GTO 3987 on Mulholland

GTO 3987 on Mulholland

Saturday, December 29, 2018

The first time I saw GTO 3987, it was being driven by Mark Slotkin who acquired the car from Ferrari dealer Otto Zipper after Otto had entered the car for Richie Ginther to drive at Riverside Raceway. We were going in opposite directions on San Vicente Boulevard by Brentwood Elementary School though I was a passenger, still too young to drive. The GTO took my breath away and I turned around in my seat to watch as it disappeared down the road. It looked and sounded wonderful! I needed that car!

The next time, some months later, the GTO pulled up next to the family Cadillac (I was was still too young to drive) at a red light on Wilshire Boulevard at Gayley Avenue--a couple of blocks from where I would later begin holding the Elysée Wednesday meetings--I took in as many aspects of 3987 as I could, admiring the body contours and gleaming red paint, the orange lights on the roof, the sound of the engine idling at 1000 rpm, the Goodyear Blue Streak racing tires on Borrani wire wheels. It was a lot to take in and the light turned green much too soon and the sound of the GTO accelerating away was almost too much to bear. That particular GTO had embedded itself into my psyche!

The next time I saw 3987, it was already mine. I purchased it over the phone without a moment's hesitation. Sal DiNatale tells me a GTO is in the shop and the owner wants to sell it and I place a 'buy' order without needing any further information. It was only when I arrived at Sal's shop to inspect my new purchase that I realized I had acquired that red GTO with the orange lights on the roof! I had purchased the car from guitarist/bassist/producer William Rinehart though I never met him in person and what lay before me was a rebuild of the engine that would take months as Rinehart had cooked the engine. Patience is a (hard won) virtue.

When, finally, the car was able to leave Sal's shop under its own power, I immediately drove it to Phoenix to break-in the engine and visit the set of Then Came Bronson, combining one passion with another. I drove all night keeping to 5000 rpm and enjoying the night drive across the desert with all the 18-wheelers. It was a memorable trip for so many reasons, not the least of which was meeting and hanging out with Bud Ekins--motorcyclist and Steve McQueen's stunt double on The Great Escape and Bullitt.

When I had put 3000 miles on the rebuilt engine, Sal gave me the go-ahead to use all the revs up to the redline. I didn't need to be told twice. I entered the San Diego Freeway southbound at Ventura Boulevard and, after negotiating the hairpin, let it rip--7500 rpm came up very fast and I was shifting up to second, then third and fourth before the first off-ramp at Mulholland presented itself. I exited the freeway to re-enter it again heading northbound accelerating down the incline into the Valley redlining the engine through the gears until I exited at Ventura Boulevard to execute the same circuit again. Talk about euphoria!

This was an auspicious beginning to a wonderful relationship with GTO 3987 that continues to this day, which provided me with thrilling experiences on road and track, personal encounters with extraordinary people and contacts and opportunities that would never have come my way otherwise. Well done 3987!

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