50 shades of grey – well, two at least…
Icould never have a tattoo. This has nothing to do with my attitude to tattoos in general but all to do with indecision. Given that a tattoo is effectively permanent, how on earth do you make up your mind on what to have? Thereʼs absolutely no way I could narrow the options down to a single image – even if I was going for all over graffiti Iʼd still find it impossible to commit to a string of images. Indecisive? Me? Iʼll let you know when I make up my mind.
And talking of indecision. As mentioned in earlier columns, having decided to change the colour of my 356 ʻstreamliner ʼ from blue to grey, Iʼve been struggling to choose exactly what shade. The recent blockbuster novel (and film) said, there are fifty shades of grey but in fact, when you get down to it, there are far more.
After considerable effort I narrowed my options down to two: a current Mini shade and a similar but slightly lighter Skoda colour. The final choice has, for more than a year, oscillated between the two. The problem being that at no point have I been able to see a Mini or a Skoda sideby-side to make a full-size comparison.
Iʼve carried two colour swatches with me for months, surreptitiously plonking them on parked Minis to see which I preferred. However, a parked Skoda in the correct shade has continued to elude me. In fact an unparked Skoda in the colour I favoured is an extremely rare sight, and Iʼve even set off in pursuit of a moving Skoda hoping that it might perhaps be a ʻlocalʼ, but to no avail.
The easy solution of course would have been to stick to the original Adria Blue, but after 40-odd years of ownership I simply fancied a change and something more individual – despite the fact that it will almost certainly have knocked a few grand off its value when the next ʻcustodianʼ takes over. With my assorted other ʻmodsʼ, matching number, Kardex fetishists will not be queuing to bid. Anyway, I finally pressed the ʻgoʼ button on Skoda F7A and held my breath.
A few weeks later a phone call from Steve Kerti, whoʼs handling the rebuild, to say ʻItʼs paintedʼ left me with palpitations and a nervous ʻwhat have I done?ʼ feeling. A tentative ʻWhatʼs it look like, Steve?ʼ didnʼt solicit the ʻDrop dead gorgeous!ʼ response that I was hoping for, but a far more circumspect, ʻI like it, but itʼs the customer ʼs opinion that matters most.ʼ
The two-hour drive to the restorer ʼs was filled with mounting tension but much to my enormous relief it was love at first sight. It wonʼt please everyone but itʼs my motor and I think itʼs great and that, as the man said, is all that counts. After all there are people around who like pink and apparently a few aberrant souls who even like brown, and who am I to condemn them? (And donʼt forget, Editor Seume even painted a car gold…)
Curiously, after all my hours of agonising, Steve Kerti showed me a colour swatch that he had just received from a customer who wants his 1951 car painted in its original shade of ʻFashion Greyʼ which, as it happens, was within a tint-or-two of the Skoda colour. If only Iʼd known earlier life might have been easier. I like the ring of ʻFashion Greyʼ.
And talking of tattoos. For the last several months a 911 Rsr-inspired transformation has been in close company with my car, receiving an all-over ʻtattooʼ in Martini Racing colours. To say that itʼs a work of art doesnʼt do it justice. Whereas, back in the day, the stripes would have been painted on and the rest of the minor advertising scattered around would have been decals of some kind, everything on this ʻhomageʼ has been meticulously masked and hand-painted, down to the tiniest image of a sparkplug on the Bosch sticker, thatʼs not a sticker.
And, still talking of tattoos, I wonder if any race fan has yet opted for an all over Martini Racing livery? Might sound silly but no more so than a lot of the ʻbody artʼ currently in circulation. If not an ʻall over ʼ a few stripes and a ʻMartini International Clubʼ cartouche could look pretty cool encircling a manly bicep. Mmmm! Iʼm half tempted myself! Have to get a bicep first, though.
And talking of homages. It was nice to see that the Porsche GT team had dipped into the nostalgia bin and produced a brace of stunning looking 911 RSRS for this year ʼs Le Mans 24 Hours. The class winning ʻPink Pigʼ liveried car did better than the 917 that inspired it, which failed to finish in 1971. Its sister car, wearing Rothmans colours but sans brand name, came second in class. What are the odds on a flurry of homages to the homages I wonder?
Back to my 356. Iʼm afraid that some colour choices still lie ahead. Fortunately the carpet choice is fairly limited but when you take into account the different shades of edge binding Iʼve calculated that there are at least 56 options. Iʼve also had a pair of tubular steel-framed lightweight seats fabricated (itʼs my car and Iʼll do what I want!) and they need upholstering, too. Not to mention the obligatory Mobil Pegasus and ʻSupercharged by Judsonʼ flash. Decal or hand-painted? More sleepless nights ahead. CP
“IT’S THE CUSTOMER’S OPINION THAT MATTERS…”
Deciding against colour-matching his Porsche to his hair, our man Mallett then struggled to decide which shade of grey would suit his Pre-a 356 ʻstreamliner ʼ best of all…
Many would describe Delwyn Mallett as a serial car collector – one with eclectic tastes at that. His Porsche treasures include a pair of 356 Speedsters, a Le Mansinspired Pre-a coupé and a 1973 Carrera RS. Some of them even work…