Monthly Archives: January 2021


Conversations With People We Value #15

Like pearls on a fine necklace, the vivid memories string together as bright as if they happened yesterday. However, it was September of 1986 and the events came courtesy of a Volvo press event led by Volvo PR guru Bob Austin.

To introduce the new Bertone designed 1987 Volvo 780 Luxury Coupe, Volvo flew a premier selection of North American Journalists to Monaco. There, cosseted with no expense spared, the journalists would sample the new Volvo luxury Coupe on the narrow corniches (a road cut into the edge of a cliff running along the coast) clinging to the mountains of southern France high above Monte Carlo. My job was to capture it all on film.

And then, Nuccio Bertone signaled for his personal Miura

Display of Bertone concept cars

View from Lowes Hotel

Disembarking from the 747 jumbo jet, we arrived sleepy eyed in Nice on the first day that France required visas from all travelers entering the country. Terrorist bombings in Paris had spurred the French to respond with severely tightened security measures. Wearily pushing a dolly piled with luggage and camera gear we searched for customs. To this day I have no idea how, pushing our dolly piled with large black boxes, we found ourselves in the terminal with no memory of passing through security.

Tightly packed in our generic European rental, my director Jeff and I wove through the French Riviera high above a glistening Mediterranean on our way to Monte Carlo. Our arrival predated that of the journalists to allow us a few days to scout locations for filming. On our way we took a turn and pursued a long decent towards the sea in search of an old fort. Climbing the long and steep hill as we returned from our search we spotted a soccer ball hugging the curb as it accelerated down to the sea. In the passenger seat, I swung my door open. As we slowed, I scooped up the soccer ball. I knew this story would have more to tell. After continuing up the winding hill a young, I suspect, mother appeared in hot pursuit. As we approached her, I extended my arm out the window proffering the runaway ball. Her glorious smile and relieved expression lit up the street. I believe this serendipitous encounter blessed the coming days with good fortune, good will and good work.


Unlike the often spartan quarters allocated to a film crew, we would be enjoying the same luxury accommodations as the journalists. Majestically situated on muscular pillars at the water’s edge, the spectacular Lowes Hotel in Monte Carlo visually promised and totally delivered sumptuous luxury for the rich, the famous and, on this day, for Jeff and me.

Having upgraded to one of the Volvo 780 press cars, Jeff and I ventured out early the next day in search of beauty and drama on the twisting switchbacks above and beyond Monaco. Carved into mountain sides populated with single lane tunnels, these roads hugged towering cliffs on one side while featuring precipitous drop-offs on the other. Any concern for the absence of guardrails drew troubling substantiation from the still visible slide trails of vehicles lying crumpled hundreds of feet below.


Properly exploring mountain roads that make Big Sur feel absolutely urban required advanced meal planning. Planning that we did not do. Mid-day found us hungry with no place to eat. Ahead, the road followed the towering cliff wall and bowed to our right. In so doing it revealed a small and visually striking assemblage of red tile roofed stucco homes blindingly white in the baking sun. Affixed like a wasp nest to the side of a cliff, the sleepy mountainside town of Peille greeted us. Driving through, the town emoted a timeless authenticity. Then suddenly, Jeff swore we had just passed a restaurant sign. We stopped. Moseying down charming and immaculate cobble stone alleyways we found La Feniere (translation, the hay loft), a tiny charming restaurant with maybe five tables. We were saved.

Sitting in her rocker like “Whistler’s Mother” and peacefully waiting for her bread to bake, the proprietress reacted to our entry with a start. We quickly realized that she spoke no English. As for us, other than bonjour, we were at a loss for words. Somehow the international language of pointing resulted in a glorious lunch of tomatoes, Cheese, fresh bread and Perrier. We departed having made a friend.

Filming would begin before the journalists arrived allowing us to shoot running footage of the 780s on the mountain roads. My good fortune continued with the arrival of my Volvo supplied film crew from Sweden. Talented and professional, they quickly bonded with us to form a strong personal and professional attachment. That bond would soon save lives when a crew member sacrificed his body to prevent a deadly accident during shooting.

Filming on narrow mountain roads

Using a Volvo 740 wagon as a camera car to shoot the hero 780 required frequent readjustments of the camera mounts. A steep cliff on one side and precipitous drop on the other left no place but the skinny corniche roadway itself to set up each shot. Walkie talkies and few automobiles made controlling traffic flow quite manageable. French motorists seemed delighted to be witnessing film production. However, not every driver felt obliged to calmly wait. For one particular shot, a blind curve separated the stopped traffic and the crew members setting up the next shot on the roadway.

Screams and blaring horns yanked my attention from my notebook to see my Swedish assistant director draped on the hood of a BMW clutching the windshield wipers as the car came to an angry halt. The impatient BMW driver who had bolted out of the waiting line had come to rest just before taking the turn and plowing into the defenseless crew.

On a lighter side while prepping a shot by another sharp turn, I was approached by a tourist who had just pulled over. ”Does anybody here speak English,” He inquired. I indicated that, yes, I did. He asked, “Is this the place where Princess Grace died?” Now, I was blessed with a crew with two Swedes, Pelle and Rune, both of whom displayed a wicked funny sense of humor. Below the curve at the bottom of the hill lay a few wrecked Renaults. They begged me to say yes just to see the guy go down and try to rip a souvenir off a car. I would have none of it. I explained our purpose for being there. He thanked me and went on his way. A few days later I learned that that specific curve possesses a bad reputation that earned it the name, the “Devil’s Curse.” And, yes, Grace Kelly’s accident occurred there. Sorry Mr. Tourist.

Interviews at Chateau Eza

With the journalists having arrived, work for the crew really dialed up. With a trip to the spectacular Chateau Eza for lunch and interviews, plenty of footage to be shot with the journalists interacting with the 780 and, of course, more driving footage B-roll, it created very long days for the crew. This in turn created a very interesting interaction in the Lowes Hotel lobby. Returning from the road in the evening, the crew, looking very much the part of a grunge band, would arrive in the lobby about the same time the black tie crowd departed to enjoy their rich and famous lifestyle. Oh, when worlds collide. Basically their response resembled stepping on roadkill with a bare foot, until. Until, the glitterati spotted the 35mm Panavision film camera and trappings. Le Cinéma? Postures firmed as soft smiles filled the room.

With gear packed tightly in our 740 wagon, we departed leaving Monte Carlo in our taillights. Next stop Turin and Carrozzeria Bertone where we would meet Signore Nuccio Bertone himself.

Discovering break-in at hotel in Torino

Leading our film crew caravan to our next stop in Turin, I had the wheel of a red 780 press car. I have never been to Italy. In this pre-GPS age, I have simply pointed my 780 in the direction of Torino and hit the gas.

With an incredible stroke of luck, upon entering downtown Torino I looked to my right and saw the Hotel Jolly Ligure, our destination. Pretty beat from the day, our ragtag film crew staggered in to the hotel to get some rest for the big day tomorrow.

Broke into what? Awakened by a knock, I heard the news that our 740 wagon parked at the front door of the hotel loaded with a six figure camera kit had been broken into. Yes, in retrospect it was clearly a mistake to leave it in the car despite the desire for an early getaway.

I hustled down to discover that the crafty thieves broke in, crawled over $100,000 plus of Panavision equipment and, and stole the radio. I am not saying this in any way represented a karmic payback related to the soccer ball incident but I am not saying it did not.

Nuccio Bertone has his Miura brought out

Arriving at the bright and airy Carrozzeria Bertone Studio nestled against the foot hills of Torino, we were greeted by a display of iconic Bertone designed concept cars. As my crew went about setting up for interviews, I grabbed the opportunity to wander alone among this breathtaking collection of automobile artistry. As I slowly moved through the collection, an older Italian gentleman stood quietly at the far end of the semi-circle. I greeted him. I spoke no Italian. He responded genially but spoke no English. I smiled and said with a shrug, “No Miura.” With that my genial companion called out in a firm tone. His voice brought hustling workers on the run. Shortly thereafter a yard tug pulled out an immaculate orange Miura. I had just met Nuccio Bertone who would become a friend.


Nuccio Bertone and yours truly, 1986

By |2021-01-28T13:14:16+00:00January 28th, 2021|16 Comments

Cars We Love & Who We Are #17

Cold but not bitter. It is a quiet winter’s day on Seven Lakes Drive in Harriman State forest. Ranked high on the short list of favorite local roads, it rewards the driver with a well paved two-lane that snakes through dense woodlands and past picturesque lake panoramas. This day few takers appear interested in sampling its pleasures. Then, faintly at first distinctive exhaust notes announce the arrival of a small but decidedly interesting trio of sports cars.

Behind the wheel of a time machine


Displaying a vibrantly rich and original Guards Red paint, the 1986 Porsche 911 grabs your eye as it flashes across the winter gray brown forest backdrop. Downshifting, it takes Kanawauke circle in its stride emitting the distinctive Porsche flat-six engine timbre and moves east.

Close behind sounding like a Spitfire going up over the English Channel to shoot down “Jerry,” a black 1953 Jaguar XK120mc approaches the circle. Seeking to purchase a firm grip with its slender 6.00X16 bias ply white walls, it exhibits decidedly more caution than the 911 as it downshifts into the curve then barks defiantly as it exits the circle.

Lastly, a Rapid Blue 2020 Corvette, the extroverted long awaited mid-engine high value performance beast, simply proceeds through the circle with a rumble and unruffled nonchalance, then, like that, It’s gone.

Jaguar XK120, Porsche 911 and the new Corvette, a visually striking threesome of iconic sports cars spaced decades apart. Clark Gable posed with a Jag, Steve McQueen with a 911 and today, eager buyers wait for their new Stingray.

It took little coaxing to motivate my friends and lifetime “car guys” Peter Desbets with his Porsche and Bill Whited with his new Corvette to join me in accepting mother nature’s gift of clear, dry roads and a sunny 40 degree day in January.

Framing each of these iconic sports cars in their period of dominance reveals a striking kinship in their perceptions by the public in general and automotive enthusiasts in particular. Each embodies a high level execution of refined engineering for their time. Their strikingly handsome designs made all three highly admired and desired. However, their ability to deliver winning performance served to position each in the public eye as far more than a pretty face. In their time all raced and won at Lemans, Sebring and in myriad competitions around the world. Each projected proven athleticism. Thus defined, they offered the opportunity to purchase an object of general desire and bask in the aura of its attributes and reputation regardless of whether the owner ever took advantage.

The chart comparing their specifications affords a window into the evolution of production sports car design and technology over the last 70 years.


In evolving from analog to digital the march to the electronic future of sports car character and refinement evidences itself in stark fashion when comparing our trio. Door panels and dashboards speak volumes.

Corvette interior

Porsche interior

For some long-time classic car owners it comes as a jolt when a youth enters your classic car for the first time, looks at you with a tilted head and, then, looks back to the door panel. “What’s that,” an inquiring mind asks while staring at the window crank. And now the question will extend to the door handle as evidenced in Bill’s Corvette. Not new to the 2020 Corvette, but emblematic of the total reliance on electronics, the door handle has yielded to the door button.

Corvette Fob

Deserving of mention in recognizing the profusion of electronic “conveniences,” looms the question, “What happens if the battery dies while you are in the car?” No worries mate, a mechanical lever hugging the sill can be manually pulled up to release the door. What if you find the battery dead when returning to the car? A mechanical key has been squirreled away in the key fob. The matching key slot lurks inside the quarter panel air scoop.

Dashboards once an array of handsome gauges in a stately setting have been replaced by a thin film transfer screen that can provide a varied array of different looks.

Harriman’s empty roads offer the trio an inviting opportunity to explore the character of their respective rides. Twisting and narrow, the roads also provide a blank canvas against which to assess the degree of driver attention necessary to drive safely.

Jaguar’s XK120 basically came to life on a drawing board during WWII. In today’s world, many drivers operate three-ton battering rams while distracted. For a 70-year old sports car in that environment, the primary safety feature is the driver. If a driver does not understand how to correctly operate this cross between a sports car and a Faberge egg, the car will not last very long and neither will the driver. It is not a one-hand on the wheel while resting your elbow on the door driving experience. It demands two-hands on the wheel and your head on a pivot. Sitting upright on narrow tires, with a strong engine and  a twitchy suspension, everything feels immediate and edgy.

Jaguar engine

Porsche engine

Corvette engine








The Corvette on the other hand has a threshold of urgency quantum levels beyond that of the Jaguar. To achieve an urgency twinge would require having passed through the “I know what I am doing is dangerous and stupid zone.” Unlike the Porsche that feels light and tossable, the Corvette conveys the sensation of a great mass yet responds with brilliant agility and ease all the while communicating a reassuring solidity. It communicates an extraordinary ease. Though on today’s roads, driving the Corvette requires attention, though it does not demand it. Bill says, The car stays in its lane. Stops immediately. Reacts quickly and smartly, all with one foot.

However, as we move through an age where technology often exceeds man’s ability to assimilate it, the Corvette possesses the ability to frighten. Bill tells the story of his experience taking his Corvette to redline. Having passed the 500-mile break-in period, Bill decided to give it a shot. He finds himself on a familiar backwoods straightaway.

Bill says, “I have the radio on. I’m kind of relaxed and laid back. No one is around so I stop. Check again. No one. I nail it. The G-force made me dizzy. I was looking to go 0 – 60. I hit the brakes around 50.” Bill, who has had a lot of fast cars in his life including a big block ’67 Corvette he still owns, says, “I was going to pass out. The traction and acceleration was unbelievable.”

However, the automatic and all of the adaptive technology afford some detachment. It certainly lack the engagement of the 911. Peter who has also driven Bill’s Corvette says, “My 911 offers far more engagement with a whole lot more road feel.” Pete contends that the 911 demands the driver’s attention. The pedal location demands precision in engaging the clutch. With no ABS, it demands braking modulation.

Response to the road condition truly separates the three. The Corvette just tracks straight regardless of undulations or road imperfections. The Porsche yields slightly to the mind of the road requiring minor correction. With its WWII suspension design and bias-ply tires, the XK120 will pretty much go where the road directs without continuous corrective input from the driver.

Completing the day at Harriman, everyone pulls over to take the traditional “drive” photo. The fairly unusual collection draws considerable attention and sparks a discussion of how people react differently to the cars.

It is agreed that the 911’s iconic shape resides in the consciousness of the general population. That said Peter calls out two groups that respond viscerally to his car. First. being true Porschephiles who will come up and tell him about his car. Young males of Asian descent fill out the second group. Peter says, “If they pull up next to you regardless of what they are driving. They give you the thumbs up. Walking by, they will most often stop to ask about it.”

Bill says, “Seeing the Corvette, even if they don’t know it is a Corvette, they know it holds some kind of special place in the fast car Ferrari world. Ferrari being the only other brand name they may know.”

Peter says, “I think when people look at your Jaguar they think it is older, say from the ‘30s. People who don’t really know cars think Great Gatsby.”

In a curious way while we shared a common road, we experienced the day driving in three different decades.

By |2021-01-21T12:10:36+00:00January 21st, 2021|4 Comments

Cars We Love & Who We Are #16

Especially for guys alive when the Jets last won a Super Bowl, identifying future stewards of car enthusiast culture represents a real concern. There exists a certain uneasiness as they straddle the intersection of history and hope.

From time to time Drivin’ News enjoys exploring exciting and positive examples of the hope. Some weeks ago teenage demolition derby driver Christian Farquhar spoke about his passion for smashin’.

Now, comes the story of two inspired and talented young racing enthusiasts. Partnering in a shared unconventional vision with a shoestring budget, these BMW aficionados plan to intrude on the local JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) dominance in drifting with a worked 1990 BMW E30 coupe.

Meet Dominick Carluccio and Jamie Cooper.

Wurst Käse Motorsports


Left: Jamie Cooper      Right: Dominick Carluccio


In their mid-twenties, whip smart and quick to laugh, both Dominick and Jamie speak fast car fluently with a distinct euro-performance accent.

The whole drifting thing had not been the inspiration for their initial 1990 E30 coupe project. Dom bought the car simply because he liked it. However, the car itself inspired the drifting dream. Dom says, “We were amazed by how well it handled and the power from that 2.5-liter inline 6.” Clearly they felt the E30 had the bones to make a hell of a drift car. Seeing is believing and what they were about to see set their smoking wheels in motion and gave birth to their joint venture, Wurst Kase Motorsports.

Jamie says, “It all came together about a year or so ago, Dom and I went to a drifting event at Virginia International Race Track and by chance connected with drifting team “Insane Wayz.” “Insane Wayz” campaigns on the Professional Formula Drift (Formula D) circuit with a BMW E30 powered by the original M20 engine hooked up to a turbo diesel Cummins turbo. Accepting a generous offer from an “Insane Wayz” team member, they received a full tour of the car. Both Dom and Jamie took notice of how well everything fit together and functioned.

Rear clip of E30 4-door

Dom says, “We’re just sitting there reviewing all the modifications and we are going ‘we could do that and we could do that. Yeah, we could do it!” Returning home they immediately bought two 1990 E30s with a vision of turning them into one badass drift car. One, a coupe, suffered from a damaged rear clip. The second, a four-door would donate a perfect rear clip to complete the coupe.

A little history can help better understand the attraction of drifting as a motorsport. Born in the mountains of Japan, drifting grew out of a driving technique used in the very narrow uphill and downhill tandem-type races unique to these Japanese mountain road courses in the 1980s.

When tandem racing on narrow roads, an often successful way to get in front of the other car demands pushing more power forward towards the entrance to a turn.

Such techniques quickly caught on with drivers who recognized that not only were these techniques really cool but they could actually be used to win races by drifting past their opponent then regaining control. This gave the drifter the significant advantage of being in front on a very, very narrow road.

Dom says, “Drifting exploded on the Japanese driving scene in the early 1990s with everybody and their mothers learning how to drift.” Interestingly Dom adds, “It became enormously popular as an element of Japanese motorsport but also as a tool for everyday safer driving. It showed people how to handle a car when they don’t have traction on any of the tires.”

While drifting tentatively poked its nose into American consciousness around the end of the 1990s, according to Dom and Jamie drifting slid into the broad public awareness around 2006 with the release of “Tokyo Drift” from the Fast and Furious franchise of films.

Now, in 2020 with two donor cars and a vision, a 2-year plan quickly took shape. Dom and Jamie would create and sort out the E30 drift car while simultaneously developing the necessary  drifting chops.

Dom says, “We’ll be starting in Class C which is basically bare-bones straight beginner. We won’t be running tandem with anybody and we’re subject to fewer regulations.”

Their focus targets getting the Frankencar drifter sorted to the point where it gets accepted into the entry class. Jamie says, “Then we race it, see how we like it and all the while sort out the car as we go.” With a laugh Dom says, “Fundamentally for the first year we’ll be up in the air learning to fly in a plane still being built.” Achieving a level of success in their first year would put a move up to class B in their crosshairs.

Interestingly, they intend to have two seats in the car. They will run together as a team with both driver and passenger seat occupied. They figure their understanding of the dynamics of their car will benefit significantly from the two perspectives.

When asked if the added weight of a passenger will negatively impact speed and handling, Dom’s response revealed the joyous spirit, raucous pleasure and camaraderie built into the fabric of the E30 Frankencar 2-year plan. Dom said, “Yes, I guess so, but it’s also about having fun. Bringing the other guy along for the ride just makes the experience better.” With attitudes like this the future of the car enthusiast culture will be in great hands.

Clearly Dom and Jamie savor the personal challenge of competing with a 30-year old car. They relish the idea of personally creating a unique and competitive drift car that does not employ the latest and greatest “just write a big check” factory technology.

While Japanese cars enjoy an enormous testing and tuning reference library, very little detailed information exists to help Wurst Kase Motorsports in its mission to excel. Don and Jamie agree saying, A lot of the tweaks and engineering nuances will be our own. But we kinda’ like that.” Dom says, “With the E30 we’re taking a far less refined chassis that, counter intuitively, differs from newer ones in a lot of good ways. We intend to develop those advantages, bring it to the track and accomplish things that we haven’t seen a lot of people do.” “Amen,” says Jamie.

Trying the new steering wheel and gearbox on for size

With completion of the stock E30’s significant capability upgrade, Frankencar will head straight to the track where Dom and Jamie intend to explore its new athleticism. The E30’s sorting process will coincide with Dom’s and Jamie’s progress along the drifting learning curve. Necessity demands achieving a level of mastery that allows them to finesse Frankencar at the boundary of its limits for maximum performance.

Formula D sees cars drifting through turns at 80 to 100 miles per hour. In the lower classes cornering speeds fall into the 40 to 60 mph range.

With their sights set on early spring of 2021, Dom and Jamie exuberantly anticipate the unknown when, finally, the rubber smokes the road.

Dom says, “Drifting is something I’ve always wanted to learn. This is the perfect experience for me to further develop my driving skills and better understand the vehicle dynamics when operating at the limit.” Dom believes wholeheartedly that mastery of drifting as a driving skill could save your life.

In anticipating the coming race season Dom says, “Honestly, this is something we haven’t done before, but it’s something we both have dreamt of doing. We can’t wait to just get on the track.”

Jamie pretty much sums up the Wurst Kase Motorsports mindset saying, “I think no matter what, even if it goes up in a blaze of fire, I’ll be happy and smile at the end of the day if we can get it out there for the season.”

By |2021-01-14T12:17:25+00:00January 14th, 2021|Comments Off on Cars We Love & Who We Are #16

Cars We Love & Who We Are #15

Even before Covid, the internet expanded the scope of car enthusiast interactions to a global scale. BaT, blogs, forums, etc. profoundly extended our reach. At times far beyond our grasp. Covid simply doubled down on our reliance on the Web as our personal intermediary in conducting transactions especially those involving purchasing things like vintage cars. What could go wrong?

“A lot,” says friend of Drivin’ News, Tom LoRusso.

Singing the CarGurus no title blues

Tom LoRusso with his untitled 2001 BMW 740i Sport

Titanium Silver Metallic 2001 BMW 740i Sport with Gray leather interior, Tom LoRusso knew exactly what he wanted. Over time he had missed a couple of opportunities. Undeterred, he soldiered on. In late February of 2020 an apparently beautiful example popped up on It was a California car. Tom, an experienced mechanic in a earlier life, conducted his due diligence. Photos looked great. Carfax produced no red flags. Next step would put him in touch with an experienced BMW mechanic in California to do an onsite PPI (Pre-Purchase Inspection). The report back confirmed that Tom had found a sweet example of his heart’s desire. Tom pulled the trigger.

With a price agreed, and the broker’s confirmation of title, Tom arranged shipping and transferred the money.

Before shipping, the broker emailed all the paper work for Tom’s electronic signature. He confirmed the title would be coming. Tom had emphasized that he would not take the car without a title.

It took a week or so to ship the car to Tom’s home in New Jersey. A brilliant spring sun gave life to the well preserved silver metallic paint as the BMW eased down the carrier ramp. It displayed the condition and quality Tom had expected. Two days later the ownership paperwork came in the mail. Right about this time Covid-19 became news and went viral, so to speak. Tom accepted that Covid would complicate matters and prepared to patiently await his opportunity to register the BMW in New Jersey. During that time he would drive using the temporary California tags. As the lockdown dragged on past the 30-day limit of his California tags, Tom felt significant relief with news that, due to Covid, New Jersey had extended the legal life of temporary tags. Then, in July, long awaited relief arrived.

News reports announced that the New Jersey DMV would be opening for business the following Monday. Tom committed to being at the Wallington office on Monday before the doors opened.

Unfortunately, so did hundreds of other people. Equally unfortunate for everyone waiting, an official came out saying that despite the announcement the Wallington office would not open that day. Grumbling swept across the amassed crowd like the wave at a 1980s baseball game. Undeterred Tom confirmed the office would be open the next day. Taking no chances Tom arrived two hours before the scheduled 8:00 am opening.

As the sun came up on that clear July morning, The line extended from the front of the Wallington DMV office down the length of the block completely around the block and started to lap the original line. Tom simply turned and left. Disappointed but not defeated, he had a plan.

Two days later, cruising through the quiet streets of late night Wallington, Tom reached the office just as the clock struck midnight. He joined a sleepy line of about 200 people quietly basking in the moonlight. Then, shattering the dark stillness, the empathetic voice of a cop announced that those on line after the designated cutoff point where he stood would not get inside the next day. Tom, sadly, found himself on the “not today” side of the line. Tom took a midnight journey home.

Not unlike Wiley Coyote, Tom, undaunted, set about hatching another plan to get to a desk inside the Acme DMV.

Two weeks passed. Tom’s plan had his brother drop him off by the Wallington office at around 9:30 pm the night before for what would be his fourth attempt. Arriving properly provisioned with food and blanket, he cracked the top 100. Tom’s tenacity had earned him position number 75 on the line. He described the long wait as a big party attended by people wearing masks standing 6 feet apart on a hot summer night. Tom felt confident though uncomfortable as his butt flat-spotted like an old tire as he reclined on the concrete pavement.

A hot July sun came up with a vengeance and blistered the waiting crowd like hotdogs under a broiler. Luckily, by this time, the line’s slow crawl had carried Tom into the shelter of the DMV building’s shadow. And then, finally, mission accomplished. The DMV greeter steered Tom to the specialist who, the greeter assured, would know exactly what could be done. And he did. Nothing could be done!

Basically Tom learned that the broker had sent paper work that would require a Herculean bi-coastal effort on Tom’s part to get a title. In reviewing the paperwork Tom found that he had overlooked a tiny box that indicated “Missing Title.” The box contained a check mark. Getting a title would require waiting on line at the California DMV. All of a sudden the west coast seller seemed strangely unavailable. Tom wanted the car. He resigned himself to taking on the task of getting a clean New Jersey title.

Clearly in character with the Chinese designation of 2020 as the “Year of the Rat,” Tom’s turd in the punch bowl day had yet more in-store.

In summing up the specifics of his situation with the knowledgeable DMV specialist, Tom took solace that, at least, because of the New Jersey extension, he would be able to drive his BMW during his efforts to connect with California DMV. That would be correct confirmed the specialist if his BMW had a New Jersey temporary tag. “However, it is a California car. You can’t drive it,” said the specialist.

The checked “Missing Title Statement” box

Tom’s heart slowly sank like a heavy Jeep in a soft bog. He had been driving all over the state with no acceptable proof of ownership. If he got pulled over the car would be impounded until he got the title straightened out. Tom says, “The storage and towing fees would have exceeded what I paid for the car.”

Tom drove home resigned to parking his prize BMW until he had a real NJ title. For three weeks he attempted to reach California DMV many times every business day. He groans and says, “Every time it went straight to voice mail.” Seemingly at a veritable dead end, Tom acted on a tip from a friend and reached out to Recovery Title Solutions, a company specializing in titling issues. Speaking with owner Mike Sassano, Tom realized that he had come to the right place. Now early October, Tom’s BMW had already been sitting for over a month.

Sassano explained that certain states had Motor Vehicle Departments with which Sassano could work to straighten out legitimate titling issues such as Tom’s. In Tom’s case, Vermont would afford the fastest turnaround, about seven weeks.

Almost seven weeks to the day, Vermont plates and temporary registration card arrived. Now, Tom intended to insure his long dormant 740i and get it back on the road while pursuing the transfer of his Vermont title to New Jersey.

Vermont Plates get BMW registered but not insured

Not so fast there Tom. The “Year of the Rat” prepared to take another bite out of his plans. Since Tom lived in New Jersey and his BMW had a Vermont registration no one would insure him.

With time now rolling into November, Tom locked a laser focus on getting his New Jersey plates. Then Tom got a break, he believed. Instead of returning for another DMV sleepover at Wallington sleepover. Tom found that the Newton, NJ DMV office had no lines and did not require an appointment.

Borrowing his mother’s car he gladly drove the hour to Newton. Arriving about a half hour before opening, Tom jubilantly took his place on a line of fifteen. Home free at last. Nothing could go wrong now. Ah but the “Year of the Rat” was not done with Tom.

“Good morning sir. Do you have an appointment?” said the smiling greeter. “No Ma’am,” said Tom, “Your website says I don’t need one.” “Well you do,” she responded. Accompanied by a chorus of groans from a dozen people behind him, Tom, showed her the DMV website which earned him a sympathetic shrug.

Returning to the parking lot, Tom opened his phone to schedule the first available appointment. It would be ten days later on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Tom ate turkey as the anticipation ate him.

White noise and shuffling feet in the Newton DMV office provided a listless soundtrack to accompany just another routinely unremarkable day. But for Tom his excitement could barely be contained. For him and his prize 740i, six months in “no-title hell” had concluded. After twenty anti-climactic minutes on November 26th, Tom departed the Newton DMV office with his New Jersey registration.

With plates and title in hand, Tom LoRusso’s put “The Year of the Rat” in his taillights.

Tom, BMW and New Jersey title, together at last



By |2021-01-07T12:20:15+00:00January 7th, 2021|8 Comments