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2014 Plaid Run

March 25, 2014

Sunday was the 11th annual Plaid Run, a memorial for Marshall Matthews and a fund raiser for the The Forbes Norris MDA/ALS Research and Treatment Center. Each year the group meets in Matthews’ memory to tell his stories and to help fund the work of Forbes/Norris. Previously called Lou Gehrig’s Disease, it is a rare affliction in which both the patients and the doctors need to learn various aspects of their care. The group is happy to help how they can, and one item that has recently resulted from the event is an educational film for the doctors that treat patients with the disease, and to tell patients what to expect.


Viewed curiously by onlookers, the day was a pile of random machines and smiling people wearing plaid. Marshall and friends used to wear plaid shirts, and it just grew into a thing. Working from a shop in Palo Alto, he restored a lot of early cars, bikes and boats and made a lot of friends along the way.  The variety of machines at the Plaid Run each year tells a bit about how wide his circles were and still are.


As in all aspects of life, the fun comes in many colors.  This event delivers fun via the gift of giving and by making new friends and seeing different types of machines. One treat was when Chris C. introduced me to a big guy with an oddly familiar voice.  It took a minute or two to realize that he’s been a DJ on the radio here in SF for 20 years. Or seeing how one guy cut up a 19teens Buick on a whim to make his own version of a period racer. The howl of three or four V12 Ferrari motors, on display under their rear windows was matched by the Ford GT with its own blown V8 behind the driver’s seat. And good old Victor always gets a laugh with his antics on the ‘14 HD, while the various hood ornaments were a focus for the wife’s camera lens.


Scroll down to see some of the cellphone pics by the wife and the 11 year old daughter who was riding pillion.


Marshall and friends wearing the plaid.


One of the three Pierce Arrow cars on this year’s run.  Pics from a few years ago are here.


A 1930 Ford leading K. on her 1930 Velocette


An earlier Pierce.  Note the air over oil springs in the two vertical cylinders.  Each has two reservoirs filled with red colored Marvel Mystery Oil.  The pistons inside each cylinder have leather seals, and mount the front of the parallel leaf springs which gives a very nice ride in the big car.  A small 25 year old dog was appreciated of the smooth ride.


The rear of a 1919 Buick speedster.  The owner built it from a 5 passenger sedan, adding lots of neat details.  Stay tuned for more info.


A 1914? HD with two speed rear hub. Behind it the shelves are filled with gas lamps, early speedos, and other brass-era knick knacks.


Race car and HD and Excelsior singles.


The Buick looks big, but has a two cylinder motor.  The family drives on the Alturas small car tour each summer.  The 1902 Packard has made the London to Brighton run several times.


With the bright California sun shining all day, Victor worked up a mighty thirst…


Wife loves to see the hood ornaments.  This one is on a Pierce Silver Arrow.





Seeing double.


He’s had this neat Indian for 15 years, and attracted loads of admiring glances at our stop at Alice’s Restaurant.


Yet another hood ornament.




pr18 1912 or 1913 Excelsior single



This 40 Ford looked great.


The 46 Woody had a lot of period modifications, including three deuces on the flathead.



Another view of the Silver Arrow


K. on her 1930 Velocette



English cars were also present, including several Jaguars, MGs, and at least one Morgan.


Isn’t this 1940 Zundapp neat?  He was on the 49 Mile Ride too.


“Ask the man who owns one” said the old Packard adverts.  I love the little red hexagons on the wheels.



He’s always riding, or getting ready for a ride.  Victor’s 1914 HD single speed will be on the Cannonball this fall.


Enzo Ferrari reportedly said that the Jaguar E type was “The most beautiful car ever made.” This Mark I drop top certainly fits the bill. Has any car ever eclipsed it?



She is so fast, the camera cannot catch her.



Old Stage Road, from San Gregorio to Pescadero, a route we use ever summer on the Rigid Ride too.


The stage stop in downtown San Gregorio. (Not shown is the other building that completes the town).


11 year olds can take good photos while riding pillion on rigid 76 year old bikes.  But sometimes things don’t quite turn out. Sad smile


What a fun day.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Monty Thompson permalink
    March 26, 2014 2:36 am

    I always love to read your blog. What an interesting and lovely life you seem to lead. Kudos!

  2. Michael permalink
    March 26, 2014 6:03 pm

    surely the air over oil cylinders on the Pierce are merely early developments of shock absorbers as we now know them?
    The Packard radiator mascot is affectionately referred to in Packard circles as ‘The Donut Chaser’….or so I was once told.
    Great article!

    • March 26, 2014 6:38 pm

      Hi Michael. The cylinders do appear to be much like shock absorbers. But they are mounted in series with the springs, not parallel. (Frame to cylinder, to spring to axle). The owner said that there is some amount of air pressure in the cylinder acting on the piston, which holds the spring down to counteract the weight of the car. But I didn’t get nearly enough details. I’d love to learn more about them. It was a very fine car!

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