California Mille founder Martin Swig loved small Italian cars …

19 мая 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи California Mille founder Martin Swig loved small Italian cars … отключены
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California Mille Chronicles: The Lancias that could

by Davey G. Johnson.

Kenosha Warwick and their baby like this: the 1953 Healey SII roadster driven by and Debbie Keck. Photo by G. Johnson.

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California Mille Martin Swig loved his Italian cars, and he loved them fast.

His first with the Lancia Ardea above was in 1955, when he in Italy during college; he Italy’s finest roads in a Beetle that he’d from Mexico. And one day while the Futa-Raticosa pass, at a pace he was sufficiently sporting, his Beetle had the doors blown off by an Ardea. may have been a picnic on the back seat.

Martin the next 80 kilometers caning the in an attempt to catch the Ardea. No luck. The driver was a local; are strongest when met with machinery on familiar roads. the impression was set for young Swig.

He collect Italian cars for but never unearthed an Ardea buying.

Until this It was found in an Italian classified ad the phrase conservato: preserved. purchased it sight unseen. The proved to be sufficiently trustworthy; changed hands across and oceans.

As the Ardea was en route in a container in the North Atlantic, suffered a fatal stroke on 3, 2012.

It would be the last car ever purchased. And he would not to drive it.

Blake Z. Rong

Rumbling the Golden Gate. Replace with Race Williams.

rolled out the diminutive Ardea in 1939, continuing an Italianate of cars named after coastal towns and Roman roads. Aprillia, Artena, they all roll off the edge of the with a sense of implied and romanticism, overshadowing the cars to their names are attached. conjure images of demure girls in sundresses curled up on the seat during frenetic dashes across the countryside.

is no such speed with the Its 900cc engine is the smallest V4 ever produced, rated at a 30 horsepower. Top speed: wavering 100 kph (60 mph, to voi americani ), on a speedometer, — surprisingly — is the accurate gauge in the car. All power is mated to the world’s production 5-speed manual.

But that power requires of left-handed rowing, a task as confusing as putting on pants the leg first. Even though started driving on the right in as decreed by an angry fellow Mussolini, Lancia built RHD well past his reign.

With the steering wheel at the of the road, it’s easier to the distance from the wheels to the of Italy’s treacherous seaside

The Ardea, though, was not our first of the day. We would spend the day with Howard and David Martin’s two sons. Howard, the of the two, would be driving his 1925 Lancia Lambda, a flivver that was among his favorite cars. He would be the person to drive the Lambda Martin’s passing. But he wouldn’t the entire route — we drive as far as San Rafael, a short past the Golden Gate

Then, his brother David take over in the Ardea Howard met us for lunch.

The two cars represent what Martin best in his automobiles: 30 years of technological gusto and a path by firsts.

The Lancia Lambda was the car with a monocoque construction and one of the with an independent suspension: a pillar setup, which prove competent on the 101 freeway. advanced for its time, the Lambda had the first V4 engine, the motor launched its proud and stubborn of V engines — including the production V6 in the 1950 Aurelia. would stick with V4s 1976, when the last rolled off the Chivasso line.

Lambda started as a 2.3-liter; it was given a big-bore kit, it out to 3.0 liters, giving it some brio . It whimpered softly the throng of bystanders at the Fairmont. we turned onto California it roared. The V4 sounded like an diesel, especially when trounced on the throttle to keep the up. Up Nob Hill we went, past Cathedral, over the trolley Its fumes smelled like China during rush

The shifter looked like it was from Verne’s Nautilus. A containing masterpieces, indeed.

Swig drove this car on Milles, usually quickly. One he delivered a stout whooping to a in a Cunningham C3 up a mountain.

It’ll do 90 mph, Howard opined. I haven’t, but I’m our dad did.

Howard kept the big moving with traffic, lanes with aplomb. All old require more sympathy other cars, but in the end, just cars, he explained. And If 14-15 year old kids something with drum they’d appreciate modern more. Through the tunnels and the Golden Gate Bridge, we laughed, waved at traffic past. When Howard on the brakes, the steering wheel

The looming windscreen did absolutely an experience akin to sticking head in front of Maxell’s speaker. We tailgated a Mini with a woman sticking out the sunroof, a Canon DSLR in one She waved with the other.

The hapless driver pretended not to

Blake Z. Rong

Howard in the demonstrating a startling lack of mustache.

We switched cars at San Howard would ride his mother, Esta, directly to in an Audi A4 wagon. David over and we climbed into the Ardea to continue heading This is flat-out here.

going up a mountain, you see, noted as we took a ramp 101. We nearly reached 80

David’s first time in the was only last Sunday, it was brought back to life. He it around for about 60 miles, a fraction of the 946-mile slog he’d just undertaken. The feels a little different last week, he said as we along. And I don’t know that weird vacuum is. It wasn’t there last when I drove it.

It goes away when on the throttle.

But you’re never off the Does the horn work?

I into it while shifting week, said David. It turn off for a while. I’m not test it out and have 900 miles of

At this point, the urgency of our truly sunk in. Lunchtime was As rally organizer, David had to an appearance. We were in the slowest one that had started late swapping Lancias in San Rafael.

checked his Chopard Mille watch. OK. It’s a bit before We got 70 miles to go, in a car that only 60 mph. And we gotta be there in 40

And so we went. Over the hills of 121 and past Lake Berryessa. We to get gas in Winters; water and a bag of almonds shared. So now we’re halfway to muttered David. Jesus.

A 72 miles to go, an hour and a half by estimates. We headed out across the fields of the Central Valley, by heat and cooled by wind.

The took up its own rhythm. David its groove perfectly up Highway 16 and the of Baldy Mountain as we traced the shores of Cache Creek. uphills, again, this evoking a nervous oh God from

The speedometer needle dipped Each downshift meant a loss of momentum. We averaged 50 kph until we stopped to help out a and their 1954 Alfa 1900 SS Zagato, a car so gorgeous it was of bringing tears to one’s

It broke a front-wheel bearing, sublime even on the side of the What Italian car doesn’t?

I guess we’ll get a rental the co-driver lamented.

We left waiting for Conrad Stevenson, the jack-of-all-trades mechanic, a mythical for whom the broken wait, Beckett’s Godot. A mechanical Maybe, just maybe, he have a wheel bearing for an Romeo.

It’s gonna be a day, said David.

We into Williams shortly 1 p.m. Granzella’s Banquet was still serving the finest and barbeque chicken in Colusa Half of the competitors had moved on, and the hall was nearly empty for Howard, Mama Swig, comrade-in-arms Davey G. Johnson. and an couple whose Nash-Healey some nasty rod knock.

We that between dropping off the and stopping for gas, and wheezing for 160 miles we’d made good time.

Blake Z.

Beautiful when broken.

The experience is awash in the notion of could have been. in point: next year be the 24 th anniversary of the California Mille. of the 25 th. it’s this signifier Swig the elder held as a of concept: 24 years was how long the Mille Miglia ran, 1927 to 1957, pausing for a pesky world war. sought to ensure that his would survive to equal the of the original race.

Any doubters by now have seen themselves

The Lancia Ardea, of course, hand-in-hand with Martin’s romances. Imagine that, driving the car he found after six on the rally he led for 24 years!

And then, greatly inconvenienced these by passing away.

Swig’s may be intertwined with the rally he bore, but the show must go on; the (who pay $6,000 for the privilege, not the cost of transporting their must always keep They must, well, on. As long as there are fabulous old to drive, and beautiful California to inhale, lavish dinners and big and Chopard ref.

168511-3001 Chronographs. then the storm of that departed north afternoon toward Redding be testament that there’s inspiration out there, derived running the most beautiful on Earth in the manner for which designed. Truth, wisdom and lurk in these hills, veins tapped by the sonorous of a 1954 Kurtis 500KK and its supercharger and twin Zenith echoing off the Coast Range.

exactly the way Martin would it.

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