In my ongoing Oppo series, I look behind the scenes of modern automotive journalism and show you how the sausage gets made, so to speak—or how it does at Autofocus.ca anyway. This post is guest-authored by one of my writers, Nauman Farooq, a veritable expert on obscure and rare supercars.
Nauman just wrapped up a feature on his teenage idol, Canadian designer Paul Deutschman, the man behind the styling of almost every Callaway Corvette, including the new AeroWagen. Here’s how Nauman went from staring at a model of a Callaway in his home; to hosting Deutschman on a tour through the Lingenfelter Collection.
There are assignments you treat as work, a means to pay some bills and nothing more; and then there are assignments where what you earn is not important, because it is worth much more than that to yourself.
Working on the story about Dr. Paul Deutschman fell in the latter category.
If you ask my wife, or my few close friends, what my favourite scale model car is in my collection, they would tell you, without hesitation, it’s the yellow 1:18 scale Callaway C12 Coupe that sits on top of the TV in my home office.
I bought it while I was in journalism school in Welland, Ontario, and for 16 years, it has sat in front of me, and I still haven’t stopped admiring it. It is a design classic, in my opinion, a piece of automotive art—penned by Dr. Deutschman.
Back in May, a friend posted about an upcoming event he rightfully thought his car enthusiast friends would enjoy going to: “In conversation with Giorgetto Giugiaro,” hosted by the Italian Consulate at the University of Toronto.
Giugiaro is a big name in the auto industry, and he’s penned many iconic cars in his nearly 60 years working as a designer. A chance to meet him should have been enough for me to sign up, but I hesitated. It was on a weekday, over 200 km away from my home, and I’d need to leave my day job early to get there in time.
Then I noticed the event’s fine print mentioned a guest host—Dr. Deutschman.
That sealed the deal for me. I didn’t care how many hoops I’d need to jump through, I had to be there. A request for time off was made, and an out-of-town trip planned—after all, how often does one get to meet their heroes?
On May 31, 2016, the day of the event, an idea struck! While the invite didn’t mention actually getting to meet the guest of honour, I thought if an opportunity presented itself, I should take something interesting to get autographed.
Since I’ve a massive Hot Wheels collection, I had lots of 1:64 scale models designed by Giugiaro – I chose a 1976 Lotus Esprit S1 – but carrying around a 1:18 scale model of the Deutschman-designed Callaway C12 would be difficult.
I knew I had something smaller, and rummaging through my collection came upon my 1:64 scale model of the Callaway C7 (not a new Corvette, to be clear, but Callaway’s only designed-and-engineered-from-the-ground-up project, the 1997 C7). With two Hot Wheels models in my suit pocket, I headed off.
As I was taking my seat in the auditorium, before the event started, an announcement was made, that we could meet the presenters outside in the hall—my chance to meet my design heroes and get my models signed.
When my turn came up, I handed the Esprit to Giugiaro and the C7 to Dr. Deutschman, who seemed quite surprised I had a model of a car he’d designed.
I had a brief chat with Dr. Deutschman, but not in any length. Since I was about to write a piece on the Campagna T-REX, a vehicle also designed by Dr. Deutschman, my editor Nicholas at Autofocus, who was at the event, suggested I get in touch with him about it.
The next day, I looked up an email address for Dr. Deutschman, and sent him a note regarding the story I was working on. To my surprise, he replied back within the hour, and gave me his cell phone number, for an interview. What he related over the phone gave my story an angle no one else had, and the piece was very well-received.
As I talked things over with my editor, he suggested I do a full feature on Dr. Deutschman. I really liked the idea, but wanted to expand on it—why not take the designer to a place where a good number of his cars live? I had in mind the Lingenfelter Collection in Brighton, Michigan, which includes several Callaways; but Dr. Deutschman lives in Montreal, Quebec.
Thankfully my editor expanded my fee to include a modest travel budget to make this happen. [Editor’s note: unbeknownst to me, Nauman was also turning some of what he was being paid for the story into Dr. Deutschman’s travel budget!] After seeing if Dr. Deutschman could come, and if Ken Lingenfelter would let us into his collection, it looked like I was making it work!
Everyone was on board with the idea, and before I knew it, I was picking up Dr. Deutschman from the airport, and the most ambitious story of my career was coming together. I can’t thank Dr. Deutschman and Mr. Lingenfelter enough for all the support they’ve given me, and I hope they, along with everyone else, enjoys the feature.