“So, being a car journalist I presume you’ll know all about the de Tomaso Guarà,” enquired the eldest son of a reasonably close relation over dinner last week.
“Er, ummm, eee – how do you spell that last bit?” I asked gingerly, feeling like a proper plonker but also wondering – hoping, somehow – that maybe my new friend had got his wires crossed, and that perhaps he was referring to the Mangusta or the Bigua, and not a car that actually existed, hence the reason I couldn’t recall its name.
“G U A R A,” he said. “And I can’t BELIEVE you’ve never even heard of it.”
At that point I knew he wasn’t making it up, and that my mind had quite clearly drifted away into that place, the one in which blind panic takes over and eradicates all knowledge you have about anything.
He could have asked if I’d ever heard of Elvis Presley, Russia or the Pope at that point, and all I would have done is look back at him blankly and say, very quietly, “I think so but I’m not entirely sure…”
“Okay then I’ll tell you,” he boomed with pride, as a wide, mildly sadistic looking smile burst out across his face. “It was the last car ever made by Alejandro de Tomaso, who was from Argentina, my birth place.” (Oh dear, he DEFINITELY knows what he’s talking about.)
“In total he made just 47 examples, and a few years ago I bought number 47," he went on. (Ah, and don’t I feel like a complete and utter cheeseburger right now.)
“And so seeing as you’ve never heard of it, maybe you should come one day to my home and drive it." Wow, thanks, yes please.
“Because even though you are not familiar with it," he continued, rubbing in that we were both, by this point, fully aware that my knowledge on cars is a very long way indeed from being complete here, "I think you would enjoy driving it all the same.”
And then he did that thing. He took out his mobile phone and showed me a picture of it, at which point I felt about one quarter of half an inch tall.
But to give this perfectly decent, in fact, this extremely hospitable chap from Argentina his due, all he was doing, really, was behaving like all car nuts do. Talking the torque. And in this case passing on some knowledge about a car that had, until then, somehow eluded my radar – despite having been on sale between 1993-2004 (thank you Wikipedia) and forming the distant basis of an even rarer Maserati – the Barchetta – which was I was lucky enough to drive, albeit briefly, back in the day.
Once I’m over the shame of it all, I intend to take this very kind chap up on his offer – and maybe bring you, dear reader, a road test of one of the world’s rarest sports cars in the process. But until then, don’t tell anyone about it. I won’t if you won’t, at any rate.