistently eclectic event. Tony, clearly pleased, says, “Now at any event you might have a Jaguar XK120 pull in next to a Porsche 918 or a ’55 T-Bird alongside a LaFerrari, a brand new Corvette next to a “63 split window fuelie. It’s great.”

Clearly, Tony possesses a vision that extends beyond his Cars & Caffe events. He has set his sights on developing a regional presence. His efforts already evidence themselves with events such as Festival Italiano a judged event with over 100 cars of Italian heritage, RennZeign German heritage concours and “Cars on the Lawn,” a curated eclectic display of 150 cars at the ex-Vanderbilt Florham Mansion.

Tony says, “I think there’s a demand for a large-scale high-end  family of events in the Northeast. I would like to bring that to reality and I’m working towards that every day.

In closing Tony says, “I have found that Cars & Caffe is more about the people than the cars. I think that the community and the friendships that have been made help pass our passion, appreciation and respect for the classic automobile on to the next Generation. There’s a lot of younger people, high school kids, even middle school and younger that their parents bring. I see these kids grow up. I see these kids get their driver’s license and continue with the interest they have developed though our events.

Clearly Tony has found the rewards of Cars & Caffe to be his cup of tea.

By |2021-11-25T17:38:35+00:00November 25th, 2021|Comments Off on Conversations With People We Value #31

Cars We Love & Who We Are #23

When encountering an old friend and the conversation wheels around to a person we once knew, it feels so good to find that, decades later, he continues to produce magic.

This has been the smile generating case during a conversation with my long time friend, David Tookmanian. As a long tenured Parts Manager pre-Y2K for the performance oriented Brahms Chevrolet in Palisades Park, New Jersey, David stood tall as the “Go-To” parts guru for hot rodders and street racers across North Jersey and beyond.

In speaking with David the name of a great hot rod designer from back in our youth came up. Whatever happened to Randy Bianchi I asked? David with a proud smile replied that Randy just finished a 21-year long hot rod build that had just been invited to show at the 2021 Greenwich Concours. Indeed, Randy had continued to produce magic.

Meet retired Parts Manager extraordinaire David Tookmanian and Hot Rod legend Randy Bianchi.

Randy the Rodfather and his Green “T” hot rod


With names like Sunkist, Moonkist and Tuff 32 among many of his hot rod creations, Randy Bianchi has maintained a status as a visionary designer and fabricator of landmark hot roads for decades. During that period he also outfitted, spec’d and at times restored offshore racing boats from Donzi, Magnum and Fountain.

Randy Bianchi and David Tookmanian

In pursuing his hot rod passion, Randy had a voracious appetite for performance parts and engineering solutions to satisfy his Chevy powered creations. In fulfilling that need, Randy developed a strong relationship with David Tookmanian that has lasted 50 years. Though David left the parts business at the turn of the century, their friendship and mutual admiration have endured.

Randy laughs as he says, “Dave enjoyed a great reputation among the go fast guys as “The Man” when it came to dispensing Chevy performance parts answers. Ya know, you’d inflict grievous harm to your big block Rat motor on Sunday and be at the Brahms parts counter on Monday.”

Invited by the selection committee to show at Greenwich and to appear in the glossy program, Randy’s visually compelling Green “T” hot rod started life as a solid but weary 1927 Ford Model “T” sedan. The inspired vision that would earn entrée TO the Greenwich field took shape in 1999 with a sketch that, 21-years later, came to life as a Lamborghini green radical reality that remained quite faithful to Randy’s original concept.

Randy says, “I have kept it as close to the original sketch as possible.” Wild side pipes were drawn on the car initially. To keep them that way Randy says, “It required me to incorporate releasing panels in the doors to accommodate the pipes while allowing the doors to open so you could get in the car.”

“Yes,” Randy admits, “it is slightly impractical, but that was the plan and one of my building principles is to stay with your initial idea regardless of the challenges, curve balls and problems that could arise to get there.”

David in reflecting on Randy’s Green T says, “Randy took a classic old school look and applied his DaVinci genius to elevate it to a ten on the outrageous scale.”

David noted that Randy will focus on certain parts that are personal expressions that go to his core and integrate them into the build. An example on Green T are the 1956 Oldsmobile Starfire taillights. Randy believes the year of the taillights should match the year of the engine. A 1956 Oldsmobile V8 powers Green T.The inspiration for Green T originated with his, then, young son Randy, suggested doing a hot rod together. Working on a tight budget, as it always seems to be for hot rod builds, Randy decided to go non-traditional. Instead of a 1932 Ford coupe or convertible, Randy selected a 1927 Model T sedan as the canvas for his masterpiece. By selling off all the parts he would not need, Randy was able to recoup the $1500 cost of the car. Always thinking that Randy.

Randy confesses to Green T enjoying a cartoonish flair. He acknowledges that he often strives for the outrageous. He says, “A lot of my builds are very overstated high-impact vehicles. I like to design outside the traditional design box so that the end result stands out.” He laughs self-deprecatingly saying, “My stuff is mostly impractical and outrageous. That’s what makes them what they are.”

Randy believes in remaining faithful to the old school roots of hot rod building. In no place in Green T’s build does this evidence itself more than in the powertrain.

That 324 cu. in. 1956 Olds engine that deserved matching taillights has been seriously worked to put out a conservatively estimated 400 horsepower. It benefits from a custom ground Engle cam, 11 ½ to 1 compression and a very rare Weiand high rise intake manifold that took Randy years to find. Carburetion comes courtesy of six Ford 94 carburetors.

A 1937 LaSalle Transmission and a Halibrand 301 quick change rear end qualify as “Unobtainium” (Hard to find:) but Randy located them to nicely round out a true old school execution.

Original 1927 T body

Green T sits on a 1932 Ford chassis narrowed in the front, widened in the middle, narrowed in the back and Z’d to lower the back 13 inches.

When asked about how many hours went into the build Randy says, “There’s no clock when you’re building a car of this caliber.” There are never-ending but necessary lost hours demanded for me to design in the beauty or function of a part. Randy says, “First you find a way to make a part better. You spend a month to bring it to life. Then you get a better idea, throw this one in the garbage, and start over. It happened all the time.”

No matter how much time we have to do something, life always seems to bring us up short when the deadline arrives. So for  all of the 21-years spent creating Green T, it had not yet been driven when show time arrived. Randy says, “It was a grind at the end. It still isn’t exactly finished but I had made sure it was mechanically perfect.  No time for trial and error. My son fired it up. I timed it and he drove it around the block several times.” Randy asked his son how their 21-year project performed. His son responded, “It’s perfect dad.” Randy says, “That made everything worthwhile and perfect for me.” Next stop, The Greenwich Concours.

Green T early in the build

Genius does not come without what might politely be called personal “character.” Viewers of an episode of Jesse James’ Monster garage witness Randy expressing himself when he felt his work was not being respected.

James had five all-star East Coast hot rod builders join him for a build based on a 1929 Ford Model A sedan.

Randy says that a steady elevation of tension between he and Jesse developed over how the project should be carried out. With the tension becoming palpable, Randy found a way to resolve the issue. He says, “I felt he displayed no respect for other craftsmen and the talent they brought to the project. I had enough. So I faked a heart attack to get off the show.”

Whether it is his hot rods or his television persona, if it involves Randy, clearly, the results are heart stopping.

By |2021-11-11T13:09:33+00:00November 11th, 2021|Comments Off on Cars We Love & Who We Are #23

Conversations With People We Value #30

It is said that there are, now, more GTOs and split window Corvettes than ever left the factory new. Many have been fabricated from modified versions of less expensive but very similar models. This fact matters to a lesser degree when looking for a good driver and paying a good driver price. However, when authenticity and factual accuracy factor in as concerns for rarity, desirability and price, then, “provenance” becomes a major issue. Provenance describes the documentation of the history of ownership and authenticity of a valued object such as an automobile. Needless to say provenance determines in large part both the asking and selling price of a premium collectible automobile. It goes without saying the higher the price the more provenance becomes a factor.

To understand the many challenges in establishing provenance and the significance of making an accurate determination of provenance, Drivin’ News spoke with provenance expert Mr. Jeff Murray of Vintage Car Research, LLC.

Provenance – Uncovering your car’s backstory


What to do upon retirement often poses a significant challenge if facing 6-hours of golf a day for the rest of your life does not set your heart aflutter. When retiring as an attorney and college professor, Jeff Murray looked around his office and faced a library of vintage car books that he had started collecting in 1959. The bulb lit in his classic car filled brain and illuminated the idea for a company that would research classic car provenance. Thus was born Vintage Car Research, LLC. Its purpose would be to research the history of a rare vintage automobile for a client considering purchasing that automobile. In the subsequent 18-years Jeff’s idea has blossomed into both a profitable enterprise and a pursuit that affords him great satisfaction from working in a field built around a personal passion.

Jeff’s research sends him far and wide to pursue the many facets of his provenance research. His research covers identifying original production specifications, title searching, identifying true ownership, determining clear and clean title, possibility of a car being stolen, tracking down a previous owner and finding research material.

Jeff prefaces all his comments on the value of provenance research with this mantra for when buying a vintage car: Ready – Set – Aim – Fire. He bemoans that he has many customers who follow a different sequence. He says, “Ready, set, fire.” He references one gentleman who spent $200,000 on a Mid-sixties Corvette. Jeff says, “Never checked the provenance. He shows up at a Corvette show to have it judged. They showed him proof of its inauthenticity.”

Jeff points out another example. He says, A fellow brought me a Porsche supposedly worth $500,000. Car was a fake.” It had been entirely assembled from parts. It looked good but failed scrutiny. From this experience Jeff points out a very interesting feature about Serial numbers. He notes that whoever stamped the engine number used a proper number but used the wrong type font.

While on the subject of inauthentic serial numbers, Jeff identifies one of his most valuable resources on this topic to be firearms examiners. Jeff says one expert told him, “If a serial number is ground down you can always find the original.” The expert said, “It is not rocket science. Stamping reorganizes the molecules, and there’s always some evidence of the original stamping.”

In this case the firearms examiner came with his tools to inspect a 1969 Model Year vehicle. The inspector’s assessment was that the stamping was done the week before.

Jeff notes that Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN#) offer access to a mother lode of vehicle-specific data. Starting with the 1981 Model Year every new car in the world has a 17-digit VIN number.

Jeff says, “If you’re interested in buying a car, Google the four letters N-I-C-B.” It stands for the National Insurance Crime Bureau. There will be a place to enter the VIN number for the NICB VINCheck.” Jeff says, “Double check to make you’re your copied the VIN number correctly.” VINCheck is a free lookup service provided to the public to assist in determining if a vehicle has been reported as stolen, but not recovered, or has been reported as a salvage vehicle by participating NICB member insurance companies. As an additional benefit NICB sells a CDROM showing the location of VIN numbers for every car from 1937 to 2011. Jeff says, “It is $100 and includes a VIN# decoder.”

Another source providing title data may be found on the National Motor Vehicle Titling System www.vehicle This site offers several research services. Jeff uses InstaVIN. Examples of other valuable sources include the Corvette C1 registry ( or the XK Jaguar registry ( or the Porsche 356 registry ( Many marques have similar registries.

Another rich resource for important vehicle information is what Jeff calls “The keeper of the flame. There is always somebody out there who knows a lot about the car you are researching. Almost every marque has one. Check with the specific marque club to find him or her.” That person keeps the interest in the vehicle alive. He keeps records. He will be pleased to answer the phone to satisfy a question about the vehicle that ignites his passion.

According to Jeff, “Don’t screw around with car titles.”  A car title is one of the most important documents because it is the legal form that formally makes you the owner of your vehicle. You receive a title whether you buy a new or used vehicle from a dealer or a private citizen. Jeff says, “When you buy a car you want the title. No title, No deal.”

A title will provide information such as identifying information for the vehicle such as the VIN number, make, model, and year. It will also provide technical information, such as the gross weight and the owner’s name and address.

Jeff says, “Clear title and clean title identify two very important descriptors when buying a car. A clean title means a car does not have a salvage title. A clear title means that the car has no liens or outstanding bank loans.

Jeff provided an example of the importance of knowing what title you are getting. Jeff described a call from a French investor. He has just bought a confirmed authentic 427 Cobra. It is crated up and ready to be shipped back to his home in France. The buyer tells Jeff he wants to confirm that the title is both clear and clean. Jeff says, “I checked very quickly by going to to check for liens in all 50 states.” For a small fee Jeff found out that the selling owner still owed $500,000 on the car. The buyer froze the deal until the lien was satisfied.

Finding and vetting people represents a challenge that often must be faced in researching a car. Jeff recommends a low cost system called Whitepages premium. They provide the current address, past addresses, land lines, mobile numbers and the person’s age. They can also do a reverse number search. He also recommends and in the UK

If you suspect that the party you seek has passed away www.stevemorse.or/ssdi/ssdi/html offers, free, the Social Security Death Index. The index does not list a person until three years after their death.

Of equal or even greater value comes with vetting people with whom you may do business. Said another way, how can you prevent doing business with a felon? Jeff suggests as a source. However Jeff strongly recommends leaving this task to professionals. He says, “A good attorney is the best choice.”

Lastly Jeff finds rare books a priceless resource for which he does not wish to pay the price. He therefore recommends a resource called To use, simply enter the book title in the search bar and up will come addresses of libraries having that book starting with the one closest to you. If the book resides in a far away library Jeff suggests calling the librarian and ask if they could do the research for you. Jeff has found librarians to be extraordinarily willing to assist.

So remember when buying a classic car – Ready, Set, Aim, Fire – and you will be far less likely to shoot yourself in the foot.

By |2021-10-28T15:55:28+00:00October 28th, 2021|2 Comments

Conversations With People We Value #29

For some of us of a certain age, recalling the 1960s and 1970s rekindles recollections of passionate pursuits of cars we desperately wanted though not necessarily needed. In those days the path to finding a used high performance or collectible car passed through the dog eared pages of the regional Want Ad Press, the local newspaper classifieds or the classified section of the Sunday New York Times. Except for national magazines (Well beyond consideration for most of us) nothing else existed except maybe the bulletin board at the entrance to the local auto parts store, back when locally owned parts stores existed.

Want Ad Press

Back then good cars when advertised were gone in hours. Wildly eager to beat everyone else to that clean Corvette or 240Z or whatever it was that made our pulse race, we would impatiently troll the newsstand waiting for the bundle of Want Ad Presses to land at the curb. I personally spotted and followed a New York Times delivery truck until it reached its next stop at Rockland Stationers in Teaneck New Jersey to toss out its bundles of Sunday editions that contained the precious latest auto classified ads. It was 1:00 am on that Sunday morning.

Today the classic car buying world would be unrecognizable to our bell bottomed selves of yesterday. Choices of platforms for making vehicles available for sale fill communications channels some of which did not even exist a few years ago.

With that in mind Drivin’ News will take a look at today’s marketplace and compare the platforms now available for finding the vehicle we want. To help us in our journey will be friend of Drivin’ News, owner of Motorcar Manor and experienced classic car sales agent Matt Maisano.


Comparing classic car sales platforms

RM Sothebys auction

Today, whether looking to sell or to buy a classic or performance vehicle, the variety of platforms available offer significant choices far beyond anything we dreamed of in our early car buying days. A broad array of venues utilizing the full spectrum of available media exist with each platform possessing its own unique personality designed to appeal to a market segment with specific characteristics.

The mind boggles when considering how many classic vehicles change hands every day and the vast amounts of money associated with those transactions. It does not boggle the mind of any sentient being that with this vast amount of money in play that the number of platforms for advertising, promoting and facilitating these transactions in recent years has exploded. As always, with the introduction of choice comes the potential for confusion. In the days of the classified ad, the choices were few. Basically it fell to deciding what publication to choose for placing a few lines of copy and should a few extra dollars be spent to include a fuzzy black and white photo.

Matt Maisano of Motorcar Manor with Nash-Healey headed to Bonhams auction in Greenwich

Today websites, on–line auctions, in-person live auctions, social media (Facebook Market) and some print offer what can be a confusing constellation of choices when considering the best place to buy or sell a specific vehicle.

Matt Maisano of Motorcar Manor has for over a decade provided concierge services for classic and performance car enthusiasts looking to buy a car or sell a single car or a collection of classic cars.

Matt has extensive experience counseling on the purchase and sale of premium vehicles across the full spectrum spanning from vintage Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches and Maseratis to American Muscle cars and low volume special edition vehicles such as Nash-Healeys and Kaiser-Darrins.

When asked about the state of the market, Matt simply says, “The classic car market is insane. Cars are selling like crazy.” Matt also says, “What some call modern classics are skyrocketing.” Matt considers Modern Classic Cars dating from 1982 on. He acknowledges that most consider the starting date as 2002.  Matt’s opinion about the overall market is mirrored by the latest Hagerty Market Rating for September 2021. Hagerty says, “As we near the end of the second Covid Summer, it’s amazing the difference a year can make. This time last year, the rating was at an all time low, but now the Hagerty Market Rating has increased for a sixth consecutive month to its highest point in over 5 years. After a strong showing at Monterey, auction activity is back to pre-pandemic levels and optimism among our industry experts is at its highest point in over seven years.”

Gooding Company Auction

Without a doubt the expanded democratization of the buying process has benefitted from Covid’s creation of legions of bored, house bound people. Exploring the web, these home bound denizens of the internet armed with computers and money discovered the excitement of online bidding. Game on. An equally important contribution to expanding the market has come courtesy of the increasing number of venues affording access to the buying and selling process and the ease each brings to that process.

Clearly, today, websites and live in-person events dominate the business of selling collectible vehicles. They have almost totally replaced print. Websites, on-line auctions, live auctions and to some degree social media in the form of Facebook Market presently reign as the preeminent players.

While the opportunity still exists to place an ad in print, newspapers and penny savers no longer have much value. Print ads are best placed in auto themed national publications, marque specific club publications and the still reigning king of print car ads, Hemmings Motor News. While Hemmings Motor News still stands as a worthy go-to resource, most other placements do not have the broad reach of the web or pack the concentrated sales power of an auction whether in-person live or online.

For the lower end of the market websites are where much of the  action is. Sites like eBay, Facebook marketplace (Craig’s list), Classic and Classics.Auto offer affordable access to mostly five figure collectibles.

Bring a Trailer website

P-Car Market website

Certainly some sites rank higher, sometimes, significantly higher than others. Two that have lost much of their early luster are eBay and Craig’s List. eBay, infected with so many scams, and petty annoyances has turned a lot of people off. Though it still has national reach it has suffered from a considerable decline in respect and business. As for Craig’s list, Facebook Marketplace basically has eaten Craig’s lunch. Facebook Marketplace offers a lot of vehicles and benefits. Most significantly it integrates with Facebook’s huge   audience’s social media activities. With people constantly on their phone it offers a powerful opportunity for passive exposure. Most appealing, it costs nothing. provides a collectibles version of the traditional Autotrader site. Both work the same way. When looking for a vehicle one simply keystrokes in the what you are looking for and the site calls up any matching vehicle from its large inventory of actively available cars.

However, significant short comings exist for these low cost platforms that can hinder getting a true a understanding of the vehicle. Content suffers from the amateur writing and photographic skills of most individuals placing the ads. Information is incomplete compared to on-line auctions or in-person auctions. Supporting photographs are few, maybe 30 at most. Asking price often suffers from amateur best guesses or hopeful dreams. As well placing a car on the site can produce a frustrating bevy of time wasting tire kickers and robocalls offering to help sell your car. website

For the fee for placing an ad depends on the term and ranges between $40 and $100. offers a site functionally similar to but provides a dedicated site rather than an offshoot from the main site. As such is probably a better bet for your tri-five Chevy.

On-line auction sites have truly been where the action is. Established with an offering of three cars in 2014, the Bring a Trailer on-line auction has become the gold standard of digital on-line auction platforms. This year BaT has over 450,000 users and 200,000 bidders. Both figures continue to grow. In 2019 BaT sold over 11,000 cars. In 2020 BaT car sales exceeded $400 million. For 2021 both numbers are trending significantly higher.

While BaT has some issues it is widely considered the go-to site. BaT features an inexpensive listing fee of $99 and an optional added $250 if photo service is desired. With listings running for 7 or 10 days depending on the car, BaT offers a significant benefit for a seller with the ease it provides for posting hundreds of photos of the car from every angle as well as videos showing a walk-around or the car being test driven. No sales website offers that. In theory and most often in practice, this extensive visual reference reduces the need for a distant buyer to personally inspect the car, though a PPI (Pre-purchase Inspection) is always advisable if possible.

A downside to BaT results from its success. First your car must be accepted. Just cause you want to list on BaT does not mean your car will be accepted. A bit of work goes into the submission process. Then, if you want a reserve it requires negotiating with a BaT staff member. Finally if you pass all of the hurdles, you will have to get on a significant line and wait for weeks or months to have your listing posted.

Buyers pay a 5% fee on top of the final sale price to BaT, with a minimum of $250, and capped at $5,000.

Unlike websites with cars for sale the BaT and all other on-line auctions have a bidding process that usually lasts seven days. One nice feature of BaT is that, unlike eBay, sniping with a last second bid is prevented by having two minutes added to the bidding time after any last minute bid.

1999 Ferrari 355 Spyder headed for BaT

One element initiated by BaT and unique to on-line auctions is the comments section. Here users can write comments about a car that has been listed. While some comments provide constructive insights about a car, Matt says, “Primarily on Bring a Trailer, you definitely have people bid a $1,000 on a car just so they can claim that they’ve bid on cars before just to do comments. Some of which are just ridiculous. You know they had one situation or  heard from a friend. They write as if they were experts. The downside is that you get guys with the negative comments. They could hurt the sale. It takes one comment from a guy trying to sound like an expert that kills the sale.”

On-line auction fees compare very favorably to the 10% to 12% charge common to in-person live auctions.

New on-line auction sites playing off the highly successful BaT model appear on the scene with regularity. The most popular include Cars and Bids, Hemmings, P-Car Market and RADwood. All impart their own special flavor to BaT functionality.

Cars & Bids spun off from the large following of blog personality, the knowledgeable and entertaining, Doug DeMuro. C&B adapts the basic functionality of BaT with its own special treatment. C&B limits itself to listing vehicles it describes as anything cool and exciting from the 1980s to 2020s. As well, playing off the popularity of DeMuro, your vehicle, if selected, will benefit from the extra eyes and extra buyers DeMuro will bring to your listing by reviewing your car on C&B.

Barrett-Jackson Auction

Less expensive than BaT, Cars & Bids buyers pay a 4.5% commission, capped at $4,500. Sellers list for free and receive 100% of the sale price.

Reading the hand-writing on the digital wall, historic friend to the collectible car enthusiast, Hemmings, entered the on-line auction fray in 2019. Basically conforming to the Bat functionality with less of the BaT panache, Hemmings Auctions offers anyone listing on the auction six months of Hemmings classified ad space for free if the car does not sell at auction during its 14-day listing. To qualify for a Hemmings auction, the car must be roadworthy and you must submit to an assessment with a listing specialist.

Hemmings auction listings offer an eclectic mix of vehicles  across a range with some modern but usually more classic cars including brass era every once in a while. Listing backlog is usually two to three weeks. Far better than BaT. The seller’s cost to list is $99.95. Buyers pay 5% with a minimum of $500 and a $10,000 maximum.

P-Car Market initially started as a dedicated Porsche site, but now, they do everything. Sellers have a choice of listing options and associated fees ranging from $99 for either a traditional Reserve or No Reserve listing to $500 for a Blind Auction that hides the bid amounts until the reserve is met. Buyers pay a 5% non-refundable buyer’s premium with a (minimum of $500.00 and a maximum of $5,000.

RADwood presents a platform focused on the automotive lifestyle and culture of the 80s and 90s. It will list cars, trucks and motorcycles from 1980 through 1999. Sellers pay from $45 to $125 based on the terms of the listing. Duration ranges from 7 to 10 days. Buyers pay 4.5% with a minimum hold of $150 and a maximum of $4500.

Mecum Auction

In-Person live auctions represent the red carpet events of the classic car selling world. Gooding, R&M Sothebys, Bonhams, Barrett-Jackson, Russo & Steel and Mecum represent the big players with many other smaller operations filling the field. The big auctions present elaborate shows rich with theatrics and a robust party atmosphere often tied to a high visibility event such as Amelia or Pebble Beach. Though the auction itself is a destination.

Every auction has a personality expressed by the nature of the cars it fields. Matt says, “Gooding – High end more modern cars, race cars, 1970-80-90. German, M-B, Porsche, Ferrari. Not brass. RM Sothebys –  Top notch venue, older vehicles Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, a good mix. Bonhams – Similar to RM. Mix, 60s and older, more brass, some RH drive. Barrett-Jackson – Muscle cars or a restomod. Traditional American classic cars. At certain locations. You might be able to get a foreign sports car in there but you’re not selling a 356 Porsche Speedster at Barrett-Jackson. Mecum – basically the same as Barrett-Jackson, except one advantage that makes Mecum different is you can put a reserve on a car where at Barrett-Jackson you can’t. Russo & Steel – Mix, modern, high mileage Ferraris.

Bonhams Auction

Live In-Person auctions possess a visceral electricity because you have buyers in the room. Matt says, ”The buyers are there nine times out of ten. They do have bidders on the internet and on the phone, but essentially the buyers are there.” Auction houses typically do a great job in marketing. They will market an event, three to four months in advance. Matt says, “They’re going to market individual cars as well as the event itself. For example, look at this great Bugatti that’s going to be auctioned.”

At an In-Person Live auction the auctioneers are professionals and experts in their field. They have gone through every car and know everything about each specific car going through auction. Matt says, “A potential bidder can ask them a million questions without having to go to the owner where the owner is emotionally attached to the car and might embellish things. The auctioneer will tell you everything you want to know without any of the stories,  smoke, and mirrors.

Here one can find the truly unique and special high value vehicles. Matt says, “Chances are the individual considering buying that car already knows about that car. They already know who owns it. Now that potential bidder may talk to the auctioneer and discuss everything about that car. He might be able to take it for a test drive. The auctioneer is going to relate the entire history of the car. And again, these cars are vetted by the auction house. They’ve gone through it. They know everything about it. They’re not going to put in a Bugatti that potentially is not a real Bugatti.”

While it is often felt that a vehicle can sell for more at an In-Person Live auction, compared to other platforms buyers fees are considerable. Until recently the buyer’s premium stood at ten percent. Matt says, “Now from my understanding certain locations have gone up to 12%. It depends on where. Scottsdale is 12%. I think Amelia Island is 12%. I’m going to say, Greenwich is probably still 10 percent.”

Regardless of the platform selected when looking to purchase a collectible vehicle the best advice is to do your research, make a plan, set a budget and, most important, exercise discipline.


By |2021-10-14T16:05:52+00:00October 14th, 2021|Comments Off on Conversations With People We Value #29

Conversations With People We Value #28

A number of weeks back Drivin’ News took a look at the birth and adolescence of the printed new car brochure from 1900 up to World War II.

Mirroring the explosive advancement in automobile design and execution as the Depression ebbed, the new car brochure came of age just as the world plunged into global warfare.

The creative outpouring poised to blossom in automotive literature would stall until millions of men and women would march off to war to save the world from the greatest tyranny civilization had ever faced.

Marked by the exhilaration born of war’s end, American consumerism exploded with an insatiable appetite for things decidedly modern, exciting and innovative.

With a population exhibiting a manifest destiny-like determination to create a better future, the years following WWII ushered in the dawn of the pinnacle period for a dominant American automobile culture and the accompanying golden age of the new car brochure.

As noted in Part I, the dawn of 21st century digital delivery efficiencies would doom the high quality, brilliantly photographed, aesthetically striking and increasingly expensive print bibles of the new car sales effort.

In Part II, Drivin’ News looks back at the high point of the new car brochure genre in the latter 20th and early 21st Centuries.

Evolution of the new car brochure, Paper to Pixel –

Books that sold the American dream

(Part II 1946 to 2010)


1952 Buick brochure

Just like the postwar automobiles they featured, new car brochures in the 1950s radiated a bold vitality with vibrant colors and striking presentations. They embodied the fruits of greater graphic design sophistication, the ready availability of high quality art and the emergence of photography as a powerful creative tool. Brochures grew in size. Artistic representations of new car models grew in size and in scale when compared to the stature of their blissfully confident diminutive drivers and passengers.

Lifestyle dominated every spread with family an important theme. Images on the page in the fifties displayed greater color saturation but continued to be lacking in detail due to period limitations of the printing process.

By the mid-1950s four-color photography gathered support as a tool considered superior to high-end illustration as a source of hero imagery. Research decidedly favored photography over illustration as the superior technique for delivering visual impact.

1956 Thunderbird brochure

Post WWII America, confident, motivated and determined, embraced the automobile. The automobile empowered millions to fuel the explosive growth of suburbs where they could enjoy the fruits of their efforts and live the good life. It was a life vividly displayed throughout period new car brochures. 1950s new car brochures not only sold cars, they trumpeted the achievable rewards of pursuing the postwar American Dream.



1960s to 1974, Muscle cars to gas lines

1960s drag racing

As all those postwar babies started growing up, American culture would convulse through seismic shifts that reconfigured social, environmental and automotive values. Early on, muscle cars burst onto the scene sparking an intense love affair with power, performance and aggressive automotive design. Horsepower wars sounded a steady and loud drum beat heralding escalating competition on the track and on the street. At the same time other Americans gave their hearts and loyalty to small cars especially the Volkswagen. In many ways consensus splintered as perspectives and paths diverged. However, by decades end with environmental and safety restrictions winding down the horsepower, performance and land yacht party, the stage was set for the last nail in the coffin of the mid-century performance joy ride. Enter “The gas crisis.” For new car brochures it was, at first, the best of times and then abruptly the worst of times.

The 1960s witnessed photography supplant illustration as the dominant source of new car brochure imagery. That changing of the guard coincided with two partnerships that stood above all others as giants in the history of automotive promotional imagery.

Fitzpatrick and Kaufman Pontiac art

Illustrators Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman and Boulevard Photographic founders Jimmy Northmore and Mickey McGuire reside in the pantheon of automotive artistry. Fitzpatrick created deliciously distorted visualizations that powerfully expressed a stylized vision of a vehicle’s attributes. Kaufman, a former Disney animator, created evocative lifestyle imagery employing exotic places and attractive, active people. The two then collaborated to combine their separate creations. They did so brilliantly. Their work in creating and promoting Pontiac’s “Wide Track” promotional imagery stands as the signature representation of their artistic genius. In viewing Fitzpatrick’s and Kaufman’s work, most notably for Pontiac from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, there is no doubt who did it.

Boulevard Photographic towered as a creative force thriving on photographic challenges. Boulevard, powered by the collective visionary genius of Northmore and McGuire, literally willed photography into the forefront of automobile commercial imagery.

Printing’s ability to put ink on paper improved significantly during the 1970s as did the finishing process. Breathtaking imagery and exciting graphic design supported by exquisite typography transformed the new car brochure into a dynamic sales tool that offered a new fresh perspective.

Powerful photographic images displaying a driver’s point of view demonstrated a greater emphasis on interior design. The use of coated glossy paper stock with a richer feel became more prevalent. Full color gatefolds pulled out for more powerful presentations.

During this period American showrooms witnessed the appearance of foreign cars, predominantly European. Initially brochure work for imports reflected a conservative approach to layout with design featuring photography that offered a straight forward depiction of a product usually fairly well devoid of romance. This would change as American attitudes towards brochure imagery migrated to Europe. To quote Mickey McGuire of Boulevard Photographic, “We introduced Europeans to sex and romance…at least as far as car advertising is concerned.”

Boulevard Photographic photo for Jaguar

1975 to `1990, The thrill is gone

By the mid-1970s the execution of the traditional automobile new car brochure had reached a point of maturity in design, production and printing. Brochure production had found its groove. The automobile business, on the other hand, was anything but groovy. America’s gas crisis of 1973 and the ensuing 1975 government CAFÉ standards disoriented an automobile industry already stumbling in its response to the restrictions imposed by the creation of the NHTSA in 1966 and the Clean Air Act of 1968.  America’s automobile marketplace would, now, for the most part, offer for sale smaller, slower, often odd looking and frequently badge engineered products often at odds with the traditional interests of the new car buyer.

1982 Cadillac Cimarron

For the new car brochure, the challenge was daunting. Faced with significantly less steak to sell, new car brochures offered a double dose of sizzle with efforts that often emphasized and aggrandized the trivial. Copy sought every possible way to impart excitement to features like smaller engines, overdrive, improved efficiency, weight reduction and the mini-spare. In these dark times for automotive excitement the new car brochure served as the metaphorical “Potamkin Village” of automobile marketing.

After 1975, new car brochures grew larger as horsepower and vehicle dimensions shrank. Bold photography of boring cars filled oversized brochure pages. Striking gatefolds, improved printing, sophisticated page coatings, and perfect bindings did their best to infuse anemic products with life. For some niche brands such as Volvo, the new age of increased safety awareness and clean air concerns benefited sales.

1986 Volvo brochure touting safety cage

Volvo trumpeted its safety design and Lambda-sond emissions control with showroom brochures that were well executed but reserved, just like the brand. Others such as GM suffered from short cut attempts that resulted in underpowered and unreliable diesel engines and unadvertised brand mingling of parts that resulted in embarrassing and apologetic mea culpa copy. However, on the horizon technological advancements in materials, technology and design brought hopes for the light at the end of the dark tunnel of boring cars. However, for the traditional new car brochure, that light would be attached to a distant but onrushing train.


1990s to Today  – Evolution to Revolution

The 1990s ushered in three transformational forces that would challenge the very existence of the new car brochure.

  • Digitization of print design and production
  • Elevated environmental consciousness
  • Rise of the web



Revolutions produce casualties. Digital revolutions are no different. By the turn of the 20th century dead professions littered the field of print design and production. The old ways stood defenseless before the powerful onslaught of digital technology. Digital-based desktop publishing, PageMaker in particular, by the start of this new century would dominate print design and production. Simultaneously CGI or Computer Generated Imagery revolutionized image creation resulting in a profound change in creating product photography. By the early 2000s, CGI made it unnecessary to have the real car to produce a high quality photograph of the car.

Computer generated Image (CGI)

With CGI, brochure images, at most, only needed a background into which a CGI created car image could be placed. As well, the first decade of the 2000s witnessed the ascendance of digital photography (No film, no Polaroids, no processing, no waiting). At the same time, Photoshop revolutionized image modification. Now an already digitally produced photo could be manipulated to reflect a designer’s vision, if not reality.

By the second decade of the 21st century digital presses employing Variable Data Printing equipped a print run to personalize each individual brochure to target a different person. Digital printing quickly supplanted traditional print for short runs and variable data applications.

By 2010, technology allowed for a digitally created PDF of a brochure to be posted to a website where anyone with a web connection and a color printer could download and print the brochure. While of significantly lower quality than a professionally printed brochure, the download gave manufacturers a significantly cheaper alternative to the printed brochure.


Environmental concerns as related to printed matter first moved to the fore in middle 1990s new car brochures. Initially some new car brochures would contain copy proclaiming their efforts to be environmentally responsible.  Next, recycling Icons showed up on back covers. With the dawn of the 2010s the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) icon approached ubiquity on new car brochures. A voluntary program, The Forest Stewardship Council set standards for responsible forest management.

As we approached the third decade, “carbon footprint” has stepped to the fore in the environmental conversation with profound implications for the printed new car brochure and its important role as a messenger of history for future generations.

A peek at the future may have been provided by a columnist for the Wall Street Journal covering a recent World Economic Forum in Davos. He was informed by an aide at the registration  desk that, ”no paper maps of the town were being distributed to reduce the event’s carbon footprint.”

We will return to the implications of that mindset shortly.


Around the late 1990s web addresses began quietly appearing on new car brochure back pages. Initially, websites peacefully coexisted with 1-800 customer service numbers and Business Reply Cards. However, as a new, fertile and promising mediascape for creative applications, websites were quickly embraced and thrived. By the mid-2000s the auto industry fully embraced the power of the web. By the early teens the auto industry harnessed the web with QR codes, e-brochures, configurators and social media networks.

Mercedes-Benz social media page in 2007 brochure

Social media rapidly expanded its influence into automobile marketing. Model year 2012 saw icons for Facebook, Twitter and You Tube prominent on back covers. By 2015 social media had fully embedded itself in the new car buying experience.

Virtual reality headset

Today, analytics reign supreme like a metric tail wagging the marketing dog as manufacturers struggle to harness the potential power resident in the available flood of marketing and social media data. Tomorrow is already knocking on the door with Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality applications.


Looking Ahead – The Perfect Storm

Digitization, carbon footprint and the web, Is this the perfect storm that will doom the new car brochure as the ubiquitous sales tool for enticing new car prospects. In a word, yes.

What does the future have in store for the new car brochure? At present, there appears two divergent paths.

For most mass market product lines, the print new car brochure has been replaced by the downloadable e-brochure. Alternatively, hypercar brands distinguished by their performance and exclusivity will offer premium, frequently hard cover print pieces. However, rather than traditional new car brochures, these pieces offer detailed and exciting brand profiles employing production values consistent with the superior quality of the exclusive product.


In our current world where bean counters outrank any individual concerned with quality at the cost of an extra nickel spent, the life prospects of the print brochure equate with the proverbial snow ball’s chance in hell. The wasted money from discarding outdated literature in inventory, the inability to immediately adjust to product changes and the cost of printing and shipping in the face of digital technology efficiencies ensured the rapid disappearance of the new car brochure.

As with all profound changes, the law of unintended consequences rears its head in the disappearance of the new car brochure. While not the intent of the manufacturers, its value as a meaningful record of history cannot be dismissed.

Archiving solutions may require museums and libraries to develop closer relationships with manufacturers in the hope that the OEMs can transfer files to ensure that our museums and libraries have the digital records necessary to continue the valuable role new car brochures fulfilled as messengers of future automotive history.

By |2021-09-30T11:46:13+00:00September 30th, 2021|5 Comments

Cars We Love & Who We Are #22

What is it about a life that defines a person? I have come to believe that the world around us mimics how we define ourselves. While at a large regional classic car and hot rod event, I encountered a man showing a stunning 1912 C-Cab Ford truck hot rod. Knowledgeable, affable and friendly to all, he offered me a look at a gallery of photographs displaying vehicles he had designed and built as well as others he had modified after purchasing them for his collection. He possessed a visionary flair for bringing all types of mobile machinery to life. Clearly from his interactions and conversations with others that I observed, the world viewed him for the respected and gifted hot road visionary and fabricator that he is. Oh yeah and he was in a wheelchair. No big deal, certainly not for him. Meet Rory Sevajian.

A hot rod life defined by abundance not lack


Rory Sevajian with 1912 Ford C-Cab

When Rory Sevajian flashes his ready and welcoming smile, you find yourself drawn in and comfortable in his engaging company. The fact that regardless of the event, he has brought some stunningly unique thundering eye candy that he designed makes him and his creations a magnet for interested observers and show trophies.

His passion for building unique performance and special interest vehicles came to life in Rory’s early teen years.

Rory says, “As a little kid, I was always interested in all these things. I hung around with all the older kids that had cool cars and learned from them.” Also, Rory’s father used to take him to the New York Auto Show at the New York Coliseum in the early 196os.  Rory recalls saying, “I was really young. The cars there were nothing like you’d ever seen before. Even to this day, today when you go to auto shows, there’s no comparison to what was done in the 50s and 60s.”

As a young guy without a lot of money, Rory developed a  philosophy that continues to guide his efforts today. Quote: “Start out with junk and make it into something special.” Almost as a design principle, even Rory’s most striking creations humbly start out as “junk. Then, benefitting from the magic of his transformative vision he brings to life something very special.

So for almost 30 years Rory had transformed “junk” into spectacular vehicles and motorcycles. Then “it“ happened, the accident.

Billet cut rims for Rory’s wheelchair

Rory had, and still has, a tree service business. While on the job, one of his workers, the “saw man,” positioned himself to cut a limb leaning against a second tree. The saw man believed that the second tree was strong enough to hold the limb. It was not. The base of the second and very large tree gave way. Rory says, “The large tree got me from behind. It crushed me on top of a rock garden and exploded my body.” At the hospital doctors told him he was lucky to be alive, but that he would never walk again. As others have related the story, Rory responded saying, “That’s fine with me”. He would not dwell on his loss. It would not stop Rory from building spectacular vehicles and having cool toys.

To continue in the pursuit of his lifetime pleasure of building eye popping vehicles, Rory did have to adapt.

Rory says, “The only thing where I really have a problem is with the body work and paint.” In the old days he would do all of that himself, however with the limitations of the chair, he now sends it out to be done. He concedes that his only other limitation is faced when trying to get things down from the high shelves. As before his accident, anything he does not know how to do, he has friends who do.

When it comes to fabrication and building, Rory designs, creates and assembles most of the pieces that give his creations their unique character. Rory says, “The visual magic resides in the details and the execution.” He will spend months refining an idea to enhance a creation and then seamlessly integrate it into the design. Emblematic of Rory’s creativity and attention to detail evidences itself in his 1912 Ford C-Cab hot rod.

“I always wanted a C-Cab. I love the way they look, “Says Rory. Over the years Rory always had his eye out for a steel body not a fiber glass repro. Then about six-years ago, one surfaced in upstate New York. He could not resist the siren’s song of an available steel body C-Cab. He drove upstate. Taking one look, love filled his heart and a vision stirred his soul. Rory says, It was rough and the suspension was falling out of it.” Undaunted he negotiated a deal and trailered the truck home. Rory smiles as he repeats his mantra, “Remember, start with junk end up with something very special.” He certainly did.

Job one had Rory totally dismantle the vintage truck. With the truck apart, his vision took hold. With a chassis rebuild that included a totally new suspension completed, his attention turned to the power train.

The big block 460 cu. in. V8 that came with the truck had side pipes. “Rory says, “I chopped them off because I couldn’t get in and out of the truck with my wheelchair.” Historically Rory always liked the gasser look with headers sporting a big bell on the end. Why not on the C-Cab he thought. He had the stripped down pipes, the flanges and the bell. Rory says, “It took me five hours to heat up and bend the contour and complete welding the pipes to the Bell, but it came out perfect. I sent it out for chroming. Once back I put some motorcycle baffles in it. And that was it.”

For carburetion the name of Drivin’ News fave “Carburetor Steve” plays a significant role. Rory took off the old four-barrel and installed a rare one-of-a-kind tunnel ram designed by a NASA engineer with a manifold that accepted three Holly 550 two-barrel carburetors. Carburetor Steve played a significant role in fine tuning the system.

Throughout the completed execution, Rory’s signature jeweler’s eye for detail and visual impact is in evidence from the unique wheels to the paint and pin striping.

Looking at his creation Rory says, “I love that truck. I love the truck. It’s more of a driver than something for really racing. However, see it coming down the road, it’s spectacular. It snaps necks.” He continues, “It has that, you know. Sex appeal.” He just smiles. But for generating bystander smiles nothing outdoes Rory’s “Train.”

The Train story begins with Rory’s custom motorcycle that he transformed from a two–wheel bike to a three-wheel “trike” after his accident. The story concludes years later with a custom articulated train of four trailered vehicles and a custom tow car that Rory drives to hot rod shows.

After his accident, Rory, a died-in-the-wool motorcyclist, looked at his custom personally designed two-wheel creation and knew he must transform it into an even more outrageous three-wheel “trike.”

Rory admits his final creation is more about looks than ridability, but oh how it looks!

Rory does acknowledge that a lot of money has been spent in places no one can see. Rory says, “All the real money hides inside the engine on this trike – S&S flywheel and rods, S&S oversized barrels, a really nasty Leineweber cam, Manley tulip valves and Manley triple valve springs.” Then he decided that he wanted more juice. So he went with 80-inch heads and drilled them for four spark plugs and put a Dyna III Electronic Ignition in it. Rory says, “I’m running dual coils to deal with the four plugs. The trike also has an open belt drive and high performance clutches.

When it came time to make it a trike, Rory simply pulled out a Sawzall and cut the back off. Rory’s first attempt grafted on a servi-car rear end. Police trikes and ice cream trikes used them. However, they did not suit Rory’s three-wheeled beast. Rory says, “When I let the clutch out it was idling at 50 mph. It was not a good thing.” Rory found a good solution in mixing and matching rear axle parts and tire sizes. Now, he can cruise down the highway at 60 mph without the motor screaming. Above and beyond traditional upgrades Rory has innovated some very special adaptations so that he would be able to ride the trike since he was paralyzed from the ribs down.

Rory says, “When I got hurt, I had to figure a way to ride since I couldn’t put my foot down.” Rory‘s solution provided for a handbrake on the handlebars and his own custom made shifter and clutch on the shifter. To do this he needed to incorporate a big bore master cylinder to compensate because the hand does not have the power of the foot necessary to squeeze the dual piston brake caliper on the rear wheel. Other than that the only other adaptation required was floorboards because he has to strap his feet down. Rory says, “When you’re paralyzed like me, you have to strap your feet because if your foot falls off, you don’t know it. You then can run over it like I did with my trike. I shattered my ankle. I learned the need for that adaptation the hard way.”

Which brings the story back around to the Train. Some years back Rory brought his trike to the Waldwick New Jersey Car Show. He says, “It all started when I took the trike to the show. I didn’t even enter and they handed me a trophy. I thought that’s pretty cool.” Rory really liked the people at the show. Since he was building a hot rod that would be done next year he thought  maybe he would do something special for next year’s Waldwick Show. The following year he brought his custom 1931 Ford sedan towing the trike. After winning at that show he realized that he wanted to bring something new each year. Thus, the idea of the Train came to life. Now, for seven years he has brought something different every single year. He just keeps adding on. All vehicles share an eye grabbing red metal flake, black and chrome theme enhanced with tasteful pin striping and bold graphics.

1931 Ford sedan hot rod tow car   

Rory says, “Some years back a friend of mine says, you need a four-door car so you can put your wheelchair behind the seat.” The search began.  Soon another friend found a suitable sedan in California. It was in rough condition. Perfect! Start with junk. Rory says, “ It was a little bit twisted, a little banged up, could use a floor. Sold! It turned out to be an unusual 1931½ Murray bodied Ford sedan made in Canada. Rory especially liked some of the more refined details on the Murray body. He says, “I just loved it. I thought I gotta have this.”

An enormous amount of time and hand crafting proved well worth the effort with the end result being a unique red metal flake hand crafted sedan with sunroof, custom stitched interior and a Chevy small block with a radical cam, Sanderson headers and three deuces set up by “Carburetor Steve.”

For the rear, Rory hand shaped a custom tow hitch for the trike’s front wheel.


All elements of the TRAIN started as discards in a state of disrepair better known as “junk”. Each vehicle’s exquisitely finished form shares a red metal flake, black and chrome color scheme with pin stripe accents, bold graphics and a name.

1931 ½ Ford sedan hot rod tow car –  (DRAGIN’)

Custom trike – Assembled from pieces collected over the 45 years (MOVING VIOLATION)

1964 Chaparral go-kart – Resurrected from North Carolina junk yard (OUTCAST)

1981 Mini Bike – Rusty castoff (JUVENILE DELINQUENT)

1965 Speed boat – Battered hull found in Mays Landing, NJ (MISS BEHAVIN)

The greatest surprise for most people comes when hearing Rory explain how easy the Train is to maneuver. Rory says, “It is the most comfortable thing to drive. I could turn around in a 20-foot area.” Unlike a tractor trailer, all trailers in the train are short trailers. Each individual axle simply follows. Rory says, “You can make unbelievable, tight turns, as tight as you could turn the car.

Rory setting up the Train

Even more unbelievable? Rory can set up the whole train by himself. His sedan with a back seat for his wheelchair makes him totally self-sufficient. He can hook up all these trailers himself and with no problem because they’re all lightweight trailers. He can pick up the trailer tongue by himself and use his wheelchair like a yard tug to maneuver each trailer. Rory says, “I put it on the footrest between my legs, right? And I can actually maneuver around and roll them around. They go where I want them to go.”

In reflecting on his life as a hot rod designer and fabricator Rory says, “You got to love what you do. You got to be able to sit there and make your own parts and be resourceful. You have to seek solutions that look cool that you can transfer to enhance the vehicle that you are making.”

When it is pointed out that some people, maybe most people, would not have such a great attitude as he, Rory says, “I hear that all the time. You know, I was always a crazy kid, always doing something wild and having fun and enjoying myself. You know, okay. I got hurt. I’m still alive. I’m still breathing. I’m just going to keep having fun till I die.


The “Train” with Rory’s friend Vinny Polina watching out

At the large regional Hot Rod Show that Rory can be seen driving to in the above photo he returned with trophies for:





By |2021-09-16T12:13:34+00:00September 16th, 2021|11 Comments

Conversations With People We Value #27

Many things that were once commonplace, today, we now hold dear for their rarity. Such things as having a live and informed person respond quickly when we call customer service, or an auto parts store owned by a family not a franchise or a gas station attendant not speaking on an ear bud to a friend 10,000 miles away, all were once accepted as a given.

Now for those of us old enough to remember a time when superior craftsmanship merited respect and a plentitude of business, we sadly note the dwindling presence of those practicing craftsmen. That so few of these skilled experts at combining art and engineering exist seems incomprehensible in a way that shocks our sensibilities.

Drivin’ News believes in the importance of recognizing the remaining gifted and dedicated craftsmen who sustain our passion for the enjoyment and preservation of classic vehicles. Meet Charlie Olsen, owner of Olsen Engines.

The man they trust to rebuild history

Charlie Olsen with Ferrari Daytona engine

Disarmingly genial and engaging, Charlie Olsen resides within the sparse ranks populating the pantheon of active “go-to” machinists and classic vehicle engine rebuilders.

Charlie Olsen working on Honda 250cc engine

Though chockablock with exotic engines, parts and pieces, Charlie’s Olsen Engines shop somehow projects a reassuring sense of confident orderliness. Since opening for business in 1982 Olsen Engines, has been entrusted by some of the world’s most famous people and most respected professionals to work on some of the world’s most treasured automobile, motorcycle and inboard marine engines.

Maintaining a shockingly youthful exuberance for his passion to bring mortally wounded high performance and exotic engines back from the dead, 67-year old Charlie was born to excel at the work he loves.

Charlie says, “I always had a love for gas engines. By eight or nine-years old I was fixing all of the lawn mowers on the block.” If he found a mower that did not run, he would make it run. By the age of twelve Charlie had graduated to motorcycles. He says, “I bought some old cycles cheap and got them to run.” From then on Charlie’s budding talents for curing the ills of anything that ran on gas blossomed into full bloom.

Ferrari 4-Cylinder

In high school a stint at a local gas station exposed him to the challenges of rebuilding transmissions. He excelled. By 1976 Charlie’s employer at the time, Competition Research of Nyack, New York, closed and a Suzuki dealership took its placed. Charlie accepted the new owner’s invitation to stay and took the opportunity to work on the dealership’s motorcycles and the cars that the owner raced. The experience allowed Charlie to hone his engine rebuilding skills. When the Suzuki dealership closed in 1982, Charlie took over the facility, opened Olsen Engines and the rest is history.

When entering Charlie’s shop one never knows what museum worthy piece of motoring history will be awaiting final touches in advance of shipping. On one prior visit when I was bringing the heads for my 1961 Corvette small block to be rebuilt, I spotted three extraordinary and completed engines poised to bring to life significant examples of the mid-twentieth century’s golden age of motoring.

Glickenhaus GT40

All painted, plated and perfect, there sat a 1972 V-12 for a Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona, a 331 cu. in. hemi for the first Chrysler 300 and a truly rare Aurelio Lampredi designed dual distributor 4-cylinder for a mid-fifties Ferrari 750 Monza. For Olsen, these extraordinary power plants intended for automotive royalty represented just another day. More about these gems later.

Emblematic of Charlie’s easy going self-effacing nature, he explains his philosophy saying, “I just try to do it as best as I can, maybe try to do it even better than I have done it before. Certainly I want to do it better than anyone else.”

When asked about the difficulty of working on a vintage engine that he may never have seen before, Charlie’s response innocently betrays his humility in addressing how his natural gifts,

Ferrari Daytona

years of experience and work ethic inform his approach to accurately resurrecting a piece of engineering history.

He says, “It is all about paying attention to detail.” He speaks about the existence of subtle nuances present with every engine. He says, “If you know of them it becomes mechanical. You can figure it out. After all a four-stroke engine is a four-stroke engine.”

When asked about the kind of nuances other people might miss Charlie easily rolls off a litany of subtle yet meaningful attributes. They include cylinder wall finish, honing procedures, valve guide material, valve seat material, material used in cylinder heads, fastener torque, sizing for crank bearings and roundness of main bores and rod bores.

Chrysler 300

In applying his expertise for famous restoration shops and famous people like Billy Joel, Jim Glickenhaus (Glickenhaus Collection), Craig

Jackson (Barrett-Jackson), Ralph Lauren, Michael Strahan and David Letterman among many others, Charlie has put his stamp on extraordinary milestones in automotive history.

Over its almost 40 years in business, Olsen Engines has seen a wide diversity of exotic and historically significant engines pass through the hands of Charlie. The following examples offer a taste of the performance bounty that has benefitted from Charlie’s touch.

1966 Ford GT40

In sorting out the exact provenance, it has been represented that this big block GT40 identified

Ferrari 750 Monza

as car #4 was one of the three that finished one, two, three at LeMans in 1966. Later research may have indicated that it was one that ran in 1967. At that time of the rebuild it was the only one of the GT40s that had the engine rebuilt. It had been sent to Charlie to do balance work, crank work and block work

Mid-1950s Ferrari 750 Monza

Though a 3-liter 4-cylinder, the engine was a strong performer that ran nearly as fast as the V-12 cars. Charlie says, “I just did the top end. I was getting the clearances right on the bevel drive for the whole front of the engine with the bevel drive operating the generator and both distributors. That engine had two distributors. Finally I had to set up the valve clearances.

That engine was pretty different because it’s a roller cam. It was something I had never come across before.”


1955 Chrysler 300

Charlie has done a number of early hemis. He says, “They have their idiosyncrasies, a couple of little oiling issues and strength issues.” For the most part the ones he has done were rebuilt for stock performance.

Ferrari 166M

Powering a very rare Ferrari, this engine comes from a late 1940’s model produced before Enzo Ferrari got into the street car business. With a 2-liter Colombo V-12, It’s intention was for racing in events such as the Mille Miglia. Charlie says, “The small bore, small stroke Colombo engine was quite interesting.”

The old Colombo style valve springs on it offered a very unusual “mousetrap” design.

Ferrari 166M

It differs from your usual coil because the spring has two arms that come around to hold the valve up.

1990s Vector

Currently Charlie has turned his attention to the engine of a very interesting rare supercar from the early 1990s, a Vector. The 358 fuel injected Chevrolet power plant features a twin-turbocharged design. Charlie says, “ I think there may only be 10 or so of these cars in existence.”

Honda 250cc motorcycle engine

This six cylinder motorcycle engine represents one of only three made and the only one not in the Honda museum.

Raced in 250cc class and GP motorcycle racing during the early 1970s, it is a 250cc, 6-cylinder, four-valves per cylinder engine with a 7-speed transmission. It idles at about 11,000 RPM and will run up to seventeen or eighteen thousand RPMs.

Big Block Grenades

Charlie has done his part for outrageous engines with four figure horsepower builds. He built a number of 2,000 HP turbocharged and blown race engines for Camaros and Mustangs. However, his most vivid description of work he did he describes as “Big Block Grenades.”

Reasons for a rebuild

Charlie recalls in the 1990s how clients for really high horsepower drag race engines wanted to have 4 to 6 thousandths of main clearance. Charlie recalls, “The customers wanted to have a bit more freedom to allow things to move around inside the engine.” Charlie continues, “ I would take these engines apart and you could just see how hard the engines had been working.” At the most these engines stood to hold up for 10 to maximum 20 runs.

Often in engine building the topic of balancing and blueprinting comes up. Charlie certainly shared some interesting insights. He says, “Back in the 1980s when I was running in the IMSA Fire Hawk series I could go through blue printing processes on a 305 cu. in. 200 HP Chevy small block and get an additional 125 HP without changing any parts.” It simply stood as a matter of maximizing compression within the rules and getting all cylinders equal. He did a lot of flow test work to achieve that balance.

Balancing called for individually balancing all rotating and reciprocating parts both statically and dynamically for the smoothest possible operation. Blueprinting called for rebuilding an engine to the precise OEM specs by re-machining each component to the precise measurement in the factory blueprint.

In discussing engine rebuilding for 21st century modern engines Charlie says, He does not recommend rebuilding an engine for a stock production vehicle. He recommends simply buying a new engine.” Interestingly Charlie says that OEM production techniques have improved so much that modern engines are close to blueprint quality due to the superior production and inspection technology used today.

In reflecting on the his ongoing goals Charlie says, “I hope I never stop learning. I hope that I can always keep trying to improve so that my engine work reflects the pinnacle of my capabilities.” Smiling and showing a sliver of self-satisfaction Charlie says, “I just love it. It’s a passion.”

In reflecting on his future Charlie says, “I’m thinking about slowing down a little bit and maybe just taking on, you know, a couple of projects a year. However, I don’t think I’m gonna ever stop as long as I am capable of doing the work.” Flashing a big grateful smile He says, “I just love the diversity of all the different engines that I get to work on. Almost every day I get something unique come through the door.”

While Charlie acknowledges that what he does can be taught, he clearly believes that, like the art of great musicians, much of the magic he brings to his work is realized through gifts with which he was born.

Undeniably, audiences of classic car owners and drivers revere the tune that an engine rebuilt by Charlie Olsen sings on open roads and closed tracks alike.


By |2021-09-02T12:45:22+00:00September 2nd, 2021|5 Comments

Cars We Love & Who We Are #21

Crossing from New Jersey and meandering north on old Route 17 surrounds one with a picture of a region that for decades lived frozen in a faded past but recently began experiencing a quantum leap into the now. Still very much a work in progress, the scene along Route 17 features stretches of old buildings tightly snugged up against a patchwork paved narrow four-lane. Safely navigating the bumps, twists and turns demands a firm hand on the wheel and a steady eye on fellow drivers often found wandering about the narrow lanes.

Clearly, this trek offers a decidedly unglamorous journey on the way to enjoying an extraordinary classic car experience. Today the grounds of an architectural pearl of the Gilded Age will feature a delightfully understated concours.

Approaching the handsomely crafted stone guard station, I am waved though. I have entered an enclave of aesthetically integrated architectural and natural beauty born in the 1880s. I have entered a world worthy of a modern day Gatsby. Navigating the winding country roads leads me to the manicured grounds of the Tuxedo Club in Tuxedo Park, NY.

Bring what you love

Tuxedo Club “Field of Driving Dreams” registration


Gordon Borteck with his Pantera

Raising its German voice with the elevated revs courtesy of a downshift, my BMW descends the hill. As my trusty sports sedan hugs the curve of the narrow West Lake Road, the Tuxedo Club comes into view. Surrounded by a finely groomed lawn, overlooking Tuxedo Lake and set against a forested hillside, the grounds offer a spectacular backdrop on which to display priceless automobiles.

Pulling off to the side of the circular driveway at the club entrance, I am greeted by Gordon Borteck, the driving force behind the Tuxedo Concours officially titled “The Tuxedo Club Field of Driving Dreams.”

Borteck a Tuxedo Club member and guiding force behind the Tuxedo Park event conceived of the idea about eight years ago as a great Father’s Day celebration. Its instant popularity proved Borteck possessed 20/20 foresight. As with such good ideas, they exhibit a dynamic character that seeks to expand to ever greater proportions. Borteck has felt the pressure to expand which he has resisted.

Here comes a Ferrari La Ferrari. There goes a Lamborghini Countach. Step aside for the Chaparral race car. Make room for the Bentley Continental Coupe. Make way for the BoCar. As an amazing array of predominantly iconic German, Italian, English and American rolling artwork begin to populate the lush green hillside, I had the chance to ask Borteck about his unique event.

“I have sought to emphasize a theme of ‘bring what you love,” says Borteck, he continues, “I am not looking for the fanciest, the fastest or the oldest.” To realize his objective, Borteck has striven to achieve a feeling similar to that of an invitation only art exhibit. Borteck says, “My goal is to keep the show relatively small.” Eighty some cars comprised those invited to complete the field this year. He wants the owners to share the cars they love with the other car owners and guests. Much like one artist discussing his work with others. He says, “I strive for the event to be both a learning experience for viewers and a teaching experience for the dedicated owners. Here, people can share with each other without crowds or craziness.”

Despite a promise of showers, the sun has come out to stay. Borteck admits he would have sold his soul to the devil for this weather. After cancelling because of Covid last year, missing a second year in a row loomed as a crushing disappointment.

The colors of the assembled “Field of Driving Dreams” entrants pops off against the verdant lawn. Colorful as well could describe many of the car Owners.


Bruce Amster – 1961 Chaparral

1961 Chaparral

Bruce Amster a classic car aficionado is no stranger to the Tuxedo event. He consistently delights with the unique entrees he brings. This year he did not disappoint by bringing a 1961 Chaparral race car. Amster says, “This Jim Hall developed Chaparral is a real race car. Race cars that look perfect and have always been perfect are not real race cars. A real race car has got to have gone through hell driven by a driver who has gone through hell.” This Chaparral truly qualifies by that standard. Built in 1961 by Troutman and Barnes, it was first driven by 2-time Indy 500 winner Roger Ward. Powered by a stroked Chevy small block with 4-wheel disc brakes and fully independent rear suspension the Chaparral presented an able competitor for facing the potent Maseratis and Listers of the day. Amster says, “The car has a great history. It was crashed by Roger Ward. Totally rebuilt it would be campaigned by a new owner and would set a lap record at Laguna Seca in 1962.” The car is still raced heavily overseas at Goodwood and Silverstone. It will be returning to England to campaign next season.


Jay Hirsch – 1960 Cadillac Eldorado Biarittz convertible

1960 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible

Like recalling Howard Cosell at a boxing match, sighting world renowned automotive photographer and journalist Jay Hirsch at a car event goes without saying. A fixture at any meaningful classic car experience, the genial and engaging Hirsch not only photographs classic cars for calendars and books but collects them as well. At Tuxedo this year Jay brought his original Carrera Green 1960 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible. Truly “The standard of the world” when it meant something, this stunning period piece rolling sculpture featured a 390 cu. in. V8 with three deuces and a 4-speed Hydra-Matic transmission.

For Jay his Cadillac’s story goes back to the day a family friend bought the car new. Jay says, “It was 1960 and my father bought a Fleetwood. At the same time a family friend bought this car. Years later he sold it to a friend who ran the Cyclone in Coney Island.” Back in the 1980s that friend asked Jay if he would he be interested in the Cadillac should the friend ever decide to sell it? Absolutely, came Jay’s reply. Fifteen years later Jay got the call and Jay bought the car.

Jay says, all through the years it was never driven in winter, only in the summertime on weekends. It has never been restored. Not afraid to drive it, Jay recently drove it 630 miles to Plymouth Michigan to show the car at the Concours d’ Elegance of America at St. Johns where it won “Most Original Car.”

Jay put over 1500 miles on the Cadillac for his trip. Jay says, “I cruised all day across a good stretch of America in this glorious piece of automotive history at 80 miles per hour averaging 17 miles per gallon for a 5,000 pound car. I’m happy.”


Dr. Charles Lennon – 1969 Porsche 911 Outlaw

1969 Porsche 911 Outlaw

Dr. Charles Lennon’s place in the Pantheon of vintage Porsche crazies was concretized when he chose to rebuild his house to provide for five working bays in the basement to accommodate 356 and 911 Porsche restoration. For Tuxedo, Dr. Lennon brought a 1969 911 Outlaw on which he has been working for the past four years. Just looking at the quality of work and attention to detail tells you all you need to know about how he approaches his vocation as a prosthodontist (specialist in dental restoration).

1969 Porsche Outlaw custom badge

In explaining the Porsche Outlaw concept Dr. Lennon says, “It started with John Von Neumann and his 356 Porsches back in the 1950s. Von Neumann would show up at the track with modifications such as better brakes and bigger motors. Stuff beyond factory spec. These upgraded non-factory spec’d cars became known as Outlaws.”

Dr. Lennon goes on to say that he likes to build Porsches that scare him. He loved the idea of building an Outlaw and he had the perfect subject, a 1969 911. He set his heart on building a better Porsche. He says, “Bigger brakes, bigger motor, better suspension. It would be a Porsche Plus.”

He also wanted his outlaw to honor the basic shape of his subject 911. Dr. Lennon says, No front air dams, no flares, no tails, nothing just the original shape.” Just about everything else would wear this surgeons touch. He says the brakes are 917 units that took him two years to get. The original motor swept two liters. His outlaw gets its push from a naturally aspirated twin plug 3.4 liter engine with mechanical fuel injection. Dr. Lennon says it puts out roughly 315 horsepower with a vehicle weight of 2,160 pounds. He acknowledges that remaining faithful to the body originality limits the size tire which certainly elevates the scare factor.

The detail that Dr. Lennon has put into the smallest features including the badging clearly shows it has been a labor of love. He says, for me in my lifetime this has been the best creative experience I’ve ever had.”


Rich and Chris Varjan – 1972 Dodge Challenger

1972 Dodge Challenger

Rich Varjan’s R-M three-stage orange over silver 1972 Dodge Challenger began as a project car that he found in Toronto Canada for his 14-year old son, Chris. Today, standing by the car that has experienced numerous rebuilds as the Varjans have pushed it up the performance ladder one sees Chris who is now 34 years old.

Both gregarious and genial, father and son banter back and forth as they describe the adventure in engineering that their Challenger represents. Basically its present iteration represents an eight-year trial and error journey that has culminated in a 900 horsepower well mannered beast. Well mannered that is unless, as the senior Varjan says, “You put your foot to the floor? The you buy new tires.” “But it tracks straight as an arrow,” adds son Chris Varjan, remarkably straight for what it is.”

Rich Varjan explains that at the heart of his beast of the street resides a worked 422 cu. in. low compression race block with a Procharger supercharger and electric fuel injection.

Rich Varjan speaking about the suspension says, “Front suspension is Riley with four link coilovers on all four corners and tubular control arms. It’s all Riley Motorsports.”

When asked if the project was worth the eight years, both father and son just smile.


Hank Bernstein – Zipper lakes tribute hot rod

Zipper Lakes tribute Hot Rod

“It’s a lakes modified roadster,” says owner Hank Bernstein. He has built it to pay tribute to the early post WWII southern California dry lakes racers. Before drag strips, even before Bonneville, people would bring their Model Ts and Model As out to El Mirage, take off the fenders and race all weekend. Bernstein says, “They built these cars with skills they mostly learned in the military during WWII, primarily aircraft.”

Bernstein’s tribute roadster which he built himself features some unique attributes. The strikingly handsome body and frame feature a design by Darrell Zip who used to work for Revell, the model company. Power comes from the Alfa Romeo V6 introduced in the early 1980s with the GTV6. Bernstein’s familiarity with Alfa Romeo power plants comes from his years with the Alfa Romeo engineering group.

Carburetion comes from Holley 94 carburetors found on Ford flatheads. Rather than using Strombergs that had a reputation for leaking, Bernstein travelled through four states to find five Holley 94s from which he could make three good ones. When he built the car reproductions of Holley 94s were not available. Bernstein even designed the engine turned dash. For the machining he located a retired and skilled machinist.

When asked about his creation’s top end, Bernstein says it is faster than he will ever drive it. He says, “To put it in perspective, in the 3,200 lb. Alfa GTV6 the top speed peaked around 130 mph. My roadster weighs 1,880 lbs.” The fastest Bernstein has gone in his roadster is 95 mph. Bernstein says, “ I am an old drag racer. I don’t have anything to prove.”

When asked for any final thoughts Bernstein smiled and said, “Life’s too short. Build a hot road.”

“Field of Driving Dreams” registration

While the objects of their affection differed, the prevailing sentiment at Tuxedo that day spoke with one voice and it said “Find what you love and drive it.”

By |2021-08-19T11:58:21+00:00August 19th, 2021|4 Comments

Conversations With People We Value #26

Please allow me this digression from my normal Drivin’ News themes.

Recently while at the gym I encountered a friend who is both a dedicated nurse and a thoughtful student in the school of “what’s happening now.” Our conversation quickly evolved to acknowledging a disturbing undercurrent that stains the space in time that the collective “we” presently occupies. Much like a disquieting subsonic tone, it seems to reside on the edge of our consciousness while shaping the character of the times in which we live. “I pray every day,” she said.

Yes, Covid certainly exacerbated it, but only like a hobo joining a disparate cohort all hitching a ride on the same runaway train. Though many among us acknowledge our gratitude for what we have, few if any seem to be blowing noisemakers at a party thrown by life. It seems that the content, perspectives and attitudes dominating our culture’s information channels and shaping the zeitgeist offer little solace to the inner “us” that seeks joy and peace and benefits from the emotions generated by words like love, inspiration, happiness and hope. That inner, decent us, longs for sanctuary from a steady diet of self-doubt, disappointment, anger, betrayal, anxiety, conflict and a host of other unhealthy negative feelings foisted upon us by our environment and our own thoughts. It creates a lens through which we view the world, shape our future life and potentially harm ourselves. What to do?

Personally, I pulled the emergency cord on my life train and stepped off to attend a retreat and explore the unconventional beliefs of a visionary neuroscientist. I would experience a week with 12 to 14 hour days of high intensity immersion in the power of meditation and mindfulness at an event entitled “Piercing the Veil.” The following thoughts are not intended as the advocacy of an apostle. I retain a healthy skepticism. However, they do represent the impressions gained by an open mind exposed to beliefs once dismissed by a scientific community that is now taking a very serious second look.

Meet Dr. Joe Dispenza, doctor, scientist and, for some with a metaphysical streak, modern mystic.

Exploring our power within


Clinging for dear life to the front bumper of a speeding Ford Bronco seems like a curious point of origin for a revolutionary vision with the potential to profoundly advance the physical and psychological betterment of the human species.

It began in the biking leg of a California triathlon in 1986. Trim and fit, 23-year old Dr. Joe Dispenza cranked through the corner as the police officer waved him on. No one saw the red Bronco fast approaching. It hit Dispenza’s bicycle square from behind sending him airborne forward. Not slowing, the Bronco kept coming hitting him again. He clung to the front bumper till the elderly driver came to a stop.

Attending physicians found six broken vertebrae, compression fractures in the spine spanning from the shoulder blades to the kidneys with the damage compounded by a large amount of shattered fragments pushed toward Dispenza’s spinal cord. Their findings presented a harrowing expression of skeletal devastation. Numbness, tingling and difficulty executing basic movements accompanied the physical damage.

Attending physicians left no doubt. Repair would require cutting away damaged vertebrae and then screwing and clamping two twelve inch stainless steel roads along both sides of Dispenza’s spinal column. Left unrepaired the spine would collapse if left to bear his body weight resulting in paralysis from the chest down.

Dr. Joe Dispenza

However, Dispenza says, “I decided against the expert’s pronouncements.” Dispenza held a strong belief in an intelligence, an invisible consciousness that maintains, protects and heals each one of us every moment. He would test his beliefs with his life. He decided that he would take his attention off the external world and focus within himself to connect with that healing power.

Nine and one half weeks after the accident Dispenza walked back into his life having no body cast or surgery. At twelve weeks the recently shattered tri-athlete had returned to training and weight lifting.

Those 3 months launched Dr. Joe Dispenza on a journey of discovery and enlightenment that at first met with contemptuous disregard by traditional scientists. Now, decades later, recognized for its profound promise to promote healing and mental health, Dispenza’s carefully documented findings find themselves the subject of serious research by respected scientific and academic institutions worldwide.

Much like taking a drink from a fire hose, the torrent of data and profound experiences associated with my week long exposure would quickly overwhelm the ability of this brief overview to provide a properly thorough explanation. Thus, I will selectively address subjects I find meaningful as well as provide links affording a deeper understanding of the limitless possibilities that exist when the mind, body, and spirit—of both an individual and a community—merge into one field of consciousness.



An eclectic gathering of 1500 people filled the Gaylord Resort ballroom. The vibe given off by the group filled the room with a an eager anticipation and a visceral sense that they would be experiencing something special. Indeed they would.

Meditation resides at the heart of Dr. Joe Dispenza’s efforts to revolutionize how people can develop and call upon the natural power resident in the human mind and body. As Dispenza says, “the purpose of meditation is to move beyond the analytical mind so you can access your subconscious mind, That’s crucial since the subconscious is where all the bad habits and behaviors that we want to change can be found.”

Dispenza’s life changing recovery experience that sighted the path for his future teachings taught him to put all of his conscious attention on the intelligence of his body and give it a plan with very specific orders. Having done that he would surrender his healing to that greater mind as he honed his meditative capability to tap the mind’s unlimited power.

I did not come to this retreat as a seasoned meditater or, frankly, a meditater of any kind. However, I certainly left with a profound respect for the power and the promise of the practice.

For individuals such as my self, meditation represented a passive means for escaping the day’s slings and arrows. In the hands of Dispenza, however, it has been transformed into a mental earth moving tool with the power to reconfigure the world you experience. Dispenza had us meeting at 4:00 am and put us through breathing exercises to keep us on the brink of sleep to get the benefit of optimum early morning hormonal balance for a special meditation. During the week we meditated seated, walking, laying down and standing.

Dispenza views the arena where our lives play out as an expression of one of two worlds. Depending on how we chose to live our life the choice offers either a Newtonian world (named after the view of the physical world advanced by Sir Isaac Newton of the falling apple fame) or the curious world of quantum physics.

In essence The Newtonian world offers a predictable future based on the old model of reality as a subject of cause and effect. It is all about waiting for something outside of us to change how we feel inside of us.

However, the curious world of the quantum field states that any event has an infinite number of possible outcomes. The ultimate outcome only becomes real when it is observed.

Here comes the kicker. Dispenza advocates for the belief that the Newtonian material world of objects, people and things is a low energy three dimensional visible world where making changes demands expending energy and time to create or move things in three dimensional space. For example, let’s say you want to acquire the wealth that will allow you to open a yogurt cafe. You have to plan, get loans, find a location. All the while as you prepare to get the funds for your yogurt shop, you live in a state of lack waiting for the outcome. In Dispenza’s Quantum world the experienced meditater elevates his or her consciousness to a high level where that person experiences no one, no body, no where, no thing, no time. This high frequency meditative state the individual achieves pure consciousness. In this state the mind manifests what the future outcome will be. For example, I will need a certain amount of money to achieve my dream of opening a yogurt cafe. In this high state of consciousness the individual will have aligned his or her thoughts with the one frequency among the infinite possible outcomes in the quantum field that matches the future the person desires. When the person returns to the 3D state in which we live they will experience life as if they have already achieved their goal. They do not experience a life of lack. SKEPTICS ALERT! I Get it.

It may sound crazy, but there existed enough examples in the room among the 1,500 attendees present to give one pause. It is not necessary for you to believe it only to be aware of the potential power and be mindful of supportive evidence that you may come across.



A large percent of attendees acknowledged that past thoughts had a detrimental effect on their ability to function as they would like.

Problematic past thoughts troublingly draw attention away from the present where the energy could be constructively directed towards creative pursuits. Whatever gets your attention gets your energy. If you are focusing on the past you have decreased the energy you can direct to your present. It makes sense.

Walking meditation

A traumatic memory whether caused by a person, experience or event takes a certain time to get over. This bounce back time is called the refractory period. The stronger the emotional reaction to the trauma the longer the refractory period. It is an insidious process as one can literally become addicted to one’s negative thoughts. How? Read on.

Interestingly the body cannot tell the difference between an actual original occurrence and a memory recalled. When a person recalls a past event the body produces the same chemistry produced by the original event. The body then reacts as if the original event is occurring. It is firing and wiring the same circuits. Sending the same emotional signature to the body. When this happens repeatedly the body becomes the unconscious mind. It does not know the difference between the original event and the memory. In recalling the traumatic experience, the body is living in the same past. It can go into a loop 24/7.

The emotion from that past experience gives the body a rush of energy. People can become addicted to the rush from that emotion. When the past event looms so large in the mind some people welcome the pain because at least they can feel something.

So when those past derived negative emotions influence certain thoughts, the thoughts create the same emotions. They create the same thoughts. Resulting in a person’s entire state of being trapped in the past.

So how do we go from, I have this negative emotion. It’s controlling my life. It’s got me in this cycle where I think about the emotion which then triggers a chemical reaction which trains my body to feel that way. This makes it more likely that I will do it again. So, now, I find myself in this unconscious vicious cycle.

The same power of imagining can help build a better future. Meditate, close your eyes and mentally rehearse the positive action of what you want. If you are truly present, your brain does not know the difference between what you are imagining and what you are experiencing in the 3D world. It makes you brain not a record of the past but a map to the future.



All organisms in nature can tolerate short term stress. A deer grazes quietly. Chased by coyotes, the deer outruns the coyotes. The deer then goes back to grazing. The stress response is what the body does to get itself back to order.

Your driving down the road and get cut off. You react and then settle back down to driving. However, what if it is a co-worker who stresses you out, sitting next to you. All day long his mere presence turns on those stress chemicals because he just pushes all of your emotional buttons. This, as well as any other unrelenting stress, presents a serious problem.

No organism in life can live in emergency mode for that extended period of time. When you turn on the stress response and can’t turn it off. It can trigger a disease. It is a scientific fact that long term the hormones of stress down regulate (degrade) genes and create disease.

The size of the human brain further exacerbates the issue for people. Just by the nature of its large size, the human brain can turn on the stress response just by thought alone. Humans can simply think about those problems and turn on those harmful chemicals.

This means that our thoughts can literally make us sick. Conversely if our thoughts can make us sick is it possible that our thoughts can make us well?

Emotions connected to survival anger, aggression, hostility, hatred, competition, fear anxiety, pain suffering, guilt, shame, unworthiness, envy, jealousy create hormones of stress.

If survival gene is turned on, you could have 10 great things happen in a day and one bad thing. However you cannot take your attention off that unhappy thing because the survival gene is turned on.

Research conducted at one of Dispenza’s earlier advanced events, like I attended, measured 7,500 gene expressions. Participants Meditated seated, walking, standing up and laying down. At  the end of four days of the common eight genes that were regulated 2 were genes to suppress cancer cells and tumor growth, 2 genes promoted neurogenesis meaning they supported the growth of new neurons in response to novel situations. One gene signaled stem cells to go to damages areas to repair them. One gene for oxidative stress was up-regulated. In 4 days it strengthened genes that caused the body to flourish. Imagine after 3 months.



In an emotionally charged coherence healing event, fifteen hundred people slowly exited the Gaylord Resort ballroom to enter the glaring Denver sunshine. Their shared intention would focus 1500 hearts and minds on achieving coherence with the goal of focusing this coherent energy as a force of mind and nature with the purpose of healing individuals around the country suffering from severe afflictions.

The solemn assemblage slowly, quietly circled the courtyard of the building. Many participants moved with hands pressed on hearts. Reentering the ballroom each attendee found a photograph on their seat. There would be ten identical photographs clustered around the massive ballroom, one each for every person in a group of ten. The subject in the photo would be in need of healing for a serious affliction. People solemnly held the photos to their breasts as Dispenza guided the meditation.

Coherence Healing in person

Hands would briefly leave the photo momentarily as lumberjacks and light-weights alike wiped tears suddenly discovered to be running down cheeks. I know. My photo reminded me of someone I loved dearly. At the conclusion of the meditation, each of the ten photos were placed in an envelope which would be signed by each of the ten members in the group. Each signee would receive a letter with the describing the change in the condition of the subject subsequent to the coherence healing meditation.

For a compelling look at subjects of coherence healing you can go to the following link to watch and listen to stories of personal breakthroughs, miraculous healings and profound transformations.



Brain scan

As Dispenza’s work enjoys rapidly mounting recognition resulting from the sheer power of its compelling findings, scientific and academic institutions have turned their focus on substantiating his claims. The following link provides a look at the research surrounding Dispenza’s work.



I left “Piercing the Veil” drenched in knowledge, observations and questions delivered by the relentless Dispenza information fire hose. I learned much about myself. My observations both provided convincing affirmations and generated questions that marked a path forward to personal growth.

The people I encountered displayed an appealing mixture of self effacing personal awareness, minds hungry for knowledge and deep appreciation for the potential and reality of the breakthrough work spearheaded by Dr. Joe Dispenza.

Back home I have begun working with guided meditations led by Dispenza. I also have humbler but maybe no less important goals like reminding myself to stay in the present, I find so many more good things happen there.






By |2021-08-09T20:17:47+00:00August 5th, 2021|4 Comments