Kimberly V. Althage – December 21, 2021
James lives in the UK and has always loved cars. “My father always loved cars and had an old car in the garage, he was always messing around with it badly,” James explained. He watched his father and would think there’s got to be a better way of doing this. Now James has found himself in a place with time and some money, he decided to approach it properly to build his own car collection.
Formula 1 equally fueled James’ love of cars. The F1 of his era when James Hunt and Niki Lauda had their battle raging is what racing was all about for him. “Then it got boring when Mercedes went just all very technical, arguably you can drive a Formula 1 car quickly, it’s literally down to levels… Do you have the stones to drive it fast enough? Then there’s another level of stones of how far you want to put your life on the line, and THAT is the difference between the Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen types and all others. That is the real difference, that line of do you want to die or not. That is where it gets very interesting,” he explained.
“I just hit the effort button, thinking ‘I’ve got to do something with my life, I need some purpose’ because before I was drifting and didn’t know what I was doing. It was amazing. Because motor racing is just driving around in circles as fast as you can, but that is all life is anyway.”
You guessed it, his approach to building his own car collection began with a serious racecar. It’s a massive investment, and many laughed at him. They said, “you don’t get into racing that way, you start small and trade up.”
James knew this. If he could race, he considered it to be a bonus. He intended to buy at least one racecar and start motor racing. It covers all the things he loves. The physics of it, the adrenaline rush, the sportsmanship, the fun, the colors, the girls, the cars. He finds it all great fun and it is his happy place. If he found racing too scary, he would just place the racecar in his garage as more of a museum piece and lovingly admire it every day.
James bought his Chevron B16 racecar which he has dubbed BB. He soon found out how scary racing truly is. He vomited beforehand; he was that scared. He did everything properly, beginning with hiring an instructor. He has had a couple of spins and such, but he hasn’t crashed it yet. He is still alive and is only 5% off his best testing level laps off the instructor’s pace who teaches Formula 1 Drivers.
Straight after buying his racecar, James thought about what he needed to get next. What car collection does not have some American muscle represented? He really loves Italian and British sports cars, but felt having at least one American muscle car is essential to any collection. He has always loved the El Camino thinking it would be useful as a pickup truck.
It wasn’t a direct line to his El Camino. James initially did not think of a pickup or a truck type with towing capabilities. He started his quest searching for Dodge Chargers and Challengers but had a budget he wanted to stick within. James elaborated, “I like the ‘Archer’ TV show and for some reason the El Camino episode (‘Legs’ S4,Ep3) came to mind. And like a bolt I saw them together, that El Camino is black, BB is black, it would be the perfect support vehicle or tow vehicle for BB’s trailer.”
James realized the El Camino has that “lovely flatbed” in back where he could chuck a generator and all the fuel cans, making it practical and a good accompaniment vehicle. Then when the race is happening people can lower the tailgate and have a party from there watching the racing event. El Caminos allow drivers to compensate for a load, and the one he saw in the Gateway Classic Cars’ Detroit Showroom is powered by a rebuilt 355 CID V8 engine, with only 800 miles since the rebuild. It’s also black like his racecar. He thinks it looks cool, noting if he arrived at Monaco with that black beauty of an El Camino towing his black Chevron racecar, they would “turn some heads.”
Once this realization occurred, James reached out to Karina Seixas (Sales Consultant). He found her lovely and very helpful, never mind her telling him she doesn’t know much about cars. James recalled, “she told me she sees them all every day, and not trying to sell me for she gets paid by the hour, ‘but I will tell you this of all the cars in the showroom is by far the coolest, and you will not be disappointed.’ And she was absolutely right it’s beautiful.
James said his decision to buy the El Camino was really all about the people. Looking at our website gave him a vibe, but the people can add or deter from that initial vibe. He said Karina handled the transaction throughout, and he found her brilliant to work with. He saw the video of the car, saying Gateway Classic Cars does them well, that they’re good videos. It empowered him to see it was a good car, that it runs and was nicely restored. It was exactly what he wanted and was reasonably priced. It was less than a week’s time from his web browsing to purchasing the El Camino with Karina’s help.
This was another reason for his purchase. First, James had never imported a car from overseas before. He wanted to see how much of a nightmare it might be. It is difficult, for he bought the car in April, and it arrived in September. Second, he lives in Southhampton which is a big port city, and he lives on the 20th floor of a tower looking out over the water. He wanted to see the container ship arriving with the car. He was in his flat tracking the container ship and he saw it coming up the Solent and knew it was passing the Isle of Wight when an emergency phone call took his attention away for a couple of hours. It was just long enough for him to miss it as it passed. He missed video recording its arrival, but still found it fun.
The catalyst for the flipping the switch – His father passed away the year before with dementia. For two years James was the main caregiver to his father since his brother lives in Ireland and is too far to help regularly. For three years James would make his visits to his father who could no longer recognize him. James said it was a bit depressing, but one thing happened. At some point in his dementia state, James’ father had a flash of awareness and grabbed his hand firmly, saying to him “James you can do anything you want.”