I know this is a difficult time for you. Racing circuits closed, Targa Tasmania cancelled, no live anything, high petrol prices despite Brent Crude (no I don’t know what it means either, but it sounds impressive) down 70 per cent to the price of a six pack of three-ply toilet paper.
Luckily the Sultan of Stepney is on the team.
“You know what the readers need? A live version of this column on the telly,” Mick excitedly yelled down the landline yesterday. “Just imagine it. There we are. You, me, Tim Cooper, Phil Alexander, Steve Champion (the brown-cardigan-wearing accountant), Garth Walden and Molly Taylor … to show we’re not completely sexist … sitting at the bar at the Kensi talking about the same rubbish you go on with every Saturday.
“There’ll be guests like Norm Beechy, Lou Hamilton, the honey badger (Dan Ricciardo), Donny Trump and some famous women … and we’d start off every show with a couple of pints of Coopers Best Extra Stout to steady the nerves, quickly moving on to a few Bundy OPs and who knows what would happen? Live TV at its best. And wouldn’t it be the kind of show that the kiddies would sit down and watch with their Mum and Dad and grandparents if they were allowed in the same room.
“This would be the perfect show for retrosexuals like you and me. You know — persons of all sexes for whom horizontal Irish folk dancing is a distant memory. I’ve even prepared a few zingers like they use on those tonight shows. ‘How do Prius owners drive? One hand on the wheel, the other patting themselves on the back’ and ‘The police arrested two suspicious men in a car park today. One was drinking battery acid and the other was eating fireworks. They charged one and let the other one off’.”
With that I hung up.
Moving right along. Three years ago, I wrote: ‘‘I was up at Gavin King’s Concours Sportscar Restoration this week looking at some of his better than new $400,000 E-types, and spotted a Jaguar XJS undergoing a major renovation. A few years ago, you couldn’t give these cars away and if they haven’t been looked after you still can’t.
“But don’t be put off by the V12. They are a simple engine to work on. But these are not cars for the faint-hearted. You do need some mechanical and electrical skills. The Jag Drivers’ website lists them from $8500 to $30,000 for a 1989 car with only 95,000km on the clock. Both Unique Cars and I give them the possible next car to head north certificate and I reckon they are about to take a big leap.”
Readers and friends, you know better than to take my advice. But Ray Patchett from South Australia (of course) did. “Hi John, took your advice from a few years ago and picked up an 87 XJS from the wrecking yard in Adelaide for $3k (no engine or transmission). Bought a Holden V8 for the same money. Next gave a brief to the Melbourne son in law to sketch what he thought a 2020 model would look like. Halfway through the process I wished I’d never read your article (Ray, that’s what most readers say every week) but pushed on.” Ray was very clear on his vision for the car.
“I wanted understated elegance. I didn’t want it to look like the kind of car that you should be dealing substances out of the boot,” Ray tells me. Despite that I can see Ray as Sonny Crockett in his Ferrari Testarossa in Miami Vice. Cue Glen Frey’s ‘You Belong To The City’ (isn’t the sax piece at the start of the set the most sexual thing you’ve ever heard … next to a Fezzer’s exhaust note, of course). Just when we get to the lines
You were born in the city
Concrete under your feet
It’s in your moves, it’s in your blood
You’re a man of the street …
The camera reveals Ray dressed in black T-shirt under white Armani jacket, white linen pants and Gucci loafers sans socks, with designer stubble, Rayban Wayfarers across the eyes, Ray oozes out of the Jag, Raybans in hand, ready for any bad persons. OK maybe we should go back to Mick’s idea for the TV show at the Kensie.
Anyway, Ray stripped the body back to bare metal, coated in the Phantom Grey, added the side blinkers from a Ford Ranger, bonnet vents from Land Rover Disco, new trim to match plus some carbon fibre, laser cutting and 3D printing. Not only does the car look sensational — Ray says he just returned home from an 8000k test drive to Perth. “The Holden transplant purred.”
Look at today’s photo. Ray has sculpted a work of art for less than the price of a Toyota Corolla (as driven by both Amber and Pete from the office here … sigh! some people can never set their sights beyond the mundane). Stuck at home and think there’s nothing to do. Get out. Go down to the wreckers and start on your very own piece of auto art. Ray, a corona country salutes you.
A huge response to last week’s story on Archie Scott Brown. Douglas Clyde writes: “You mention his right arm and it was explained to me (of course not in his presence) how significant it was in getting recognition of his right to drive because it was all he had in order to control the steering wheel when he was changing gear with his left hand. He did this by putting his arm between the “spokes” of the steering wheel which would be far apart and pushing with the side of his arm.”
Richard Batchelor rightly corrected me, saying: “Actually, Archie did race in F1 for the Connaught team. In the British GP he qualified a highly commendable 10th in a field of 28 cars, the fastest of the three works Connaught drivers. He retired on lap 16 with transmission problems. Fangio, who won the race, commented that Scott-Brown had phenomenal car control.” A young Australian, J. Brabham, also retired from that race.
If you do want to read more on him, I really recommend Robert Edwards’ book, Archie and the Listers: The heroic story of Archie Scott Brown and the racing marque he made famous.
Now that we have five new readers, taking the total to 14 (we’ve had a few drop off the twig recently and a few are still awaiting day release) I thought it would be worth giving our new recruits the standard induction to this column: we pay for everything: airfares, hotels and minibars.