After a year or so of Jaguar E-Type ownership ('There's nothing like
Jaguar motoring!" D.S. Jenkinson was fond of writing in Motor Sport
magazine), I had grown weary of breaking down at the side of the road
albeit in some very picturesque locations--the California desert, the
Malibu coastline, along Route 66 in Arizona--not to mention my own
driveway when starting off on a much anticipated trip. The Jaguar was
like being married to the most beautiful and most temperamental woman in
the world. I was the envy of everyone but few knew of the frustrations.
If only I had a dollar for every time someone approached me as I sat in
the car waiting for a tow truck to have them tell me how lucky I was to
own such a beautiful car! Well, of course, they were right, and yet...
beautiful as the Jaguar was (and still is, by any standard), I had
always had a special reaction to Ferraris. Recuperating in the hospital
after my head-on collision on the Ventura Freeway, I discovered Road
& Track magazine and started familiarizing myself with the Italian
brand and its history not to mention the legendary drivers who raced the
cars from Maranello. I wanted a Ferrari but I wasn't yet old enough to
drive much less own one.
At Riverside Raceway, I saw the most
amazing car being driven by Jill St. John. It was obviously a Ferrari
and later I learned that it was a Berlinetta Lusso. It was breathtaking
and I wanted one. It did not occur to me that owning one might be
difficult given that it was a limited production item with only 351
Lussos being manufactured during its production run from 1963 through
1964. I had staked my claim.
One of the first Lussos I looked at
when my time came to buy one was a dark blue example owned by Haskell
Wexler. Haskell had directed the film Medium Cool
and would be the
cinematographer on films like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
original Thomas Crown Affair
and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
others. As much as I was eager to acquire a Lusso, I didn't buy
Haskell's car. When I visited his home in the Hollywood Hills to see the
car, I didn't even ask to test drive it. I wanted one that was in
I looked at a couple more Lussos which weren't that
easy to find and I wanted one that was in 'like new' condition if
possible. Finally, I found one that met my requirements. It was silver
blue with French racing blue leather and carpets. The owner, who lived
in Las Vegas, Nevada, agreed to drive the car to Los Angeles so that I
could drive it and have it inspected by my mechanic.
Lusso cleared the mechanic's inspection, I agreed to buy the car. It was
arranged for me to drive to Las Vegas with the seller that same day to
get accustomed to the car and fly back to Los Angeles leaving the car
with him until I had arranged for a transfer of funds into his account. I
would bring the car back to Los Angeles in the coming days.
left Los Angeles just before rush hour traffic got underway and this
would be my first long distance drive in a Ferrari. The weather was cool
and the engine sounded magnificent with the windows down. We by-passed a
long section of the San Bernardino Freeway in favor of a tree-lined
road that seemed to go on forever towards the I-15 and the sounds of the
V12 engine echoed off those trees as I imagined they would along the
Mulsanne straight at Le Mans. Compared to the E-Type, the Lusso seemed
like a wild animal that had slipped its leash--it revved to seven
thousand and the fenders stretched forward hunting every nuance of the
pavement in a predatory manner very different from what I had been used
As we passed Victorville, it began to rain and by the time we
reached Barstow, a heavy fog had moved in. It made not the slightest
difference and the Lusso maintained a cruising speed at or near 100
m.p.h. the whole time. All I did was to turn on the fog lamps that are
designed into either side of the Lusso's front grill. I felt as though a
new world had opened for me.
At Baker, we stopped for gasoline
and I let the seller take the wheel. As we climbed the incline leaving
Baker, I saw 120 m.p.h. on the speedometer, which is so extraneous on a
Ferrari that the designer Pininfarina
saw fit to put it on the passenger side of the instrument array. It
wasn't to dip blow that speed until we slowed to exit the freeway going
towards McCarran Field and my flight home.
It was another two
days before I took possession of the Lusso. I was still in high school
(having missed a semester because of the accident) and it was not
'opportune' for me to miss any school time. Realizing that I was
impatient to have the car and that I was not happy about waiting for the
weekend to get it, my father offered to fly to Las Vegas and drive the
car back home to me. I countered by suggesting that we fly up together
but that didn't solve the problem of school.
The following day, I
was hoping to find the Lusso waiting for me as I came out of school. It
was not to be. Not wanting to waste a trip to Las Vegas, my father
spent some casino time at the Sands (as he and I would do on our
subsequent trips) and it was almost midnight before I heard the Lusso
coming down the street and turning into our driveway. At that point, the
Lusso was mine!
I've heard people refer to Ferraris (and other
special automobiles) by saying, "It's just a car". Nothing could be
further from the truth. The Lusso formed a way of life for me that
opened the door to special people and adventures I never would have
otherwise known. It was never a toy that was taken for granted and I
don't think I ever parked the Lusso without turning back to admire it
before walking away.
In retrospect, I would say that the Lusso became a lifestyle; one that I was very grateful to experience.
:-) Gorgeous car, amazing story! Thank You
:-) Gorgeous car, amazing story! Thank You.
Amazing story! Still reading your blog! Been a year now for sure...
August from Slovenia!
Oh and I successfuly enrolled into our film school, my first short will be made this summer...
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