It was a hectic day. I had just picked up the Bertone 308 GT4 from Matt Crandall at Avant-Garde Collection. Its throttle had been sticking, which made driving in rush-hour traffic more exciting that I wanted it to be.
Matt’s ace mechanic Chris Smith attended to it quickly. It turned out to be a combination of throttle linkages that needed lubricating and poorly attached carpet balling up under the gas pedal. Cocoa mats are on the way.
A friend was coming over for his first ride in the GT4. I hustled back to the office, and prepared to slide the GT4 into its slot between a support pole and the SCM Alfa Romeo Sprint Speciale.
My brain wandered for an instant, and I heard (and felt) that sickening sound of car metal impacting something substantial. I stopped and lied to myself (“I must have just grazed the pole, surely it’s nothing but a scratch that will buff out.”)
Sadly, that was not the case. Is it ever? I had pivoted the GT4 while backing up so that it pushed into the pole just behind the driver’s door. The indentation was at least 2 inches deep and 6 inches across. No amount of quick detailer was going to fix this.
I ran the car to Tom Black’s Garage, and he opined that after fixing the dent he would have to also respray the rear quarter and the door to get a good match.
While there’s no “happy moment” from this situation, at least the car wasn’t an un-hit virgin in original paint. There was already some Bondo on the side of the car, and it had been resprayed before.
Nonetheless, the car will now need some substantial attention. And it is all my fault. I simply wasn’t watching where I was going.
While the car is apart, I’m going to have Guy Recordon replace all the door rubbers. They are tired and causing the passenger door to stick. We have already ordered them from Matt Jones at Reoriginals.
Guy will also reupholster and rebuild the front seats using fabric as close to the original as he can find. The back seats are perfect, as is always the case. But the front seats show the car’s 220,000 miles of use.
Things happen to cars when you are moving them around. In fact, things happen to them when they are sitting still, from wheel cylinders leaking to clutch discs cementing themselves to flywheels.
I’m lucky in this case that the sheet-metal damage stops at the rear quarter and does not extend to the door. But I’d rather not have hit the pole at all.
There’s really no teachable moment here except that with old cars you have to always be paying attention. They don’t have nanny-aids like backup cameras or proximity sensors to let you know when you are coming close to something.
When the car is repaired, the new rubber installed and the seats rebuilt, I’ll have a better car than I started with. But I would prefer to have made these improvements because I wanted to do them — not because I had whacked the car and now was forced to do them.