It’s not unpleasant particularly when you’re at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa or adjacent to the Fashion Square Mall and charming Old Town Scottsdale.
Walking around Scottsdale’s upscale, super-regional luxury shopping mall is like walking around the car auctions outside. The stores, like the cars, are mainly European with the occasional American upstart. Bulgari, Cartier, Gucci, Lou Vuitton, Prada and for those of us with smutty schoolboy minds, Dick’s Sporting Goods.
The prices are also similar.
For me the star of the six Scottsdale auctions this week is the ex-Porforio Rubirosa, John von Neumann, raced by Phil Hill and Richie Ginther and sat in by Jimmy Dean, breathtakingly beautiful, French racing blue, 1955 Ferrari 500 Mondial Series I that should sell at Bonhams for around $8 million, but let’s discuss that in a minute.
First, and normally I would put this in brackets but you’ll see why I haven’t, for younger readers, Jim Dean was a cultural icon of teenage disillusionment and social estrangement, as expressed in the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause. So, the Johnny Depp of the 50s, without the two dogs.
Not only was Jim a cultural icon, he was a serious Porker owner and racer. In fact, he made his final journey on the way to a race meet. Driving his Porsche 550 Spyder “Little Bastard” (new price $6000, today’s price $8.6m), Jimmy was unable to stop running into a 1950 Ford Tudor (new price $1.5, today’s price $15,000) driven by (and I didn’t make this up) Donald Turnupseed. Jimmy suffered very severe injuries and died aged 24.
But wait, there’s more. I don’t want you think that this column is anything but all scientifically based fact. However, can I raise a really spooky matter? There is no doubt Jimmy’s Porker was cursed. Actor Alec Guinness told Jim on September 23, 1955, that if he drove the 550 he’d be dead in a week. Exactly seven days later, Dean crashed. The Spyder was the 55th one built so the serial number was a palindrome: 550-055. And you know about palindromes! Jimmy appeared in a TV ad, dressed as a cowboy from the movie Giant, smoking while twirling a lasso while clearly having been involved in researching Indian medicine in which he mumbles “Drive safely, the life you save may be mine”.
When Jim hit Turnupseed, Rolf Wuetherich, a former Luftwaffe glider pilot, paratrooper and aircraft mechanic was in the passenger seat. Wuetherich tried to commit suicide twice and stabbed his wife with a kitchen knife. Look, there’s more, but I don’t want to scare the kiddies, people faint of heart and put you off buying a Porker Spyder.
Back to normal programming.
Dave Gooding sold Admiral Bob Phillips’ blue Ferrari 500 Mondial last year for $7.5m. Bob had owned the car for 48 years. These Mondials have been moving up in price pretty quickly, so you could expect this one to sell for around $10m. But my guess is with the market stale, maybe $8m might buy it. Some others to keep an eye on include the ex-Robert Redford 1964 Porsche 904 GTS. Bob owned the Porker for 10 years. Slightly over $2m should get it. Then there’s 2012 Lexus LFA Nurburgring Package. Made to celebrate taking three class victories in a row at the Nurburgring 24 Hours, Lexus produced 50, this one should bring close to $1m.
Talking of Redford, who is aged 82 and not racing whereas his friend and my idol, Paul Newman, won his last race at 82, let’s give a huge cheer to serious Mustang racer Darryl Hansen, 72. If I’m right, playground equipment builder Dazza didn’t take up racing until he was 59. Since then he’s had 17 wins and 30 podiums. Best of all he’s building a new, even more powerful pony for this season.
Talking of cursed cars, what about Ian McPherson’s Mazda CX-5?
In November a week after having the car serviced at Moss Vale Mazda (where he’d bought the car new) the CX-5 started losing power. After a day of “testing” the service manager called Ian saying the issue was serious and that there was a “known design flaw” in the Skyactiv diesel engines causing them to overheat.
The likely outcome would be to have the engine replaced. He also mentioned: “I have three other CX-5s in my workshop right now with the same problem.” Ian was then told that this would “probably be covered as a goodwill gesture by Mazda” given that the car was just outside warranty.
“After several more days of testing by Mazda, they came back saying that the car had been overheating, and that a complete engine replacement would be necessary,” Ian says.
He replied to Mazda “that the car just overheating doesn’t adequately describe the issue … how would we to explain this to potential buyers when selling … this would dramatically impact the re-sale. In a three-year-old car such a catastrophic failure just shouldn’t happen”. Mazda has given Ian an ultimatum. “Moss Vale Mazda, with the assistance of the Mazda Australia technical team, investigated your vehicle around a month ago and found that the thermostat was the cause of overheating in your vehicle. As a result, we are happy to make the necessary repairs to your vehicle, which includes an engine replacement.”
A glance at the internet will tell you the Skyactiv engine is cursed. Mazda did do a partial recall in Australia. And it has recalled diesel CX-5 and CX-8 models over concerns the engine might not restart when it’s switched off. Mazda makes some good cars but if a company treats customers like this, don’t buy from them. And the only law that could help owners like Ian is too expensive to use.