A Bittersweet Gathering
Story and photos by Michael T. Lynch
The sky was clear on Nob Hill in San Francisco and the temperature was in the mid sixties. An exceptional group of collector cars from all over the world were backing into their spaces on the street between the Pacific Union Club and the Fairmont Hotel. It was the traditional kick-off luncheon for the California Mille. For many of us it was an emotional time because it was the first edition of the event run without its founder Martin Swig, who left us in 2012. Many joked about the weather, saying that where Martin was now gave him a more direct line to control that.
Swig was an extremely important force in American car collecting and his decision to start the California Mille was one of a handful of deflection points that changed how we view the preservation and use of our toys. The Mille was a milestone on changing the predominant practice of car collecting from over restoration and static displays to originality and use. To Martin, an impromptu run along Marin County’s scenic roads that was hatched during an informal breakfast among enthusiast friends was just as important as a day on the lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours, and he had the ability to inspire others to feel the same way. The cars parked in front of the Fairmont were a testament to his organizational abilities, but even more so, his unbounded and infectious love of cars. Alfa Romeos were more prevalent than any other marque. That was fitting because they were his favorites and he had once been an Alfa dealer.
Enjoy the gallery here, and give a thought of gratitude for all Martin did for us. One of the sports’ Grande Dames, Judy Stropus, will give us a full Mille report in a future edition.