Sunday, September 14, 2008

Our First Award

The LCC-MDR guys hosted their annual early Fall event known as "Something About Saugatuck" in S.W. Michigan last weekend. A handful of guys from the Chicago area brought their cars out in the endless rain to be part of this annual event. The meet was held in Saugatuck/Douglas, MI at an all-inclusive, somewhat retro 1950's resort.

The west coast of Michigan is known as Chicago's Hamptons with many lake-side resort towns that span the last 100 years. This event is usually well attended by at least 6 Midwestern groups with guys from Minneapolis, Chicago, SW Michigan, Detroit, Indy and Columbus. Our group booked the entire resort and the spill-over at nearby hotels.

Mother Nature was not cooperating and gave us the combined efforts of a Northwest weather front combined with the remnants of Hurricane Ike - bringing billions of gallons of rain to the upper Midwest. We remained optimistic as the 10-day weather forecast gave us a mere 30% chance of rain all weekend.

We removed the hard-top from the Clenet and relied on the canvas soft-top to keep us dry and headed towards Saugatuck on Friday morning. There were momentary patches of light rain as we motored along, nothing that we felt would become a problem. We expected some rain infiltration into the car as we both drove MG's when we were in our late teens and early 20's.

We arrived at the host resort, parked the Clenet outside our first-floor room and immediately began to party. This was the first large-scale meet where we shown the Clenet. Many of the guys asked questions and we gladly answered.

The car show was held at its scheduled time on Saturday with everyone walking among the cars with their umbrellas or hefty-bags used as makeshift rain gear. Nobody was going to let a little rain dampen our spirits. Ken joined us just after the car show and brought my XK-8 from Three Oaks. Later that night at the awards banquet, our Clenet took runner-up for the "Best Saugatuck Cruiser" award. Mario and I are absolutely delighted considering the competition was fierce.

With the rain not letting up on Sunday morning, Ken and I decided to leave early and head back to Three Oaks, letting Mario take the Jag on real estate appointments. The rain continued and the Clenet let us know he was not happy being driven in it. The water entered the passenger compartment from behind the dash, through the rear window stitching and at least a half-dozen other entry points.

We now understand the Clenet is a fair-weather vehicle...but at least we have our first trophy to show off!

-Ron Zarantenello

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Years Later...

The original idea for my Clenet blog is to share my excitement and enthusiasm with anyone interested. Today I have to say something to honor those who lost their lives, their survivors and the valiant heroes of that fateful day seven years ago.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001 had begun as any other late summer/early fall day here in Chicago. Clear and brisk with the remnants of the morning dew evaporating into what would have been a spectacular warm and sunny day.

I had just purchased and moved into my two-flat the weekend prior and felt great about my new home and neighborhood. I left my Lincoln Square home at 6:45 a.m. and headed north to Glencoe, IL instead of downtown Chicago where our offices are located. My crew and I were to start one of our typical location photo-shoots at a private residence for our client, Spiegel Catalog. Being the producer of the shoot, I like to be the first to arrive at the location.

Knowing that I wasn't in any rush, I followed surface streets instead of the expressway from the north side of Chicago and into the suburbs. The convertible top of my Mercedes 560SL Roadster was lowered as I motored along, stopping at a local coffee shop midway to my destination. The weather was wonderful and I was feeling good that my client chose a local home to use for the shoot as I absolutely love being in the Midwest for these crisp late-summer days.

I arrived at the home and met with the homeowners who were eager to host a commercial photo-shoot. I went into "Ron, the producer" mode and walked about their home detailing the progression of our shooting schedule. Everything was going smoothly as my photographer and client set up the first shot of the day. As the crew was making decisions on lighting and props, the homeowner hurried into the kitchen where we were shooting and turned on the small counter-top television. She exclaimed that a small plane had just hit one of the WTC towers. We immediately focused on that small screen showing a live-feed of the towers.

The world changed as we knew it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Some minor changes...

My brother Mario and I have been tooling with the idea of making some minor and one major change to the car.

The minor changes include exterior and interior lighting. The one and only element on the car that we think could have been better executed are the exterior turn signal lamps. We both agree they seem too large and flat, especially the front indicators. We would prefer smaller, chrome bullet style indicators that would mimic the shape of the driving lights and headlamp pods.

As for the rear turn indicator lamps, we are both in agreement they should be chrome bullets with a square lens as all other rear lighting lenses are square when viewed from behind.

On a recent weekend trip to visit our niece at her cottage in rural Illinois, we came across the retail space for JC Whitney auto and cycle parts. I found several bullet style lamps that could be used for either hot-rods or motorcycles. We purchased a few varieties for both the front and rear of the car and will make the decision to swap these out from the Yamaha cycle indicators that Alain originally used.

All original parts and pieces will be stored safely at Mario's home if we ever need to put the car back to original condition.

As for the interior lighting, while driving at night, the lower dash beneath the tray is not lit very well. The two small pivoting lights buried in the floor carpets between the seats do not illuminate the lower dashboard as planned. To bring more light onto the lower dash, we found a few small chrome lamps that can be mounted to the underside of the dash tray and attached to the dash lights. This will require some planning on our part for the aesthetics and electrical work required.

Now...for the more drastic changes...
We recently received word from our adjuster and appraiser from Hagerty Insurance regarding the collision repairs that are necessary from last month's little fender-bender. Both fenders need to be removed from the car to ensure a proper repair. With both fenders needing to be removed, repaired and then subsequently repainted, Mario and I are toying with the idea of changing their color from dark gray to deep red - to match the leather interior. We've seen similar color combinations where the body is light with dark fenders and alternating painted pin-stripes to coordinate the two colors - something like Jerry Capizzi's former Series I.

We are both intrigued with the idea, however we also realize the original gray on gray color combination is truly a classic design and should be honored.

We have a few months to think this change over as the car will be going into the body shop after we are done showing and driving the car this season.
-Ron Zarantenello