With the spring thaw, more than blossoms emerge. Interesting cars and motorcycles are appearing all over metro Detroit. They can be seen cruising Woodward, parked in front of the popular pubs, and even on Craigslist. There are currently three vehicles on Craigslist that I find quite tempting. Two are Alfa Romeo cars built in the 1980s. The odds of two Alfas becoming available locally are pretty low, but two that look quite nice and are cheap enough to actually be considered by me is almost inconceivable. There is also a surprisingly clean and original looking BSA motorcycle that is priced in line with the usual neglected choppers and basket cases. I’m hoping all these sweet rides sell quickly to remove the temptation. I probably have better uses for my money and I certainly don’t have the space for more stuff.
Editor’s Note: this entry was written as a sort of audition for BAT. I never heard back from them, so it may be crap, or just not what they were looking for.
This 1955 MG TF is said to be an aging amateur restoration that could use some refreshing or serve as a nicely patina-ed driver. The current seller has only owned the car for four years and did not do the restoration, though he does indicate that it runs well and most of the gauges and switches work. It photographs well and seems like a very classy car for the money. Find it
here on Craigslist in Ann Arbor, MI for $20,000.
The white over green color scheme looks great and really suites the character of the TF. Though the paint appears to be a bit dull, and some chips are visible, it looks like it presents well and might be suitable for a car that gets driven. All badges and trim appear to be present. The chrome bits are said to show some pitting, but at least everything looks to be reasonably straight.
The seats are a lovely shade of green and look quite inviting. The seller indicates that there is some fading and wear to the interior, but there are no tears in the seats. The steering wheel appears to be an aftermarket replacement and should be replaced with a correct one to improve the cockpit aesthetic. Not many details are included as to precisely which components are inoperable, but it is stated that the odometer does not work. A top and side curtains are included but are rodent damaged.
The engine is the base 1250cc and appears to be the correct unit for this model. The engine bay is far from concourse condition, but we have seen far worse. These cars are said to expect regular maintenance but are relatively simple machines. An occasional Saturday spent making sure an old MG is in fine fettle does not seem like an unpleasant proposition to us.
This car is priced in the middle of the range between basket cases and perfect examples, so it may be priced just right. As with any older restoration, a careful buyer will need to look for hidden problems like excessive filler and structural rust. This seems like a great opportunity for someone seeking a driver or rolling restoration project if it really is as good as it looks.
It is cold and icy outside, leaving me more than ample time to daydream inside. I have been pondering many things. Perhaps I should get myself a new toy, either two wheels or four. There is a semi-local Porsche 944S that has been on craigslist for a while. I have resisted the temptation to call thus far, but it’s exactly the kind of car I might buy on impulse. Interesting and relatively cheap. I’ve always liked the 944. I think it is a nice looking car and they are certainly fun to drive. If I only had more garage space…
I am thinking a café racer build could be a fun diversion as well. I think I’d go for either an old British single, like a BSA 441, or maybe a Harley Davidson Sportster. The Sportster idea seemed somewhat unique when I started toying with the idea a while back, but it seems like everyone has had the same idea and I’ve seen a café Sportster in just about every magazine I’ve picked up lately, and even a couple for sale on eBay.
Of course, I already have a nice Camaro I could do something with. The 305 it came with is not exactly a tire burner, but perhaps a mean crate engine could wake the car up. This seems a somewhat more ambitious project for someone of my limited skills. It may scratch the itch I have for “more car”, while leveraging what I already have.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind something vintage to take on leisurely drives through the country and to car shows. I recently learned of a car that greatly interests me, the Healey Elliott. Unfortunately, it seems that not many were built and fewer survive today. I will keep my eyes open nonetheless, but I doubt my casual search will turn up much. I might settle for an old Jaguar Sedan or Ferrari 308. I can’t seem to focus on any one type of car.
The hard truth is that I probably enjoy dreaming about cars more than actually owning them. The reality is often far different than the dream. Real cars take up space in your garage, occasionally leak toxic waste, and need constant attention or they become a headache of the highest magnitude. I may continue to dream for now.
I recently discovered the fun to be had with Google’s Ngram Viewer. In simple terms, it allows anyone to graph the relative frequency of words or phrases in all of the millions of books that Google has digitized. The real fun comes in when we search multiple phrases to get a feel for things like the relative popularity of specific motorcycle makes and models over time. It looks like the Triumph Bonneville wins again (excepting for a notable spike in Norton Commando popularity from 1970-77).
My wife went for a ride along in a Camaro drag car on the evening before the official Woodward Dream Cruise. The hoon in question is her boss and the ride was really just a pair of parking lot burnouts. The law showed up a couple minutes after the car was parked and angrily threatened to close the parking lot, which was a bit unpleasant, but I guess that is par for the course. The police HATE burnouts of any kind and are quick to come down on anyone with an overzealous right foot during the cruise. I can’t say I blame them, shenanigans could easily get out of hand with so many people and cars packed onto Woodward. Anyway, the car in question appeared to be well prepared and sounded pretty nice. This is what the fuss was about:
Detroit gets a lot of bad press over a variety of issues, but it is still a beautiful city and a Fun and vibrant place. This photo was taken during the evening, facing west from the top of the large earthen mound at one end of William G. Milliken State Park. This is approximately the mid point between the Riverwalk and the Rivertown Warehouse District You wouldn’t know this is a troubled city by watching the throngs of happy people enjoying these parks, or the groups visiting the bars of Rivertown. Speaking of bars, I highly recommend a visit to Atwater Brewery if you are in this area. I’ve honestly never been a fan of their bottled beer when I’ve purchased it from stores, but it seems better at the source. The venue is fairly unusual as the bar is literally at one end if their warehouse, complete with huge vats, a forklift and pallets of cased beer. If you haven’t been to Detroit in a while, you should visit. The city core is not huge so it’s a great place to explore on foot or bicycle. Plus, we all need to visit the amazing Detroit Institute of Arts now, in case something unforgivable occurs during the bankruptcy reorganization.