It all started with a call on the afternoon of June 26th. They had a last minute shoot in Fort Worth which included three exotic cars and asked if I could make the trip the very next day to photograph the cars. I was hesitant at first since I had a pretty full plate going into that weekend – an engagement session, two weddings and a bridal. But when the set list was sent over, my mind was made up for me. The cars that they’d listed were a 1991 Ferrari F40, a 1972 Ferrari Daytona Coupe and a 1954 Hudson Italia. I HAD to make time for names like these. I accepted the gig, and got to booking a hotel and rental car for the trip to Dallas in 24 hours.
The next day, I raced around to prepare everything before my engagement set at Discovery Green that evening. Everything went well, and the engagement set turned out great! You can see some of the photos in this recent blog posting. After that, I loaded up all my gear into my trusty new steed – a white 2011 Ford Focus Wagon with a couple of ticks over 24,000 miles, and hit the road directly from the engagement set downtown. The first thing I noticed about the Focus was the improvement in quality that had been made since the last time I had driven one. It no longer had the feeling of driving inside a tin can, and the fit and finish seemed to be at a much higher standard than before. Sure, there were still hard plastics on the doors and dash, but this was after all, an economy car. The handling was nice and quick with no slop, and it had willing acceleration. However, the dual-clutch automatic transmission was extremely rough, with clunking shifts at low speeds and a fairly heavy shuddering off the line. Whether this is a defect from the factory or related to the animosity that most have towards rental cars when driving them, I don’t know. I settled into the drive and watched the sunset go down right over the road as I pressed on towards Fort Worth.
I arrived in Fort Worth around 11pm, tired and hungry. I decided that since I hadn’t had In N Out Burger since my time in LA in 2008, that it would be a good time to revisit. I can’t say that it was as good as I remembered it to be, but maybe that’s because I was visiting so late and everything was a little less than fresh. Afterward, I checked into the Hilton Fort Worth and hit the sack after watching about two hours of infomercials.
The next morning I woke up at about 7am and checked out. I wanted to get to the garage right as it opened so that I would have the best light possible to shoot the F40. Upon my arrival, I took a minute to look around, as the quality of the collection was pretty amazing. From a 1966 Lamborghini 400GT Coupe to a Porsche 959, this garage had a little bit of everything.
The garage manager met up with me and we discussed the schedule of the day for a little. After we wrapped it up, he pointed to the F40 and nonchalantly said “you’ve driven a standard before, right?” I fumbled over my words a bit as I explained to him that my car was a standard and that I’ve driven a handful of exotics. “Great”, he said as he handed me the keys, “move it around to wherever you need it”.
I wasn’t sure how to react. The F40 had been my favorite car for as long as I can remember, the one that I had posters and models of as a kid. It seemed like something that you’d never really be able to interact with, just admire from a distance like a piece of fine art or sculpture. Dumbfounded, I threw my leg over the doorsill and fell into the carbon fiber seat. Looking around, the purpose of this car was very clear. No nonsense dials, the bare carbon fiber tub and door panels exposed, cable pulls to release the doors in lieu of handles to save weight. This car meant business. With a twist of the key and a press of the engine start button, the twin turbo V8 fired to life, idling nervously, yet rather happily, directly behind my right ear. After the initial fanfare, it settled down into a nice low burble, one of the more intoxicating engine notes out there. The clutch pedal was heavy, but not overly so, and the gearshift slid smoothly into first. I rolled out of the garage and drove to the shoot area. The car was rather calm at these low speeds and wasn’t fidgety at all. I expected the engine to run rough and rather unhappily at low revs, but it hummed along quite nicely. And nothing can beat the sound of a Ferrari shifter going through its metallic gates! With the morning light already waning, I started shooting, the F40’s bright red paint gleaming in the warm morning sunlight. The light was still fairly soft and long, so the reflections were minimized on the paint, making the F40 look smooth as glass. People stopped and gawked throughout the shoot, stopping to stare, ask questions (“That’s not yours, is it? How much is it worth?”) and take cell phone photos. I wish I could have spent all day shooting the F40, but as the temperatures crept up and the reminder that there were two more cars to photograph, I had to get it home. I drove it back, savoring each and every second, knowing that this would most likely be the first and last time I would get to drive a legendary car like the F40.
Please excuse the horrible video quality…I’m no videographer!
Starting the F40
A quick video of me moving the F40 into place for the photos.
Amazing exhaust note at idle
Next up was the 1972 Ferrari Daytona Coupe. A gorgeous car in its own right, with soft curves and just the right amount of bright chrome trim. It also included an interior that many modern cars should take lessons from, with beautifully stitched, creamy leather seats and just the right amount of details. An exercise in simplicity, it reminds you of what a car’s interior SHOULD be – an enhancement to the driving experience – NOT an extension of your living room. It drove perfectly for a car of its age, the engine revving freely and strongly and the transmission shifting cleanly with no hesitation. With the soft morning light now gone from the previous location, replaced by glaring triple digit heat, I searched for a more suitable location to shoot. At a nearby park, there was a shaded underpass which overlooked a small bayou which I thought would work well for the photos as well as a place for me to hide from the heat. There was a man fishing down below in the bayou, and I’m sure he was none too happy with the constant noise from the 4.4 liter V12 thundering to life. He’d just have to bear with it though, haha. After wrapping up, I drove the Daytona back to it’s air conditioned garage for some lunch, with only the 1954 Hudson Italia left on the list for the day.
A terrible video of me driving the Ferrari Daytona to the location. Best engine noise is probably at 2:50!
The 1954 Hudson Italia was a concept car that was built as a guinea pig to gauge interest on bringing a more stylish, exotic looking car to the automaker’s lineup in the early 50’s. Built off the existing Hudson Jet platform, the prototypes were built in Milan by Carrozzeria Touring. There were only 26 built, due mainly to the price which was more than a Cadillac Coupe de Ville, and the merger between Hudson and AMC which killed off the demand for the marque’s vehicles.
It is a beautiful and odd looking car at the same time. Clearly touching on the aeronautical themes that ran rampant in 1950’s design, the car featured many details that were reminiscent of planes of the era. The most exaggerated part of the design would no doubt be the raised hoods over the front headlights, which gave the car an almost surprised look from the front. The interior featured a rear deck for luggage like small passenger planes, and the seatbelts look to be straight out of a passenger jet. Beautiful details are what define this car, and it’s a shame that it never got off the ground. The Italia was a bit more fussy than the two Ferraris – she wasn’t very happy to be brought out from her air conditioned garage into triple digit heat. The engine sputtered a bit and required constant vigilance to ensure that it wouldn’t stall. The body roll was immense, with the tiny little tires dwarfed under the large steel body. The lack of power steering meant that I got a great workout while positioning the car into place for the photos! Tired and sweaty, I drove back to the garage to finish up the interiors of the vehicles.
With the sun starting to get low in the sky, I wrapped up the shoot and got back on the road to Houston, where I had two weddings that weekend to prepare for. I took a different route home however, passing through College Station for a dinner at Layne’s Chicken Fingers, which I hadn’t had in years. It was definitely an exhausting trip, but I would do it all over again. The experience was something I’ll never forget and being able to drive my dream car is one little check off the bucket list.
Hope you enjoy the photos!