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Home  /  March 2018  /  Comment

Today we are going to canvass a very serious topic. One that needs a strong torch (not like my old Dolphin where, when I turned it on, a cockroach ran out of where the bulb was meant to be) shined on it. Friends, recently badly dressed Weekend Australian ­grafters and others, I am talking about discrimination.

I regularly park the Porker Carrera S with the 300kW engine, the wheel caps with the full colour Porsche crest and the “my other car is a shitbox” sign on the back window in the Westfield Sydney (the one with the 309m Sydney Tower poking up out between the Gucci, Pucci and Fiorucci stores) carpark. The valet parking people have always been super until this week. Weekend Australian Racing Team social director Nicola had taken the 182kW (on a very good day) Ford BA ute with four wheels, playdoh filling the hole in the sump and a big WART sign on the back to the auto hospital for a bit of emergency care and was ­returning it to the Westfield valet parking for me to pick up.

Here’s Nicola’s on-the-spot ­report: “As I pulled up at the valet parking area the gentleman on duty stood back from the car frowning. As I got out of the car (Nicola was dressed in a particularly fetching Zimmermann frock), there was no greeting of any kind. He then proceeded to tell me that ‘we don’t usually valet park trade vehicles’. He took the keys grudgingly and said to just let me (John) know we don’t valet park trade vehicles.”

Friends, etc, this great country of ours has come to a pretty sorry state when shopping centres will only park cars they think fit the profile of up-market guests. Maybe the good burghers of Westfield should have a sign out the front reading: “Only Masers, Fezzers, Porkers Need Enter” or “Tradies Need Not Bother Trying To Park Here”.

Do we need to amend the rules on discrimination from simply on the basis of race, colour, sex, ­religion, political opinion, nat­ional extraction, social origin, age, medical record, criminal record, marital or relationship status, ­impairment, mental, intellectual or psychiatric disability, physical disability, nationality, sexual orien­tation and trade union ­activity to include trade vehicles and specifically the greatest car ever built here or in any other spot in the known universe, the BA Ford Falcon?

But wait, there are more serious subjects to discuss today.

First, we had VW Dieselgate, then Mazdagate, then Takatagate. Last weekend we flagged that ACCC boss “Rocket” Rod Sims was worried about you driving a range of cars, including Ferraris, lest the airbag explode, sending burning shrapnel into the faces and private parts of you and your loved ones.

This week Michael Sukkar, ­Assistant Minister to the Treasurer of this great country where discrimination and shrapnel rain free, recalled all 2.3 million cars with dodgy airbags. Well done, Michael, you join the very small list of car-owners friends in high places. Anyway, hot on the heels of all these scandals comes Ferrarigate.

Lawyer David Brodie has filed lawsuits claiming Ferrari head ­office in downtown Maranello greenlighted dealers rolling back the speedos of used Fezzers.

The story was broken by the Daily Mail last year. Ferrari salesperson Robert “Bud” Root (get your mind out of the gutter) says he was fired after he discovered the Florida dealership he worked for was using a device called the DEIS tester to roll back kilometres to make the cars more valuable. In his lawsuit, Dave ­Brodie says: “The development, distribution and licensing of a ­device which authorises and ­empowers Ferrari dealerships and technicians to perform illegal odometer rollbacks on Ferrari vehicles is patently irresponsible and brings into question the ­legitimacy of Ferrari odometer readings worldwide.”

Naturally, Ferrari denied all this. But this week the Daily Mail headline read: “Ferrari fesses up! Luxury car company KNEW (sic) dealers were using devices to roll back odometers of used sports cars to pump up resale value and puts the brakes on the practice, court docs reveal.” The Mail published a Ferrari technical bulletin where the company acknowledged it knew its service technicians were using the DEIS tester to tamper with speedos.

As class action newsletter Top Class Actions states: “The memo along with the allegations raised in (Bud Root’s) lawsuit, call into question the value of nearly every used Ferrari sold that uses a DEIS tester compatible odometer.”

Ironically, we had just sent our Italian car expert, Brisbane’s Peter Matthews, out to test a used ­Ferrari 360 Modena.

Here’s Pete’s (don’t be put off by the fact he’s an economist) ­report: “The marginal utility I ­derive from driving a Ferrari 360 Modena compared with my Alfa Romeo 75 Potenziata is negligible. Especially when I drove the 360 on Thursday to Dayboro and back.” (Note to non-Queenslanders: Dayboro is a town 36km from Brissie and is famous ­because the local council operates a mobile library service that visits the Hay Cottage on William Street every now and then.)

“About 20 minutes from home the engine management system just decided to turn off! I rolled rather embarrassingly to the side of the road and waited for the RACQ truck! Now I know why Ferraris have such low mileage — no one is game to drive them more than once in a blue moon ­because they break down all the time! My mate was driving his 1972 365 GTB4 and it kept on going ­because it didn’t have too much stupid electronics! Just 6 dual throat Weber’s feeding that glorious V12!”

Next weekend Shannons is selling a beautiful 1971 Ferrari Dino 246 GT Coupe for about $650,000. And there’s some ­serious Aston Martins, E-Types and a wonderful Torana A9X. But let me just point you to the 1962 Ford ­Falcon XL ute for $20,000. As the photo shows, this orgasm-­inducing V8 is magic. Now you mightn’t be able to park it at your local Westfield, but take it to any Concours d’Elegance and it will rank up there with the Masers and the Fezzers.

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