That Saab guy in the skirt…….kilt!

Earlier today I shared a story from Canada about a classic car rally that featured – and I quote – “the guy in the skirt…… a leather kilt and felt bedroom slippers” – who drove a Saab 96 850 Monte Carlo. I wondered out loud who that might be as characters like that usually see the light of day more than once in a small community like the Saab community.
As it turns out, the man himself was reading. His name is Phil Lacefield Jr. And, as it turns out, we’ve actually met once before, rather briefly, at the Great TS Pacific Northwest Meetup a few years ago in Washington state.
Phil’s been kind enough to provide some details about the event, as well as some photos.

Click to view a whole heap of photos from the journey.
It’s not leather. It’s cotton.
But I digress.
Two weekends ago, my lovely bride and I (and out little dog, too) made the 3-hour drive north – border traffic permitting – to the tiny hamlet of Hope, British Columbia, there to start the second annual Spring Thaw Rally. Our steed for this weekend of hills, twists, turns and shenanigans was our trusty 1966 Monte Carlo 850, a car that only eight days before had a completely barren engine bay. And my kilt was not made of leather. More on that in a bit.
In early 2009, we saw a quick write-up on about a first-time fun run taking place just north of us in the interior of BC. Since we had nothing better to do that weekend, and being in possession of a car bred directly from rally genes, we signed up and headed north. That first Spring Thaw Rally started in Squamish, a small town minutes from the ski resorts of Whistler, and headed north and east into the uncharted interior of British Columbia, a place as foreign to us as driving on the far side of the moon. Organized by car nuts Dave Hoard and Warwick Patterson, the Spring Thaw was open to import cars of 1979 vintage or older, and consisted of three days of unimaginably beautiful vistas, harrowing climbs, and nail-biting descents (made more so by the fact that we were the only 2-stroke entry and therefore had no engine braking whatsoever).
The trip took us to the exotic locales of Merritt, Kamloops, Green Lake and elsewhere in the wilds of this massive Canadian province, and along the way we had a tremendous time playing road tag with all the other entrants as the lone Swedish representative in a field thick with Minis, Beetles, Fiats and various English iron. All was well until just before the end of Saturday’s ride, when we blew the plug clean out of the head at cylinder three, taking the weakened threads along with it. Quick roadside repairs got us to the final night, but the next morning further hasty repairs to the plug resulted in detonation and plug fouling (full of aluminum, that is), so sadly we finished the rally in the chase vehicle and received the Hard Luck Award at the end.
IMG_3022.jpgFast forward one year. We signed up again, not even knowing if we’d have a car to run, as getting the MC850 engine rebuilt had continued to slip down our list of priorities. Three weeks before the run, however, we found ourselves fatefully in Anaheim, a mere three miles from the shop of one Bud Clark, he who had rebuilt the engine last for me back in 2003. As luck would have it, Bud just happened to have an exact match set of pistons, and after a quick once-over with his skilled hands pronounced the motor ready to go. Getting it in proved difficult, though, as the notoriously fickle Seattle weather refused to give me more than 30 straight dry minutes for over two weeks.
Luckily, we did dry out enough to get things in order, set the timing, pack a bag and head north. This year’s Spring Thaw was opened up to 60 entrants, ranging from a brace of Lotus Europas to an Aston Martin DB2, a Canadian-market-only Beaumont Acadian convertible, and more 2002s and 356s than you could shake a traffic triangle at. The weather for this run wasn’t quite as nice, starting out cool and drizzly, but the sun did find its way to us and again much fun was had by all.
To clarify the Globe & Mail article, my kilt isn’t leather, but 12 oz Duck cloth, much like Carhartts, made by that fine Seattle institution Utilikilts. They weren’t felt slippers, just really comfy surfer shoes. And I didn’t received an award, but rather presented this year’s Hard Luck trophy (built from the mangled piston and plug from my deceased engine) to none other than Dave Hoard, one of the event’s organizers and a chap who had the singular misfortune of losing his brand-new stroker VW motor on the last leg of the rally.
My wife, Calye (who writes a regular column in NINES), and Troll, our ever-faithful companion, were really not entirely certain what they were supposed to be impressed with, but did enjoy the fine food and comradarey along the way. Can’t wait till next year!
I might have to talk to my Canadian relatives about this one…… sounds like too much fun. SW
My thanks to Phil for the writeup, and just for being who he is.

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