Life in the Motor Cities Gruppe

Motor Cities Gruppe Christmas Party is Saturday December 5th, 2020!

September 12, 2020

Main Dining Room 3

356 Motor Cities Gruppe Christmas Party

Saturday, December 5th, 2020

Please arrive by 3:30pm
Birmingham Athletic Club
4033 W. Maple Road
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 48301
Just East of Telegraph on Maple Rd.
We have allowed plenty of time to mingle and visit together,
dinner will be served at 4:45 after grace by Rev. Roland.
Please pay in advance, mail your check to Barbara so I don’t have to go around and ask for $$ at the event.
Barbara Skirmants
3359 Kings Mill Road
North Branch, MI 48461
The cost is $60.00 per person, the Gruppe is subsidising a portion of the cost. Non-Gruppe members $65.
Fabulous Buffet Dinner – Cash Bar- Salad bar – prime rib carving station  roasted salmon – mashed potatoes with au-jus and hot vegetables.  Ice cream Sundae bar with fresh cookies.
Dress: Business Casual, Sport Coat recommended, tie not required
RSVP by Monday, November 23rd to
Barbara Skirmants

2016 356 Registry East Coast Holiday

March 31, 2016

 The 2016 Porsche 356 Registry East Coast Holiday is this September 7th – 11th in Akron, OH and registration is open! The team who put together the 2010 Cleveland Holiday is doing it again in Akron. Welcome party at Firestone Country Club, Concours and buffet lunch at the Glenmoor Country Club, tech session hosted by Chuck Stoddard, autocross, Soap Box Derby adult cars for you to try, awards banquet with a live band and more!

All info on our website:

Come join us!

Roberta Heller

216.310.2734 (cell)

2016 Porsche356ECH_2x2


California Lit Meet Weekend

March 28, 2016

By Grupp Friend Tom Tate


(Ed note: While there were many Detroit area Porsche enthusiasts at this year’s Lit Meet weekend, Tom Tate of Boston wrote about it in his blog and graciously allowed us to re-post it. Images are by both Tom Tate and Sebastian Gaeta)


While this winter in Boston has not been anything to run from, the idea of a gathering of the faithful in the 356 Porsche community on the left coast certainly loomed large on the calendar this year. Son, Rob, was going to drive over from Phoenix for his first visit to the annual festivities even if it was in a BMW. I figured that we could hide it behind the buildings and nobody would notice we were in the wrong type car. Wrong, a 550i with practically open exhaust was tough to hide anywhere. But what a great ride.
                  The 356 Literature and Toy Meet has been covered before in this column. I must admit it just gets better every year and 2016 was no exception. It’s not so much the literature, there’s a lot of that, or the toys, ditto, but spending time with old friends and hitting the shop tours that really make it a not to miss event.
The actual Meet is short, running from 7am to noon on Saturday, the tours go on for days. We even squeezed in a run to the Santa Monica City Pier to have lunch and see the sights the first day we were there. My brother, Bill, and I used to fish off that pier when we lived in Santa Monica before it became La La land. It was also the end of Route 66 after 2448 miles as the photo below shows.
Another beach stop was a place called Crystal Cove in Newport Beach which had all the look of a ‘50’s commune (see La La land above) but with a great spot on the beach for lunch. Cars had to be parked a mile away with a golf cart used as a shuttle since they didn’t want cars spoiling the aura of the place. I have to give them a tip of the cap as they did have car covers for the carts so they couldn’t be all bad. Besides the ocean view was the best.
Thursday night found us at Craig’s, the hot spot in Hollywood, with friends but we were disappointed to find that the Rave that we stumbled into two years ago was dark so we didn’t get to see the guys in the spray painted gold underwear this year.
The tours started in earnest on Friday morning, first stop, the Callas shop in Torrance to hear the first 911R built in 1967 fire up. We got a one hour lecture about the unusual car from Tom Prine the resident historian. He did a great job walking us through all the unusual features including the oil tank behind the passenger door where it didn’t show up again until 1972. And then only for a single year. He dispelled the rumor that it disappeared because too many gas station attendants mistook the flap for the gas tank cover. As with a lot of manufactures, even Porsche, it was all about the cost, in this case the tank itself and the labor to install it.
As noise and the smell of Castrol bean oil filled the alley it brought back memories of the Wintercross Series in Frederick MD in the ‘60’s as I watched a 911R outrun everything that showed up.
The presence of four 959 also provided a great photo opportunity especially the one on the lift that was being serviced. The undercarriage was covered in dirt and mud indicating that it was being used as the good doctor intended.
Lunch was served up at John Wilhoits shop, also in Torrance, as we walked between the cars that were undergoing restoration. The attention to detail was apparent and the shop was cleaner than the surgery unit at Mass General. Word was that there is a 3 year waiting list. Here are some shots of John’s shop:
The next stop was the Auto Kennel, basically a consignment shop that had many cars for sale and couple of cars on display that two of our TYP356NE members were looking to purchase. One was a late model 911, the other a ‘70’s long nose 911. We did what all the old guys do, we picked them apart. Hopefully without hurting anyone’s feelings.
                Friday night found the New England group making a lot of noise at the Rockin’ Fish in Newport Beach, just a block from the ocean. I don’t think anyone went for the New England clam chowder that was on the menus but the fish was great.
We stayed close to the Hilton since there was an early call on Saturday morning although a few of the younger guys were looking for some local action and apparently found it as they weren’t seen again until mid day on Sat. I had a table to cover with some parts and pieces that I had shipped into the hotel earlier in the week and didn’t want to miss any 7 am buyers. That worked out well and the cost of the trip got covered easily with parts sales.  The crowd was at least 30% larger than the last time we were out and the products available were really impressive. You can practically build a 356 with the parts and pieces currently available.



The afternoon was a short ride to European Collectibles in Costa Mesa for their annual open house that included a BBQ with more 356’s and early 911’s in one place than I seen in a while. There was a threat of rain (in Ca no less) but it didn’t appear until the next day.



Above: European Collectibles. Below: Other various shops open after the lit meet.


Two more open shops were just down the street so we got to see what Jim Liberty and his neighbor were working on, mostly early 911 work and very well done.
                   Sunday produced the scare of rain again but by the time we got in the BMW for a run to the All Porsche Swap Meet and Car Show in Anaheim the sun was out and temps were on the way to the high 70’s. I had picked up a rental as Rob would be leaving mid day to meet his family in Las Vegas. They were there at the beginning of school vacation week for soccer  matches for two of the boys.
                   Used parts in CA are cheaper and in much better condition than anything I see at Hershey every year and I couldn’t resist grabbing a few things that I knew would fit in my carry on bag and pass security. Like new window latches for the ’72 911 and a set of alloy wheel caps with enameled crests that found their way home with me.  
I rolled up the coast after a lunch with friends at Crystal Cove as I wanted to make a pass at the Topanga Canyon road and then come back out of the Santa Monica hills on Mullholland Dr. That’s a well known  road and an urban tale says that James Dean learned to drive his Speedster there.  Both roads are similar to the Tail of the Dragon in the Georgia mountains, real tight turns connected by short straights with great views of the valleys below.
                Once on Mullholland Dr I came upon a newer Mercedes in my rental Toyota Camry. The driver was going to show me how his AMG sedan could drive away from a rice burner but of course I couldn’t let that happen. I had already wrung the little thing out on a couple of exit ramp so I pretty much knew how to make the tires scream and what the car would do when they started their song. Who knew that you can get oversteer out of a Camry? The short straight weren’t enough to allow him any space so I just dogged him all the way down into Hollywood. Great fun.
             A couple of turns toward the coast and I was on Hollywood Blvd along with what look like every tourist in CA that wanted their photo taken on the Walk of Fame. Catwoman and Batman along with three versions of Mickey and Minnie Mouse were lined up getting $5 a picture. What a country.
            Can’t wait until next year! KTF


Updated Information from the Alden Car Show

February 29, 2016


Below is an informational flyer from the organizers of this year’s Alden Car Show, an event for which the Gruppe is organizing as an overnight weekend tour. Even more info can be found in the announcement posted below this one. We look forward to a big turnout so please contact Barb Skirmants HERE to RSVP.

Alden show 2016 Invitation.jpg


Hershey Swap Meet 2015

April 26, 2015

Gruppe members Bill Rohrer, Dan Mazur, Tim Buko and I attended our umpteenth Hershey swap meet and here are some images from that glorious day. It actually is something to celebrate when the weather at this annual swap meet is nice like it was this year. We have endured a day when it was 40 degrees and raining sideways, but not so this year with sunny skies and temps in the low 80’s.

The enthusiasm was big this year and people were out en-force on a buying binge. I tried to walk around a few times but each time I left I was no more than two rows away when I would get called back to price out one of my items for someone.

Other Gruppe members there were Vic, Skirmants, Keith Blake and Vic Rivera. I know it is a long drive from Michigan but we make a whole weekend out of it. We hope to see more of our club members there next year!

Hershey 2015

The Ann Arbor Gang getting some sun. From left to right: Dan Mazur, Tim Buko (now living in Strasburg, PA), Bill Rohrer and Sebastian Gaeta.


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Rising Prices in Arizona

January 20, 2015



    As winter tightened its grip in New England, the Collector Car Auctions in Scottsdale looked like the place to be. Weather in the 70’s, lots of sun, and thousands of cars crossing the auction block. With our names on the list at Barrett – Jackson, R M Auctions, Russo and Steele, and Gooding and Co. son Rob, and I made a clean sweep of it.

               I flew in a day early to help with  the reassembly of a ’65 356SC coupe that Rob had in his garage in Goodyear, AZ. He had found the car in CA,  in a strange shade of beige-gray and had decided to have his painter take it back to its original Champagne Yellow, a terrific color on these tubs.

Another night on the project

Another night on the project

Because of the prices that Porsches are bringing in todays market, every auction house had a long list of cars from Stuttgart. Even the big muscle car venue that started it all, Barrett – Jackson, had a ’64 356 in Togo Brown. For us it was a spoiler with a red interior but even with that combination it brought $110k from a bidder and went to a new home.

 '65 Togo Brown

’65 Togo Brown

On the high priced list I submit the following surprises:

Gooding & Co:

’57 Speedster barn find …………..$484k

’63 356 Carrera 2 …………..…….$643k

’65 356SC Cabriolet …………..…$242k  

’66 912 ……………………………$82k

’66 906 …………………….………$1,980k

’67 911S …………………………..$253k

Bonhams :

’61  356 Notchback ………………$94k

R M Auctions:

’55 356 Outlaw  ………..…………$258k

’65 356 Roadster Outlaw ….…….$247k

’65 904 GTS .………………..……$1,650k

’69 911 Soft window Targa ……..$286k

’89 911 Speedster ……………….$198k

’94 911 RS America …………..…$95k

Found in a Barn '63 Carrera 2     

Found in a Barn ’63 Carrera 2

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There were some bargains to be seen. The very first car across the block at the Bonham auction was a very nice ’72 911T in black which looked terrific but bidding stopped at $65k. I think people were just finding their seats and it was gone before they could find their paddles.

                              Russo Steele was a huge surprise with a ’57 Speedster that didn’t show up on the website or in the catalog and had just been finished by a well known shop in CA.  I really couldn’t find any flaws in the work but it only made it to $260k before it changed hands. Compare that with the barn find at Gooding above that needed everything and sold for almost double that figure. Wrong venue, wrong crowd, I just can’t account for the difference. They also had a ’74 Euro 911 Carrera with 58k on it, owned by a sheik, in brown and looked like new, totally original that went for $275k. That was about a 30% discount to the market value. Attempting to get more imports into the mix, two Audi R8’s were sold cheap, one V10 Cab rolled for $110k.

                                   There was a lot of talk that the market wasn’t meeting expectations and it wasn’t as the estimates that were posted in the catalogs were seldom exceeded. I would suggest that some of those numbers must have come right out of a phone book,  as they had never been seen on a Porsche before. As an example, R M Auction was looking for $175k-$225k for a Champagne Yellow, ’64 356SC sunroof coupe that only reached $159k. Only? That’s the biggest number I’ve ever seen on a coupe, sunroof or not. That even raised Rob’s expectations on his project. After all, it’s the same color, it must be worth as much, right?

                                     The $242k paid for a ’65 356SC Cab was a huge jump in value from just a couple of years ago when those models were selling for $120k.

                                     Early 911 prices seem to be on track for another 40% year and those are even raising the prices of 911SC that everyone has been avoiding the last few years. There were some models that were not represented at all. Nobody listed a 914, and the 924/944 models were nonexistent. My guess is that was for the same reason that there were just about no MGs or Triumphs. There’s just no money to be made there. Since the auction houses charge the sellers 10% and the buyers 10% (yes, that’s 20%) there is just no reason to sell $10k cars when the lots can be filled with $50-$100k cars. After all, they can’t pay the bills by  just selling $3 bottles of water in the vendor area.

                                    By far the largest site was the Barrett – Jackson show. There had to be at least 30 food vendors alone, all fried, of course. The layout had been changed since last year to allow for more outdoor displays. Boats and small planes had been added to the mix. Thrill rides in Mustang 500GTs and Dodge Hellcats were smoking up the pavement as the pros chased each other around on a new short course with fans in the passenger seat.  It was exactly like a state fair but without the animals.  

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There were a few surprises that we just don’t see back East, at least I haven’t seen it. There is a very large following of folks that are into early Toyota Land Cruisers. With 33” tires and rows of LED lights on the hood and roof there were FJ40’s, FJ 45’s and FJ55’s.  There must have been 30 that crossed the stage. There were also examples every Corvette ever made. Like old Porsches, early Vettes are all coming out of the barn to supplement Social Security payments. It’s just a really good thing that we didn’t all get attracted  to British sports cars years ago, we’d never get to retire.  

                                  Every venue we attended had at least one Fiat Jolly, all looking like the surrey with the fringe on top with cane seats. Even Russo Steele had one parked out in the dirt under a tent. These limited use vehicles have been bumping up against $100k and that means a $20k payday for a few minutes on the block. Not a bad gig.

                                   The parking lots could’ve been car shows themselves as bidders drove to the auctions with their best rides.  We saw McLarens, Ferraris, and all manner of Mercedes. One lot even had a new Porsche 918 parked at the curb. It was drawing as many people taking photos as the cars destined to be sold.

Rob checks the spoiler clearance on a 918

Rob checks the spoiler clearance on a 918

The crowds seemed as large or larger than previous years as more people are chasing cars to add to their collection or just to enjoy on a summers day. Those of us that play with cars are just hoping that the

speculators  are not the buyers that are running the prices upward. Our advice has always been the same, buy the car or cars that you want to drive and enjoy. If it goes up in value, great. If not, you have enjoyed a great ride.



2014 Gruppe Holiday Party as Seen by Vic Rivera thru his iPhone

December 15, 2014

This year’s Holiday Party, held at Genitti’s in Northville, was a terrific change of pace from the big room at Canterbury Village that has hosted the party for years. It was cozy, for sure, but the room allowed us to do what we do best, and that is to socialize!

Vic Rivera had a neat iPhone grip for taking pictures from neat angles, including selfies. This is an example of what he was using to give you some perspective if you were not there.


Thanks so much Vic for taking the following pictures!

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