Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


THE COPPERSTATE 1000 Rally is one of the premier vintage car events in the U.S. Run each spring to benefit the Phoenix Art Museum (, the Copperstate is a four-day drive through the spectacularly varied scenery of Arizona.

Wife Dottie and I go way back with the Copperstate—in fact, to its first running in 1991. For many of these events—more than a decade of them altogether—we ran our Morgan 1965 Plus Four 4-Passenger Family Tourer.

Now, though, it’s time to offer another enthusiast new adventures. Morgan specialist (and good friend) Bill Fink of Isis Imports in San Francisco is refurbishing the car for resale. For more information, contact Bill at Isis Imports,, 415 433-1344.

What follows here is a photo gallery of Arizona, the Copperstate 1000 and our Morgan.

In fact, for the inaugural 1991 event, Morgan trike racer Spence Young, rest his soul, lent us his right-hand-drive Plus Four Roadster. He checked out the car for us each morning, and I recall thanking him along the frigid Mogollon (“muggy-own”) Rim for having turned on the heater.

“There’s no heater,” he said, “that’s engine heat seeping aft.”


The first Copperstate, 1991. Spence Young’s 1961 Morgan Plus Four Roadster near Payson along the Mogollon Rim.

Arizona has such geographical variety that the Copperstate’s organizers, the museum’s Men’s Arts Council, vary the route each year.

A sample of

A sample of Copperstate 1000 checkpoints over the years.

A favorite route for me is traveling northwest out of Phoenix past Wickenburg and up the Yarnell Grade. It’s a driver’s delight, with moderate-speed sweepers (from the top of which you can see 100 miles).


Copperstate 1997. Ali Sirotta, the daughter of fellow Copperstaters, rode with me up the Yarnell Grade. She was a great passenger.

The drive from Phoenix southeast to Tucson and beyond is fun too. It’s cowboy country, Tombstone being one of the checkpoints, the mining town of Bisbee another (where school kids were given special recess to view the Copperstate cars).

The route into Jerome from the west across Mingus Mountain is another delight for the driver and awesome—not to say a little scary—for the navigator.


Not many Morgans have been to Bagdad, with or without the “h.” Here’s ours on Copperstate 1997.

The Copperstate begins and ends in Phoenix, originally on the grounds of the Phoenix Art Museum. The 2013 Bell Lexus Copperstate, April 7-10, starts at Diablo Stadium in nearby Tempe (


Jim Ballinger, director of the Phoenix Art Museum, flags us off in the 1995 Copperstate. There’s always an enthusiastic crowd at the start.

Yet another beautiful drive is Oak Creek Canyon coming south from Flagstaff into Sedona. Once there, the red rocks are spectacular.


Navigator Dottie admires Sedona landscape in 1993. Copperstate cars aren’t garage queens, but there was always the camaraderie of a post-finish Beer Wash.

The inaugural event’s brochure promised “Four Seasons in Four Days,” though generally Arizona springtime is clement. There are exceptions, however.


Our Morgan often ran with side curtains in place—for good reason. Here, the 1995 event. Below, your author, suitably attired.


As its name suggests, a 4-Passenger Family Tourer is perfectly suited to such events.


I don’t recall the location, but the Morgan’s number identifies the event as Copperstate 1997.

Not that anyone would travel in the back seat for very long, but—unlike a typical sports car—it has scads of luggage room.

Full disclosure: Don’t buy a Morgan solely for its scads of luggage room. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2013


  1. Bill Kemp
    March 23, 2013

    There is a Bagdad, PA (also sans H) not far from us on the Kiskismenitas River. How many other states claim Bagdad? PA’s Bagdad has only a handful of residents, but it’s also home to a modern steel mill.

  2. Merlen Kearney
    November 4, 2015

    Dennis, My name is Merlen Kearney, I live in Long Beach. I am the proud owner of your 1965 4 passenger. Recently I put the top on it. The side curtains that Bill sent with the car fit perhaps two other Morgans. Would you possibly have the original ones or could they still be at Isis? You can respond to me at Your car is receiving lots of TLC. I took it to a show in San Marino. It also got a best in class at Cambria last July. I look forward to hearing from you.

  3. LarruMH54
    July 10, 2016

    There WAS a Bagdad CA up until 1991 when it was razed to the ground. The cafe there became internationally famous as the Bagdad Cafe, a fictional setting for a number of Hollywood works including a Movie and a very short TV series.

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This entry was posted on March 21, 2013 by in Classic Bits and tagged , , .
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