The car hobby has many tropes, but one of the more common — and perhaps most accurate — is that our favored pastime is a disease, an incurable affliction. And as a corollary to that disease, we often further describe it as a “madness”. But perhaps nowhere is this description more apt, than when we’re referring to that rare breed of enthusiast (nee addict) that is so bitten by the bug that they are overcome with the desire to build their own car.
Now, when you think of this rarest automotive maverick, who comes to mind? Most likely its names like Ferruccio Lamborghini, Preston Tucker or John DeLorean. Men who had a burning fire to see their deepest automotive fantasy brought to life and manifested into physical form. And, while these visionaries did ultimately see their dreams through to fruition, they each had vast financial and engineering resources at their disposal to aid them in the construction of their unique creations. In short, yes, they had the fever… but did they have the madness?
No, what fascinates me and fills me with awe are the madmen, the craftsmen, that wake up one morning and say, “Mildred, I think I’m going to build that sports car I can’t get out of my head.” This week you’ll find a fascinating feature on just such a character, David Simmons, an Alfa fanatic who wanted a rare Tipo 33 Stradale so badly, he built one in his home garage… from scratch! That is true automotive madness, God love him.
And fortunately for us (and the hobby) he is not alone. Over the years, we’ve featured a number of these Mad Dogs… I mean craftsmen; guys like Jerry Shuck and his JS Can-Am Special, or Alex Bacon and his Alfa-based sports racer. High functioning hobbyists, like Simmons, that aren’t content to buy someone else’s dream machine, so they build their own…did I mention from scratch!!
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to spend time with a number of these touched, but gifted, individuals, including Simmons. On the surface they seem like you or I, a keen enthusiast passionate about their cars. But under that oil impregnated skin lurks a passion, an obsession, that is truly next level. In some ways, I feel lucky that this extreme form of the disease is not contagious… but I do have a few ideas rolling around in the back of my head.