Like last month, when antitrust investigators pulled a surprise raid on BMW HQ in Munich; like Subaru admitting unqualified workers had done the quality checks on their cars; like a week earlier when Nissan suspended production at all of its Japanese factories for the same reason; and like last year when Mitsubishi and Suzuki owned up to cheating on fuel tests so they could make their cars’ fuel economy look better.
On the other hand, if you are in Munich and not raiding the BMW offices, go on the plant tour, visit their museum and rent an M3 by the hour and test out if it’s true what they say about the autobahns. (Spoiler alert: it is.)
I have been waiting for the call from BMW boss Harald Krueger to ask if they can buy our high performance 1992 3 series as used in last weekend’s 24 Stunden Zitronen, and our even higher performance 1990 328i with the huge
Anyway, back to the Lexus.
A few years back Toyota boss Akio Toyoda rang me and said “Johnny San, I am tired of you saying our Lexus is only suitable for old codgers who go on cruises”. Now you need to know that unlike just about every motor company boss in the world, Akio is a real card and he loves driving fast.
In 2009, he raced for the third time in the 24 hours at the Nurburgring in a Lexus using the name Morizo Kinoshita. (I often race under assumed names but that’s because I am such a crook driver I don’t want anyone to know it’s me.) Morizo aka Akio led the Gazoo racing team to 87th out of 233 starters. From memory, Australian Mal Rose led a team in a Commodore that year.
Six years ago Akio rang me again. “Johnny, you know how we have the Lexus LFA supercar with the 412 kW V10 engine, the carbon fibre body, the 325km/h top speed that is quicker than a Ferrari 599 HGTE and we sold for about $450,000? That’s the car we made to show you that you are wrong about Lexus drivers. Well at the Geneva Auto Show I’m launching an LFA with a Nurburgring Package with more power, better suspension, private parking at the Nurburgring, private sessions with the Nurburgring chief driving instructor, a one-night stay at the Lindner Congress and Motorsport Hotel and a one-year pass to go out on the track any time you like. But wait there’s more.
We are only making 50 but with every one you buy I’ll throw in a set of Korin Gyutou high-carbon steel Japanese steak knives.
“Jeez Akio that’s a super deal but the price of those cars will drop like a stone the minute they leave the showroom.”
Another great call from your adviser on motor cars as an investment. In January, at the Scottsdale auctions, Dave Gooding will be offering one of the only 50 Lexus Nurburgrings produced. It has less than 100km from new and will only set you back about $1.3 million. Dave says, mention The Weekend Australian and if you buy the Lexus he will throw in the one-off 2014 Pagani Huayra with the exposed Carbonio Russo carbon fibre body, with the specially designed luggage and less than 1500km for $3m, drive away no more to pay.
Just talking about Geneva (and there’s really not much there to talk about except for a lake and a big water spout) go to The Cafe de Paris where, believe it or not, Cafe de Paris sauce was invented by Freddy Dumont in the 1940s. Not one for the vegans, the cafe only serves steak and chips and if you say well done you are thrown forcibly out on the street by the same people who sank the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland in 1985. Well, they certainly looked like them after a few bottles of the Diolinoir fut de chene ($70).
OK, so what happened at last weekend’s 24 Hours of LeMons? Friends, you know it’s not about winning. It’s about taking part. YourWeekend Australian Racing Team (WART) certainly took part. After the first three hours of racing it was clear we had a fuel supply problem.
After four hours of intensive surgery in the garage, with a sneaking suspicion that Brownie the snake had been sucked into the motor, Michael McMichael slipped under the car, found it wasn’t a fuel problem at all and fixed it in 10 minutes. By then we had dropped 200 laps on the eventual winners, Team gits and HMAS Lemon.
Of course, we never gave up. Of course, that’s not true but LeMons racing remains the best way to experience motorsport safely and relatively cheaply and the most fun you can have with your frock on.
Meanwhile, Victoria’s best BMW technician, service person and seller of our LeMons Beemer, Dean How of Peninsula BMW, took third place in his beautiful black John Player Special BMW 635 CSi at Sydney’s muscle car masters last weekend. These wonderful old engines have six individual chrome intake trumpets. Naturally Dean is careful to ensure that no dirt gets in these trumpets while the Beemer is in the workshop. So, he stuffs them with old socks.
Last week he switched on the engine, heard a sucking sound and then the engine stopped. He was able to recover most of the sock remnants from the engine but had to wait for the rest to be pushed out the exhaust.
A lesson for all of us here. Keep your smalls away from your car engine.