BRUCE WOLFF

My name is Bruce Wolff. I am a colon and rectal surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota; and John Monson and I have discussed cars over the years. I am not a racer, and I simply collect cars, or they seem to append themselves to me. This is a disease, and my son has it as he has a 1993 – 3 liter Dodge Stealth. I don’t show my cars either, principally because it is too much trouble to get them looking nice; and I simply enjoy driving them. I don’t really have a favorite and have a box of keys and will drive whatever will start. When you see these cars, you will know what I mean.

The only American car I have owned for 42 years, and is the car I drove in high school at the age of 16, is a 1940 Chrysler Windsor business coupe, and it has been restored. My wife picked an original MOPAR color which was this bright yellow. The car was originally a very sick, disgusting green. The chief value of this car is to realize how lucky I was in my youth and how far cars have come since this was the top technology. It has leaf-springs, wallows like a sailing ship, has no breaks, of very little pick up, and its chief asset is the fact that it is made out of real steal and its size. Nevertheless, how many people can say they still have the first car they ever owned.

The Brits:

The Brits, number 5 at this point, with the 1954 MGTF not being shown. This is appropriate because it is undergoing a complete restoration which is, and along with the E-type, breaking my bank, if not my heart. It is being restored in its original birch grey color with red interior, and should be quite sharp. It is amazing that here in rural Minnesota we find people who can make any part, paint any surface, and restore any car as well as anyone in the world, and, are just reasonable, hard working, plane people. The E-type coupe, is, in my opinion, probably the most beautiful car every built and, as you may know, is one of four cars represented in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Note, that this is the coupe version and not the roadster that they think of in such vaunted terms. This car was owned for 35 years by a photographer who bought it when it was five years old in 1974, as the second owner. It is unique in that it has not been messed with and has relatively little rust for a Minnesota car. As mentioned above, it is undergoing complete restoration and will likely end up in a burgundy color. As far as I am concerned, sitting behind the dashboard and looking out over the hood of this legend, is the best view in the automotive world.

Next is the 1964 Austin Healey 3000 Mark 3 series. Some of you may recognize Neil Mortensen in the driver’s seat. This may be the second best looking car in the world, and it is in very good shape and is certainly increasing in value in recent years. It has, perhaps, the best exhaust sound and is a true vintage experience.

The 1974 Triumph TR6 has been tweaked with a new header, triple weber carburetors, and Stebrow free flow exhaust. It is a wonderful car in spite of the ugly bumpers, but these are not easy to switch out for the earlier, simpler, and more attractive chrome bumpers. Its chief advantage is in the parking garage as we rumble up it tends to set off Saab car alarms as we go by with the rumble.

Next is the 1976 Gensen GT which followed me home last summer. It has a Getrag transmission, which is an abomination, and a Lotus 907 engine which is wonderful. The car received a lot of bad press, but once it is sorted, is very reliable and a lot of fun. The timing change needs to be changed every 20,000 miles however. My affection for this style of car will shortly become obvious.

Next are the Italians including the 1975 Alfa GTV that I bought when I was a resident in New York Hospital. It has been great fun over the years and has been driven on many long trips. It too has been converted to dual Webers.

The 1985 Alfa GTV VI was purchased shortly before my first child was born since I was told that I would never again have another sports car after I became a family man. Happily this platitude has been proven erroneous. Nevertheless, the car has been great, has very low miles, and is a fairly stiff and British car to drive, but is a great long-distance cruiser. I have two Alfa 164s, a 91S and one of the last Alfa 164 Qs sold in the U.S. in 1995. These have been terrific sedans, extremely lively, and well made, in my opinion. One is located at our place in California, as you can see from the vineyard setting. Unfortunately, the vineyard is not mine.

Perhaps the most pleasant car to drive on a daily basis is the 89 Spider Veloce. This Alfa has also been modified a bit with free flow headers and exhaust, and a modified air filter. It has been a very pleasant companion.

The Germans:

There is a 1980 Volkswagen Scirocco which also is in California, which is not pictured; and interesting there is quite a cult in this country growing up around this car. Because of its light-weight, relatively high ratio of horsepower to weight, and handling it has, at least in California, become a cult car; and this is, not to mention, that it is a Guigaro design.

There is a Swede in this group which I think is related to the Germans, and this is the 1972 Volvo 1800 ES, which I bought new when I was in medical school. This car has over 120,000 miles on it and has traveled up and down the East coast many times. It also had initial problems but has been sorted out for years and is as solid as a car as I have ever driven. I also think it is a beautiful design as a sport wagon and, while definitely a heavy weight in handling, is a great cruising car. The BMW M-Coup is a 2002, and is one of 5,000 made. It fits the sport wagon theme and is the smoothest, silkiest car I have ever driven, both in terms of its 315 (U.S.) horsepower in line 6 and its incredible transmission. Many writers hated the looks of this car, but I have never seen anyone who didn’t like the way it drove and handled. Definitely a keeper. The Audi All-Road is obviously the winter car, and there have been a lot of these sold in the U.S., which leads to confusion as to why Audi stopped production on this in favor of the ugly and bulky Q7 SUV. The All Road had a unique niche in that it combined a station wagon with a 250 twin turbo charged V6 (mine) or 300 horsepower V8 (my wife’s) with great handling, and at least in the V6, a six speed manual transmission, thus meeting all of my requirements.

Finally are the Porches. There is a 1996 993 C4 which is one of the last air cooled 9-11s; and is a car that I drive with snow tires in the winter on nice winter days so as not to become bored. I figure that it is probably the least vulnerable to rust of all of these cars, and I can’t see having a car like this that I drive only three months a year. The light blue 968 next to it, is a 1993 model, and is also a sleeper in the collector market. This car apparently had no fewer than 68 original patents and was one of the first, if not the first, car to have Vario-CAM. It also, I believe, has the most horsepower of any four cylinder production engine at 236. In contrast to the C4 coupe, it is roomy, comfortable on long trips, and you can take everything you need with you. People have started holding on to these cars now once they have learned, than in contrast to popular opinion, they are not a remake of the 944, and only the two doors are in common with that earlier model. Yeah, I know it is not a real Porsche, but you will be amazed at how many people comment on it.

So, such as it is, this is the Wolff collection, and I don’t have room for anything else. Although, where there is a will, there is a way.

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