Now that you’ve stocked up on kombucha, kale and kefir, you’re as good as Gucci. But there are some niggling questions coming into our WART (solving all the big issues in this world and any others) helpline.
Michael from Stepney writes: “I have a 1981 Toyota Corona in the back of the garage. Do you think I can catch anything from it?” Mick, ironically Toyota advertised this car as “The shock of the new” and “Something special for you”. How right they were about the 2020 Corona. Of course, it was named after the patron saint of epidemics, Saint Corona.
In fact, our friends at Aachen Cathedral (in Aachen, Germany, not surprisingly) have dug out the relics of Corona (the martyr, not the car) and will be putting them on show. Now the original Corona didn’t have a great time growing up in Syria. In fact, while 16-year-old Corona watched on, her brother Vic had his eyes gouged out and his head cut off because he was a Christian. The Roman soldiers didn’t go much for Corona supporting her brother, so they bound her to two bent palm trees and she was torn apart as the trunks were released.
Getting back to your email Michael: I suppose you could catch big, ugly and bad performance from your 1981 Corona, but if you wash your hands after you drive it to the Kensi and back the next morning you should be OK.
Eric from Surry Hills writes: “I ride a motorcycle. As well as my helmet should I also wear a mask in these dire times?” Eric, most temporary Australians wear a mask, particularly when they are walking into banks or convenience stores. As you know, the happiest day in a motorbike rider’s life is when they discover that they can use Right Guard under their left arm.
Around the world car auctions are being cancelled, optimistically rescheduled or going online. While the 78th Goodwood Members Meeting, an “epic weekend of motor racing and high-speed track demonstrations, which aims to recreate the atmosphere and camaraderie of the original BARC Members’ Meetings held at Goodwood throughout the 1950s and 1960s”, has been postponed, the Bonhams’ auction that was meant to be online tomorrow has turned into a sale. There’s a lot of special metal in the catalogue, but can I just ask you to look at today’s pic and try not to swoon.
Yes, it’s a 2018 Ford GT Coupe in Shadow Black with matt exposed carbon fibre exterior. Of course, it would be better with a V8 but the mid-mounted 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged Ecoboost V6 does put out 475KW, which is enough to make a Mongolian throat singer yodel. Naturally one owner, under 1000km and only 1000 made. If I were you, I’d sell the house and live a life of splendid isolation in this. A steal at $1.5m.
If you’re keen to get out on the track in a second-hand car why not spend the same money on the ex-works, ex-Archie Scott Brown 1956 Lister-Maserati 2-litre sports racing two-seater.
Look, the car ticks all the boxes. Super racing history, full provenance and guaranteed entry to the big events.
But Archie Scott Brown’s story is just inspirational. He came from a great racing background. Dad was an Alvis works driver and Mum raced at Brooklands. But Archie was born with extraordinarily short legs, deformed feet and his right arm stopped just below the elbow.
When he grew up “his shoulders were broad and muscular — at the dinner table he sat as tall as most men — but he stood barely 1.5 metres tall”.
In March 1986 MotorSports’ Mike Lawrence wrote a great look back at Archie’s life.
“Despite the obvious problems he faced, he was able to play tennis, soccer, golf and billiards (at which he was very good), he fenced for his school, Merchistan Castle, and turned out for St Andrews University as a fast-left arm bowler. Archie was deformed, he was not handicapped or disabled,” Mike wrote.
“In a Le Mans start he was capable of beating Stirling Moss, the acknowledged master. He could beat Moss on the track as well, and Brooks, Salvadori, Parnell, Collins and Lewis-Evans.
“His problem was not his deformity or lack of skill or courage behind the wheel of a car, it was with race organisers.”
At his local motor club, he met Brian Lister, whose family had a light engineering business. Brian started building race cars and Archie drove them so successfully the orders rolled in. But of course, his success meant the racing bureaucracy were bound to step in. In 1954, Archie was set to drive the works Lister-MG sports racing car when, on the Friday practice morning, the RAC stewards declared him “unfit to drive owing to a disability”. The auto media and some heavy owners and racing driver slammed the RAC and Archie got an unrestricted licence. He blitzed it from there and if he had gone on there’s no doubt he would have been offered a factory F1 drive.
One of his favourite stories was about a crash he had. Naturally, a marshal rushed to help. Clearly, he didn’t know Archie because he took one look at Archie’s stump and thought that half his arm had been cut off in the prang. As Archie told it: “The marshall promptly fainted.”
On May 18, 1958, he was looking for his 72nd win at Spa in his Lister-Jaguar. On the sixth lap he was leading the race, hit a wet spot on the corner and hit a road sign. The car rolled and caught fire. Archie Scott Brown died in hospital the next day. As Mike Lawrence says: “The bitter irony of Archie’s death is that it came just at the time when he had won his personal fight to be accepted on his own terms.”