Euro Auto Festival – Greenville, South Carolina’s Premier Auto Event

The Euro Auto Festival is the premier auto show in the Upstate of South Carolina. This event is just one notch down from a full fledged Concours d’Elegance event, the very high end collector cars that vie for a Concours prestigious win being the only vehicles missing.

Held on the beautiful greens and fairways of The Preserve at Verdae in our hometown of Greenville, South Carolina, Roo and I are so lucky to be able to drive just four miles to see some of the most astounding automobiles anywhere.

Nothing else need be said about this Lamborghini

The greens and fairways were filled with beautiful automobiles and crowds of people. Every year a particular country’s autos or a particular marque are showcased at the show. This year featured the Cars of Italy. Of course, the particular marque within that broad category that had a large and in charge presence was none other than Ferrari.

There were plenty of other European auto manufacturers here besides those from Italy. But being that the Italians had such a large presence, I decided to give them their own, exclusive post, as it should be. It is their show this year, after all.

In a previous post I mentioned my having had a Triumph Spitfire 1500 Roadster. Well, as we walked around, another old sports car flame came into view, a car that I absolutely loved and had a blast driving. Known affectionately (and literally, in my case) as the “poor man’s Corvette”, a 1973 Opel GT.

Seeing one would be great, but three, and in beautiful shape! 

I had one just like this, right down to the color. These were really fun cars to drive and garnered a lot of attention!

Cute as a bugs ear!

The requisite faux dog peeing on a car tire. Seems to be at least one at every show.

When was the last time you saw a Renault LeCar?

Jaguar had a great lineup of it’s classic and modern cars. Jaguar, in my mind, is the only other auto manufacturer’s cars that you can actually say have some sex appeal, which strikes me as odd, because you know, being British and the upper crust who can afford to buy these cars…… Italian cars, on the other hand just ooze sex appeal. Careful, you might slip……

What would a European auto show be without Triumph, makers of the quintessential two seat roadster?

Austin Healey, another classic British marque

After viewing all the cars that mere mortal enthusiasts are wont to drive, we ventured across the fairway to a seemingly other worldly automotive scene, Automobiles that know no limits of technology, no know limits of cost, know no limits of power, These cars are in your face, over the top, excessive, look at me; don’t you wish you had one creations that bend your mind.

Supercars and Hypercars

These cars are mind-boggling. Knowing they are totally out of reach for Roo and I makes it all the more desirable to seek them out in order to gawk and marvel at the creative genius they exemplify with their beauty, technology, and stratospheric power.

If you are looking for a Concours style, high class auto show in a beautiful setting, and you are a European motorcycle and car enthusiast, it is worth the trip to Greenville to join in the fun, held every year in October. Maybe we’ll see you there in 2019!

POO

Poo. Poo is Nirvana. Poo is satisfying. When you arrive at that “ahhhh” moment, everything slips away as you feel your body completely relax. No matter how you felt pre-Poo; exhilerated, anxious, or just plain focused on the task at hand, your arrival at Poo is nothing short of elation. And Poo is beautiful and pleasing to the eye. There is nothing distasteful about Poo.

 Peaks of Otter. Poo. Located approximately ten miles north of Bedford, Virginia. The Peaks of Otter are three moutains in the Blue Ridge Mountain chain; Sharp Top, Flat Top, and Harkening Hill. The Lodge is situated right on the Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 85. This is our third trip to the lodge; twice by motorbike and once, this trip, in our MX-5.

SHARP TOP

After a spirited drive up and down the Back of the Dragon (see previous post), we headed east and took the back roads and the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Peaks of Otter Lodge. This area of Virginia is stunningly beautiful, and the lodge property is as well. It was here, way back in 2006, that we had a magical bear encounter with a female bear and her two cubs. A photo hanging in our living room that Roo took at the time showing momma bear and her cubs looking right at us with no fear or aggression at twenty feet away reminds us of that magical experience.

The grounds here at the lodge are gorgeous, invoking a sense of calm and peace the moment one arrives. We parked the MX-5 and didn’t drive for two days, electing instead to chill and hike the many trails both on the property and the surrounding area.

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The restaurant on site serves wonderful cuisine in a rustic mountain atmosphere. A fiddler is playing in the lounge, and the music filters through to the dining room as Roo and I enjoy a bottle of wine from a local vineyard. A perfect ending to a great day of driving as we walk the trail around Lake Abbott in the moonlight.

The next morning we awake to a gorgeous Virginia morning, and prepare to hike to the summit of Sharp Top mountain. Sharp Top peaks to just under 4000 ft. in elevation. A 1.5 mile trail takes us to the summit. That doesn’t seem like a very long trail, and it isn’t, as the crow flies, but this is 1.5 miles with a lot of vertical.

Another View Of Sharp Top

The views from the summit are breathtaking! We could see for miles. And it was very, very, cool and breezy. I was dressed for seventy-five degree temps in a fifty-five degree atmosphere with a wind chill of another five to eight degrees. Brrrr.

I reached into my pants pocket to retrieve my camera to take photos of the beautiful surroundings, and came up empty handed! I left the camera in the room. Below are a couple of web photos of the summit of Sharp Top:

There is also a cabin at the summit, built in the 1880’s, that was used as an overnight rest stop for hikers and travelers of that era. The National Park Service had just finished restoring the cabin this year.

Another historical structure on the Poo property is Polly’s Ordinary. An “ordinary” was the term used in the 18th and 19th centuries for overnight accommodations for travelers in the area. Nothing fancy, just a place to drop your bedroll and get a simple meal. This was a popular area for travel and recreation even back then.

A full day of hiking, beautiful weather, another wonderful meal in the on-site restaurant and one last evening walk around Lake Abbott, left us pleasantly tired. Tomorrow we begin our journey back to Wytheville and the Trinkle House B&B for an overnight stay, via the Blue Ridge Parkway and some of Virginia’s best twisty roads. Then its back home to South Carolina and the anxiously awaiting Beagles.

Another satisfying Poo experience. If you ever want to make a trip to Poo, check the area out on the Blue Ridge Parkway, MP 85, Bedford, VA, and have your own wonderful Poo experience. You won’t be disappointed.

Climbing on the Dragon’s Back in The Commonwealth

Back of the Dragon. VA16, Marion to Tazewell, Virginia. Thirty-two miles, one way. Three mountain ascents and descents. Untold number of sweepers and tight hairpin curves. Beautiful vistas. The tag line is a snub at the Tail of the Dragon in North Carolina/Tennessee: “Eleven……Try thirty-two.” This is one freakin’ fantastic road!

This is a sports car enthusiasts paradise. The county here is trying to market this road similar to the Tail of the Dragon, to increase tourism in this rural section of Virginia. Marion is a small town, Tazewell even smaller. The nearest town of any size is Wytheville, a 20 minute hop on I-81, and it is small. The surrounding countryside is absolutely gorgeous.

 Roo and I took this trip in our Mazda Miata MX-5, and this post is appropriate to appreciate what this road can offer to motorcyclists. My Honda NC700XD will get its crack at the Back next year.

Now thats one happy MX-5!

Vistas from the Back

The Road

This road has everything to keep the sports car enthusiast entertained: sweepers, tight hairpins, offset camber curves, three mountains to traverse, oh, and a nice little coffee shop in Tazewell to caffeine up for the return thirty-two miles to Marion.

Tazewell, VA

 The views are beautiful………

and the road is fantastic

It was raining on and off, so a drop top drive was not in the cards today. Exhilarating none the less.

Our base for the Dragon Drive was the Trinkle House in Wytheville. A beautiful B&B that sported very reasonable rates in a restored house built in the 1880’s. A truly relaxing place to chill with a glass of wine on the veranda after dueling the Dragon beast. A short walk to downtown Wytheville brought us to dinner, then a walk around downtown had us seemingly in a time warp in small town 1950’s. Back to the Future re-visited.

THE TRINKLE HOUSE 

 Tail of The Dragon vs. Back of the Dragon. A comparo: 

Both of these roads have their appeal. The Tail of The Dragon in North Carolina/Tennessee is a technical road by virtue of the continuous curves thrown at you, many of them blind and off-camber. At eleven miles, it is short, so multiple runs over a day or weekend are a must for maximum enjoyment of time spent. This, of course, decreases the challenge during each run as one becomes proficient at “learning” the road (depending on speed and other road users).

The Back of the Dragon in Virginia is challenging due to it’s varied and undulating terrain. Significant elevation change, off-camber curves, sweepers and switchbacks thrown at you in random fashion. At thirty-two miles, it’s a long road. An up and back run is sixty-four miles. That’s two hours at a reasonable speed. Do a double run, and you’ve spent half a day with a grin on your face. One really doesn’t “learn” this road unless you live on a nearby farm and drive it everyday. Lucky you.

I love them both. However, the nod goes to the Back of the Dragon as the preferred of the two. The surrounding Virginia countryside is gorgeous. The road’s varied terrain is appealing and challenging, forcing the driver to make use of all his/her mountain driving skills. And after just a single run of sixty-four miles, you feel satisfied and pleasantly tired.

Do try to get to VA16 and The Back of the Dragon before it becomes another marketing success, if that happens at all. This is a very remote, rural section of Virginia, so what if it doesn’t happen. That’s better for those of us who found it and can enjoy it without the crowds.

Expanding The Motoring Horizons

Change is constant, we are told,and although it doesn’t seem like it on this blog, the reality is our adventures have modified a bit. Periodically, those of you who follow this blog see a post thrown in with our Mazda Miata MX-5 Roadster as the main character. We have had the little four wheeled sport bike going on two years now, ever since Roo has not been able to ride a motorbike due to back surgery. The MX-5 has become her “motorcycle.”

This change coincided with the motorbike downsize from my Honda ST1300 to now, my Honda NC700XD, which I ride solo. Even though the method of conveyance changes from time to time, the intent is the same: to have fun blasting back roads and touring on two wheels or four, seeing interesting places our readers might like to visit, and reporting on motoring events we attend.

 

So, we decided to combine our passions of touring by motorcycle and sports car into one blog site. Many motorcyclists are sports car enthusiasts and vice versa. Content will continue as mentioned above, but beginning with the next post, the site will be            re-named Motoring Adventures. Categories will also change to make it easier to find specific motorcycle or sports car content.

We invite you to continue to follow us on our adventures, and although some trips will be driven in the MX-5, the roads taken will all be motorcycling roads!

“Everything will change, then will change again”

-Tom Petty

 

My New Ride

Now, before we get all moto excited here, I must be up front with y’all. It’s not a motorcycle, BUT, it is the next best thing. Rest assured, there is motorcycle content in this post.

This year I decided I wanted another convertible roadster as my daily driver. Way back in time I had a Triumph Spitfire, a British roadster that I just loved. In 2016, the roadster bug bit again. I scoured the on-line sites for six months until I found this beauty in my price range with super low mileage and a body to die for. She is in perfect shape for a 14 year old car.

Since Zed14 showcased his new automobile on his awesome moto blog a few months ago, I felt that a precedent had been set. Since it is winter here in South Carolina, two wheeling has taken a significant downturn, so I needed some fresh blog material. Well, here she is, goofy grin and all, my new as-close-to-motorcycling-as-she-gets ride:

2003 Mazda Miata MX5

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Roo has named her Guinness, due to her tan and black interior, but I’m not sold on the name yet. We both love her. She’s no speed sled, but power to weight ratio is pretty impressive. Fun? What a blast! Top down, curvy mountain roads that she takes like she’s on a monorail. Wow! Mazda got it right. As one fellow Miata owner said to me: “Mazda built a modern day British Roadster with technology, reliability, and power.”

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 The MX5 resurrects the classic small British roadsters of the 1960’s: Triumph Spitfire and the TR series, and the MGA’s and MGB’s as well as others. My MX5 is the NB series, or second generation built between 1998 and 2005. I like the lines of the NB series. It is truer to the look of the old Brit roadsters of the 60’s than the new MX5’s today.

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This is no luxury, pseudo sports car. This is the real deal. The MX5 is tight: stiff suspension, super responsive steering, low and wide for superb handling. Not to say that the ride is torturous, it is actually quite comfortable. But, in a sports car, you want feedback from the road, just like on a motorcycle, and the MX5 gives it to you.

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Shifting through the five speed gearbox is quick and easy with the short throw shifter. Redline is 7000 RPM, but the MX5 is built for low to mid-range torque, so you hit highway speeds well in advance of the envelope.

Guinness

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I really can’t believe the condition of this car considering it’s age. Of course, from the outside, she looks tiny, and really is. But once seated in the cabin, it seems like she morphs into a larger car. Ample leg and head room, plenty of space for my shifting arm without slamming my elbow into the passengers ribs, as in my previous car.

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With the top down, the fun factor continues. I had forgotten how much fun driving a convertible is. Christmas Day turned unseasonably warm, and so I dropped the top and Roo and I went on a short drive on some local curves, laughing and hooting all the way.

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Christmas eve day had me attending a regular car (mostly) and motorcycle (a little) event called Cars & Coffee, held the fourth Saturday of each month at the Michelin headquarters here in Greenville, South Carolina. Everyone brings their own ride, and the scope of cars that show up is breathtaking! From Chevy Belairs and VW Beetles (original), to 2016 Corvettes and Camaros, plus everything in between. Even the Batmobile from the 1960’s TV show came rolling in! The sound, the horsepower, and the aesthetic beauty presented here was astounding! About 150 cars showed up, and, because of the holiday weekend, was a much lower number than usual!

Cars & Coffee

Honda S2000

Honda S2000

Dodge Viper

Dodge Viper

This is one bad-ass looking car!

2016 Chevrolet Corvette

2016 Chevrolet Corvette

2016 Fiat 124 Spyder Abbarth

Designed by Fiat (you can see the Italian styling), built by Mazda. A great looking and performing Roadster, but all the car mag reviews still give the performance edge to the Miata MX5.

Everyone knows what this is. “Super cute” says Roo.

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When this came rolling in, the whole crowd moved as one to it’s parking space

The Batmobile (from the 1960’s TV show)

I’ve seen it all, after that Bang! Pow! Zap! Batman nostalgia display. I can go home now. NOT! One more stop, to view a thing of beauty that crossed my line of vision. Something I had never seen or heard of or read about before. And, it was perched on two wheels.

1982 Honda CBX1000 (web photo)

cbx

The owner of this beautiful machine was there, and I struck up a conversation with him. He had purchased this bike from a dealer only two months prior. A long time motorcycle and sports car enthusiast, he has owned a bike in almost every marque made. He currently rides a late model BMW (besides the Honda), and his daily driver is a Porsche 911.

1982 H0nda CBX1000 (Cars & Coffee photo)

He said the only thing he had to do to this bike was change out the fluids and replace a burnt out headlamp bulb! What you see in the photos is exactly how he bought it! Wow! What a find! I’d never heard of this Honda before, and sure am glad I got to see one firsthand.

Behind the Honda was a old Harley, 1950’s I believe the owner said. You can barely see it in the Honda photo to the left. The owner is in the photo to the right getting ready to fire it up. Three kicks on the kickstarter and he was on his way.

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That’s a damn good looking motorbike for it’s age, kind of like my MX5! Vintage gets sweeter with time!

I posted about this before, but 2017 will see me astride a new motorbike. My wonderful Honda ST1300 will be retired, along with the little Suzuki TU250. The plan is to have this happen in February. In their place will be another Honda, the NC700X DCT. Smaller, lighter, actually flickable, and Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmission that I have fallen head over heals for.

2016 Honda NC700X DCT (web photo)

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Riding the NC700X in Vermont this past July (MSTA event photo)

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And so, I am very happy with my MX5. Looking forward to some great driving this spring, top down, wind in the hair, with Roo and a beagle or two if we can swing it. To quote another MX5 owner: “Mazda made the British sports car the Brits wish they had made.” To all my U.K. friends..nothing personal.

The torch has been passed (but I’d love to have that TR6)

I may have to create another blog site for the drop top. I’ll think about that.