NZ Classic Driver
MEETING YOUR HERO
Ifirst saw a picture of the Lamborghini Countach when I was 14 years old. It immediately became my favourite car of all time. Throughout my working career there has been a picture of a Countach on my office wall, in my teaching classroom and in my garage. The starting scenes of The Cannonball Run movies have been watched many times.
By the time I saw my first Countach in the flesh I was in my late 20s, and I stood in awe at the 1989 Auckland Sports Car Show watching a white one rotating on the dais. I learned that it was not real but had been created by David Short of Feilding as a kit-set car. It was called the Countess and by the time production finished, almost 90 of them would have been produced.
I had to wait until 2012 before I had a ride in another replica called the Trontach. The owner of this particular car took me for a ride down the northern Auckland motorway. He decided to show me what the car could do as well. Travelling at somewhere between 240 and 300km/h I can testify that the Auckland motorway seemed very short.
In 2017 I had an opportunity to write a story about the Countach owned by Robert Nyenkamp. He took me for a ride in his 25th Anniversary replica Countach and I really enjoyed it as he did not appear to have a death wish. It was easily my most unforgettable trip in an example of the marque as I was able to relax and enjoy the experience of being in my dream car. When the road was clear, Robert demonstrated what the car could do, but he was not excessive about it.
I would meet Robert again when he bought his car down to Wellington the following year. On that occasion, he humbly asked if I would mind storing his car in my garage for about three weeks.
Naturally, I tried to contain my excitement as I said yes. Could life get any better? Well, surprisingly the answer is yes. After dropping the car off, as he was leaving Robert said, “There is plenty of petrol in the tank, so you can take it for a drive if you want to.” So, life can actually get better than perfect.
I can’t describe my feelings the first time I took this car out for a drive; I was experiencing a bucket list moment, it had taken over 40 years, but I was now driving my ultimate dream car. It was big, wide, hard to see out of and totally awesome. Many have said that it is dangerous to meet your heroes, but I was sitting in mine and it is a memory that I will always cherish.
Returning home, I parked it back in my garage in front of the white Countach picture that was hanging on the wall. The fact that Robert let me drive his car when he was not even present was pretty special. As a 14-year-old boy, it would’ve made my day.