Other drivers speed past this Czech oddity without a second glance, seemingly oblivious to the car’s dorsal fin and triple headlights. But as Paul swings the Tatra into a parking space in front of a favorite local bistro, it’s as if he has brought the black teardrop to a stop in the middle of a Hollywood spotlight. Here come the second glances, the puzzled questions. "What in the world is that?"
We’ve been asking–actually, begging and pleading–for a ride in this monument to Americana but James Chen always found a way to politely turn us down. He is, he says, willing to share his Ferraris and Lamborghinis and Cadillacs, but he and his family enjoy such a personal relationship with this particular car that he seldom shares it with outsiders. He finally gave in.
In 1967, Glenn's parents special-ordered a silver Saab Sonett II from a Florida dealer and, as a result, Glenn spent his childhood riding to school not in Detroit’s muscle cars of the 1960s and ‘70s but in a 1500-pound Swedish sports car with a 70 horsepower, two-stroke engine. The Sonett has followed Glenn through life. In 1980, when he was eighteen years old, Glenn bought the car from his parents for $300 and, with the help of his father, gave the car enough energy to carry Glenn through college and into adulthood.
The average American driver puts 13,500 miles per year on their car. Mr. Scott Fisher of Las Vegas, Nevada, added that many to the odometer of his 1967 Datsun Roadster in just the first three months of a recently-completed road trip that ultimately took him to forty-eight U.S. states and seven Canadian provinces. By the time Scott pulled into his garage in Las Vegas for the first time in eight months, he had covered 37,850 miles of the North American countryside.
Revived in 1988, today’s Carrera Panamericana is still dangerous, fast, grueling, and addictive, as driver Conrad Stevenson can attest. Stevenson got his first taste of the race in a friend’s Studebaker in 2001. After a couple more years of participating in friends’ cars, Stevenson decided it was time to build a car of his own, in this case a 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale.
When Mr. Paul Cressey hits the track at Laguna Seca for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (aka The Monterey Historics) in his 1959 Peerless GT, he faces plenty of tough competition. For Paul, however, that competition is especially personal, including as it does his father, Ron, who is known for running his own 1959 Corvette in the same race.