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.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Motown 2010 - LCC International Invitational

I just returned from Detroit after spending three days with friends from all over the country while attending the Lambda Car Club's 2010 International Invitational - Motown 2010.  The Detroit guys did a wonderful job planning the week-long schedule of events, giving participants many activities to enjoy.

There were many automobile related tours that included the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, General Motors Heritage Center, Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village and a Ford Rouge Plant Factory tour to name a few. A four-hour dinner cruise aboard the Ovation Yacht was one of many planned meals for the group of 400 club members.

Mario and I couldn't attend the entire week, electing to drive from New Buffalo mid-day Thursday and meet up with friends for dinner in Dearborn near the Fairlane Hyatt. We arrived and settled into the room and quickly made plans to have dinner at a local pub known for their burgers. Kevin gladly drove us in his '02 Camaro RS convertible.

Friday morning offered a very interesting cemetery tour through many cemeteries to hunt down the final resting places of many notable Auto Barron's of Detroit fame. Jeff and I drove the Clenet, giving Jeff many opportunities to take pics of the car among the granite and marble headstones. We ducked out of the cemetery crawl midway, giving us the opportunity to meet with Mario for a late lunch at Cheli's chili bar and restaurant, owned by Chris Chellios.

Friday evening we enjoyed a tour of the Piquette Avenue Ford plant, the very first Ford assembly plant now being used as a museum and cultural center in homage to the Model T.

Saturday was the big day for our car show and awards banquette later in the evening. The morning started at 8:00 where I began to give the Clenet a good washing for the show. Jeff came down to the parking lot wash facilities and gave a much-needed hand. Jeff is now Executive Vice President of detailing chrome super-charger side pipes. Mario later joined in to work on a new front license plate framed Clenet logo along with repairing the deck lid gas-strut.

After the cleaning and minor repair, I drove the Clenet into the designated space and enjoyed the many cars on display. Mario then left early, getting back to Three Oaks where he had promised to volunteer for the evening. Jeff and I met back at the dinner & awards banquet in the hotel's Grand Ballroom where several very deserving cars received awards.

Jeff and I again jumped into the Clenet to get breakfast and a very impromptu photo-shoot of the Clenet receiving an imaginary parking ticket written for a 1929 Duesenberg. Of course the meter maid didn't realize I drive a Clenet Continental! The Sunday morning traffic was light, making my solo-drive home enjoyable and rather delightful.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Perfect Day for a Parade

Today was the perfect day for a parade.

Mild temps and an overcast sky. Need I say more???

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ready for the Parade...

I spent four hours this morning getting the Clenet ready for tomorrow's Flag Day Parade in Three Oaks, Michigan. I started by taking our vacuum to the lambswool carpets and removed a good year's worth of dried grass, leaves and small debris particles from deep within the nap. I'm actually quite embarrassed that we let the car get this dirty! The front carpets are removable, making the task much easier. After the front carpets were vacuumed, I moved onto the trunk which is also lined in lambswool and leather.

The leather hides covering the seats, door panels and dash felt a bit dry, so I took the opportunity to add conditioner. Why stop in the cockpit? I continued the conditioning through into the trunk, completing the entire interior.

I moved onto washing and drying the car - we're now ready for tomorrow's Flag Day Parade.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Three Oaks, Michigan - Historic Featherbone Factory

Parked outside the Historic Featherbone Factory Store in Three Oaks Michigan.

Next weekend, the Village of Three Oaks will host the world's largest Flag Day celebration beginning on Friday and culminating with the parade Sunday afternoon featuring about 150 entrants. I sent my registration form last week to ensure my entry with the Clenet. A few days later I received an e-mail from the organizers asking if I'd consider being the lead car by driving the Grand Marshall.

Of course I'd consider, let's hope for clear skies!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Exhaust System

We drove into Chicago this morning to have much needed exhaust work performed on the Clenet. From the manifold back, new custom-bent dual exhaust pipes flowing into low-restriction mufflers. We'll drive the car for the next few weeks to see how we like the exhaust note.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Seven Days Until the First Show of the Season.

Mario and I are hoping to attend the Spring Dust Off with the Clenet next Saturday at the Chicago Belmont Yacht Club. To prepare the Clenet for this coming driving season, we have enlisted the guys over at Grand Beach Tire and Auto Repair in Grand Beach, Michigan.

Mario and I have not completely liked how the Clenet drives out on the open road. The ride isn't as smooth as we think it should be and the engine performance is a bit sluggish. Of course we're not tearing up the streets with the car, knowing it sat for almost 30 years without being driven, let alone started.

Grand Beach Tire and Auto Repair is looking into a few of the issues, starting with re-balancing the new American Classic tires installed after we purchased the car. From there with the tires off the car, we are having them move onto the brake system - something we have not done since purchasing the car! We've found sticking drums on one rear wheel - explaining why that tire likes to lock under swift braking.

My XK8 has also been turned over to a local collision center to have the rear fender replaced due to a minor wreck endured just hours after taking the car out of winter storage.

Perhaps the car will be ready tomorrow afternoon, giving us a few days during the week to give it a really good wash and vacuum! I'll post after next the spring opener next weekend.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Winter Drive

My last posting to the blog spoke of the last time either Mario or I drove the Clenet. It was sometime in early November before it was stored for the winter months. Last winter we had a break in the February weather that gave us a very warm weekend with daytime high temps pushing sixty degrees. Mario and I were eager and excited to take the car out for a spin.

Today, the 1st of March 2010, I had a crazy notion to take the car out for a drive. After a quick breakfast, I left my home in Three Oaks. While on the road, I phoned Mario to see if he was interested in joining me. He was twenty miles away showing homes to a client and seemed preoccupied to continue the phone conversation. I told him to call me when he became free.

I continued driving to his home in order to retrieve the keys and alarm code for the garage where the car has been stored. The idea of taking the car out for a spin was becoming more and more promising as I journeyed towards Mario's home. The streets were dry and clear - something I was hoping for! Mario's home is tucked away off the beaten path on a private dirt road that doesn't get much sun! The X-type (AWD) was having some trouble getting through the remaining slushy snow. I've never gotten stuck while driving the X-type today was no different. I was determined to get the keys and the alarm code!

The Clenet is stored less than a mile from Mario's home - luckily in a garage that's located in an area that has paved roads. After retrieving the keys and code, I made my way to the garage and was very happy to find all of the paved roads and streets clear and dry. Within minutes I had the garage opened and the alarm turned off. I pushed the car out of the garage, closed the overhead door and then locked up the home and garage. I jumped into the Clenet, pumped the gas about 10 times and turned the key. I knew the car would quickly fire and it did. I let the car warm a bit in the driveway as I checked the gauges and mirrors.

In less than a minute I was motoring along the Red Arrow Highway headed towards New Buffalo. It was wonderful driving our baby...with appropriate 70's disco and pop music accompanying me. I took the opportunity to fill the tank, check the appropriate fluids and clean the windows at a local filling station where an elderly couple approached me to compliment the car. I've turned a few heads along the way...most likely people wondering who's the eccentric driver motoring about the area in a Clenet.

The few hours behind the wheel of the Clenet did wonders to lift my spirits and I enjoyed every second!