I know many of you are not true believers. Some of you even drive electric cars and, even worse, motor bikes. And some of you have been saying we should have more arts coverage in this column. Sort of WAMAS — Weekend Australian Motoring Arts Section.
Look, I have nothing against the arts. But seriously? Ballet is 2½ hours of persons of all genders in tutus and pointe shoes jumping up and down on the one spot. In opera people of substantial presence dress up in Norse gear, point at things and sing loudly. For instance, in Dicky Wagner’s The Valkyrie, Brunnhilde, a shield maiden, springs from rock to rock singing these immortal lyrics:
Hojotoho! Hojotoho! Heiaha! Heiaha!
Well I bet you cracked it for a tear after reading that.
Despite being supporters of the painting game (canvas, not house) because, as you know, team member Michael McMichael has royal warrants as official supplier of BMW servicing and nude portraits to all of the Windsor family past, present and future (except one), we do tend to agree with Jimmy’s brother Billy Carter when he said: “Paintings are like beer, only beer tastes good, and it’s hard to stop drinking beer.”
Anyway, all of this brings us to the greatest art form of all. Film. And what better example than the best car racing flick of all time that actually doesn’t feature all that much racing. Yup. It’s Ferrari vs Ford. Friends and readers, this epic has it all. An evil American capitalist company, Ford. An evil American capitalist Henry Ford the second. An evil but very stylish Italian capitalist, Enzo Ferrari. A capitalist salesman who didn’t invent the Mustang, Lee Iacocca. The world’s greatest salesman, Carroll Shelby. The world’s greatest driver, mechanic, father of one but not great husband, Ken Miles. A seriously good driver, strong woman and mother of one, Molly Miles. A model son, Peter Miles and lots of other people in suits and overalls. The overalls have their day in the sun (and rain) but as in real life, the suits win.
Now the film’s PR people say Fezzer vs Ford is based on a true story. Translating Hollywood-speak that means Ford did beat Ferrari in 1966 and the people portrayed in the movie did have something to do with that win but most of the rest is about as real as a trip on ayahuasca.
Fresh from his trip to the centre of the Amazon where he was trying to stop greedy capitalists burning down trees while examining the prospects for a combined art studio/BMW service centre and Coopers mini brewery, Mick, while engaging with the locals in a shamanic ceremony, tried ayahuasca, a stew of Amazonian leaves and vines, following the lead of his hero, the author William Burroughs, in 1953.
While Bill said “It is space-time travel … you make migrations, incredible journeys through deserts and jungles and mountains. Then rush off to vomit”, Mick said his experience was more akin to that of Matthew Parris who told The Times: “I had the strangest dream. I was helping Baroness Thatcher along the seafront at Brighton. Lady Thatcher encountered difficulty with a sandy incline and I got down on my hands and knees and scooped little steps in the sand for her. She did not thank me. Then Denis turned up and did not acknowledge me, but everybody climbed into his car. I got into the boot. And off we went.”
Anyway, back to the arts.
Let me summarise the plot of FvF for you. In the 60s no one was buying Ford cars because they were, well, to put if frankly, built for old people. Lee Iacocca tells Henry Ford the answer is to buy Ferrari and then all Ford cars will have the same Italian sex appeal middle-class Americans aspire to. Younger readers will not appreciate that this was a time when Italians Sophia Loren, Monica Vitti, Gina Lollobrigida, Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg and Raf Vallone had it all over their US counterparts Doris Day, Julie Andrews, Sandra Dee and Jerry Lewis.
Anyway, Lee and a few suits head to Modena where Enzo says: “I would rather eat cold vomit than sell you my company and your boss is a fat pig.” Hank Ford didn’t take too kindly to this (particularly to the reference to the pig, which he did strangely resemble) and told Lee, Carroll and the others to spend what it took to beat the Fezzer factory.
As with any group on the hero’s journey they meet many tests, fail at first but take the road (really the track) back and win first and second (another company’s GT40 took third) against incredible odds (Ken Miles’s door doesn’t shut much like Shane van Gisbergen’s in Bathurst this year) and there is a sad scene at the end involving the son, the mother and Shelby. If Christian Bale doesn’t win an Oscar for his role as Ken Miles we’ll need to call for the stewards.
Fifteen cars finished in 1966. Forty didn’t. Ford did win the next two Le Mans. Naturally the unintended consequence of the movie will be to raise the price of anything vaguely resembling the Ford GT40s.
We’ll have a test of that in January when Mecum auctions the replica 1966 Ford GT40 MKII or as we know it the Ken Miles Hero Car from the FvF movie. One of two built for the movie at Superformance in California, it has a 460KW V8, is signed by Charlie Agapiou, Ken Miles’s crew chief in 1966, and features the “bundle of snakes” exhaust.
Next week we’ll ask why we still have a luxury car tax when we don’t make cars and why the tax applies to the imported historic cars when we don’t make old Fezzers, Masers, Porkers, Alvises or GT40s.