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January 07, 1994 - Image 84

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-01-07

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Vintage Vanguards

Road rallies
with classic
automobiles are
gaining popularity
as a group of local
businessmen race
from Paris to



down a
road fol-
lowing a
lovely old
berg from
the '20s with its great thunder-
ing exhaust filling the air be-
tween the swirling leaves has
always been the stuff of dreams.
We could only read books about
it. Until now.
Right from the beginning, the
Europeans have had vintage car
activities. They had them in the
'20s for turn-of-the-century chuf-
fers. After World War I, Amer-
icans began to collect and drive
"old" cars and after World War
II, we started organizing old-car
events, tours mostly. Then vin-
tage racing began to grow in the
The Vintage Sports Car Club
of America had great gatherings
beginning in 1959. The Glidden
Tour started in the early part of
the century as a social event for
wealthy motorists who want-
ed to tour the country with their
like-minded friends. The Glid-
den Tour is now an enormous
gathering of cars from those ear-

ly days. It is a good reason to
spend a few days in the country
at grand old inns, eating great
food and finishing the days with
great wines. And, as a friend of
mine says, "telling lies and kick-
ing tires."
Now the Europeans have be-
come competitive. All the fa-
mous old Alpine rallies are
being restaged for cars that ran
in them decades ago. Italy's leg-
endary Mille Misslia, a 1000-
mile race from Brescia down the
Adriatic coast, over the Abruzzi
to Rome and back to Brescia,
was restaged in 1982 for vintage
cars built between 1927 and
1957, the years of the original
event. It has become one of Eu-
rope's most popular events and
dozens of Americans have par-
The Pirelli Classic Rally is an-
other event with hundreds of
participants. Now we have sev-
eral different 1000-mile events
staged all around the country;
but, so far, they are not com-
petitive. They are simply gath-
erings of great cars and great
car people who enjoy a quick dri-
ve on good roads through beau-
tiful country.
While not officially competi-


Vintage automobiles line up to participate
in a road rally. Drivers check their en-
gines before starting the race.

tive, many of these events are
primarily for sports-racing cars
and the speeds can be daunting
for the average driver. Most of
the participants are vintage
road racing enthusiasts, but
that's another story.
The most curious thing about
these events, both in Europe
and in the States is that there
are always a large percentage
of million-dollar cars or former-
ly million-dollar cars partici-

pating. Unlike many con-
cours d'elegance or vintage
racing events, these events
do not permit a crew. You
bust it; you fix it.
For example: During a
recent California Mille, the
first of its kind in this coun-
try, a beautiful Bugatti
Type 57SC roadster broke
an oil line to its super-
charger. The owner/driver,
a very successful business-
man, removed the offend-
ing line, had it soldered at
a welding shop in a tiny vil-
lage in northern California;
and early the next morning
he was seen under the
Bugatti completing the re-
Another participant was
driving a highly modified Mod-
el A Ford which broke a crank-
shaft, a terminal failure. By late
afternoon, the owner had made
contact with the local Model A
network and a replacement
crankshaft was offered. By 4
a.m. the next morning, the own-
er, a small group of volunteers
from the event and a couple of
locals had the car running and
ready for the morning restart.
Car guys. These open-road

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