It's Friday night at Le Rouf, the fool dive bar just off the square in Cannes. Hard-boiled eggs on the counter and lean, gallic-nosed sailors drinking panaches. Tons of bloody Brits drinking warm Guinness. I'm already pleine de joie on the drive back home, when the brakes give out on a steep narrow alpine downhill somewhere outside of Vallauris. Bump and grind and screech and hump the whole right side of the bug against the stone wall of some guy's villa right next to the road to an awful stop simply to keep from being erased. I was looking for a romantic automobile adventure in a foreign country, and I found it: staying alive is as romantic as it gets. Seriously, did you ever wonder 'How the hell did I get here?' Not me – I can always see in my mind's eye every perfectly idiot mistake I made to get me where I am. Which is usually on the wrong side of nowhere.
Just a minor scrape, literally.
Fast forward thirty years: I love driving old cars, preferably without synchromesh, and I always wanted to experience the Mille Miglia in Italy at least once in my life. Sigh, it's just not possible, logistically, financially, or emotionally at this stage in the game. I researched road rallies in here in the States, and 1,000 miles in Texas just doesn't appeal to me. So I came up with my own quixotic idea, that I thought just might be crazy enough to fly: The Old's Cool Tour – Rally Around The Ivy League.
Fernando, his Land Rover "Olive", and Leonora were the first friends on board.
"You have to begin going nowhere, fast... somewhere."
The thunderbolt came to me all of a sudden: cars, college and fall foliage. Could anything be more fun than driving a vintage automobile 1,000 miles through scenic New England, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, visiting by the way each of the 8 most prestigious and gorgeous universities on the planet? How could you not have a blast meeting up with classmates and fellow aficionados, talking shop, enjoying incredible amenities, savoring great foo… wait a sec, the point isn't to have fun, it's to win the rally, of course. Not only win, but totally beat everyone else. And owning the rarest and most expensive machine wouldn't hurt either. All the while being fake self-deprecating and charming in a wild, expensive game of automobile oneupmanship. It'll probably be the most fun I've had since I almost graduated!
Everyone has dreams, and ideas, but almost nobody goes out and actually lives them. Execution is everything. So I called my car buddy Peter Trautmann in Germany, and he said "Oh, mein Gott, Johnny, we absolutely must have to do bingkle zarfft poonnoojer this!" So he flew over and we each bought a car: he found a 1982 380SL in some lady's backyard and offered her $1,500 for it. We dug the thing out of a snowbank and dragged the piece of scheisser home through the mud. We did a test run in the middle of a snowstorm in March. pictured above. Couldn't have been funner. I picked up an almost mint-condition 124 Fiat from a kid in Bayonne, and hadn't driven 2 blocks before some old Italian guy crossing the street in front of me at a red light offered to buy it from me. Bang for the buck, you can beat a Lampredi engine and Pininfarina flair.
Let's describe the "Inaugural" Old's Cool Tour test run in three words: Fuh. Reee. Zin. Hey, if we're not miserable, we're doing something wrong. But what about common sense, sanity and safety? Never heard of them. Crazy cheap painful fun? Now you're talking.
"Unglaublich super geil fun."
Seriously, was the Inaugural 'Rally Around The Ivy League' a success? Um, hell yah. For us, anyway: we went out there and conquered our fears, the road and the communists, and had an absolute blast! Mille Miglia, Schmille Schmiglia. Just kidding, about the communists, I mean. There was some rain, coupla break-downs, but for the most part people everywhere along the route were so supportive, and impressed that we were out there zooming along, common sense and the naysayers be damned (but with style and vigor), that all they wanted to do was help and cheer, and share their stories and dreams with us. Fantastic.
As the Nike ad used to say: "There is no finish line."
Red is the new Black, especially at Brown.
All 8 Ivy League schools loved the OCT idea, but none embraced us more warmly than the folks up on The Hill in Providence. Special props to Rebecca and Andrea of Flashion Statement who wowed us with their light up OLD'S COOL t-shirts made especially for the tour! Also a special shout out to John Meldon, who at the last minute dusted off this gorgeous 3.0 and joined us at Yale, Harlan Hadley and Stephen Dupont at Radnor Hunt Club, and Peter, Tim and Charlotte at Dartmouth.
Mary Karl was first over the line and was awarded The Oneupmanship Cup.
"Live the dream."
We enjoyed such a cool, quixotic adventure together – a fantastic vroom with a view; a lifetime of top-drawer memories; awesome food and (plenty to) drink; tons of interested and interesting people along the way, and suffered some minor mechanical problems that added the right amount of authenticity and spice to the sauce. Who won the prize? We all did.
Wertin chillin' on Hogback Mountain in Vermont, 1/2 way between Dartmouth and Heaven.
"Put some mustard on it!"
My folks bought a house in 1964 from the Cruikshanks, an old couple who left their dog Mustard behind since they were moving to a retirement home and couldn't take him. Because my middle name is John, my porn name is Johnny Mustard, according to the old-school rules (middle name + first pet).
I always thought it had a nice ring to it, and decided to use it as a pseudonym if I ever needed one. Which is kind of ironic because I headlined under my real name when I was actually making skin flicks back in the late '80s. Y'up!
There's seriously no way you can't not come along for the ride with us now – you're completely charmed, we're sure!