Quoi de neuf lecteurs? And bonjour to all of you from Chateau des Montys (built 1875 and the suite is a snip at $1200 a night), just 3km from Le Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and the Belgian Grand Prix. And we are only 9075km as le corbeau flies from Monterey, where Les Pebble Creek Concours and Tour des Elegances, Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, five classic car auctions and the Prancing Ponies Car Show (“Empowering Women — Inspiring Girls”) are also running hot.
Talking of running hot, so far 36 Beemers have caught fire in South Korea. The Wall Street Journal has been questioning “why the issue has become such a political storm in South Korea while receiving far less attention in Europe. In Europe, BMW is recalling 323,700 vehicles over concerns about the same exhaust component”. A photo in the Journal shows a BMW 520d sedan completely covered in fire inside and out on the Seoul-Gangneung expressway. I guess if you were in the 520 or any of the other 35 Beemers of all sorts that have gone up in smoke you’d be calling your local member and class-action lawyer too. I wouldn’t be driving a Beemer to Gangneung, but it’s only 2.5 hours from Seoul and has many tourist attractions, like Jeongdongjin, a very popular area for watching the sun rise. Don’t forget, if you have a subscription to the mighty Weekend Australian you get to read the WSJ online for free.
Talking of F1, you’re probably desperate to know if Dano really dudded Red Bull, whether there will be any more F1 races at Monza and whether Seb can beat Hamo tomorrow? Maybe we’ll get to that, but more important things first. Yes, the results of the Cheap Car Challenge at Steve Shelley’s new and improved Marulan (soon to be called Pheasant Wood after the cemetery near Fromelles where Steve’s grandad is buried) Racetrack where the temperature is minus 8 and we raced in snow, ice, rain and pestilence.
Winners are grinners, particularly after four hours so the BMTROUBLEYOU team, not surprisingly in a BMW 320, that made the WART LeMons Beemer look like a Ferrari, were laughing. I am blaming our very successful fifth on number-cruncher Steve Champion’s driving of our Nissan Pulsar. Sign master, Shane Fowler, cardigan-wearing Phil Keegan and yours truly kept the car more or less intact (my excursion into the bush to test the car’s 4WD capabilities doesn’t count), but we noticed Steve slowing down to the extent we could have pushed the car around the track faster. When he drove into the pits he tried to blame his lack of speed on a very large piece of the dashboard that had fallen off and gone between his feet so he could hardly use the loud pedal or clutch. Don’t accountants all use the same excuses?
Remember if you are down near Steve’s track, WART members endorse the Terminus Hotel bistro. It’s the Le Relais de la Sauveniere (where I am eating now only 5km from the track) of Marulan, with super crumbed cutlets.
Talking of Ferrari, let’s all give it up for the new boss of AMP. Who knows what he’s like as a CEO, but I’m backing him because of his name: Francesco De Ferrari. Readers, just look at our top 20 companies. They are run by blokes with names like Scott, Hartzer, McKenzie, Kerr and Harmer. Look, they’re probably super at what they do, but you have to think Frankie will move faster and with more style.
Last week I mentioned Adelaide’s Richard Bulfa’s problems with his Fiat Ducato van. You can see Hendrik Gout’s Today Tonight piece on it here: https://www.todaytonightadelaide.com.au/stories/fiat-flaws. Please note the Seven editors have slipped in a video of some old bloke pretending to be me and that is Chuck Norris in the beginning not Michael McMichael, who has asked me to offer an official apology and correction. Michael has not shrunk to 95kg, but to 110kg.
Some highlights of Monterey Car Week: RM Sotheby’s breathtakingly beautiful 1998 Mercedes-Benz AMG CLK GTR. In 1997 the Merc AMG team won the FIA-GT Championship with the GT racing sports car Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR. Merc made 25 of these 430 kW, V12, 319.9km/h road-legal cars. This is one of the rarest German sports racing cars produced, has only 1500km on the clock and is yours for about $6 million. Dave Gooding has a 1935 Duesenberg SSJ, one of two, that was delivered new to actor Gary Cooper who was Michael McMichael’s best mate at the time and is yours for $15m. Apart from the 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta ($40m) Bonhams have a heartbreakingly sweet, 1953 Siata 208S Spider (coachwork by Motto), for about $2.5m. One of 37 built by Siata, who were the equivalent of AMG to Fiat, these cars had a big following in southern California — with young acting sensation Steve McQueen attaching Ferrari badges to his and calling it his “little Ferrari”. Siatas have been quickly doubling in price over the past few years and this concourse winner is the best of the best.
Look I’m going to give you a full, exclusive insider’s report on Monterey Car Week AND the Belgian Grand Prix next week, but can I just show you a pic of a piece of metal I have fallen in love with. It’s one of four 2004 Ford GT Confirmation Prototypes (CP4) and the first Ford GT prototype to hit 322km/h in testing. Worldwide Auctioneers have it coming up at their Auburn, Indiana, auction on September 1. Mine for about $1m. The auction’s only eight days before my birthday after all.