Once upon a time I set out, with my 14-year-old son, to attend the annual car madness, which recurs every August on the Monterey Peninsula. There is the Pebble Beach Concours, the Historic Races at Laguna Seca and the piece de resistance, imho, the Concorso Italiano.
So naturally, I took my maximum ride at the time, a Ferrari 328 GTB.
I live in Texas. Southeast Texas.
Most Ferraris are not driven very much. There are several reasons for this. Because of their value some owners are uncomfortable running them in traffic. Older Ferraris, like mine was, are not easy to drive, particularly in urban gridlock. The same car that tracks like the Sunset Limited at 85 mph can require help from Hulk Hogan to maneuver in a parking lot. Middle-aged Ferraris have the identical steering ratio as the USS Nimitz.
So I was regarded as somewhat of a freak. I actually used my Ferrari to go places, just like it was a car.
Ferraris are regarded as notoriously unreliable. Well, think about it, every new run of Chevrolets is preceded by hundreds of pre-production units to debug the model. Ferrari only made 35 1989 328 GTBs. The debugging is left to the owner.
And so I maintained the thing to the hilt. One thing you do, every six months pull all the fuses, clean the contacts and reverse the fuse when reinstalling. Things like that. Everything worked. I carried a spare fan belt, thermostat and other small parts not likely to be stocked by Bob’s Tire & Girdle in East Jesus, NE,
But I forgot about the A/C.
The Concorso Italiano is in mid-August. Our plan was to run out 1-10, overnight in Morro Bay, after visiting family near Palm Springs, and run up the PCH at first light while the RV crowd were still brewing coffee and refilling the propane. We went from Houston to Sonora, on the eastern edge of the Great West Texas Rift, the night before. By 11:00 AM Sunday we were just south of Phoenix (I have the same problem as Sammy Hagar re 55).
At mile marker 200, near the I- 8 intersection I noticed a cloud of what I took to be steam in the rear window. All the gauges (a 328 has all the gauges) read normal, including oil temp.
A large drop of sweat ran off my nose…….
It took half an hour in some nameless parking lot to pull all the pieces of the A/C belt free. Other than that the car was running perfectly: world’s fastest toaster oven. It was 115^ at noon.
I looked at my son. There was a Fairfield Inn across the InterState. Perhaps we should park it until midnight? Nooooo..he was anxious to see his grandfather.
Sherif Ali: There is the railway. And that is the desert. From here until we reach the other side, no water but what we carry with us. For the camels, no water at all. If the camels die, we die. And in twenty days they will start to die.
T.E. Lawrence: There's no time to waste, then, is there?
From Phoenix to the coastal ridge beyond Palm Springs the desert drops in a series of steps, each step lower than the one before, each step hotter than the one before. In August nothing grows there. The locals claim this is where dirt comes to die.
Outside the Ferrari was too hot to touch. Inside, windows up was like being in a sauna. Windows down was like sticking your head in a blast furnace.
On and on. Every few dozen miles some remote gas station cum convenience store would appear. We stopped at all of them. Stood around in the wonderful, lifesaving, all encompassing, cool inside weather.
Drink a cold Gatorade, take another along – it takes at least 10 minutes to warm up. Pour a bottle of water on your head. Off to the next oasis, places like Quartzsite, AZ. I began to worry about spontaneous human combustion
I never would have made it without the 14 year old. Blessed with youth and physical fitness; he kept me alert. After an age we reached Palm Springs. Long local road, finally our hotel parking lot. I rolled out of the car, immediately sat down hard on a low stone fence, and hallucinated. I did not realize until much later that I was suffering from heat stroke. Spent the next 18 hours in a cool dark hotel room with the A/C on “MAX”.
We never did get to Monterey.