Carini: The best car people are in it for fun, not money


About 25 years ago, during Monterey Car Week, a mutual friend introduced me to concours guru, restoration expert, and all-around car nut Dick McClure. I liked him because he was all about having fun and not taking the cars or himself too seriously. It was refreshing to find someone so invested in the hobby who was just out to have a great time, without caring whether he impressed anyone.

Early on in our acquaintance, I discovered McClure had a 1935 MG PA Airline coupe, one of the cars I’d always wanted. Every year in Monterey, I’d ask him to sell it to me. I bugged him for years—until one August, when I asked him when he was going to sell it and he answered: “Right now, but you have to take my MG ND, too.” He set a price and I agreed. After years of waiting, the entire deal took 30 seconds.

Hagerty California Mille Vertical

In addition to Monterey Car Week, I’d see McClure at the California Mille, an event he co-founded. His perpetual challenge was to find an eligible car that cost less than the entry fee. He’d go through old Mille Miglia programs and find less-exclusive cars from 1957 or earlier of a type that had run in the famous Italian road race. One year, a shop-owner friend gave him a 1955 MG Magnette sedan—for free. Knowing that one had completed the Mille Miglia in 1956, McClure was happy to accept.

While at the California Mille, McClure’s co-driver, Mathias Doutreleau, took a call from his boss, collector and Quail Lodge owner Sir Michael Kadoorie. Kadoorie was intrigued to learn the pair were running a Magnette in the event, because that was the model in which he learned to drive. Before he knew it, McClure had an invitation to show his free car at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, the following August.

Another year, I co-drove with McClure at the California Mille in a Renault Dauphine. He paid $300 for the car, then invested another $600 preparing it. For less than a grand, we were out there running with 2.9 Alfas, Bugattis, Ferraris, and Maseratis. I’m sure that some of the other entrants were looking down their long hoods at us, but McClure and I agreed it was the most fun we’d ever had in a car.

Before long, we noticed that the Renault was losing oil from the breather hose, so McClure stopped at a convenience store to pick up a jar of peanuts. After emptying the jar, he punched a hole in the lid and, with some creative engineering, crafted a catch tank. Whenever the oil light would indicate a low level, McClure would stop and I would hop out, open the hood, pour the oil from the peanut jar back in, and we’d get going again in less than a minute.


As part of the rally, we did some laps at Sonoma Raceway. Behind the wheel, McClure provided running commentary, like on TV. “It’s a new world record for a Renault Dauphine!” he said in his best announcer voice. “And the crowd goes wild!” he shouted. All while passing the empty stands in a car with a 75-mph top speed. We had a riot.

Last year at The Quail, McClure entered an Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint, which several members of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club had passed on because it was the “worst, rustiest example I’ve ever seen,” and “too far gone to restore.” After the car spent months on the market, McClure haggled on the price and took it to his shop, where he repaired the body and painted it Rust-Oleum Royal Blue. He was thrilled to receive the Spirit of The Quail award from Kadoorie himself.

Some of McClure’s other entries for The Quail and/or the California Mille have included a care-worn 1952 Jaguar XK 120, the MG TD he drove in high school, a VW Beetle with a chopped roof and suicide doors, and a Morris Minor, while he hopes to drive a 1964 Dodge Dart slant-six coupe in the 2023 Quail Rally. In any event McClure enters, his passenger seat is highly coveted. I’ve co-driven with him several times, but the “record holder” as his co-driver is vintage racer and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, who keeps coming back for one simple reason: It’s so much fun.

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    Fun story, but don’t be deluded that any old Joe Schmoe can do the same at either CA Mille or The Quail.

    That’s kind of the point. It takes as much inspiration and perspiration, if not more, to run a cheap car as an expensive one, but if you think money is the only thing holding you back, it shouldn’t.

    I don’t think it was the point that anyone with a $1k Dauphin can do this, but rather that some people who can do it with much more prestigious and expensive hardware sometimes chose to do things like this just for the joie de vivre.

    “The best car people are in it for fun not money”.
    This from a guy who’s never seen a car as anything else but a commodity…and built his celebrity on it.

    Two 👍👍! Wayne Carini doesn’t do anything that won’t get him more money while he prices most of the rest of us out of the market.

    That is exactly right about Wayne. He purposely never shares his price negotiations with his viewers and there’s a reason for it.

    From some recent articles that I have read in addition to this one, it seems that some of the career old car people are getting concerned about the constant drum beat of “what is it worth” that you hear from Hemmings and other “old car” publications. They should be concerned as it is a major turn off to the hobby.

    Wayne does have fun at car events! I met him at the Tour D’Lemon about seven years ago in Monterey. He had jumped into the back of an old MB ambulance, pretending to be hurt! I have a photo of that someplace. I also talked with him about a fiat based car at the show. Probably didn’t help that I had a dark suit on, as I was driving press around for VW that year.

    This is a good example of the adage “It’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow”. I think this is the point Wayne making. I do agree that normal guys won’t be able to get in these prestigious events.
    We should get used to driving slow cars fast since when the EPA gets done with our hobby it’s all we will have left.
    Support the RPM act.

    I just don’t understand why folks criticize Mr Carini for making a profit on his car sales. F40 Motorsports is a business, it exists to turn a profit. The buildings, equipment, supplies and employees salaries all cost money, so he can’t lose or break even when he sells a car. As far as I know, he runs an honest shop, so I don’t see what’s to criticize.

    🤦‍♂️ No one’s criticizing entrepreneurship. Just calling out the hypocrisy. The over-used word is “passion”. His “car guy” passion is in the flipping. He seems like the guy that’s been married ten times but keeps reciting the vow “until death do us part”.

    Ah, the “old boys club” regaling each other on just how down to earth they are. Lets see just how far I get with taking a beater to the quail.

    The Renault Dauphin is fun reliable car. A buddy had one. Friends would laugh but he didn’t care. Many a time after coming out of a store he would find his car re-parked up on the middle of a sidewalk, complements of his prankster friends. That little car had torque and could really go if you power shifted and nailed it. Years later I got a job in Maspeth Queens which turns out to have been the original assembly plant for the Renault Dauphin Cars that came here partly assembled. I have no doubt the owner of that Dauphin Rally car had a ball!

    My first call was a Renault Dauphine. It was a 1960 and I owned the car for two years between 1962 and 64. I hated that car. My friends had Corvettes, Pontiac Le Mans, and other muscle cars. The car would not start in the morning. But fortunately, my house was on a hill and I would turn on the key, unlatch the hand brake, let the car roll and pop the clutch. The car would start and surprisingly, I could stop and start the car for the rest of the day. Parts were impossible to get, and the throttle linkage was held together with baling wire and twigs. Good riddance

    When I was sixteen I had a 1959 Renault Dauphine that I bought for $35. It took a mile to reach 60 m.p.h. It was so rusty I had to run steel cables bumper to bumper to keep the car from getting longer. My brother would not ride in it because he thought the seat would fall out. My future ex-wife and I rode on the roof, arm in arm, while I steered with my legs that were hanging through the sun roof. I had to keep an eye on gas station attendants to make sure they put gas in the fuel filler and not the radiator nearby. I had to make the spark jump to one spark wire after it left the cap to get one constantly oil fouled spark plug to keep firing. I parked the car purposely too far from the curb in front of stores so people could stare at me while I dragged the car closer to the curb by hand. (A little gravel on the pavement helped🤓 )I told a girl cousin I was winding the car up when I kept pulling the emergency brake a few times. She said “Really” ?!!! I had fun in that car.

    Thank you for remembering us in the cheap seats! My ride of choice is an early Sprite, and I vowed when I bought it not to put any real money into it until it earned enjoyment.
    As the car was delivered in pieces with boatloads of spares it took some time and effort to piece together but working on it now which is an occasional thing is simple and engine pulls are no big thing.
    One thing about old British cars and the reason so many are still around is though they can be cantankerous and finicky they always reward patience and perseverance and a perfect day is a big or little fix and a spirited open top drive!!

    The Dauphine’s ancestor is even more funky and fun: the 4CV. Developed in secret during the German occupation of France, it hit the market in 1947, looking like a 2/3 scale 47 Chevy, or, if you prefer, a rear-engined Morris Minor. They were built until 1961, was the first French car to reach 1 million produced, and provided the mechanical underpinnings for the slightly larger and more powerful (32 vs 28 hp) Dauphine.

    A 4CV was my first car–a 3 year old ’59 bought for the princely sum of $300–and remained my daily driver for 14 years, taking me through 22 US states, and 9 in Mexico. It was also my first autocross car–14 class trophies! Don’t laugh–I could beat a Mini Cooper on a tight course thanks to the 26 foot turning circle and the return spring in the steering box, that could center the front wheels from a hard lock…with the car sitting still. Just the thing for a fast run through a slalom.

    Oh…I still have that one, along with a ’48, a ’56 convertible…and a pair of Fiat Topolinos…

    I once entered the only VW bug in a small Southern California sports car clubs rally that was predominantly early/mid 60’s British sports cars Austin Healey’s, MG’s etc. I think I ended number 38 or something like that…. but fun was had by all.

    I bought that Renault Dauphine in Virginia, now it’s in its new home in Miramar FlI bought that car in Virginia, now it’s in its new home in Miramar Fl

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