Saturday, September 17, 2011
Ferrari on Mulholland (again)
Mulholland Drive is an iconic road to anyone growing up in Los Angeles combining the properties of a Lover's Lane and a Mille Miglia-style road course. It overlooks the San Fernando Valley on one side and Bel-Air, Beverly Hills and Hollywood on the other. It represents a sort of carefree abandon that cuts across and through the serious nature of a sprawling city. It is escapism from an enforced reality and the reality of those who have escaped, if only for the duration of an exciting drive.
In my youth, I enjoyed such a reality when Peter Helm, his friend Rick and I took our Ferraris onto Mulholland for some fun which Peter captured with his 8mm camera. Yesterday, at the instigation of Elysée Wednesday regular Richard Mitchell of Black Horse Motors, we took a literal and figurative trip down memory lane and drove a Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 along the same stretch of Mulholland between Beverly Glen and Laurel Canyon.
We were accompanied by Jeanette Dumouchel, a producer with me on the Carrera Panamericana documentary, and Chad Glass who rendered the poster for the doc. We all took a turn at the wheel of the Ferrari and while the vintage handling of this thoroughbred was a new experience for a couple in our group, it was a strong dose of déjà vu for me. The familiar sound of the free-revving 4-litre V12, the feel of the big Nardi steering wheel and the action of the 5-speed transmission (it was a late series model) conjured an era that is long gone but no less exciting for its passing.
We documented the entire drive with the Panasonic P2 HD camera and, at one point, we stopped along the side of the road to shoot static shots and stills of the car. The 330 2+2 is much more compelling in life than in any photos I've ever seen. This one, originally sold by a wily Enzo Ferrari to Pat Boone who had really wanted to buy a Superamerica--no one ever made a success of saying no to Il Drake--is in beautiful condition and attracted the attention of one the ubiquitous tourist vans that cruise the city which stopped in the middle of the road to gawk at us.
Though I felt at home in the 330, I told Richard I would need at least an hour with the car to be comfortable finding its limits. As a 2+2, it is not the Lusso and far removed from the GTO in which I enjoyed this road in the past but it was great fun to drive and was really intended as a comfortable, high-speed touring car for the Friday night rush from Paris to Toulon for a weekend of sailing.
My thanks to Carl Steuer of Black Horse Motors and, of course, Richard Mitchell for a most enjoyable morning!