What is the California Mille?

Last week we talked about how the beautiful ’53 Jaguar XK120 we had in our shop was getting prepared to go to the California Mille in San Francisco, California.californiamille2 Well, what exactly is the California Mille you may be asking, The California Mille is a run, not a race, starting in San Francisco and continuing into the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains to Monterey and along the Big Sur coast toward Carmel. It is open to cars that either ran or would have been eligible to run in the original event; hence participants cars must be designs from 1957 or earlier. The California Mille field is limited to 65 cars and applicants are screened for their car’s historical significance and general condition; not all applicants are accepted.

The California Mille is run in honor of the “Mille Miglia” which was as an open-road endurance race which took place in Italy. The Mille Miglia was run twenty-four times alfonsocrashfrom 1927 to 1957. From the years 1953 until 1957 it was also included as a round of the World Sports Car Championship.  The race was banned after two fatal crashes. The first was in 1957 when the crash of a 4.2-litre Ferrari 335 S took the lives of the driver Alfonso De Portago, his co-driver/navigator EdmundGottgens Nelson, and nine spectators. The car supposedly landed on top of Portago and Nelson cutting them in half. Portago desperately wanted to win this race and made the grave decision to wait to long to make a tire change.  The second crash was much less devastating, although it took the life of Joseph Gottgens and his Triumph T3.

The California Mille was founded in 1991 by automotive enthusiast Martin Swig, it is supported by an informal group called the “Amici americani della Mille Miglia”californiamille (“American friends of the Mille Miglia” in Italian). The event attracts a number of corporate sponsors which have included in the past Jaguar, Chrysler and Sotheby’s as well as many others this corporate sponsorship ensures that the California Mille remains one of the more exclusive and high quality events.

Travel Itenerary via The California Mille Website

“On Monday, April 24, at 8:30 a.m. Consul General Ortona will wave the Italian flag outside the departure arch at Mason and California Streets, officially starting the four-day, one thousand mile tour (not a race) of northern California time capsule towns and little-known backroads.

The Mille will cross the Golden Gate Bridge and head north toward Highway 1 passing through colorful Marin County towns and villages. At Laguna Elementary School on Chileno Road, the entire student body (all 16 kids and principal Cindy Demchuk) will greet the Mille by waving paper Italian flags and shouting “Benvenuto” – or something similar. The first day of the drive will end in Healdsburg.

On Tuesday, April 25, the Mille will drive to Cloverdale, Lakeport, Boonville, Elk and north, logging 191 miles before spending the night in Little River.

The California Mille will depart at 8:00 a.m. on April 26 for Fort Bragg, Westport, the stunning “Lost Coast,” Petrolia, and Ferndale. Day 3 will end with an overnight in Mendocino.

The final day of the legendary drive will take the Mille to Point Arena, Gualala, Jenner, Tomales, Nicasio, Petaluma, and complete the tour in Calistoga with an awards dinner and closing ceremonies.”


Closing up winter with a busy week!

Sports Car Services had a lot going on this week, but its never too much for us. The Crosley is coming along and should be all doneDSC_0041 and shipped out next week thanks to Albert and Gary for doing an DSC_0043extremely precise job on it.  The interior in the MG is coming along just great and Albert will be heading to the seacoast to do the seats next week.  Mike’s been busy overseeing the Sports Car Services garage in its entirety. He’s been right out straight working on the Spitfire, repairing a few different electrical malfunctions as well as countless other projects such as getting the Jaguar XK120 prepared for shipping to California DSC_0057[1]for the “California Mille”.  The California Mille is a classic car run that last four days and travels throughout northern California. The event is open to cars manufactured prior to DSC_0053[1]Jan. 1st, 1958.  Approx. 65 cars are chosen from those submitted for entry.  This year will be the 27th anniversary. The run is in the spirit of the original Italian Mille Miglia which ran from 1927-1957, and all entries must be cars that did, or could have, participated in the original Mille Miglia during the years of 1927-57, and can be of foreign or domestic manufacture.

California Mille

Lineup of car for this years California Mille:

  • 11 Alfa Romeos      1927-1957
  • 8 Jaguars                 1938-1956
  • 7 Mercedes-Benz  1955-1957
  • 7 Porsches              1955-1957
  • 2 Bentleys               1923-1928


Gary and Rod are working  on the 1954 Jaguar Mark VII we talked about a couple weeks back. Our current task on the Jaguar DSC_0034is to finish building the exhaustDSC_0040
which you can see Rod and Gary have done with quality and precision. Watching experienced trades men, like the guys in our shop, makes it seem that they almost work with ease because they’re so skilled and confident in their techniques and knowledge. Gary has the back seats at his house and the rest of the upholstery should be in this coming week.

Over in our brother shop, G&R Autoworks, Jason has been busy spending many hours of DSC_0026logistics trying to decide on, and order, all the modifications needed for the 2013 Jeep
he’s in the process of building, for one of our customers. We also had a Mitsubishi GT DSC_0021that received a lot of body work which Rod did a phenomenal job on, talk about a perfectionist at wire feed welding!. We’re also expecting the arrival next week of a 1970 Jaguar E-type Series II, that’s going to be quite the project, and I look forward to covering the story on that beauty.

As for myself I’ve been busy finishing up this new website and doing the final ironing and behind the scenes work.  I’ve also been planning out a Covered Bridge Run for next autumn, that’ll be going from Keene and looping through Vermont and back over to Keene.  Make sure you also check out the “Cars and Coffee” tab above. Starting in May we will be going to various Cars and Coffee locations once a month, we will be leaving the Sports Car Services shop on 55 Victoria St and traveling as pack of beautiful European cars.


1955 MG TF Interior

In the midst of the Sports Car Services shop we have a 1955 red MG TF.  We restored this car from the ground up, it’s basically a brand new car at this point. It has a full engine rebuild, body rebuild, new drivetrain and now new interior.

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Lets take a brief minute or two to discuss the history of the MG and their TF and TF 1500 model. MG was a European car company founded in 1924 by William R. Morris, before getting involved in the motor vehicle industry Morris was a bicycle repair man. He ran MG motors until he was appointed to be Lord of Nuffield, a title he kept for 4 years. The British sports car company continued without Morris and made many more models, one of which is the TF/TF 1500 Midget.  The TF Midget was launched 15 October 1953 and was basically a TD with a facelift and the TD Mark II engine.  In 1954 the engine capacity was increase by 17% and the bore was increased to 72 mm (2.8 in) and compression raised to 8.3:1 giving 63 bhp (47 kW) at 5,000 rpm and a 17% increase in torque.

When we received the TF that we have in our shop we basically started from the ground up and built a whole new car.  As you can see in the slide show above we started with a rolling chassis and from there we added the drivetrain, the body, the engine and then we started on the interior. First thing done with the interior was the wool carpet and the guys did an amazing job. Tight fits and beautifully hemmed edges is what you’ll find on this car and you can thank Albert and Butch.

Next up was the leather on the walls and doors inside the car and the glove boxes. Albert did an amazing job with the leather work. With his intense concentration and his  precise attention to detail, Albert has been a key person in finishing the interior of this TF.  The seats are being sent to the seacoast and Albert will be going with them to assure that the standards of Sports Car Services are kept alive and well.  Thanks again to Abington Spares for providing this perfect interior kit. The quality of their product was immaculate.


Reo Fun in a ’17 Model M

Last week we talked about the beautiful Jaguar Mark VII we are in the midst of partially restoring. This week however, I’d like to take the time to talk about the 1917 REO Model M Touring car that we have in our shop.  The Reo Motor Company was based out of Lansing, Michigan and they produced automobiles and trucks from 1905 until 1975. The company was founded by Ransom Olds. Ransom Olds was an entrepreneur who founded various automobile companies and in 1897 he founded the Olds Motor Vehicle Company. In 1905 he left Oldsmobile and established a new company, the REO Motor Car Company. The company was originally to be called “The R.E. Olds Motor Company”, but upon facing legal action from the owner of Old’s prior company, Olds Motor Works, the name was changed to REO Motor Company. Early spellings of the name list it as REO, as later listings list it as Reo. The pronunciation however was always pronounced as one word, Reo.  The 1917 Reo Model M Touring vehicle was a four door seven passenger car.  It had a 5 litre engine that was naturally aspirated with an overhead inlet, side exhaust and  6 cylinders that produced 45 bhp of power at 1800 rpm. It was three-speed, rear wheeled drive with a carburetor fuel system.


The ’17 Reo Model M we’re working on in our shop is quite unique.  From The hand painted flowers on the door and fenders, down to the hand painted peace sign on the back. It has the original wooden wheels and the engine itself is in good shape.  Albert did a great job replacing the running boards as well as some miscellaneous body work. This Reo was purchased brand new in 1916 by the current owners great grand-father.  In 1935 he was going to junk it but his grandson, the current owners father, said no and took it under his wing for the mere price of $25.00.  Her mother and father drove it from that point on naming it “Joesphine”. Her father was the youngest professor at Toledo University and her mother was a nursing student.  At one point an article ran in the local newspaper that read “Oldest Car In University Parking Lot Operated By Youngest Faculty Member” Her mother and father were very active in racial equality and human rights in the 1940’s, this unfortunately lead to her father being accused of “communism” and being terminated from the university. Upon his termination the Reo was sold to a family friend. He owned the car for the next 15 years or so until they bought it back around 1967, the summer of love. The current owners sister outfitted it with a peace sign and flowers, and I think it’s safe to say their family got the last laugh; peace, love, equality and fine motor vehicles will always win.



Roarin’ in with a ’53 Jag Mark VII

 Hey everyone! another week has come and past at our shop, which means its time for our weekly article.  This week I’m going to be talking to you guys about our most recent DSC_0104restoration project, a 1953 Jaguar Mark VII. The Jaguar Mark VII is one piece of fine European engineering.  We are very lucky to be fortunate enough to have one to restore and make beautiful again.
        The 1953 Jaguar Mark VII was an exceptional feat in European vehicle engineering at the time. With a top speed of 101 MPH and an acceleration of 0-60 in 13.7 seconds it also achieved 17.6 miles per gallon. The chassis Is much like its predecessor the Mark V with a more streamline and updated body. It also traded in the push-rod engine for a XK engine (first introduced in the 1948 Jaguar XK120).
         Jaguar is brand that almost everyone is familiar with. the name is a staple of the automotive industry.  Jaguar’s business was founded as the Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922, They originally made motor cycle sidecars. The company’s name was changed from S. S. Cars to Jaguar Cars in 1945. A merger with the British Motor Corporation followed in 1966. They are now currently owned by Tata Motors.
     We’re currently in the midst of restoring our Jaguar as we speak.  It is a beautiful forest green with all original chrome. The physical shape of the car is great. Our Jag has virtually no rust and DSC_0010a solid frame. Gary originally worked on this car 25 years ago.  The owner had contacted him to sell it and Gary took the opportunity to buy it himself. With 60,000 miles on the engine it was necessary to do a cleaned up. The original 4 speed moss-box transmission will stay. The Interior is receiving a full overhaul, and will be replaced with all original and era-courteous materials; Burl Walnut, Weston wool and of course genuine leather.  I will be following up on in “This week in the Shop” frequently while working on this amazing car.
     As we were busy working on it we found this interesting artifact; A leather key fob from Marley Motors. Gary put it in leather conditioner and upon being able to read it we learnedDSC_0822 Marley Motors was a dealer in British cars from Hillsgrove Rhode Island. Here’s the real kicker the key fob is so old that the phone number is 1-2350  I contacted a gentleman who specializes in classic Studebaker dealerships like Marley Motors. He couldn’t give me much information other than a marleymotorswarwickri1965afew ads.  We found that Marley Motors was apparently alive in 1950, but they didn’t advertise what cars they sold.   The 1951 sales year was important for Studebaker and many new dealers were acquired then.  It’s possible Marley decided on a franchise then. After 1965, many dealers decided to drop Studebaker as by then the future of Studebaker was obvious. This could be  why it was so hard to research Marley Motors.
         I’d also like to notify and or remind you that “The Austin Healey Club of New England” is going to be celebrating its 20th anniversary annual Summit” event at the beautiful Berkshire Mountains located in Western Massachusetts. SUMMIT 2017 Promo Original (1)-1 Sports Car Services will be returning as an official sponsor and the event will be located at the “the Jiminy Peak Resort”.  The Roll Back in Time Sock Hop and Dinner with guest DJ Wolfman Steve will be your entertainment and rooms are $125 a night excluding taxes. You’ll be staying at the Country Inn with a one-bedroom suite with double occupancy and breakfast included. Two bedroom condos for $169 and Three bedroom condos for $229, including breakfast, are also available. All Austin Healey club members are encouraged to participate in this annual event. Call 413-738-5500 to make your reservations and mention the “Austin Healey Summit 2017” to get the special rates.


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