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Wednesday
Oct032012

The Dino, the Saw Mill, and my Baptism of Fire

I have had my Dino for months now, but there is a story I want to share.  The car runs great now, but the first time I drove it home from my mechanic, it didn't begin with a fairy tale scene.When I picked up the car, I made the mistake of doing so at 4pm in Queens, NY.  My first 30 minutes in my new dream car were spent in bumper to bumper traffic on the Deegan Expressway, cursing myself for buying a car with the heaviest clutch I've ever felt.

After a short time, the Dino began to sputter and miss. I figured it was being a temperamental Italian diva that didn't like traffic, so I pulled off the road in Harlem to let it cool off.  After some friendly exchanges with the locals, I got back in the car, which seemed to be much happier as the traffic was lighter. But still sensing the specter of a possible breakdown, I decided against taking the George Washington bridge and drove up through Westchester on the Saw Mill Parkway, planning to cross the Hudson further North.

It was to prove to be one of my wisest moves ever.  About 20 minutes up the Saw Mill, the sputtering and missing got worse again. The car began to backfire terribly and power delivery got very rough and intermittent. I managed to pull the car off on a siding (a lucky find on the Saw Mill, which has no shoulder in many places). Had this happened on the GW Bridge, I shudder to think of the traffic and hostility I would have unleashed.

After letting the car sit for a while, it refused to start.  My head was spinning--why did I buy this thing? Why couldnt i leave well enough alone with the GTV6? Why is the car dead and why didn't my mechanic find this problem while going through it?  I was on the phone with my mechanic, thinking how I looked like the worst stereotype of a useless exotic car owner standing helplessly beside a very expensive-looking and immobile object he has no idea how to fix, while Priuses and SUVS alike glide by in a silvery cloud of smug schadenfreude.

After we tried some unsuccessful tricks to get it started, the mechanic said i should call for a tow truck. Just as I was getting ready to do so, something remarkable happened: A utility truck materialized out of nowhere and offered to help me. It turns out that the Parkway Police had spotted my disabled car from aircraft (I guess that answers the old question about whether they really do check speed by aircraft!) and sent this roadside assistance truck to the rescue.  The guy gave me a free 3 gallons of gas just to make sure I hadn't run out, but we still couldn't start the car.  He then called for a flatbed for me. Just then a cop showed up and asked if everything was ok.  For once, I thought, wow my tickets and tolls are actually PAYING for something! This is the best customer service ever!The roadside assistance guy was kind enough to wait with me until the flatbed arrived, and we took the car to Domenick's in White Plains, which was the nearest Italian specialist I knew of. The guys at Domenick's were so nice, they let my mechanic come by and fix the car in their shop, because they were so busy with the many projects they had underway, and they knew my mechanic was a good guy.  I want to thank him for coming all the way out to White Plains to get the car straightened out! Turned out the car's old resistors had fried in the ignition system. We bypassed them and converted the car to a Pertronix electronic ignition.  Since then I've driven over 1000 trouble free miles in the car and it's a dream come true at last!All in all, so many people helped me out of that jam, I just wanted to thank them all.  In the end, I also want to say a special thanks to Chubb Classic Insurance.  I had roadside coverage in my policy but had literally not yet paid them a single cent on my first premium.  I felt so sheepish when I emailed them to ask if they would reimburse my flatbed expense, which cost about as much as my annual premium! But they reimbursed it cheerfully, and I want other people with classics out there to know that Chubb really treated me right, even though the ink had barely dried on my contract when I had my first claim.  There is a lot of discussion on blogs and forums about who gives the best Classics Insurance, and I just want to say that Chubb not only has a fantastic rate, no mileage limits and agreed value coverage, but they really showed integrity by paying my claim like that. And no, they didn't solicit me to say this, and they didn't pay me. I just feel they deserve some free publicity for the excellent service they provided.

Let's hope I continue to enjoy the car and there won't be anymore claims from here on! Knock on wood!

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Reader Comments (6)

Harrowing story with happy ending. BTW: I've always thought Arnolt-Bristols were very ungainly and overly tall. A comparison to your low, sleek Dino makes the point very well.
October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWalter Jamieson
The sheet metal of the Arnolt is beautiful, though. If it sat lower and had the headlights in the front fenders, it would be a stunning car.
October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBradley Price
Bradley - Thanks so much for the kind comments! Glad to hear the car is now fully sorted and you're enjoying it - watch out for deer on the Taconic!

There's a great article on the Dino 308 GT4 in the latest issue of Hemmings Sports & Exotics, touting it as one of the more affordable (or perhaps "less unaffordable") Ferraris. Great sound, great handling, but with polarizing styling from Bertone.

Jim Fiske
Chubb Personal Insurance
October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJim Fiske
Good to see your getting it sorted. Old Italian cars are reliable if they are broken in and driven. That's true as long as you have a good mechanic set them up in the first place.


Tom Tanner/Ferrari Expo 2013-Chicago March 2013
October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterF1 Tommy
Thanks for praise. Rescuing classic cars is our job, and it's great to hear that your Dino is back on the road again!
Thanks again,
Paul from Chubb Collector Car
www.chubbcollectorcar.com
October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Morrissette
Very enjoyable read and first time visit. A friend from the US mentioned this on Facebook and I'm so glad he did. I'm a GTV6 owner in Australia and I've spent a lot of time pondering the classifieds for Dinos at various times. I'll be watching your journey with interest. Enjoy!
October 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSwade

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