Life in the Motor Cities Gruppe

Barb Skirmants’ 70th Birthday!

August 24, 2014






Barb's 70th

Yes, that’s Barbara driving on a victory lap at Mid-Ohio. I’m holding her checkered flag. I think I’m telling her to slow down; she was scaring me.

Anyway, today (August 22nd) is her birthday. Happy Birthday, my love. I would be nothing without you. Vic


Empire Hillclimb Revival

August 24, 2014

Vic Skirmants forwarded this note he received form Jimmy Pelizzari regarding the Empire Hillclimb Revival


“Hi Vic,

We met very briefly last summer at Road America, my name is Jimmy Pelizzari and I am Patty (356B mouse) Pelizzari’s son.  I thought I would get in touch with you about a hillclimb I am helping to promote up here in Leelanau. 
The Empire Hillclimb Revival will be Saturday Sept 20th and not only did I think you would possible like to run but am wondering if you would help get the word out to the vintage racers?  All it would require is a $50 NASA membership and $175 entry fee.
Here is a blurb I wrote up in regards to the hillclimb.  Facebook is the best place to find more information. Facebook us at
Let me know if you have any questions. Thank you so much and happy racing!
Jimmy Pelizzari”

2014 marks the revival of a Northwest Michigan classic, The Empire Hill Climb. The race was run from 1964 to 1980 and at long last it is back! The course will be a short but challenging .5 miles and 8 turns, just a short walk from the shores of Lake Michigan. Parc Expose will be in downtown Empire letting spectators get up close and personal with the race cars before they make their way up the hill.

During its original running some of the best cars of their time made their way up the hill such as Austin Healey’s, Jaguar E-Type’s, AMC Javelin and Gremlin’s, Formula Ford and V’s, Triumph’s, Corvette’s, Porsche’s and even a Ferrari or two.

The scenic hillside offers fantastic spectating as the cars wind their way up the hill spectators can sit nearly above the racecars – close, but safe from the action.

The action starts Sept. 20th at 10am and ends at 6pm. Entry fee is $175.00

Cars from all genres of racing will be present so come camp out in the woods and watch as the Empire Hill Climb Revival gets underway!

Get in touch for general information and volunteering oportunities at EMPIREHILLCLIMB@GMAIL.COM

Register at

Ticker Article:


Harbor Springs Car Festival 2014

August 24, 2014

I received this story and pictures from Phil Planck regarding the Harbor Springs Car Festival.

“Nancy and I drove over to Harbor Springs today hoping to see some 356s.  It was not to be as we were the only one there. We saw three MGA’s, Two Healey’s, one TR3 and one Barndoor VW bus. The featured cars were rat rods, so we took lots of pictures of those. I enjoyed seeing the 55 100-4M Healey as I had a 55 100-4 years ago. There was a nice assortment of old cars and it was refreshing for the lack of muscle cars. We got there at 5:35 and the park was already full, so we  had to park about a block away on a street that was blocked off to traffic.


It worked out well as the cars were crammed in like sardines and it would have been hard to leave early as there was quite a crowd to negotiate around. We left about 6:30 and made it home at 9:30. I got to try out my new, improved headlights as I just installed a relay down by the dimmer switch which took the load off of the headlight switch. The method with only one relay works on Pre-A’s, but not later models. I have reconditioned the headlight switch once and that lasted about 10 years, but noticed it was really getting hot again on the way back from Santa Fe last fall and the lights were getting dim.


We took Old US 27 from Indian River to Gaylord on the way home. A nice drive. Car is ready for ECH.”



While preparing the Pre-A for the trip to Harbor Springs I think I mentioned  that I put a headlight relay in down by the dimmer switch.  In order to do this I had to remove the floor boards. While down under there, I found what I thought was a penny.  Found it on the work bench today and cleaned the crud off and it is a 1949 German coin.COIN

This site has a little info on it which I found interesting:
Pre-A was a European version, not Continental, and C of A said for delivery: “Porsche factory car”.



What are the chances?

August 20, 2014

Last week I drove my cab over to Germain Porsche in Ann Arbor to meet a fellow who is an expert in paint touch up. I scratched the driver’s door on the cab the week before and being the good little (obsessive) 356 owner, I just had to have it fixed on the double. I dropped it off in the morning and since my Beetle needed some attention too I decided to bring it there after the 356 was done. As I drove into the lower lot to meet Mark Jamiel of Colors on Parade, I passed a gentleman who was obviously a professional photographer shooting images of the latest arrival at Germain, a 2014 991 Turbo S Cabriolet. He smiled and waved as I puttered by with all 36 horses, quite a pleasant surprise considering I interrupted his work by driving in between him and his subject; it was the only available path to get where I needed to be.

After swapping cars with Mark and hopping into my cab, I had no choice but to drive in between him and the subject 991 again. He seemed happy to see yet another old aircooled car and I joked about taking a picture of the two cars together. “Sure!” was his response. I remember making darn sure my parking brake was on and the car was in gear as he guided me into place, pointing straight into the side of that $205,000 (list) car, down hill!

He introduced himself as Phil Berg and we shook hands and exchanged business cards and pleasantries. After taking a few shots of the cars we chatted a bit and he seemed to be in tune with the car hobby. We talked about old cars and automotive photography in general. Not wanting to waste too much of his time I left him to his work and drove off.

Looking at his card again I thought “no, it couldn’t be that Phil Berg, could it?”

Well, yeah, it was:

I quickly thought back about our conversation to make sure I didn’t say anything really stupid. “All clear” I thought as I reminded myself of something to be aware of at all times: the person you don’t know well just might know way more about what you are talking about than you do.

Phil could not have been more gracious and sent me the images that he took that day.

Thanks so much Phil for sharing your images with the Motor Cities Gruppe.



TurboS, 356 cab_2

TurboS, 356 cab_4

TurboS, 356 cab_3

TurboS, 356 cab_1

2014 Gruppe Picnic

August 3, 2014




The 2014 Gruppe picnic was a huge success with more people and 356’s attending than the year before. Dave and Dianne Burton were gracious enough to host for the second consecutive year, and frankly I would be ecstatic to have it here every year. That mean’s Dave’s garage would get a yearly cleaning like nobody’s business.


Eighteen 356’s and 73 people attended, so it is a good thing the perfect weather that Dave ordered showed up just in time. It was dicey the day before and the forecast for tomorrow looks bleak. We took advantage of our good luck and spent a terrific day socializing and ogling over the cars.


post 3 pic template



picnic post 2

At this year’s Gruppe Picnic, Vic Skirmants debuted his 1952 356 coupe that was rolled in a race near Buffalo, NY when the car was new.Years ago it was re-bodied and made into an open car. Vic affectionately named it “The Mutt”.



Check back at this page often as I will be updating it with more picnic pictures in the next few days.

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