The past few months have given me, as they have to many others, time to reflect on what is truly important and meaningful in my life — and the way I interact with the community of the world. That’s sort of a grand statement, but it actually brings home to me how a series of seemingly small decision points can have a much larger effect. I will start by acknowledging how activities I once either took for granted or worse yet, complained about, such as my almost-constant travel schedule, I now actually miss or find it difficult to recall. For the past six years, my work had seen me spend about three months every year in Italy, and I regularly commuted between LAX and Milan. The strange warp of time makes it seem incredible that by the beginning of March, I had already flown 75,000 miles — from Chile to California, California to Rhode Island three times, to Arizona, Italy, India and Florida. It was my usual schedule, but on steroids. I knew with my new position as CEO of the Audrain Auto Museum it would, if not slow, be altered. But of course I had no idea just how much.


I am still in the midst of supervising four restoration projects in Italy, and I have not been able to inspect them and meet in person with the craftspeople working on them since January. My appraisal associates Scott King and Brian Sevy in Palm Springs are evaluating cars for appraisal from specified, detailed lists of photos supplied by clients in lieu of in-person inspections. And while I am certainly not in the position that many have found themselves in — searching desperately for ways to fill their days — I have found that much of what was once routine in my life has become re-imagined. Life is change by its very nature, and this has been brought home in spades in the past few months. That change is frequent, and for me, most often beneficial, has been more obvious than ever. I am busier than I have ever been in my working life, which, given the number of careers I have had and their complexity, is saying a great deal. I am also more satisfied — and, dare I say, content — than I have ever been.

New journeys

I have rediscovered much of the joy in solitary drives in vintage cars, especially as I explore and discover the wonders of my new state, Rhode Island. I really enjoyed my 10 years in Southern California, but I have to say that the roads in New England are rather more entertaining than most of those near my former home. They offer a wonderful variety, which suits the full range of the different cars in my collection — some roads are just right for my Fiat Panda, while others were made for my Ferrari 400i A. That the state is so small is another bonus, as you can cover a relatively small distance with great variety. That I haven’t been able to carve lines through a lakeside road in Northern Italy is unfortunate, but enjoyment is at my fingertips a few minutes from home here.

Taking the time

I have also been appreciating lessons in patience. I can intellectually appreciate its virtue, but in practice, many times over the decades it has proved elusive. A character asset I cheerfully embrace is determination. Its mirror character defect is an intense drive to have something quickly accomplished, done, finished, over. My much-loved 1960 Fiat 1500 OSCA Pinin Farina coupe has been off the road since the SCM 1000 in July 2019, courtesy of a piston ring that decided it was no longer in the mood to travel along with its siblings and the piston on which they had made their home. As a result, the last two-and-a-half days of the rally were spent running on three cylinders. A tribute to the Maserati brothers and the Fiat workers who built the 1500 OSCA twin-cam engine must be paid. Even down a pot — and laying a lovely smoke screen at a certain part of the power range — the car pulled like a freight train and performed remarkably well. It has been in car hospital since last August for an engine rebuild and cosmetic freshening of the engine compartment. The work is coming along well, if slowly, thanks to a few challenges in obtaining the proper parts — and some family health challenges in the shop where the work is being done. But the result is certain to be wonderful. The shop is a very experienced and capable one — and as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the car for many years with what was a tired engine, to have a strong, fresh powerplant will take my joy with the car to a new level. As you’ve read on these pages a few months ago, I also recently acquired a 1953 Jaguar Mk VII. It too is in a shop, being gently recommissioned after resting unused for a number of years. I’m eager to pilot it along these perfectly suited roads of Rhode Island and waft it through Newport, where it will be completely at home among 18th century homes, grand “cottages” and beside moored yachts. However, to do the work being done on the Fiat and the Jaguar properly takes time — and I will have long forgotten the time away from the car during the years of enjoyment I will certainly have with them both. And that’s where the altered time of the COVID-19 world has paid ample dividends. Perspective is the gift that my automotive passion has allowed me to gain — change, whether in location from coast to coast, in my travel schedule and habits, or in the diminution of my desire for immediate gratification in my collector-car experience, has been a good thing. I have become better at appreciating what I have right now and more adept at looking with measured anticipation for what is to come — in its time. ♦

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