Sunday, September 26, 2010

Everything Else is Just Traffic...

Mario and I were invited to meet the owner of Clenet S-1 #200, owned by David DeClerck here in Michigan. While showing our car at Detroit 2010 back in August, a member of the Detroit region inquired about the Clenet and asked questions about the make/brand.

A few weeks afterwards I received an e-mail or a call from the guy who asked my advice on acquiring a Clenet. I always enjoy conversations about the car and must have stayed on the phone with Bob for quite some time. During the conversation, I walked him through the many ways I utilize the Internet to find what I'm looking for. We entered many different search queries to try and find any available Series I Clenet Roadsters that might be for sale. There are a few available, mostly in the Southern California area, however they're not the color combination Bob is looking for. Bob thinks the car would look gorgeous in black.

I directed Bob to both of the Clenet enthusiast websites where he picked out a few he liked, including #200 that is about an hour's drive from Bob's home...and clear across the state from me!

Bob put the Internet to task and searched every person with the matching name of the listed owner of car #200 and called him to inquire if he would be willing to sell his car. Mario too phoned Dave a few years ago just after we agreed to purchase our car, #229 while it was being shipped to us from Texas. We needed to learn about correct tire size among some other information in order to get some parts ordered to ensure the local Ford dealer would have the correct stock when our car arrived. Dave was more than generous with his time and spoke to Mario in detail about his car. Mario was very eager to learn of the modifications Dave made to his car.

Fast forward to late September when Bob called me to say that he and Dave have opened a dialogue regarding Dave's car. Bob e-mailed some pix of car #200 and told me that he would be seeing the car soon. The owner, Dave also invited Mario and I through Bob to come see the car. We were able to sync our schedules as this would be an all-day event for Mario and I. Mario and I agreed to drive our Clenet the 250+ miles and met Bob at Dave's on what turned out to become a nice day.

After exchanging our introductions, we immediately focused our attention on both Dave's and our Clenet, walking back and forth between the two cars. Dave's car is one of four S-1 Clenet Roadsters that came from Dave's father's estate. After acquiring the car and noticing the anemic performance, Dave was compelled to swap out the 351M that was coupled to the Ford FMX transmission. In its place now sits a Ford 460-4 barrel with a C6 transmission and posi-traction rear end.

Dave offered us a test drive in his Clenet and of course we accepted. First it was Mario and Bob who were out for at least a half hour. Shortly afterwards, I took my turn behind the wheel with Mario as co-pilot. Dave's car is a screamer to say the least. He wanted performance and I can assure that he succeeded. The front plate of Dave's car reads "Everything Else is Just Traffic!" And couldn't be more accurate!

We spent a good 2-1/2 hours with Bob at Dave's home, learning about the history of Dave's car. If Dave can let his car go to a new home, I'm sure Bob would be an excellent candidate to become the next care-taker of #200.

Monday, September 20, 2010

There's Something About Saugatuck

We enjoyed a short weekend get-away in Saugatuck, Michigan and participated in the late-summer annual car show hosted by the Michiana Dunes region of the Lambda Car Club. Mario drove our 1967 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham while I drove our Clenet.

The Michiana Dunes region did a great job hosting about 200 guys at the Douglas Dunes resort hotel with about 100 cars being shown. The Friday evening welcoming reception held at the Saugatuck Arts Center was the perfect venue, offering ample room for our cars outside and a very interesting display of vintage paintings of the Saugatuck & Douglas landscape within the gallery. While the reception held indoors was a private affair, our cars parked outside were enough a public spectacle that lured onlookers to mill about the display.

The Saturday morning wash and shine was almost washed-out with two storm fronts that moved through the area before the scheduled 2PM car show. The rain stopped just past noon, giving us just enough time to dry the cars for the car show. I paid attention to the Clenet while Mario spent his time on Priscilla, our Cadillac.

The show ended at 4PM with the awards banquet starting rather early at 5:30PM. This would allow enough time for everyone to participate in the sunset taillight cruise over to Oval Beach, overlooking Lake Michigan. Most everyone drove their cars in caravan from the Douglas Dunes to Oval Beach. While there wasn't any rain, the clouds kept us from enjoying a one of Michigan's most wonderful sights...the sun setting over Lake Michigan.

While the remaining daylight slowly faded to dusk, we enjoyed music, banter and the glow of the taillights with the cars parked along the lakeshore.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tuesday, September 11, 2001 had begun as any other late summer/early fall day 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 my offices were located. My photo 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. These photo-shoots can be a very high-energy process with many people on and off set getting merchandise, props and equipment ready for several vignettes simultaneously.

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.

We needed to continue with our work and did, but the photo-shoot didn’t have the same energy. The crew was functioning; however we all seemed to be somewhat in a trance, on auto-pilot. At one point I needed to run an errand to a local hardware store for some rigging supplies. While there I found ribbon in red, white and blue and crafted small tassels that I attached to every car antenna.

Returning home to Chicago later that evening as the sun was setting, I found my American flag and mounted it from a 2nd story window frame out front. I then placed several candles on the front porch, just as other neighbors did. I don’t believe I slept an hour that night, glued to the television and making phone calls to ensure everyone I knew in New York were safe.

The world changed as we knew it.