EMO­TIONAL VIC­TO­RIES

The Weekend Australian - Life - - MOTORING - JOHN CON­NOLLY jc@jcp.com.au

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.

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