Tempus Fugit: a Lifetime in the Automotive World
Volume 48 Issue 16
Aug 26, 2023
How long have I been doing this?! Yes, my entire life, well, maybe not the Ferrari Market Letter but automobiles have played a significant role in how I arrived here today.
Tempus Fugit is a Latin phrase. You see it every time your print subscription comes up for renewal.
That yellow piece of paper stuffed into your envelope declares Tempus Fugit and implores you to send us funds to continue to receive the Ferrari Market Letter.
Tempus Fugit equals time flies, and boy, does it ever!
While contemplating how much I will miss going to Pebble Beach this year I remembered my first article as editor of the FML.
It was a Monterey preview detailing all the things to see and do. The cover date was August 3rd, 2013.
Ten years. Ten years and many, many articles later. Tempus Fugit.
August is always special to me partly because I have a birthday. As a child it was the last month of summer before school started. The hot days of summer would be winding down and the cool days of fall would begin.
As I begin my sixty-eighth trip around the sun, I reflect on what life has given me and how I got here to be writing my thoughts and share some of my journey.
My father worked for Ford Motor Company as a dealer service representative. He often brought home service and technical publications for me.
I love to read and reading the Theory and Operation of Automatic Transmissions, or alternators, or power steering, might not be normal eight-year-old material, but it did provide a foundation in how and why things work.
School was never a winning proposition for me. I did my best to pass the classes I had to and failed the ones that did me no good. English class was one of those I could barely get a ‘D’ in.
In my late teens, I worked several automotive maintenance jobs. Learning by a hands-on approach made all the theory come to life. The jobs were menial and low pay and the attempt to support myself was always one small paycheck away from hunger, or homelessness, depending on your friends.
Then my father got me a job at Ford in Atlanta working on the assembly line. The pay was good, the benefits even better, it was nice to be, as they say today, food secure.
But the assembly line can be an incredibly boring place to be. I wasn’t destined to spend the next thirty years jumping in and out of cars, shooting my screws and punching a clock.
A friend said the Ferrari dealer was going to hire and would I be interested? Sure, I would have done anything to leave the security and benefits of Ford Motor Company. FAF Motorcars, here I come.
That was 1977. Here I am forty-six years later and can reflect upon what a trip it has been.
I owned a Ford van in 1974 and it was decked out with carpet and bed in the back. It also had an icebox. Yes, I lived in it several times during the eighteen years I owned it, but it was best known for hauling Ferraris around the southeast.
I towed John Apen’s 250 LWB TdF, S/N 0703 GT, to Daytona and got to drive it on the track. Yes, to both.
I drove the Tdf around the banks of Daytona and later when a connecting rod decided to remove itself from the crankshaft, I drove the van to retrieve it from the side of the raceway.
There were other opportunities to drive Ferraris. Some were standard cars, like Dino, Daytona, 330 GT and 250 Lusso. Others were very special.
At one-point FAF had a 330 GT 2+2, S/N 07979, for sale. The description may not trigger many to understand what car this was.
This 330 GT was modified by Drogo and was more famously known as the ‘Golden Car’. It was, depending on your taste, either beautiful or hideous.
Its long sloping nose began with four square headlights and the rear had large sail panels that sloped from the top of the roofline down to a flat cut-off taillight panel. The interior was all 330 GT.
Driving it down the road was an experience. The view from the inside was like driving a normal 330 GT; the dash, instruments, switches and the like did not betray what the pedestrian was seeing.
While driving, the reaction was almost universal. Someone would see the car and their mouth would gape as their arm would rise to point. Drivers in other cars would react the same way without pointing.
It was a surreal experience to drive this special car.
Another one-off I had the pleasure of driving was 308 GT4, S/N 12788. ‘The Rainbow’ was built by Bertone and was a design study car. As I told my friends at the time, “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”.
I worked for FAF Motorcars two different times. In 1981 I went to California to sell parts with Lyle Tanner. I also worked for a company that imported Honda parts from Japan and learned those part numbers too.
After four years in Los Angeles this Georgia boy needed to head back south and taking a job offer from Bob Norwood in Dallas, Texas, seemed like a good way to get half-way there.
Norwood picked me up in a twin-turbo Boxer to show me around. He was not wearing a seatbelt, so I didn’t either. As Norwood was showing off the incredible acceleration of this beast on a residential street with cars parked on both sides, I decided it was too late to grab for the belt.
Each dip in the road would bounce the rear tires into the air and when they touched again another set of black rubber lines would be laid down. I took the job anyway.
The parts department experience was great, but it was the service department experience that made it fun. I was parts manager and there was an operations manager, but no service manager. I helped to fill both roles.
When I finally made it back to Atlanta a year later, FAF was in need of someone to run the service department. I was ready.
This gave me an opportunity to drive and experience many, many different Ferraris. 308s of all versions - yep, driven them all. Testarossa, 288 GTO, Daytona, Dino, yes, I’ve been able to drive them all.
Earlier cars? Same here also. If Ferrari made it before 1991, I’ve had the chance to experience each and every one.
Service was one of the jobs I truly enjoyed. The combination of theory and operation, parts and how they are constructed, combined with extremely talented mechanics, made working with the customers an enjoyable and satisfying experience.
So much so I started my own shop specializing in Honda and Ferrari. Why? Honda for cashflow and Ferrari for the fun of it. It didn’t hurt that I was able to hire many of the FAF mechanics.
For the next fifteen years I was Dr. Hondaa, until the real estate became more valuable than the business. I sold the building in 2007, just before the crash. I was lucky.
I could kick back and retire for a while, but Gerald Roush wouldn’t let me do that. He talked me into coming to the Ferrari Market Letter with the promise of permanent, part-time, come and go as you please.
Little did I know this would turn into a whole different career. Six years later I would become editor.
Ten years after that I would still be editor and owner, and still having experiences with Ferrari. The things I’ve done, the places I’ve been, the people I’ve met, have all been a blessing.
I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. There has never been a plan, just walk through the next open door and make the best of it. It’s not something I would advocate for most, but it has worked out pretty well for me.
So I continue to write and research and attempt to sort out history and give you information that I hope you find interesting.
Hopefully my sixty years of automotive knowledge and forty-six years of Ferrari knowledge will become useful someday.
Maybe I should write my Auto-biography.
In the meantime I’m still having fun living life with automobiles, even as time flies.