So I walked in last week expecting a bit of “well done, 215 emails from happy readers, the government’s taking action on behalf of the people with no voice who are tired of being quiet Australians and you can have your tea out of a crockery mug that we nicked from the exec dining room”.
But you know the story here. The boss said: “When are you going to do what all other proper motoring writers do? You know, car of the year, best SUVs for Peppermint Grove mums, best car with the best chance of the wheels not falling off, and what about bikes? The only time you write about bikes is when you send me and our other temporary Australian, John Lethlean, up.
“And what about Sam Hill from the BP Woolgoolga Service Centre, Briggsy’s imitation Feezer and I never said I would put $5 on the bar so you, your mate with the same christian (or other religious or agnostic or atheist first monikers) and surname and all your freeloading readers in Adelaide including the Coopers and Barrys and the rest of them, can drink the Kensi dry?” OK. Got the message.
Look, given car companies won’t even email us, doing road tests by hiring cars from Hertz at full freight is beyond the budget of even this world-leading global diversified media and information services company. So, your Weekend Australian Racing and Rally Team (WART) did the next best thing and bought a lot of motor magazines from the US. Fanfare. The Motor Trend best driver’s car of 2019 is the 2020 Porker 911 S. The second best was the Shelby Mustang GT 350 (and I agree), fifth was the McLaren Senna and last, the Toyota GR Supra.
Over at Motor Trend it’s the annual Lighting Lap where the mags’ writers (hint for boss) drive 19 cars around Virginia International Raceway to see which one is fastest. Some surprises here. The winner was the 2019 Chev Camaro, then the Merc AMG GT63S, then 2018 Porker 911 T, but up there were a Lambo SUV and the Porker Cayenne.
Automobile magazine pitted a Supra against a Stang. Of course, the Shelby Mustang GT 350 won. PS: if you had a win at the cup this week, head straight to Scottsdale in January for Russo & Steele’s auction and bid on Carroll Shelby’s personal 2007 Shelby GT500 40th Anniversary prototype. Only one of one and maybe $700k.
In a brazen bit of promotion for a mate, you need to read Graeme Cocks new book Louis Renault’s Amazing Type A (a steal at $45 from motoringpast.com.au).
Gazza has been tied up with Peter Briggs forever, including being the boss of his car museums. Gazza talked the honey badger (Dan Ricciardo) into driving Lou Renault’s 1.1kw Type A for a promo pic. The Type A was Renault’s first race car. Dan’s F1 race car is 400 times more powerful, has a steering wheel and maybe a better performer at the moment than his factory car.
Remember a month or so ago I told you that local lad, James Nicholls, is selling a 1961 Maser 3500 GT Vignale Spyder? Turns out Briggsy is the Maser’s owner. Here’s the story. In the middle ages, the 60s, he passed up buying a Fezzer 250 GTO because he thought the owner was trying to screw him on price. Instead he bought the Maser because it looked like a Feezer. Problem is today the 250 GTO is worth $40m and the Maser $1.25m.
Regular reader, artist and author of the wonderful autobiography My Life in Boxes: Memoirs of a Life Lived to the Full ($12.50 on Amazon), Erwin Zehentner, dropped me a line to say that talk of the Maser “reminds me of my glory days of Lancia ownership, when I drove a Pinin Farina coupe and brother Otto a Vignale bodied version. His car was a relatively high mileage one, finishing its life at 450,000 miles, not your puny kilometres. Cause of demise was the usual, rust, aided by the Superleggera body, the outer skin being close to the inner chassis, allowing the brown stuff to breed in comfort without being disturbed by sprays of anti-rust things”.
Talking of the fastest drivers , they return to the Coffs Coast (the Positano of Australia’s east except the Italian resort doesn’t have the big banana and the Look At Me Now Headland walk) for the Kennards Hire Rally Australia, the closing round of the World Rally Cup season next week.
Well you know that’s only partly true. Look, I know Sebastien Ogier, Thierry Neuville, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen and our favourites, Harry Bates and Molly Taylor, will be there but four important names are missing. The old bloke and I are preparing our WART BMW for the more important Adelaide Rally so can’t make it. But not mentioning Sam Hill and Blair Read? PR boss Chris Nixon is mad. Sam and Blair will be sitting inside the Woolgoolga Service Centre’s 2004 Subaru Impreza RS, which had been laying around not doing much after a big prang in the 2004 Classic Adelaide Rally. Sam and his team have rebuilt the car entirely in-house. Now that Mick and I aren’t competing Sam and Blair must be favourites.
Let’s talk about motorcycles so I can keep my job for another week. You’d be fascinated (yawn) to know that the highest price paid for the thing that will certainly hurtle you to your death was at Bonhams Las Vegas auction last year. The ex-Tony McAlpine, Jack Ehret, Australian land speed record-breaking 1951 Vincent 998cc Black Lightning fetched $1.3m. Luckily a generous Australian collector bought it.
Bonhams have once again moved to the new world next year for their creatively named “The Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction at Caesar’s Entertainment Studios”. As our mentor Hunter S. Thompson said: “No, this is not a good town for psychedelic drugs. Reality itself is too twisted.”