Paul Newman: in pursuit of excellence!

Automotive journalists wax poetic about cars designed and built for speed. Volumes of words describing design, passion for excellence, formulaic wins, history… it’s all there. Just Google Ferrari and lose yourself for days…

No point in repeating all that. However… stacked strategically in his garage in Springwater Township, Paul C Newman pursues his passion and that passion is Ferrari. He’ll also tuck into vintage Corvettes, Mustangs, Porsches but his real passion is for Ferrari. Steeped in the history of the car, numbers and dates roll off his tongue effortlessly.

This man breathes this machine.

My particular interest here is not necessarily the car, though it bears repeating that Ferrari developed over 80 different shades of racing red; that Enzo Ferrari worked for Alfa Romeo before heading out on his own in 1947, after [sort of] waiting out his non-compete clause.

My interest is that wealthy owners of these race cars ship their vehicles to Paul Newman because they trust him to increase engine speed, craft a replacement part, strip down and rebuild their vehicles, change the colour, with loving care and skill that they only wish they had. [It’s intersting the note the ‘other’ Paul Newman was also into fast cars!]

When Enzo Ferrari died in 1988, he left behind a legacy of automotive achievement. While his company built ‘road cars’ it was only to raise money for performance cars, and performance cars are what Paul likes to take care of. He also appreciates the uniqueness of the Ferrari road car.

He has a couple in storage, waiting for his talent. He stores a couple more in rural garages on the properties of friends and associates. He gets a  call at 9:30 at night and the conversation will take over an hour while a Ferrari owner who’s heard about him gives him the history of the car he’s wanting to ship. And Paul adds to his workload.

It wasn’t always like this.

Paul used to drive to work. Now he steps into his garage.

A graduate of Centennial College’s Mechanics Program, Paul worked in the service departments of both Barrie and Douglas Ford shops. He did the stints where you get paid when there are cars to work on and you sit around waiting without pay when there aren’t cars there for you. It’s an up and down life and it caused Paul to look around and tinker, exploring and developing a passion, a skill, a reputation for exceptional cars. He became adept at diagnostics, high performance modifications.

He used to take a custom job into the shop and pay shop rates to work on it back in his ’employee’ days. “What really enthuses me is I can work on an $800,000 car and make it even better than it was when it arrived,”

He left the service department for the last time in 2003 and started working for himself, without any security about whether the job he finished would be his last.

He’d go through the Auto Trader looking for ‘deals’ to rebuild and sell. He bought his first Ferrari, a 1979 308 in 2001. The $29,000 purchase, high mileage of 169,000, this red Ferrari was tired, and needed help. Paul took five years to restore it while he worked on customers’ cars. He sold it to a dentist out west … the dentist had been following the car’s progress.

Paul worked on several cars for the Edmonton dentist. The cars are shipped to him and he ships them back when he’s finished. It’s a great relationship for the car owner, for Paul and for the car. He’s completed three Ferrari’s for this customer and is anticipating another that will be on its way, with an order for a blue paint job.

“I’ve never met him.  I don’t know what he looks like,” says Paul.

But he develops strong relationships with his customers because they trust him and they appreciate his skill. He also has a strong relationship with his autobody expert, Body by Biggs, in Price’s Corners.

Cars come to Paul through his participation on an on-line forum, or through word of mouth. He does no advertising and, in  fact, just launched his website a week ago.

So, why is this a vocation that feeds Paul’s soul? “I love the passion owners have for their vehicles.  I love their enthusiasm and I love the quality of the cars. The bodies of these vehicles are hand made by companies whose expertise is unparalleled. Pair that with the engine, add race tires that literally stick to the road, and every detail forms part of the quality that embraces Paul as he works.

As we stood in his meticulous garage, surrounded by a vintage Mustang, three Ferraris and his father-in-law’s prize 1967 Mustang, I wondered what Paul drives… I own two Ferraris and I’m working on both of them; my wife drives a Porsche and now and then I get my own cars out to drive them. But mostly I drive my truck… an F150.

In such a specialized field, what’s the ‘high point?’

“When the car is running and everything I’ve done is working perfectly… that’s the high point,” says Paul. He points out that he’s glad he took the risk, quit his job with only 8 months of work ahead of him. Would there be anything after the vehicle that was in his garage in 2003? Anything at all? He wondered.

Turns out there’s more than he can handle in the short term. But performance car owners are patient. After all, excellence is worth waiting for!

Thanks, Paul.

One Comment

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