Archive for the ‘Driver Focus’ Category

The Final Drive 2015

December 6, 2015

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Well the end of the driving season has commensed and all good Fuelfed enthusiasts have put their classics to sleep for the winter. This now gives us much needed time to reflect. So now lets start with the last work backwards from TFD15.2.

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While we’d like to talk about interesting tid-bits on this driver boot camp weekend, it’s best to leave what happened on TFD15.2 back in the coolies between Stages 3 & 4 to protect the guilty. So let’s stick with a light overview.

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We always seem to be blessed with incredible weather for this event and 2015 was no different. Fuelfed members from as far as Denver, Indianapolis & Minneapolis made the trek in Friday in order to drive on Saturday. There’s a reason why there’s a waiting list and it isn’t for the beer.

 

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Unfortunately we lost a Group Leader at the last minute, forcing us into 3 Run Groups (RGs) rather than 4. We have to commend Neal A., Nick M., & Andy D., for rising to the occasion and doing another great job of shuffling vastly different cars and their equally varied drivers.

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The end of Stage 1 always brings a lot of driver chatter and needed RG adjustments. By Stage 4, RGs have found their synergy with adrenaline high and right feet heavy as everyone tries to beat the sun down to the banks of the Mississippi.

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This year, Stage 4 was redirected midway due to random construction. RG2 lost a car due to oiling failure. As TFD rule goes: bring your AAA card and lots of cash. Yes the hot little 2002 was pushed into a corn field and then recovered the following morning by it’s owner and three very generous friends from Chicago.

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October 23, 2015

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After college, I got into vintage BMW motorcycles. My father took great interest in my new passion. Always wanting the best, he of course trumped my R60/2 with a R69s. It was during this time in our lives that I got to know my father for the truly great man he was. We learned to ride together. We learned to work on the bikes together. But more importantly, we became great friends. Our favorite rides together, were late night rides up Sheridan Rd. We’d ride in tandam at the same speed to get the bikes rpms in sync and the glorious sound would make us laugh. The rides would culminate on a park bench over looking Lake Michigan in Lake Bluff. He’d bring the flask of bourbon and I’d bring the cigars. We’d sit there talking about life until the wee morning hours. I truly felt connected to my father during these rides.

It’s hard to believe I lost my father three years ago tonight. It feels like he’s been gone 20.

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Abbey & Lou @ Pebble Beach

August 24, 2015

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Of all the Fuelfed members at Pebble Beach this past weekend, none is more deserving of showing than our own Abbey & Lou Natenshon. Those who have been with the club for a while or have been to Coffee & Classics Winnetka have surely met Lou or at least seen either his boat tail Invicta, yellow Iso Griffo or red Devin. Abbey & Lou have given to the Chicagoland classic scene for decades. Whether it was the Auto Historica, Millers at the Mile or their private house parties, they have always kept the standard high and their passion constant. We’ve even had the privilege of drifting around the MKE Mile in Lou’s 1933 Flathead Ford Indy car at the hands of Rex.

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So this year Abbey & Lou brought their 1937 Peugeot 402 Cabby out west for the festivities. Now Lou isn’t one to fuss over minute concours details, as he’d prefer to drive rather than polish, so we’re sure it was a painful preparation. Regardless, they made the scene in grand style and made us all proud.

Looking forward to seeing what Lou’s drives this Sunday morning to Winnetka.

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We Lose One of Our Own

June 19, 2015

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We sadly lost Tom Caulfield of Janesville, WI earlier this week. Tom was a founding father of the Ferrari Club of America and the New Glarus Hill climb.

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Tom had a penchant for Italian exotics and enjoyed restoring them almost as much as he did driving them. If it had a Colombo 12 in it, Tom was the master.

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We met Tom and his son Kevin later in his career as the two were driving and sharing their Pebble winning 1951 212 Berlinetta Touring with the rest of us. Many a historic race weekend at Elkart was spent sitting and chatting with Tom at Burdies Nest on Lake St. as the throngs of unknowing spectators streamed past. Tom and Kevin had a tight bond that we here at Fuelfed can relate to first hand.

Our warmest condolences go out to Kevin and the rest of the Caulfield family.

Fuelfed Member in the Wall Street Journal

April 12, 2015

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You’ve seen Tim driving one of his many British and German classics at Coffee & Classics and Spontaneous Combustions. Our FFG100 member was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal last month. This time Tim discusses his FFotW two year project.

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This Was Better Than Christmas Or My Birthday

February 9, 2015

A package arrived on my doorstep last Friday. It was from Palo Alto Speedometer. Inside were my 1967 Porsche 912 gauges lovingly, meticulously and painstakingly refurbished.

Opening that box, I felt like a little kid again. I wanted to sleep with them that night but my wife wisely said no.

They came out really, really well. I can’t wait to see them back in the car.

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Classic Bronco Barn Find Triple Header

February 1, 2015

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It’s late on Saturday night and I get a call from member Cam Adams. Ok, now what classic Porsche did he unearth now? Not quite. The call was to inquire if I would be interested in tagging along as he attempts to pull off a triple header in Silver Lake, WI. Cam and I share a passion for air-cooled 911s that goes way back to when you could get a 1973 911S for $6500. Remember those prices? Thought not. Anyway, this was not about a Porsche find, but something just as iconic. First up was a 1974 uncut Ford Bronco (yes, uncut). Second was a 1960 Airstream camper to give the Bronco some company. Third was still a rumor. A rumor of a rust-free 1960 Ford Falcon coupe sleeping in the pole barn behind the Bronco.

I’m in.

Now this wasn’t some staged fancy Wayne Carini crap. This was going to be pure Chicago style.

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First, we meet at the Brat Stop at 9:30am and head together to Silver Lake. Gotta like the Brat Stop. It’s a very tired supper club with its original 1964 styling with 1994 styled Cheeseheads all wearing Packer jerseys. A quick wake-up beer and we’re off heading west on highway 50.

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Henry, Cam & Mike are in the Silverado with a trailer. I follow in Monty. We pull three blocks into the residential area of west Silver Lake and there they are, sitting all forlorn in the snow. Cam wastes no time and gets the owner out to show the Bronco and Airstream.

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Henry & Mike start adding a fresh battery & fuel (a cheap over the border $1.99 per gallon!) to the Bronco, and before I come get some interior shots they had it idling. Cam does a walk around the Airstream and then inquires about this mystery Falcon.

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The owner opens the pole barn door and there it was, in its original factory-green patina and South Dakota 1988 plates with gas cans, chainsaws, milk crates and outboard motors guarding it. Cam clears a path along the side and jumps in. There’s no interior, just a spare steering column and milk crate to sit on. It’ll fire, but not run. Gotta push it out. Crap!

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Now we have move everything out of the way. Hmmm… Cam is now missing as is the owner. Five minutes later, out come Mrs. Owner & Mr. Owner all smiles with Cam following behind. No, that’s not the triple header, that Cam intended. “Time to move the Airstream boys,” he blurts. “We got us a Falcon to take home.”

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Within seconds, the Bronco (still idling) is backed to the Airstream and they’re hitched. First gear with the three on the tree and the Airsteam gladly follows the Bronco out onto the street.

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Now it’s time to see if our luck holds with the Falcon starting after 10 years of dirty sleep.

Starter fluid squirt, pop-pop-pop. Squirt squirt, pop pop. Squirt, varoooooom, pop. Nothing doing. Time to just get the old Falcon on the trailer. Everyone pushes, pulls, swears, slips and groans, but the old girl sees the light of day.

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No way this is going to get up on the trailer with us pushing on ice. Fine; let’s try fresh gas and a six pack of New Glarus Moon Man. Well, it’s 11:00am and it’s Wisconsin for Buckys’ sake.

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Yeah, that’s not working. Let’s just drag it up on the trailer with a tow strap. Old Monty is called to duty. Two minutes later the Falcon is up  and getting ratcheted down. Done!

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Quick goodbyes and we’re off. Bronco seems to like its new job of hauling its little silver buddy around through the twisties. Henry, Mike & I follow protectively like young fathers watching their son ride a two-wheeler for the first time.

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We make it to highway 50 and Cam wants to get fresh fuel and check some things under the hood. I’m impressed the Ford hasn’t burned its brakes and transmission yet. Oh wait, it won’t go into second and there were no brakes to start with. What would Mr. Carini do? Oh, he’d be in the limo half way to O’Hare by now, leaving the real work to his crew of 25 to tough it out.

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The snowmobilers didn’t blink an eye at the two American relics collecting salt fueling next to them.

Back on highway 50 Cam slows it down as the Bronco and Airstream start fighting for tram lining rights over the truck-made ruts.

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Twenty minutes of tedious navigating at 60mph and everyone makes it to the Brat Stop for brunch. Everything still intact, including the snow clinging to the roofs of the orange & silver tandom.

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Now I’ve pulled a lot of cars out of some scary places in my car hunting adventures, but I’ve always brought tools, motoring provisions and my platinum AAA card. You know, just in case.

Not Cam or Henry. They just seem to know that things will just work out. It’s refreshing to see car guys who believe in their seasoned skills and guts and not rely on their iPhone and Google safety nannies.  Now that’s the Fuelfed Spirit!

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Speed Hunting in Europe

January 5, 2015

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The greatest attribute of Fuelfed is the passion and uniqueness of it’s members. Each brings his or her own approach to European classic car ownership. In this post, we have a great adventure by our own Luis Arisso and his version of speed hunting. By speed, we don’t mean mph. We’ll let Luis explain.

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I recently returned from a lightning road trip of northern Europe — five countries in 5 day (~1,500 miles), checking out several European classics for potential purchase. I’ve had a hankering for a proper Italian classic and the timing was just right with several interesting cars listed for sale in Holland, Germany and Sweden.

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In Holland I visited: The Gallery in Brummen (www.thegallerybrummen.nl), Classic Park in Boxtel (www.Classicpark.nl ) and Classic Lancia in Houten (www.classiclancia.com ). The map below shows the first day’s route:

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At The Gallery, Nick Aldering Jr. kindly spent time with me showing and driving the ’72 Espada (series 1), the primary reason for my visit there.

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I have an affinity for this perennial underdog of the Lamborghini family, plus it remains the last remaining ‘affordable’ Italian V12. I had never seen an Espada in the flesh, and in spite of many hours spent looking at pictures, I was struck by its presence and just how low the car feels, which is lower than it actually is (5” lower than most 911’s) on account of its girth, not large by today’s standards but certainly so back then. This particular example’s redone interior lets it down, in my opinion, plus it didn’t feel right on the road, given its asking price; however, the quality of the repaint is good and the engine is visually appealing. I could’ve spent many more hours there. The Alderings have a collection of cars for sale you won’t find at very many places.  My favorites: Not one, but two Montreals (the blue one was headed for Arizona), BB512 (x2), Flaminia (spider and coupé), Jarama (more of a brute in person than in pictures) and even an Iso Fidia (what’s the story?!).

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At Classic Park NL, Martin Bax was great and showed me their Urraco P250, even putting it up on the lift for me. It has an absolutely delicious color, very close to Verde Miura. Some mechanicals in need of sorting made the driving strenuous and the decidedly non-original interior is not what I’m looking for, but it is otherwise a very nice car with very good paint and body.

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Classic Lancia’s E.S.G. de Haas (“Ele”) is an energetic and resourceful 63 , going on 33, who has a passion for recreating Lancias – Flavia, Flaminia and Fulvia, predominantly. The bodies are crafted and painted in Hungary and in his shop the mechanicals are thoroughly revised to modern standards. The list of revisions is lengthy (see the car descriptions on his website) and the result is an appetizing, daily-driver quality, 50-some year old gorgeous Lancia. I drove in the Flaminia spider and the Flavia with the red leather interior; they are both sublime and the exhaust note as manly as you’d want out such elegant cars. I was tempted but I had yet to test drive 24 more cylinders worth of cars in Heide and Oxie…

More to come… Luis.

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My Hero Lives On…

October 22, 2014

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It’s hard to believe I lost my father and best friend two years ago tonight. He never got to experience Fuelfed as we know it today. And I know he would have never missed a single Coffee & Classics. Life sometimes burns that way.

The above photo was taken by my fathers good friend and Time/Life photographer Michael Mauney sometime around 1978 in Michael’s driveway. That black 1972 280SE 4.5 served as the family tank after the ’67 911 rusted through.

Michael too, was a Fuelfed spirit, always driving a 356 or cool Mercedes coupe. Looking at Michael’s website refreshes the memory of what great photography should be.

Burt Levy’s Perspective on Fuelfed & Spontaneous Combustion

August 7, 2014

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The famous automotive author and insightful verbal colorist; Burt Levy, recently gave his perspective on July’s Spontaneous Combustion at the The Last Detail. We’ll let him tell it his was below. We also want to thank Tom & Ted for hosting our little gathering.  Make sure to stop their shop in Kenilworth and visit them online.

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“Thanks to Fuelfed, there’s a bunch of organized & purposely under-the-radar local car crazies who do several relaxed, informal, eclectic & thoroughly enjoyable “coffee and classics” around Chicago’s generally posh North Shore each year. They also do these so-called “spontaneous combustion” gatherings at various Places of Interest that are more-or-less motorized Flash Mobs of neat cars and the neat people who own, are attracted by or find themselves incurably addicted to them.

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The point here is that there was one last Thursday at my friend Tom Snellback’s nifty The Last Detail Galleria in Kenilworth, and so Carol and I decided to attend (there was a nice meal at a nearby restaurant that serves organic chicken thrown in for spouse sugar).
Now Tom used to race with us quite a bit (and he was damn good at it, too) but he’s been busy the last many years running his successful and highly respected The Last Detail restoration shop & showroom up in North Chicago, IL. But I’d never been to his new showroom/art & memorabilia gallery on Green Bay Road (just about a mile from where I grew up) and it is really something special. Made even more special by all the hot and cool cars the Fuelfed types arrived in!

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We had everything from an elegant Chapron-bodied 1950 Delahaye coupe to a sharp red Alfa Montreal to an incredibly sanitary and only slightly rod-ized early fifties Dodge wagon (mit small Hemi, of course) to a rather charming black Ferrari 250GT PF coupe, plus the usual and expected XKEs, upright & arthritic Brit 4-bangers, Alfa Giuliettas, Duettos, GTVs, etc.

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Porsches of every conceivable age and description and an absolutely GORGEOUS, just finished & beautifully detailed TVR Vixen with a Rover aluminum V8 (the old GM Buick-Olds-Pontiac aluminum V8 second-handed to the Brits) stuffed neatly inside.

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The thing was molten-lipstick red with white racing stripes, and it really brought a smile to the faces of both wife Carol and myself on account of we courted in a similar car back when I had an excruciatingly serious case of TVR-itis (from which, to be honest, I’ve never fully recovered).”

– BS Levy

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