You know how much I hate to make a big deal of when I’m right and everyone else is wrong. It’s like that Stirling Moss and I never drop names. So it gives me enormous pleasure to say I was the one who said RM Sotheby’s would sell the red 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO by Scaglietti for up to $90 million. Of course, know-all Poms and Septics that write about these matters laughed at me and said no more than $30m. Yes, it went for $67m.
This was a car that the sexy lightning had struck twice. It is rare, has a super race record, is number perfect and makes you tremble with sheer, unbridled lust. An Economist report published in The Australian this week showed that “after holding all factors constant, the 9 per cent of respondents who owned a car and 15 per cent who had a motorcycle stood out as unusually lustful. Men and women who went racing in the streets were about 5 per cent likelier to have got lucky in the preceding week than were their peers who lacked chrome wheels and fuel injectors.”
OK, before we go into the other prices I was right about at Monterey last weekend, let’s talk about the Belgian Grand Prix and that photo of Hamo, Max and Seb on the podium. You know that look you got when the popular kids picked their team and you were left out? Well, as PG Wodehouse would have said: “Hamo had the look of one who had drunk the cup of life and found a dead beetle at the bottom.” The fact is that Ferrari now have significantly faster and better cornering cars and that’s leaving Hamo decidedly worried about Monza tomorrow.
There was more embarrassing F1 action this week when Seb was doing a demo drive on the streets of Milan promoting tomorrow’s Italian GP (you can see it all, live and in colour with sound, on Fox Sports at 11pm). Seb and Kimi took out their Fezzer racers to show the Milanese how it’s done when Seb drove straight into a plastic barrier and had to reverse out.
But all the action was at the start when Nico Hulkenberg missed the braking point, ran into the back of Ferdy Alonso, whose McLaren took off over Chuck Leclerc’s Sauber. Chuck is probably only here today because of the newly introduced titanium halo structure over the driver’s head. Dano (aka the Honey Badger) had his car damaged in the prang and retired with 14 laps to go. You won’t believe how scary this was (see link below).
Down at the Stillwater Bar & Grill overlooking the 18th hole at Pebble Beach, no one was worrying about Chuck, the Honey Badger or Hamo. Instead, the chat was focused on the $30m Dave Gooding got for the Gary Cooper 1935 Duesenberg SSJ Roadster, the $3.8m an Italian lover paid for the 1948 Alfa 6C Competizione Coupe and the fact retired finance guy David Sydorick won Best of Show at the Concours d’Elegance in his 1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta.
There are some worrying stories coming through from readers about Honda’s formerly legendary quality. A Darwin reader, TV executive Lindsey Neilsen, took delivery of a 2017 Honda R in November. She has had serious mechanical issues that sound to me like camshaft problems. The dealer has said a rod was not aligned or not correctly assembled. The Darwin Honda dealer has had her R since July 24 and is giving her $70 a day to hire another car. Now, given the problems, you would think Lindsey is due a new car or a refund under Australian Consumer Law. I asked Honda’s boss of customer and communications, Scott McGregor, about his company’s side of the story. Twice. After the second email, Scott said: “Honda Australia continues to be in direct communication with Lindsey regarding her vehicle. We respect Lindsey’s privacy, and as such will not make further comment.”
Hmm. Well, Lindsey isn’t worried about her privacy. She told me talking to the dealer was like talking to a brick. “Been thinking about what he said and them being in direct contact with me is BS! (A Northern Territory expression meaning there may be a slight deviation from the truth). Part true, but I haven’t heard from the dealer in over a month and the guy in Melbourne doesn’t return my calls until I catch him in his office. I heard from him once they decided what to do, and today — so twice. They are avoiding me like the plague.” Now this could be a case for the only friend the consumer has in Australia, Rocket Rod Sims. If you have been having problems with your Honda, please email, fax, text or telex me.
Of course, next Sunday is my birthday (no need to email me good wishes, just send expensive presents) and what better way to spend it than with the Weekend Australian Racing Team for the fourth round of the Marulan Cheap Car Challenge. Out on day release is royal nude portrait painter and master Coopers taster Michael McMichael for a welcome return to the wheel of our historic (only because we drive it) Nissan Pulsar. Also, back in is Tom Connolly (son of), number cruncher Phil Keegan and the birthday boy himself (me). The cardigan wearer, Steve Champion, obviously put off by the majority of the Pulsar’s dashboard falling onto his legs last time, has forsaken his real friends in a real racer for some nothing state championship in his Radical, as has the Da Vinci of the Bathurst signs as art caper, Shane Fowler.