C More "C4"
This photo of Richard in the 1972 Ferrari GTC4 was taken by a fan, Ann Hoke,
after a performance at the Valley Forge Music Fair July 7, 1973.
In the six months that I owned the Daytona, and given the fact that it was no fun to drive – primarily due to the steering effort required – I still managed to accumulate 5000 miles on the car. Astonishingly it was trouble-free, because it is an “exotic” automobile. I had recently let my first exotic, a 1971 Maserati Ghibli, go because it was the most troublesome car I have ever owned. (And that’s saying a lot!)
As mentioned, the GTC4 was a much nicer car to drive for several reasons, and since the Daytona had proven to be reliable (I know we’re talking about only 5000 miles) I thought it would be a kick to take the new car on our summer tour. Summer tours differed from others as we would spend approximately five days at each venue, performing each night, so there would not be the amount of driving that “one-nighters” would require. As we had seven one-nighters to perform before the string of extended-stay venues, the plan was that Mom and Dad would drive the Ferrari from Downey to Baltimore, MD, where we would visit with relatives and where Karen and I would start the next leg of the tour, at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD. From there my lady friend, Maria Galeazzi, and I would drive to Connecticut where Karen and I would perform the Carpenters’ next engagement at the Oakdale Theater, just outside of New Haven. On then to New Jersey to play one of our favorites, the Garden State Art Center, and so on.
This idea turned out to be among the worst I have ever conceived; the Ferrari broke down on my parents before they ever reached Baltimore! My dad, who loved automobiles, loved to drive and really liked that car, took it all in stride, but this was just the beginning, as we were soon to discover. What made matters worse was the fact that this was not a normal car breaking down near some small town; it was, of course, a Ferrari and to boot, a one year only model, one of 500 manufactured and different in some ways than any other Ferrari. A local mechanic didn’t have a prayer of fixing anything Ferrari complex, as even some trained Ferrari mechanics couldn’t solve certain problems. Thankfully the first problem, whatever it was, was relatively easy to repair; it was the ones that followed that proved otherwise.
My plans of driving the car around my hometown of New Haven and visiting old friends during the days turned chimerical as soon as the “C4” died on about the first day in CT. Fortunately (I suppose) the famed race car driver, Luigi Chinetti, had a Ferrari dealership not too far from New Haven in Greenwich and in the car went with a list of ailments that would keep it there for the length of our stay. To make matters worse, the vehicle was not ready when promised and we had to drive it with fingers crossed to our next engagement in New Jersey. What really added salt to the wound was that for all the cabbage it took to purchase this car, there was next to no warranty on it and I had to pay well over a thousand dollars to the dealership, with certain problems still not addressed.
The Ferrari actually made the jaunt from Holmdell, NJ to our next destination, the Valley Forge Music Fair in Pennsylvania, without incident. Leaving Valley Forge, we headed to one of our favorite venues, Pine Knob, an amphitheater not too far from Detroit that, with additional lawn seating, could accommodate approximately 10,000 of the most appreciative folks for whom performers could ever hope to play. We would appear there every summer for five nights and always looked forward to it. The drive, for me, was a highly enjoyable experience; when that car was running properly and there were long stretches of highway on which to open it up (to a reasonable degree) that portion of the trip was what I imagined the entire experience would be. Our college friend, Wes Jacobs, who was now a member of the Detroit Symphony – and still is – was in town and came to every concert of ours, and being a car buff, really loved the Ferrari, and was amazed we’d brought it along. (Now I realize why he was amazed.)
From Detroit, which wrapped the summer tour, it was just a matter of reaching LA in time for Karen and me to make a scheduled morning promotional “guest D.J.” appearance at KHJ, still the hottest radio station in town. Well, Murphy’s Law and Ferraris mix like oil and water. Things were going very enjoyably from Detroit on our way southwest, tooling through long, straight roads in Oklahoma (all the while wanting to really open the car up but thinking better of it, as it is finished in “Citation Red” and I certainly did not want a ticket.) Shortly after dinner at a Holiday Inn just this side of nowhere, and with the sunlight rapidly waning, the Ferrari started losing power and before long, it was dead. Maria and I waited and waited (the old bromide about a cop never being around when you need one coming to mind), and finally we trekked all the way back to the Holiday Inn to see if an employee could be of some help in locating a member of the Highway Patrol. It turned out – get this – that there had been a breakout from a major correctional institution in the area and all members of the local police and the Highway Patrol were dispatched to find the “perps.” If I’d known this I could have thrown caution to the wind and driven the Ferrari – while it was still running – at a goodly pace for miles and miles on the nearly deserted highway! Oh well, the problem now was to get just one cruiser to come to our aid. This finally happened; two polite young members of the Highway Patrol drove us first from the Holiday Inn to the Ferrari, all of us hoping that maybe from just sitting awhile it would start. No go. We then were driven farther west to a motel in a hamlet whose name escapes me. The patrolman said they knew the car should and would be flatbedded to the motel shortly, and in the morning I could determine the next course of action.
There was no question that for me to make the KHJ appointment, Maria and I would have to be driven to Oklahoma City, board a plane and fly to LA. After phoning home with all of this news, the decision was made to have one of our employees, Frank Bujdoso, a handyman, fly to Oklahoma and make the necessary arrangements to get the car transported home in an enclosed truck. The capper to all of this was that word had gotten out immediately that Richard Carpenter was staying at whatever motel, and was there with his Ferrari, no less. So, upon awakening I found a crowd of well over one hundred people and a video crew from the local news videotaping the car on the flatbed and just waiting to interview me. Some things we say we’ll look back at someday and laugh, but this I have to report, I laughed at right then and there.
Karen and I made the KHJ interview, of course, and the Ferrari went to a new, highly recommended facility to be repaired yet again. This roiled me as, obviously, a new car should not be causing this much trouble and it was supposedly made mostly well and good (at a staggering fee) by Luigi Chinetti’s dealership just a couple of weeks previously.
One of our next engagements was a two-week stint at the Riviera, Las Vegas. The Ferrari was purportedly fixed (for another outrageous sum) and ready to go. To demonstrate just how dim-witted I could be when it came to this automobile, I decided to drive it to Las Vegas; it wasn’t that far from L.A.. As we were approaching a place called the Summit Inn, which required the car to go uphill for a little way, the very same problem we experienced in Oklahoma reappeared and we crept into the parking lot of the Inn. As Yogi Berra would have said, it was “déjà vu all over again.” Frank Bujdoso met Maria and me there with either the ‘Cuda or the Continental and made arrangements to flatbed the Ferrari back to L.A..
To sum up: the GTC4 is a great car to look at and when it is running is very nice to drive, but in all the years I have owned it, I’ve looked at it a lot. The Daytona is a much more dependable car.
That being said, however, it was sheer lunacy on my part to think that any exotic automobile – in those days- - would have delivered a trouble-free driving experience from coast to coast… and back!
Last Updated June 4, 2008
May 2004 © Richard Carpenter