Monday, November 2, 2009

LCC-LMR Fall Driving Tour 2009

Finally...a weekend without rain! A few weeks ago, the LCC-LMR hosted the last official driving event of the year that combined two great interests of mine. Cars and architecture!

Mario and I met at the garage where the Clenet is being stored, lifted the overhead door and pushed it out into the driveway. The garage being located under a lakefront home has a pesky CO detector in an adjoining room that enjoys hampering our day by quietly phoning ADT Home Security Services should we dare turn the ignition key with the car parked inside.

With the Clenet outside and the overhead door closed, we fired up our baby and headed for the far western suburbs of Chicago to meet with the LCC-LMR guys. We drove just under two hours & over 90 miles to enjoy a 1-hour driving tour...go figure!

Bright and early this wonderful crisp & sunny Sunday morning, about 50 guys met up at a riverside park at Batavia, IL. We enjoyed hot coffee & cider with our morning pastries while gossiping and checking out the fabulous cars brought out for this drive. They were all quite wonderful and ranged from the 50's through modern. Mario and I were nearly the last to arrive and quickly parked behind a white-on-white Cadillac Eldorado Convertible.

A good hour of lively morning banter had passed with the guys were ready to assemble the caravan for our drive to Farnsworth House in Plano, IL. This would be my third visit to Farnsworth, the first being in the late 90’s just after Peter Palumbo finished an extensive renovation. The driving tour was somewhat uneventful and the fall colors were mostly hues of yellow and gold due to the very wet fall season. Along the route, we passed through several small villages with interesting architecturally-significant homes and wide open farmland.

We arrived at Farnsworth and enjoyed a private tour of the home and grounds. The home is now owned and operated by Landmarks Illinois, a not-for-profit organization that purchased the home in a much-hyped auction back in 2003.

I want to copy and build this home for myself out here in Michigan! I have become a fan of the mid-century style even though my taste has leaned towards traditional architecture and decorating. The home is basically a sparsely furnished glass box with travertine floor and white plaster ceiling yet surprisingly retains a feeling of warmth. It’s very calming.

The group toured the home and grounds for about two hours before departing for a late lunch. Mario and I said our goodbye’s after dining and drove through the southern suburbs of Chicago into Indiana towards Michigan. We returned the Clenet about twelve hours after meeting earlier in the morning and truly enjoyed our day.

Very Wet and Cold Midwest Fall Season

I feel cheated! A friend all the way back from High School posted "I can't believe it's November" on her Facebook wall this morning. I had to comment that I couldn't believe August had arrived and am in denial that September and October have come and gone!

Last Fall was warm and dry here in the Midwest. Shuttling between Chicago and the HarborCountry area of Michigan allowed me many opportunities to drive the XK8 with the top lowered. With my black leather driving gloves, I'd retrieve the Clenet from the garage and motor along the open country roads with the cool wind in my hair. Had I tried doing so this year...well, I'd still be pulling wet and slimy leaves from my face! LOL

At least I'm keeping a humorous attitude! The sunny and warm fall days were few this season and I made good use of them by taking the Clenet out for short drives.

The Clenet and my XK8 will be tucked away for the winter within a matter of weeks and I'll have to redirect my focus on other things until Spring of 2010 arrives!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Something about Saugatuck 2009

Mid September came around with the LCC-MDR guys hosting an extended weekend in Saugatuck, Michigan. My first visit to Saugatuck, MI was the summer of '89 when the Lake Michigan Region (Chicago) chapter of the LCC journeyed around the lake from Chicago. Back then, us Chicago guys would take several extended weekend trips to Saugatuck throughout the "driving" months.

This year my brother and I wanted to show the Clenet, complete with facelift and our Cadillac Fleetwood that hasn't been driving much since purchasing the Clenet last year. The weekend prior to the Saugatuck weekend, Mario pulled the Cadillac out of the garage and we spent a few hours working on it. I mentioned this in a prior blog post when I had the Clenet out front of Milda's Corner Market in Union Pier on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Our good friend Larry from Chicago wanted to join us in Saugatuck; however he recently sold his weekend cruiser, a stunning '84 Riviera Convertible named Carlotta...because she was a lot of car! I convinced Larry to bring one of the commuter trains from Chicago to nearby Michigan City, IN mid-day Friday. Mario then would collect Larry from the depot, continuing up the lakeshore to Saugatuck. I would drive the Clenet solo from New Buffalo and meet up at the host resort. Mario, Larry and I blew-off the Friday evening reception and invited antother five guys to join us for dinner in neighboring Douglas, Michigan. All eight of us nestled in the Fleetwood, we certainly made our presence known as we secured rock-star parking right out front the restaurant. Mario docked the Cadillac next to a Toyota Pius with a few chuckling as we disembarked for the restaurant. Our table being reserved allowed us to glide past those waiting in the crowded reception area and we immediately ordered several fine bottles of red. Frank and Mike…thank you for the libations!

Several Midwest regions of the LCC join the fun when the Michiana Dunes Region hosts this annual meet. We always enjoy seeing a good number of friends from both the Eastern and Western parts of Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Minneapolis. Many fabulous cars were driven with an (almost) matching pair of '56 Continentals, early 50's Bentley and the proverbial plethora of 50's / 60's chrome & fins! Muscle from the 60’s and 70’s, fully restored pick-ups and early smog/fuel shortage runabouts brought back memories of grade school and high school years!

The nice thing…our Clenet was the one and only, with the exception of a long lost relative being shown! An absolute immaculate 1979 Mercury Cougar Wagon in Forest Green graced the weekend show! The Saturday afternoon car show could not have been nicer with the weather being very cooperative and pleasant. Last year’s event was curtailed with biblical rainfall and an almost flooded Clenet!

Much fun was had all weekend with activities taking most waking hours. Sunday morning came and I had to leave early to meet Ken who was visiting with a cousin that he hadn’t seen in many years in nearby South Haven. With my weekend duffle packed, I said my goodbyes to a few friends milling about and wiping the morning dew from their cars. With coffee in hand I motored away knowing that the driving season of 2009 is just about over. I savored each and every mile driving the Clenet from Saugatuck.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Drive in Harbor Country

Warm sunshine and clear skies on a beautiful Sunday morning means that one could drive their Clenet all over Harbor long they own one! I backed our Clenet out of the garage and drove to Bailey's where I would meet Ken for breakfast this morning. I scored rock-star parking out front and took a window seat and opened my laptop. The place was busy and had a lively atmosphere.

Ken arrived about twenty minutes later. I closed the computer, ordered breakfast and enjoyed a leisurely weekend breakfast. Afterwards, Ken left to open the Featherbone Factory Store and I drove towards Lakeside towards Mario's home. Just as I turned onto the dirt road he calls a "country lane," I noticed our '67 Fleetwood driving away from his home.

I followed the Caddy to the intersection to have Mario finally realize I was in the Clenet behind him. He was about to meet a client in nearby Union Pier. Knowing this particular client, I followed and enjoyed a quick conversation at Skip's farmers market.

The Caddy has been ignored since acquiring the Clenet and Mario was going to have fun with Priscilla today. We agreed to meet back at his home to spend time freshening the old gal. On my way back towards Lakeside, I stopped at Milda's deli and bakery in Union Pier. Milda was seated outside the establishment and immediately greeted the Clenet. Yes, I digress the car usually gets top billing!

We spoke for a bit, however I was a parched and desperately needed some libation! Milda asked if I'd wait for a few minutes to give her husband time to run over with his camera. Linus has been snapping pics of customers inside the store and at times, really cool cars outside! Today was Clenet Roadster's lucky day to be the local Union Pier celeb du jour.

I stuck around, offering to reposition the car for a few shots that showed the deli in the background. While posing for the pics we were greeted by a few of Milda's customers - some inquiring about the car. I am always eager to share the Clenet story and the history of #229. Needing to get on my way back to Mario's home, I departed and agreed to bring our '67 Fleetwood Brougham this fall season. With a blast of the airhorns, I sped away to spend several hours with Mario and Priscilla, Queen of the Prairie.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Summer Drive, Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

September is here and I ask myself where summer went? Here in the Midwest, the trees will begin to change colors soon and I feel as if we didn't get to enjoy driving the Clenet that much. I just came across this photo that was taken back in July when Mario and I made an impromtu drive to Chicago on a sunny weekday afternoon.
For some reason, I had my camera with me and took a few snapshots of us motoring up Michigan Avenue, Lake Shore Drive and along various city streets. The view from behind the wheel of the Clenet is interesting at best. The hood seems to go on forever and the chrome bullet-style turn indicators act as guides to assist the driver while negotiating lanes.

This particular day I had a scheduled dental appointment in the south suburbs while Mario wanted to get his hair cut on the far north side of the city. We saw each other that morning over breakfast and each mentioned their plans to drive to Chicago. In unison, we agreed to carpool and also chose to take the Clenet. Mario's appointment was first and we drove from Michigan, through Indiana via the Toll way and entered Chicago over the Skyway toll-bridge.

Once past the Dan Ryan expressway Mario continued along Lake Shore Drive to the Hollywood Avenue exit into the Edgewater neighborhood to his barber. It was a busy early afternoon and a typical twenty minute haircut took just about an hour with waiting time. I waited outside with the car the entire time. Mario emerged from the barber and we hurried back to Lake Shore Drive to begin our forty-five minute drive into suburban Homewood for my dental appointment. Mario spent time at a local automotive retailer while I was getting my teeth cleaned. After the appointment we headed back to Michigan, just in time for dinner.

With September upon us, I have every intention to enjoy the Clenet before it will be parked for the winter. In a few short weeks the LCC-MDR region will be hosting their annual Saugatuck event and with luck, the weather will cooperate this year!

Happy motoring.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Twin For the Clenet?

Every-so-often I check out the usual on-line resources for Clenet S-1's and their related parts that might be offered for sale. In mid-July I came across a simple classified ad in the Auto Bible known as Hemmings Motor News. The four-line ad merely stated that a 1979 Clenet was being offered for sale with mileage known to be in the low 40's.

With '79 being the transitional year between the S-1 and the S-2, I was reluctant to call as the seller had not included that information nor a photo of the car. A good week had passed with my curiosity finally getting the best of me and I dialed the phone number. I was greeted by a gentleman who enjoyed having lengthy conversations. The first question I asked was if the Clenet being offered was a Series I or a Series II. The seller immediately confirmed that he was selling a genuine Series I Clenet and asked me why most callers as that question. I did not have an answer for the other people who may have called him, but my answer was that I am only interested in acquiring another Series I.

The seller being most endearing kept me on the phone for almost an hour, even though he kept telling me he needed to be at a local outdoor music performance. I was able to break the conversation and told him to enjoy his evening as I agreed to phone back the next day. That following afternoon I found time to call the seller who again was able to keep me on the phone for another hour. This time it was I who was late for a dinner engagement and did my best to get my questions answered.

Through no less than three lengthy phone conversations, the seller seemed to have an extensive history of this particular Clenet. At one point during one of the phone calls, he took his cordless phone out to the car where he was able to tell me the Car Sequence Number, VIN and other unique identifiers that confirmed the car was authentic. I had to ask these questions as I've found several advertisements offering a Clenet for sale that actually isn't.
After having the conversation with the seller, I got the crazy notion to drive 10+ hours south to see the car and called my brother Mario to see if he was up for an impromptu road trip. The following afternoon we hopped into the XK8 and drove clear through to southern Tennessee after having dinner in Louisville, Kentucky. The next morning we awoke to rainy skies and continued our journey into Alabama and arrived at the seller's home within minutes of our ETA. The rain was clearing and we were greeted with bright skies and periodic sunshine.

As we approached the home, there it was...parked outdoors under a carport. A red and beige Clenet S-1. My immediate reaction to the car was that the paint color seemed a bit "off" from what I would expect from the factory. Within a minute of inspecting the car, I confirmed the body had been repainted as the caramel leather interior didn't compliment either the body nor fender colors. The car was solid as far as the frame and metalwork were concerned, however the previous owner took too many liberties with "customizing" the vehicle by adding his monogrammed initials, tooled leather accents, various armed forces & higher education insignias everywhere possible...with a rivet gun! The fenders showed prior repair work that was sophomoric at best and many exterior accessories were broken, in need of replacement. Upon further inspection we found no less than 15 areas the first owner haphazardly engraved his name into body parts and components.

Having driven over 600 miles one way, we chose to stay longer than necessary to thoroughly inspect this particular vehicle. We took over 50 pics of the car to help reinforce our decision to take a pass on the car. The seller's opinion of stated condition varied greatly from my opinion of the vehicle. I used our Clenet as the benchmark to use as comparison when making the determination. I extended my opinion of what the car was worth (to me) and the seller immediately replied that he would not sell it for that price.

Being very disappointed with the car, Mario and I thanked the seller for his time and began our ten-hour journey back home. The entire 600 miles of driving, we never turned on the car radio; instead we talked about our Clenet, this particular Clenet among other subjects to pass the time. We both agreed that even with its issues, our car is a museum piece when compared to the poor thing we just drove 600 miles to see. As stated, the frame and metal body seems to be solid, however most everything else needs to be repaired or refurbished to bring this car around. I'd consider the challenge, however nowhere near the advertised price.

With the dog days of summer here, Mario and I are hoping that we can find time to perform some exhaust and brake work on our Clenet. In the meantime, we'll be enjoying and respecting our car.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Enjoying the summer!

We're about half way through Summer and we've been enjoying the Clenet. It's mid-July and just yesterday we drove the car from Southwest Michigan to Kankakee, IL for a LCC gathering in Cobb Park, a wonderful and historic riverside neighborhood.

We drove back to Michigan in time to attend an outdoor affair hosted by J. L. Powell and later, Music in the Park at Dewey Cannon Park in Three Oaks, Michigan. Mario drove the Clenet first to J. L. Powell and then to the park. We met with a few friends and enjoyed the performance.

The Clenet drew a good amount of attention and I let Mario field the many questions asked by the small group surrounding our car. Afterwards Ken and I walked to Infinitas Salon and Gallery for a nightcap. Mario brought the Clenet home for me and I called it an evening.

Today we agreed to show the car at J. L. Powell's outdoor show and I dropped it off just after having a late breakfast. As I arrived, I met with the owner and he immediately ushered me into a spot directly in front of his establishment. This was the very first time we ever left the Clenet unattended for more than a few minutes, however I trusted the crowd would respect it. Upon returning more than five hours later, the Clenet was 100% intact and I overheard people discussing how wonderful the looked. Again, I fielded a few questions and had a lengthy conversation about the car and Clenet Coachworks with a very eager bystander.

The Summer season is moving along and I hope we are able to enjoy a clear driving season!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gray Pinstripes Complete the Look...

After changing the fender color to red, we needed to tie-in the fenders to the body. The car came from the factory with red pinstripes hand-painted on the body to compliment the interior color. Mario and I researched all Clenet pics we could find published on the Internet. The one photograph we kept coming back to was the 3/4 view of Jerry Capizzi's wonderful Series I with burgundy red fenders and sand-colored body. I enlarged the photograph and we both decided the pinstripes were exactly what we wanted on our car.

Back in early April I found a guy here in the Chicago suburbs who specialized in hand-painted pinstripes. His website had many pics of his work and I knew he was the pinstripe artist who would finish our car. He and I spoke several times over the next few weeks and we agreed that the next time the Clenet was brought to Chicago, that he'd come downtown and stripe the car in my parking garage.

Mario and I wanted the car striped before we left for the LCCI grand invitational in Saint Louis. The day was set as Mario needed to attend a meeting at their Chicago headquarters. He drove the Clenet to Chicago the night prior and spent the night at my place. The next morning our pinstripe guy arrived with Mario eager to get him started. He set up shop in the parking garage and went to work.

When I arrive home after work, the car was complete and Mario was already on his way back to Michigan with his business partner. The Clenet would stay in Chicago another night before we would leave for Saint Louis. I couldn't be happier with the stripes and took the car for a quick drive through the Gold Coast, Lake Shore Drive and the South Loop. The car looked wonderful and complete.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Meet Me in Saint Louis

We attended the LCCI Grand Invitational held in St. Louis, hosted by the Show Me Region of our club over the extended Memorial Day holiday. Mario and I were able to catch-up with some friends we hadn’t seen in a few years as we were unable to attend the 2007 nor the 2008 Grand Invitational shows.

A small group of us from Chicago agreed to caravan down into St. Louis early Thursday morning. We agreed to meet about seventy miles southwest of Chicago in Dwight, IL with the caravan promptly departing the local BP/Burger King at eight o’clock sharp! Mario drove the Clenet to Chicago a few days earlier so that we could have the fenders hand-striped in time for the invitational. This will be another story, so keep checking in!

I set my alarm for five a.m. and woke up just before the alarm sounded. Mario was already up as I approached the guest room to wake him. We were both eager to get on the road to start our journey with the Clenet. We had the car packed by 5:45 and made our way to the local Starbuck’s in Sandburg Village by 6:00. With our morning coffee in hand, I was behind the wheel heading south on LaSalle Boulevard.

The drive down Interstate 55 was uneventful so early in the morning, however we both noticed that the traffic inbound to Chicago was already backed up for miles and miles well into the next county! Mario and I were the first of our group to arrive at the designated meeting place. We had just finished topping off the gas tank as other members from our region started to arrive. Our caravan was comprised of a very eclectic array of cars, ten in all.

Mario and I chose to drive down with the hardtop fitted to the car to make the highway driving more bearable. To our surprise, the replacement vent window seals coupled with the hardtop gave us a very quiet journey. The air conditioning was cycling as it should and we were very comfortable the entire way.

We departed at eight o’clock and continued along the Interstate in formation. Mario and I would periodically pull out of the caravan to snap some pics of our friends in their cars. As we approached St. Louis, the caravan made another stop to top off our tanks before getting into the metro area. After refueling, we had our first minor incident. The white Cadillac DeVille Convertible lost control of his throttle linkage. Mario and I hopped out of the Clenet to help resolve the problem. Mario eventually made a quick and effective roadside repair to get us on our way.

We arrived just in time for lunch that was already taking place at a lovely historic park near St. Louis University and being served under a striking Victorian-era gazebo. We were delighted to have many of the people coming over to our car, showing interest and asking many questions about the car and the make. After lunch we toured the Anheuser-Busch Brewery with the club where we enjoyed the architecture, stables, company history and some ice-cold brew afterwards. We arrived at the hotel and promptly asked the bellman to check our hardtop after removing it from the car just outside the lobby doors.

The five-day meet cumulated with the grand car show held on Sunday afternoon with an awards banquet following later that evening. I was disappointed that the Clenet did not receive any of the popular vote, however I was very proud that the car received as much attention as it did. Many, many people from the club and the public who attended this semi-private show gave the car a good deal of attention.

After meeting with a few friends at the farewell breakfast early Monday morning, we repacked the Clenet and my Jaguar XK8 that good friend Larry used for the entire weekend. The weather turned against us as we endured several wicked thunderstorms near Springfield, IL. The Clenet handled well during the torrential rain and high winds that persisted for the first hundred miles or so. The rain subsided to infrequent showers all the way through back to the Chicagoland area. We arrived back at my home where Mario then continued his journey with the Clenet back to southwest Michigan.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Chicago Yacht Club at Belmont Harbor

LCC-LMR Spring Dust Off at the Belmont Yacht Club of Chicago.

This past weekend Mario and I drove the Clenet from Michigan to the first LCC-LMR event of the season hosted by the Belmont Yacht Club. We arrived about twenty minutes into the gathering with most of the attendees already there. A parking space for the Clenet was saved closest to the harbor for the Clenet.

The last official LCC-LMR event was the Fall Driving Tour back in October of '08 just a week prior to us dismantling the fenders for the repairs over winter.

This was our official unveiling of the car after its winter transformation. Mario and I headed out from Lakeside, MI early Saturday morning after having breakfast at Bailey's in Three Oaks with Ken. We had just returned from a road trip to North Carolina via Daytona Beach, Florida. The day was cool, windy and a bit overcast. We encountered some rain through Northern Indiana, however it quickly dissipated and we were able to enjoy the Spring Dust Off event.

Many people within the car club, members of the yacht club and the general public who happened upon the car show gave us very positive feedback and many compliments. We fielded many questions and were very eager to tell the Clenet story. One man who saw the cars assembled from his high-rise across Lake Shore Drive hurried over to see them. He struck up a conversation with me and at first, didn't realize our car was a Clenet. When I had begun to tell the story, he then remembered the Clenet factory in Santa Barbara when he lived there back in the late 70's.

This coming week prior to us leaving for the LCC Grand Invitational being held in St. Louis over the extended Memorial Day holiday weekend, we are having the fenders pinstriped with a light gray paint to match the body. We will do our best to have the pinstripe artist match similar stripes that were painted on the Clenet owned by Jerry Capizzi.

We are looking forward to the caravan that is leaving Chicago next Thursday morning via I-55 to St. Louis.

'Til then...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spring thoughts...

It's been about five weeks since I blogged about the Clenet. During that time we've had some warm clear days that allowed us to drive the Clenet. Last week while in Three Oaks by myself, took the car out for a drive and to run some errands for myself and my brother Mario who was busy working at his new Realty, Rubloff in New Buffalo.

My XK8 was in the shop having some warranty work performed to the tune of $5,000; so I guess I should count my lucky stars for buying that service agreement when I purchased the XK8 back in 2006. Most all was covered and I paid about ten cents on the dollar for some major work. The repair facility in New Buffalo was on the list of errands. I needed to pay my part of the bill and sign the repair receipt for the warranty company to release payment.

From New Buffalo, I took the Red Arrow Highway north into St. Joseph to return some electronics to the S.W. Michigan MLS office. I pulled into the parking lot and walked into the building. The two ladies at the MLS office asked if they could have my car and started to discuss some Real Estate business with me. They both thought I was Mario and were equally surprised to learn that I am his twin brother. I stayed for a brief conversation and shared a few laughs with them.

From St. Joseph, I took some back road surface streets to Three Oaks and got back to Ken's house by late afternoon and took a quick nap. It was just one of those days where an afternoon nap sounded like a simple luxury, and I was all for it. Mario called just past five PM and we agreed to meet in Lakeside to return the Clenet to our borrowed garage.

It was a fun way for me to spend a few hours by myself, yet getting those little pesky errands accomplished. I'm looking forward to having the car in Chicago during the fair-weather months to cruise around the Gold Coast neighborhood and along Michigan Ave.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Harbor Country Cruising - Open House Event.

I am looking forward to the spring months so that I can drive the Clenet all over Harbor Country, Michigan. The Clenet lives in Harbor Country as Mario and I feel it's the better area to garage it. We have become somewhat local celeb's as we motor about the communities of New Buffalo, Michicana, Lakeside, Union Pier, Harbert and Sawyer in the Clenet. With Mario being a Realtor in Harbor Country, he is well known in the business community. He also serves on the Chikaming Township Planning Committee, so more of the locals are familiar with him as well.

Most people identify the Clenet as being Mario's car as he has more opportunity to drive it than I do, given that I live in Chicago Monday through Friday afternoon. Every so often when I'm behind the wheel, someone toots their horn or wave and shout "hey Mario!" I merely wave and motor along, enjoying the view from behind that long hood!

Speaking of Harbor Country and the communities that comprise the Southwest Michigan area, the local Realtors have teamed up to host a HUGE open house event. It's called: HarborCountryOpenHouse and has it's own website where you can learn more information.

In any case, here's what I know:
HarborCountryOpenHouse event on April 25th
Over 100 homes will be open to prospective buyers.
12:00 noon - 4:00 pm - maps available.
After the open house event, there are after-parties at the Round Barn Winery and St. Julian Winery in Union Pier, just off Exit 6 on Union Pier Road. Admission to either after-party is by invitation from your realtor. If you are not working with a realtor, you can contact my brother Mario Zarantenello by going to his website: to get more information.

Mario is not only by brother, but he is also my Harbor Country Realtor and found me the perfect Weekend House in Three Oaks about two years ago. I now spend all of my weekends in Three Oaks, being a short 75 minute drive from my Chicago nieghborhood, Sandburg Village in the Gold Coast.

So come out and perhaps you'll see me cruising all over Harbor Country in our Clenet during the HarborCountryOpenHouse event!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Winter Updates...

The Clenet has been getting some updates over the long winter hibernation, one being swapping out the vinyl spare tire cover with an original metal cover painted to match the fenders. We found one through fellow Clenet enthusiast Len in Washington State. When Clenet did a two-tone paint scheme, typically the spare tire cover matches the fenders along with the interior and top. Given our car has a red leather interior, we chose to repaint the fenders red which gives the car a new look without any of that 70's garishness some manufacturers chose to do.

The three-piece cover arrived primed and ready for paint about three weeks ago. Mario and I took the cover to the bodyshop in Union Pier where the car was repaired compliments of last summer's collision. Mike at the shop had copious amounts of paint leftover from the fender repair/repaint and we gave him the task of painting the cover.

Mario retrieved the painted cover a few days ago with the intention of us installing it onto the spare tire this weekend. The car is currently at Ken's house instead of the garage we are borrowing for the winter in Lakeside. At my request, Mario brought the car to Ken's last Sunday during a mild sunny winter morning. Within hours of Ken and I taking the car out for a winter drive, Lake Michigan coupled with western winds brought us heavy lake-effect snow that caused us to quickly abandon our jaunt and get the car out of the falling snow. There wasn't any time to return to Lakeside. The XK8 was quickly removed from its winter storage and the Clenet now has that space. No worries, we took the XK8 to Lakeside where it will remain until the roads are clear and the two cars can be swapped back.

Friday evening, Mario and I ducked into the garage to install the tire cover while Ken was preparing dinner. I removed the original vinyl tire cover to test-fit the new hard-shell cover. We were both very perplexed when the cover would not fit over the spare tire. Everything we tried, including letting the air out of the spare kept us from getting the cover over the tire. Darn it! The tires we had installed last summer are obviously just a bit larger than the originally fitted tires. Being disappointed, we decided to reconvene Saturday morning to address the problem.

After breakfast the next morning, Mario and I removed the spare wheel from the car and took it and the new tire cover to Sears in Michigan City to purchase a replacement spare tire. The goal was to find a new tire that would fit into the hard shell that was a similar in size to the Coker's on the car.

About a hundred dollars and two hours later, we now have a spare tire mounted on the wire wheel that allows us to utilize the new cover. The red cover completes the new two-tone paint scheme and gives the rear end a more substantial look.

The next addition will be hand-painted gray pinstripes along the fenders and encircling the spare tire cover to balance the gray body color.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The weekend in S.W. Michigan was very warm by February temperature averages. Saturday brought us much needed temps hovering around sixty degrees and into the fifties on Sunday. I was able to take my XK8 out on Saturday, with the convertible top lowered. I finally washed the car outside to remove some road-film that accumulated back in November when I parked it for the winter months.

Sunday afternoon with its bright sunshine gave Mario and I the opportunity to drive the Clenet. We originally visited the garage where it is stored to test and replace a tail lamp that didn't illuminate last weekend after reattaching the lamp assemblies. I prayed the problem would only be the bulb as neither Mario or I wanted to attempt removing the assembly and wiring. Copious amounts of RTV sealant were used on the underside to keep the wiring and assembly free of water.

We arrived with new bulbs and removed the red lens. The light illuminated as it should and we both were very relieved that additional work was not required. I opened the overhead door and we both looked at each other and said in unison...Hey, let's take it out!

I drove up the Red Arrow Highway from Lakeside to Sawyer where we topped-off the tank. I told Mario to take over behind the wheel and we jumped onto Interstate 94 for a few miles. We continued the hour-long journey, picking clear streets to motor along.

This little jaunt did wonders to lift my spirit, especially seeing the looks and reactions from oncoming drivers and their passengers.

We had fun.

Monday, February 2, 2009

We're still spending time with Cleo...

.This past Saturday, Mario and I spent a few more hours with the Clenet. We were lucky that the temperature in Lakeside climbed well into the mid-30's giving us a "warmer" garage to do the work. The only task we chose to complete was installing the rear fender-mounted tail/stop lamp assemblies.

The original pieces sourced by Alain Clenet on the Series I Roadsters are actually from Harley Davidson. Last Summer I had posted an entry on this blog where Mario and I added chrome sleeves on the rear tail/stop lamp assemblies. The chrome sleeve added a bit more chrome to the rear fender to help balance the sheer amount of chrome up front and the sleeve helps cover the clear window on the lens that is originally used for the motorcycle rear plate illumination.

Reattaching the tail/stop lamp assemblies to the rear fender is not merely tightening a few screws and wires. The task is just a bit more involved and requires an added ground wire and copious amounts of RTV silicone sealant to ensure the assembly and wiring are watertight.

The process began with us raising the car and removing the rear tire to gain access to the underside of the rear fender. Mario chose to work on the underside while I worked on the outer side. In tandem, together we accomplished our goal in about three hours.

We will most likely spend more time with the car before the spring season arrives here in the Midwest. We are hoping to upgrade the original roll-up windows to power and are awaiting an original metal spare tire cover for the rear continental kit. That will be another blog entry!

The car is now road-worthy and we are eagerly awaiting a clear spring day to take the Clenet out on a leisurely drive!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Another 6 hours...

Yesterday was a wonderful day in S.W. Michigan. We had a daytime high of twenty degrees and some sunshine to give the illusion of warmth. After having breakfast with friends at Bailey's in Three Oaks, Mario and I headed back to Lakeside to resume where we had left off last week. While Mario worked up front, I worked on the teak/stainless rub-strips on the running boards.

We are getting close. All of the accessories and electrical work north of the cowl are completed. The rear fender-mounted stop/tail lamps are the only pieces that remain to be reinstalled.

With so much of the trim reinstalled, I am appreciating the new color of the fenders.
Slowly, it's getting there!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Piece by piece...

With winter upon us here in the Midwestern states, most of us car enthusiasts have our cars tucked away for the season. Some have heated space that give them the ability to work on the toys while anticipating the warmer spring months.

The Clenet is currently being stored in Lakeside, MI at a client of Mario who gladly donated semi-heated space to us. It's a very clean and spacious garage that we are fully utilizing now that the car is ready to be reassembled. The task really isn't as difficult as it sounds! The body shop remounted both fenders a few weeks ago and Mario was able to drive the car back to its winter home.

This past Saturday gave us a wicked snow storm that made us change our evening plans. Instead of driving back through Chicago to the far north suburbs for dinner with friends Jennifer and Bill, we avoided interstate travel and stayed in Michigan. Mario and I decided to gather all of the pieces we removed from the Clenet and begin the reassembly process.

Why is it faster and easier to remove parts than remount them? We marked all of the wires, pods, lights, lamps and other various trim pieces while removing them from the car back in late October. It appeared to be a cut and dry process that would make reassembly much easier, however the five hours spent with the car on Saturday brought us to approximately 35% of reassembly. I distinctly remember we spent about the same amount of time removing all of these same pieces! So, what gives?

In any case, I have to admit that when I first saw the car a few weeks ago with the newly repainted fenders reattached, I as a bit indifferent to the new color. It just didn't look right to me. Could it have been that this change was too much, too soon? Could it have been that the car appeared so different because it still looked stripped down? I'm not sure, however I can say that once pieces started going back onto the car changed how I saw the car.

Moments after we arrived with the bins of pieces and parts, I immediately began to remount the teak running board rub strips. There are four strips per side that are mounted beneath the doors. Each stainless and teak strip rests on a rubber gasket that needs to be aligned with the mounting holes on the fender and the rub strip itself. Each rub strip has four screws/bolts for mounting. With me being the perfectionist that I am, I decided to refit and tighten all of the screws by hand. The last thing I wanted was the cordless drill slipping off the screw head and digging the screwdriver head into the new paint!

As I mounted the fender/running board rub strips, Mario was above, next to and beneath the front left fender working on all of the bits and pieces that are mounted and electrified. As much as I enjoy the challenge, the job he had before him was something I did not want to deal with myself! While the car was at the body shop, some of our labels were inadvertently removed from the neat bundle of wires as we had when the car was first taken to the shop. This caused concern as the wiring coming out of the loom is not color coded and added much more time to this process. We have the front left fender bits and pieces just about completed along with both fender rub strips. I'd have to say were about forty percent there.

As the hours passed and more snow had fallen, I noticed the time was past our agreed upon dinnertime with Ken who was still back in Three Oaks preparing our evening meal for us. Mario and I quickly returned the garage to its normal tidy manner and stored the remaining parts, tools and electrical supplies away for next time.

We left the car, locked up and drove back to Ken's place for dinner...I am hoping we can return next weekend and finish this task. Once these pieces are remounted, Mario and I can then begin the work to add power windows and other upgrades before spring.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Je Vous!

Je vous remercie pour vos aimables commentaires et d'informations. Oui, je voudrais profiter de voir des photos de vos Clenet. Félicitations pour l'achat de véhicule n ° 199!

Original Message:
J'ai fait comme vous, je suis tombé amoureux de la Clenet Serie I. En cherchant sur Internet Jour et nuit, j'en ai enfin trouvé une en France n°199très belle. Mais le propriétaire ne voulait pas la vendre après avoir longtemps discuté j'ai fini par lui acheter. J'en suis très content, elle est vraiment très belle. Si vous voulez je peux vous en envoyer des photos.

I like you, I fell in love with the Serie Clénet I. In searching the Internet day and night, I finally found one in France No 199très beautiful. But the owner did not want to sell it after a long discussion I ended up buying him. I am very glad, it is very beautiful. If you want I can send you photos.