On Wednesday, American Express gave me a 599 GTB Fiorano to keep. But, hey, you don’t want to hear about that because it will only encourage you. Already an increasing number of readers are emailing to suggest I am having too much fun. In Australia, having fun is like having sex — it’s only OK if everyone is getting their share.
So, let me tell you how you or your kiddies can enjoy life like me.
Race car simulators are the cheapest way into fun with cars. Even F1 drivers spend hours a day on them. You can, too, at places such as Racecentre.com in Sydney and the Gold Coast and simulatorworld.com.au in Melbourne.
If you want your kiddies to be the next Daniel Ricciardo or Lewis Hamilton, one of the greatest F1 drivers, get them into karts. Karting is the best organised sport in Australia. And the safest, in terms of physical safety and child safety. Ring 1300 30 5278 and get going.
If you’re older and want to start in karts (I am a very late starter), get on board with world and intergalactic champion Troy Hunt at [email protected].
For the least money and the real thrill of racing and rallying the next steps are 24 Hours of LeMons and the Shitbox Rally. 24 Hours of LeMons (24lemons.com.au) delivers endurance racing in most capital cities for $999. Our Weekend Australian Racing Team’s BMW cost $250 (brown snake included). In the Shitbox Rally (shitboxrally.com.au), you will drive similarly valuable cars from Adelaide to Cairns the back way this year. Open to drivers of all standards but mostly no standards.
Nearly every racetrack around this great country of ours offers track days where for about $250 you can take your own car and see how easy it is to do double apex corners. I wouldn’t do this. Most carmakers offer their own track days. The best is porsche.com/australia/motorsportandevents/driving-experience, where you get to drive every model Porker with an instructor sitting beside you.
At the top end is Formula Company (theformulacompany.com) which lets you drive radicals very fast around a track with a very scared instructor beside. Radicals are “race-bred, record breaking, super light, lightning quick, iconic and epic” cars that go to places like the real Le Mans. Around $700 for about 10 laps.
Talking of fun, the beautiful but not completely unbiased Octane Magazine ($261 a year delivered) has released its list of the cars to buy in 2017. Strangely, the BA Ford ute is not in the top 15 but the first generation Toyota Celica is (must be an English thing) as is the Alfa Romeo 75 (one for the auto electricians and leaking oil specialists) and the Land Rover County Station Wagon (see the Alfa). As we know, the Poms have never really liked Johnny Foreigner (see the Brexit vote) so there’s the Jaguar 2.4 Mark 1 (see the Alfa), the MGA (I blew the engine on a twin cam hitting the ton for the first time, and see the Alfa) and the Jaguar XJ Series 3 (see the Alfa).
Where the lads and lassies at Octane do make sense is naming the two-door Subaru Impreza P1 (imports from Japan will cost you about $25,000), the best handling car in the world, the Porsche Boxster — I would spend at least $30,000 and talk to ex-Porsche mechanic and car adviser, David Wheatley ([email protected].net.au), before you buy one because you have to drop the engine out to do anything — and they also recommend the Porsche 997 GT3 (please spend more than $120,000).
Just so you don’t think I am Peak Porsche (I have owned seven), the Historic Automobile Group International Index that tracks classic cars as an “asset class accurately for the first time, using rigorous financial methodology usually associated with more traditional investments” says for the third year in a row Porsche has out-performed all the other classic marques: “Porsche ranks as the top overall performer since index inception in 2008, gaining 364.04 per cent over that period.”
Over three years, Porsche has out-performed Ferrari by more than 200 per cent.
Talking of Ferraris, I guess you did want to know about the 599 GTB Fiorano that American Express gave me.
This is a shortened version of the original article. Read the rest at The Australian.