I am starting this as a rather lengthy missive which shall ruminate on the art of becoming a retired old fart.
Background info: I have recently, officially retired. What this all means is still being worked out in my small brain but thus far it only means a couple things:
1) I do not have a job other than my domestic duties
2) I am not looking for a job
3) My time is basically my own, meaning that there are very few external demands on my time
4) I am financially secure enough to be able to be slightly, just slightly, frivolous and even a tad bit childish with my wants and needs
5) I am of such an age that my wants and needs are basic to the point of being quite simple
So, as a new member to the ranks of the retired elite, I quickly move to tick the boxes that old farts really must tick in order to be truly retarded, er, retired…
Boxes to tick:
1) Join a nice golf club that offers a killer course with heaps of other retarded guys whom are as free as you are
2) Buy that killer set of clubs you have always hankered for
3) Grow tomatoes in the back yard
4) Promise myself and those who will listen that I will ride my motorcycles more
5) Begin the search for new and cool recipes noting that with all this free time, cooking is as good a past time as anything
6) Buy a sporty car of some nature
I note fully that the above list will be constantly growing. Little things like taking lessons on your prefered stringed instrument, getting to know your neighborhood butcher and baker on intimate terms, researching the best toilet paper available, and perfecting my own style of flat-white coffee, also come in to play.
But today I am going to discourse on point 6) above, buy a sporty car of some nature.
So, what kind of car to buy. Money is a constraint but mainly a self-imposed one. I simply cannot spend, go into debt, for the million bucks a RR drop dead convertible will cost. I think they are bitchn vehicles but, sadly, I am too conservative for such extravagance. Nor can I go the route of the modern quarter of mil fastback roadsters with a big name like a DB9. I’d love to go out and buy an Audi R8… if’n it be good enough for Iron Man its good enough for me but at 250k AUD, again, I am too conservative. I could fall into the “American Muscle” mentality but, as much as I love an old GTO and the sound of the big V8 with the thirsty quad carbie, I am too much of an engineer, too practical to buy something that does not have insanely good brakes.
I do confess to being very much an anglophile when it comes to sports cars. The british open roadster is a thing of beauty. I love the old cat hood ornaments on Jags, or the chrome grills of the older MGs, or the squat, flat nosed elegance of a Morgan. (do people know Morgans still use a wood chassis? The wood flexes and offers the Morgan its special road hugging handling.) I do also have a “thing” for the older Triumph TR models.
But I want an honest V8, front engined, rear wheel drive feel. I want at least 400hp that sounds deep and loud as it spins those back tyres. I just don’t want a 2-ton American Classic.
So a puzzle is posed: V8, front engine, rear wheel drive… So many to choose from. So many monstrous super cars built around the V8 of old. But which one offers a positive european driving experience (meaning it can do corners like it’s on rails, and stop impressively) but still have that heart thumping horsepower under the hood?
An easy answer begins to take shape… And it is the legacy of an American that needed to be able to beat the Europeans at their own game… Enter, please, Mr. Carroll Shelby.
Carroll Shelby raced all the great names… Ferrari, Maserati, Aston Martin. He eventually decided to “develop” a car that could beat the european big names at their own game… He somewhere convinced the British company, AC Motors, to place a 427 Ford big block V8 into one of their roadsters. This was the birth of the “Shelby” AC Cobra.
The AC Cobra has about all an aging motor head like me could want. The 2 seater open touring roadster feel that Americans simply do not understand. A big block V8 on a light and low frame that can corner, and most importantly, can stop quickly. Not a yank-tank at all, in fact, perhaps its in a class of its own? But indeed one hell of a ride.
So, where do you find an honest AC? The answer is you simply don’t. They are rarer than hens teeth and if you did find one, a real one, it’d go for the same prices as the RR drop dead convertible. Sad news, indeed.
The upside here is that there are hundred, thousands of ACs built from kits. Some are real good. Some are junk.
So the search begins, and ends quickly as I find the “Ssnake”…
Developed by an Aussie company, DRB, as a concept car. It could have been in production in 2009 and a common sight on the roads. But due to a global financial collapse this becomes nothing more than a cool and sporty oddity. The guy that built this was on a winner in 2008. He was selling cars throughout the world and Ford was keen to help him develop a “new” AC Cobra. But history shows us the great laid plans of mice n men oft-times go astray.
While doing my research here I spoke to the guy who owns DRB and built this car. I rang and asked about any info on the car. The dude wet his pants. In an excited voice he told me his story. He spent a small fortune making it special. The man-hours are incalculable. He sold it to keep his company afloat. And it is, again, looking for an owner.
And, surprising, the buy-in price is quite pedestrian.
The interesting thing about this car is they used a new 2009 Ford GT to build the concept car on. So it’s a full-blown factory made car (as opposed to a garage built kit using various bits n pieces from here n there) offering modern gigs like cruise control, central locking, ABS, etc. And, yep, a modern Boss 290 KW engine, upgraded to 330 KW or a rock’n 440 hp under the hood.
So I am in Melbourne to decide if I drive this buggy home. The dealer picks me up about 930 and by noon I’ll either be on the road heading north or back at the airport.
I’ll take more picts and expand the story more, later…