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Rick Martin an unlikely auto collector

Portland jewelry designer will bring three Italian cars to Concours


by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Rick Martin with his rare and beautiful 1967 Maserati Mistral, just one of many featured Italian cars at this years Forest Grove Concours dElegance.Rick Martin admits he is an unlikely car collector, let alone someone bringing three high-end Italian cars to the 42nd Annual Forest Grove Concours d'Elegance.

"I didn't have a lot of money in high school and my car was the worst one in the parking lot. I was lucky if it would start after school," said Martin.

But on July 20 at Pacific University, those attending the show will be able to enjoy his 1966 Ferrari 330GT, 1967 Maserati Mistral and 1989 Ferrari Testarossa. They are part of the show's tribute to the Art of Italian Motoring, which also celebrates the 100-year anniversary of Maserati. Other Italian manufacturers to be featured include Alfa Romeo and Lancia.

Designers and coachbuilders Pininfarina, Zagato, Touring, and Frua will also be represented.

"With a rich history in architecture, art and fashion, Italy has always been a country where beauty, elegance and creativity are valued. The designers and carrozzerias, or coachbuilders, of Italy are the artists responsible for the beautiful automotive shapes that are truly works of rolling art," said Allen Stephens Jr., a member of the Concours committee.

Martin didn't know any of that when he first collecting cars. Instead, with money he earned after beginning a successful career as a jewelry designer around 30 years ago, he just started buying cars he liked. His first purchase was a 1983 Jaguar XJ6.

"It looked pretty cool and handled much better than anything else I'd ever driven. After I bought it, I joined a local Jaguar owners club and begin going to car shows, where I saw more and more collector cars," said Martin, who owns Snow Owl Designs in Portland.

Some time later, Martin decided he wanted an E-type, the classic torpedo-shaped 1960s sports car that made Jaguar famous in America. His mechanic knew of one for sale that didn't cost too much because it had been completely taken apart and then neglected for a few years.

"He said, if you buy it, I'll restore it in my down time and won't change you full shop rates. I thought, that sounds like a good deal. A year and a half later, I was driving an E-type," Martin said.

After a while, Martin began to get interested in Italian sports cars. He asked club members if they knew of any good ones for sale, and he learned about the 300GT, a 2+2 built for executives to drive a few friends around the continent on outings. by: TRIBUNE PHOTO CHASE ALLGOOD - The 1967 Mistral was the last Maserati to come with companys famous straight six-cylinder, twin-spark, double overhead cam engine.

"It's got enough room for a little luggage and two sets of golf clubs, so it's practical enough for weekend trips," he said.

Martin kept buying cars that interested him, including the Testarossa, a supercar popularized on the Miami Vice TV show, and the Mistral, the last Maserati to have the company's famous straight six cylinder, twin-spark, double overhead cam engine. With a body by Pietro Frua, it is general considered to be one of the most beautiful cars from the "House of Trident" of all times.

About two years ago, Martin owned 14 cars, which he realized was too many.

"I thought, this is getting to be work, so I decided to cut down and sold some of them. But now I'm thinking, maybe I've got room for at least one more," he said.

Martin is not a perfectionist, however. Unlike many of the cars expected in Forest Grove, his three have not been restored from the ground up. He repainted the 330GT a few years ago, but was still cleaning up the engine bay himself as the show approached. The Mistral was repainted by an earlier owner, and Martin only recently retouched the front end and replaced the carpeting. And the Testarossa is completely original, except for the exhaust.

"I drive all of my cars, especially when the weather's good and the roads are dry," said Martin.

Of the three cars, the Mistral is going to see the most use this summer. It has been invited to three other shows that are celebrating Maserati's centennial, including one in Vancouver BC.




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