September 1989

David E. Davis, Jr.

In memory of our founder, David E. Davis, Jr., Automobile Magazine editors are choosing our ten favorite American Driver columns and will be posting one each day over the next two weeks.

There are worse things than a black Ferrari 328GTS. There are worse things than being picked up by your wife in a black Ferrari GTS at the West Palm Beach aerodrome for a drive to Ann Arbor, Michigan, by way of Lynchburg, Tennessee. Lynchburg is, after all, the home of the Jack Daniel distillery, the oldest registered distillery in the United States, made famous by an inspired low-key advertising campaign and decades of Joe Clark’s black-and-white photographs. However, the whiskey itself deserves most of the credit for that fame. Jack Daniel’s Black Label--a charcoal-filtered sour mash called “Tennessee whiskey”--is the libation of choice for an awful lot of drinkers around the globe. People who take sides in the Scotch versus Bourbon wars accord Jack Daniel’s a special place, a sort of good-humored demilitarized zone where discussions are carried on at a more leisurely pace and in a more laid-back tone. A visit to the distillery explains why that is so. More to the point, a visit to the place where they make Jack Daniel’s Black, in a black Ferrari GTS, helps one to appreciate that a world without great whiskey and great automobiles would be a sorry place indeed.

Having finished that paragraph, and now rereading it, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I will receive pious letters of outrage from blue-nosed Pecksniffs scourging me for mentioning whiskey and fast cars in the same space. They should not waste their paper. I will open their letters, snort with derision, and throw them away. I know that drunk driving is stupid. I know that it kills more people than all other automotive causes of death combined. I am an ardent supporter of the good works done by people like Mothers Against Drunk Driving. But I am also an enthusiast of good cars and good liquor, though I strive to keep them separated. I’m fortunate in this regard, because my wife doesn’t drink much and is delighted to take the wheel whenever I determine that I may have surpassed the legal blood-alcohol limit. Nonetheless, I have no interest in being preached at. So save those cards and letters, Pecksniffs.

I came by the black Ferrari 328GTS in the usual way. Pure luck. Dr. Emilio Anchisi--president of Ferrari North America, interviewed in last month’s Automobile Magazine--called to discuss our shared passion for shotguns and shooting and, in passing, mentioned that he had a black 328GTS--one of his new ones with ABS--at Shelton Ferrari in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Perhaps, he suggested, I might like to drive it for a while. “Do chickens have pointed yellow lips?” I asked. “When can I pick it up?”

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Wow, how I miss Davis. I still read car magazines here and there, but they were better with Davis at the helm.

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