This story concerns my first brief encounter with a Ferrari....... a
250 GTE. It belonged to an agent I had in Paris, Patrick Witzig. The year
was 1964, and we drove from Paris to Frankfurt, from Frankfurt to Antwerp,
and from Antwerp back to Paris. We left early one Sunday morning. Crossing
the northern plains of Picardy, the landscape of poplars flashed by the
Ferrari as we drove on the pave , and passed many cyclists who were training
early in the morning. It was an uneventful
trip until we got close to the German border when some verglas appeared.
Patrick was terrified of driving on verglas as he had rolled a Citroen
the year before when he had hit ice. Knowing I was a rally driver and at
home driving on slippery surfaces, he offered control of the Ferrari to
me, and I was immediately amazed and delighted at the tractability in those
We got to Frankfurt and transacted our business there, and then drove on to Antwerp at a fast rate of knots, then left Antwerp to return to Paris. On the Flemish-French border we stopped for lunch at a small auberge and noticed a large, new and flashy Buick Riviera in the parking lot. Inside--and I remember it as being a particularly good meal--Patrick, and I suppose myself to some degree, were rather put off by a very brash character who was in the company of a very brassy blonde, and they were loud and rather show offish in front of the remaining diners.
As it happened, we departed the inn at almost the same time, and the Buick driver and his lady left just ahead of us, with a great show of bravado and spray of gravel. We proceeded, and we were going in the same direction. In a short time, we were right behind them. We were both in the mood for some laughter and fun after that very pleasant meal. So Patrick said ' I'll take him in third '. We were behind and at this point I think the Ferrari was travelling at some120 kph. When the Buick saw us behind him you could see the rich exhaust effluent as he zoomed up to his potential, and you could see the floating action of the Buick's suspension on the road. Patrick engaged third gear and floored the Ferrari. ' As we go by ', I said ' for Christ's sake YAWN!'. The now apprehensive Buick driver and his passenger looked sideways as the Ferrari let out that marvellous accelerating howl. If only we could have seen their faces as we swept by looking straight ahead with our hands politely tapping our mouths. The Riviera rapidly disappeared in the rear view mirror and all I remember is the Lombardy poplars in a great blur and the wonderful screaming sound of all that machinery under the hood.
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