Friday, June 21, 2013

Mind = Blown! 2013 GPNW MicroCar Extravaganza, Part II

Dave, Kris and I were up early and on the way to Forest Grove before 9AM.  We led a Citroen DS21 for much of the trip and then were shocked when they rolled past the show entrance without stopping - apparently they weren't MicroCar fans because we never saw them again.  The parking lot at McMenamin's was already rich with Micro and Mini cars - several of which had arrived since last night.
  The first thing I noticed was an immaculate Fiat Multipla, looking like it had just rolled out of the showroom.  The owners had finished the restoration the night before! Everything was perfect, including the NOS factory floor mats which cost the owners over a thousand bucks.  Seems crazy, but when you find something like that, you buy it!
I reconnected with several Sacramento folks I hadn't seen in years, and for good reason - unbeknownst to me they'd relocated to the northwest.  One BMC Mini-loving couple (whose names I forget- sorry!) had organized a Sacramento Microcar Club 15 or so years ago - Dave and I had gone to a couple of meetings and then the whole thing petered out at some point when I wasn't paying attention.  Through that club I'd I met a guy named Tony Grillo who, it turned out, had bought the '62 Multipla I'd passed on when I decided to buy my first Crosley.  Later he'd also bought the Goliath station wagon that Dave and I had both passed on because it was 'too far gone.'    He's a genius mechanic (he'd gotten the Goliath  - which had been sitting in mud for 30 years - running in a day) and it turned out that he'd relocated to Washington state not long after the BMC fans.  Tony didn't bring a car but the Mini owners brought two Minis, including a purple pickup conversion.  Nice folks, all.
Neat stuff kept rolling in: a Citroen Ami, a 2CV, a Goggomobil, another Mini Cooper truck, another two stroke Subaru, more Hondas... before long there were over 25 Microcars buzzing around the McMenamin's lot.  Total sensory overload for me.
Around 11AM Mark (the event organizer) began getting people into their cars and directing them to the front of the Lodge.  A long line of tiny, brightly colored cars stretched from the lot to the rapidly-filling area at the head of the McMenamin's entryway.  Mark and his helpers busily directed traffic into the too-small lot and I wondered what he was doing.

It didn't take long to figure out that he was arranging a carefully posed group photo (no same-color cars parked next to each other!) something I'd never thought about doing at the Crosley meet.  When everybody was staged, a photographer took a shot from an upstairs window in the lodge.  It's a great idea, and I can't believe that we haven't always done this at our meets.
As soon as the photos were taken we got on to the REAL business of the day: the tour.  Dave and I didn't know any details - just that Saturday featured a drive through the Oregon countryside.  We were hoping we could scrounge rides so that we wouldn't have to follow along in our rented Mazda - the shame!  I got an invite to ride shotgun in one of the Berkeleys and Kris and Dave got into one of Mark's Subarus.
There were two Berkeleys on hand, both owned and restored by John Lindh.  I was riding with him in a bright yellow '58 that he'd pieced together out of a project car he'd found hanging upside down in a buddy's shop. It sports a Honda 4 cylinder engine out of a motorcycle but it looks pretty stock from the outside.  He did a heck of a job on the resto-mod and then promptly turned around and restored another Berkeley for his wife - this one totally stock.  He's still not sure exactly what made him launch into Berkeleys since he'd never been a microcar guy before.
We buzzed through the lush green countryside, which got rural pretty quick.  Half the cars got lost pretty quick too - we'd left the hotel out of a different exit than planned, which made it difficult to follow the directions we'd all been handed.  We pulled over and waited for the assortment of underhorsed iron to catch up.  Once we had reassembled our multitude Mark led the way in the Messerschmitt and we took a leisurely  cruise through the rolling hills of central Oregon. After 15 or so minutes we arrived at our surprise destination: a heliport!
I'm not sure why this seemed like such a perfect fit - maybe because the Messerchmitt already looks like an aviation vehicle to begin with.  We pretty much filled the parking lot which made for another great photo opp.  We had gained another car or two since leaving the hotel, making about 25 cars on the tour - and what an assortment!  Air-cooled, water-cooled, four-stroke, two-stroke, three wheeled, four wheeled, British, German, Japanese, Italian, French - the only thing missing was the Freeway.  It was new to the owner and he wasn't quite sure how it would do on a trip so he left it at McMenamin's and hopped into another car.
We got a tour of the facilities and a look at the copters on hand - they even let us climb all over the huge   Viet Nam-era  troop carrier that they used for training.  Dave scrambled up the side and ogled the big motors on top after our tour guide said, 'Sure, go ahead, but if you fall off it's your own damn fault.'  The tour guide was a big, clean cut guy who had some writing tattooed on his fingers - I didn't want to stare so I never figured out what it said.
At some point the guide offered to launch one of the helicopters and take a photographer up for a really great shot if we'd cover part of the gas - the hat was passed and we scrounged up $100 instantly.  The obvious choice for the shot was the one photog on hand with the professional camera gear. She was excited to go and the copter made a few passes for her to get some good shots.
As we got ready to leave I noticed that the Messerschmitt had no co-pilot. I asked Mark if I could ride along and he told me to hop in.  Mark's Messerschmitt is a KR200, which has foot controls and is more car-like than the KR175 the smaller, more motorcycle-ish version. Then there is also the Tiger, the bigger, rarer, 4-wheeled version - few of them still exist and the one that sold at the Bruce Weiner auction recently went for a small mountain of money.  Lynn (Messerschmitt/Rovin owner from Atlanta) made sure we posed for photos.

Dave had warned me that it got warm riding in the clear canopy, but I didn't notice that at all.  There was a good breeze as we cruised along and I smelled two-stroke oil.  I was in charge of navigation and all went well til we got to a small road that Mark had google-mapped but hadn't actually driven when he planned the route... it turned out to be gravel and uphill, two things that weren't going to fly.  Mark shrugged, skipped the turn and off we headed for parts unknown...

To be continued...

Back to Part I


Anonymous said...

Oh wow. I totally enjoyed reading your blog. Sounds like it was a blast. Color me jealous.

bkrsdoz said...

They needed your Crosley there!

Ol' Man Foster said...

I know, I know!