On the long list of mistakes I have made and tried to blame on team member and production editor Mark Southcott, continually telling you the Corvair was made by Ford ranks pretty high.
For those of you in the psycho caper, I believe it’s a Freudian slip; for the rest of you it’s probably just my usual sloppy writing caused by too many middle-class fantasies, like trying too hard to be Paul Newman (he won the 24 Heures de Daytona at 70 and drove his last race at 81; more on this in a minute) and believing my Ford Falcon BA Ute is the reincarnation (see hinduwebsite.com/reincarnation.asp) of the 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage Lightweight racer used as the camera car in Steve McQueen’s 1971 meditation film, Le Mans, and sold by RM Auctions for $14.6 million in 2012, making it the most expensive American (yes I know it’s sort of British) made car shifted at auction.
Two years later Mecum sold the 1964 GT40 prototype for $9.3m, making it the third most ... well, you know the rest. Since then I have been unsuccessfully trying to buy any sort of GT or GT40 recreation. This explains why I have delusions about my resumped Ford ute.
Back to the Chevy Corvair. Despite the bad rap that Ralph Nader gave it, the Corvair was a really good car. But not for US drivers who were used to big frontengined tanks that went like a blur in a straight line but needed help around any curvy bits. Motor Trend called it the “car of the year”, Time magazine called it “the forerunner of a new age” and went on to name it one of the 50 worst cars of all time. Best to think of Corvairs like early 911s. While early 911 prices are going through the roof, Corvairs are doing OK but still are relatively cheap.
Now let’s move back to one of my other obsessions (you know McQueen; Ford GTs; Peter Brock; Radicals; Phillip Island; Vic Cavasinni, the owner of Beechwood Homes; Norm Beechey; any Porsche except the Panamera, Cayenne and the 964 Carrera 4 I owned, and Garth Walden’s garage): Newman. You have to see Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman. Based on the book of the same name (equally worth buying), this documentary traces Newman’s absolute passion about racing. He didn’t start until 47 (in a Datsun) and he was a ferocious competitor. No Mr Nice Guy on the track.
Once PL, as we racing friends called him, got the bug, the acting caper became a nearly distant memory and he worked hard to become a late-blooming professional. He went on to win four major US championships, placed second in the 1979 Le Mans, set up two serious racing teams and did a couple of off-road series. As auto writer Steve Parker says in the Huffington Post: “He was not a wealthy dilettante who spent weekends slumming with gear-heads and wrenches; he was a skilled, serious, professional and world-class race-car driver as well as one of the most successful team owners in the sport’s history. Had he never acted, his racing career alone would have garnered him great fame and fortune.” I teared up at the end of the movie.
Equally as emotional was last week’s Classic Car Festival in Dubai. About 30 of the 300 cars were owned by local collector Mazen Al Khatib. Mazey has 50 cars in his Nostalgia Classic Cars Company and his favourite is the E-type and Ford ute (I made that last bit up).
Talking of Fords, to show that I really do care about the Blue Oval, while I was in Dubai I bought a new Falcon, as you can see in the photo above.