04 November 2011

Jean Shepherd's Spitfire



Nobody can sell like the British. Nooobody. Whether it's a national airline or breath mints, you know they're gonna have a coat of arms. Something with a lion, a stag, some flag stuff and Latin. "Everything for Nothing - Nothing for Everything" is the motto I've selected for The Trad's coat of arms. I'd appreciate it if someone would put that in Latin for me.

Jean Shepherd did the voice over in this Triumph Spitfire commercial back in the early '70s. Shepherd, known mostly for A Christmas Story, was a writer who figured large in my world through fiction in Playboy and a column in Car & Driver. There was really nothing else I needed to read (except Penthouse).

Shortly after the commercial aired, Shepherd was on the Tonight Show and Johnny Carson asked him about the commercial. Shepherd tells a story of how even he was so impressed by this commercial that he bought a Spitfire. Minutes after driving off the car lot, Shepherd hits a LA highway and is happily cruising along until the car bonnet flys off.

I came very close to purchasing a white Spitfire because of Mr Shepherd. I also didn't buy a Spitfire because of Mr Shepherd. "Everything for Nothing - Nothing for Everything"

18 comments:

GSV JR said...

OMNIA ET NIHIL OMNIUM RERUM NIHIL

tintin said...

GSV- What would "Booger Vault" look like in Latin?

tintin said...

Oogerbay Aultvay?

randall said...

"That's not Latin!"

Anonymous said...

Nice post. Great decision-making.

I remember it like it was yesterday. We were in a crowded campground by a river, nestled under hills in nearby Chateau-d' Oex, Switzerland. The year was 1980. This British stud and his girl come breezing into the campground late in the day in a showy "process blue" (I'm sure the Brits have another word for that particular color) Triumph Spitfire for the night. I was envious beyond words. What would it be like to be that free, to drive the Alps in that thing instead of waiting for hours for connecting trains on sooty platforms?

I made a promise to myself to get one someday when I got my career act together. So what happened? I got older. Now I drive a 14 year old mini van. A white one. I call it the "vehicle of the future." The vehicle of our future, anyway. And here's the strangest thing: I actually don't mind driving it. But no, I don't dream of taking it on long, winding drives through the Alps. I'll save that for a much different car...

-DB

Ben said...

Fun! Makes me want to cue up The Battle of Britain on DVD. "Takatakatakatakataka!" After taking my sports car through the twisties.

And Jean Shepherd? A treasure.

M.Lane said...

I loved the commercial and I loved that car. From afar.

ML
mlanesepic.blogspot.com

Jennings and Gates said...

Great post. A friend had a sexy red Spitfire. It broke down so much that he bought a new one every time the tires wore out, so it would always be under warranty. But Lordy, the appeal of a zoomy little convertible is undeniable. I had a Miata with cream leather seats and spoke wheels, with a manual transmission that snicked so precisely through the gears, and flew over hills. I used to try and think of reasons to run errands just to get in that car.

The Bovina Bloviator said...

Long before "Christmas Story" Shepherd, in the 50s, was a not-so-good Beat poet/philosopher and in the 60s, the host of a late-night radio program on WOR in New York, where he truly shined. I grew up with Shep, listening to him on my Sony transistor radio while in bed, hearing him spin marvelous yarns about growing up in Depression-era Indiana with his pals Flick, Ralphie and the rest. All the tales told in "Christmas Story" Shep first told his radio fans two decades earlier.

NCJack said...

Bovina, I think he was Ralphie, the buddies were Flick, Schwartz, and Kissel. In my adolescent years, Playboy was even better if there was a Shepherd story.

NCJack said...

BTW, I grew up near Fayetteville, and Dad and I, on trips to the orthodontist, would sometimes cruise the used car lots. Returning servicemen would bring back a lot of..."interesting" vehicles (Renaults, Peugots, Opels, etc.) but also the occasional Spitfire, or such. Never had a salesman, EVEN IN A USED CAR LOT!!, recommend a Brit car for a kid with no mechanical skills.

The Bovina Bloviator said...

NCJack, right you are; your memory is sharper than mine. One Shep tale I do remember clearly is his recounting the Old Man winning a contest and bringing home the lamp in the shape of a woman's leg, proudly displaying it in the living room window. I was absolutely delighted years later to see it dramatized in "A Christmas Story."

Anonymous said...

Not sure what GSV is talking about.
Try "Omnia nihil causa, nihil omnium causa."

GSV JR said...

Ha! Yeah, in retrospect, I don't either. Don't transliterate on one foot and a polish vodka hangover, kiddo.

ADG said...

I had a GT-6...the hard top fastback version. And the Brits...couldn't sell p_ssy on a troop train.

wstroby said...

Wanted that car, just for the name. Until I started talking to people who actually owned one.

wstroby said...

Speaking of Spitfires: http://goo.gl/WopAE.

angloamerican said...

I had a GT-6...the hard top fastback version. And the Brits...couldn't sell p_ssy on a troop train.

No - not if the troops are yanks - they like willy too much