The Unexpected: Cars, Snow, The Southwest & More!

We had a very unusual Saturday in the southwest. It was the first time many of the locals had seen snow on these mountains.

The American southwest is well known for its open spaces, cactus-filled vistas, and months of 100+degree weather during late spring and the summer months. You can thus imagine my surprise when speaking with Mom on the phone last Thursday night, and seeing snowflakes leisurely falling to the ground when a car drove by on the road in front of the house.

The local weather casters had been warning about a major winter storm impacting the high country, but in the ten-plus years

You can imagine the shock the locals had from the snow, because the landscape normally looks like this!

I’ve been living in the low desert I’d never seen even a single snowflake land in my front or back yard. I was out the door in a flash, and that two-plus hours of snowfall was the most beautiful and peaceful sight. We ended up having around an inch and a half at the house, so the next morning I wanted to go take a look around the neighborhood, and then find places with even more snow. My only car is the unique-build Shelby GT we briefly looked at last week, so on went the layers of clothes to keep warm, and out we went.

Magical and Rare

Another shot from the same day, where the desert is anything but “a desert.”

There is something truly magical about a desert landscape blanketed in snow, though palm trees jutting up from it does look a bit strange! But the drive was totally worth it, for suddenly the low desert hillsides were doing their impression of the high country, or even Switzerland! This inspired me to shoot some before and after photos over the past few days and, as you will see here, it makes for an interesting comparison.

Here is the same location, just 48 hours after the previous photo was taken. The desert is returning to normal…

This also had me reflecting on other escapades in performance machinery and snowy landscapes, and one of the craziest happened around 15 years ago on the launch of Ferrari’s 612 Scaglietti when a freakish snowstorm hit central Italy and Modena. Sure, the area was used to some snow, but not like that. Ferrari couldn’t cancel the launch, so out we went for the driving impressions through a very white countryside. I purposely picked the red car seen in the photos, for I knew that color would stand out against that white backdrop. We were on a two-lane road probably an hour north of Modena when we saw this location on the other side of the road. We pulled into this property’s long driveway, and this nice, dramatic shoot was the result.

Some Great Memories

This may have been the most memorable Ferrari new model launch I ever attended…

Two other things from that trip were also quite memorable. The first was listening to the Hotel Real Fini’s reception desk phone constantly ringing as travelers scrambled to find rooms when the deluge of snow hit. The reservation clerk would take the call, simply say “completo” (meaning the hotel was full), and put the receiver back down only to have the phone ring seconds later. The other memory was bundling up to brave the howling winds and sideways snow to walk along the deserted streets over to the Maserati factory, and seeing it buried in white…

That 612 episode was not my first experience with a Ferrari in snow though, for decades earlier I owned a Daytona and really used that car. Back in the early 1980s most every spare penny I could rub together got sunk into buying it, for this was the dark days of emissions and safety technology catching up with America’s and Europe’s regulations. Thus, many enthusiasts (including me) thought a Daytona was about as fast as any road car would ever get.

This was the early 1980s; even back then seeing any Ferrari in the snow was a rare sight.

For that reason and more I thought Daytonas would go up in price at some point in the future, but the real motivation for buying the car was the incredible, invigorating experience one had behind the wheel. So whether it was simply driving over to the local store or taking a weekend trip up to Lake Tahoe along the California/Nevada border, anything was the perfect excuse to give the Ferrari some exercise… There really was nothing like a Daytona back then, and I put 24,000 miles on the odometer in the two years I had it.

One of my crazier adventures in the snow was shooting this Aston Martin AR1 Roadster for a landscape book featuring Zagato-bodied cars!

While a Ferrari or Shelby in the snow may seem a bit crazy, they all look positively sane to the idea of taking an Aston Martin AR1 Roadster out for a blast on a cold winter’s day. But there was a reason behind this bit of madness: A good number of years ago, Andrea Zagato came up with the idea of wanting to do a landscape book on America to honor his company’s great success with Zagato-bodied cars in its marketplace. But his concept had a most unusual twist in that each landscape would have a different Zagato car portrayed in the photos.

For various reasons the book took around a decade to complete, and one of the more unusual shoots was the aforementioned AR1 Roadster in the snow. The model was introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2003 in response to the country’s Aston clientele wanting but not being able to purchase a DB7 Zagato that debuted in 2002. Just 100 AR1 Roadsters would end up being made, and the idea of taking a car made for sunny climates out into a winter wonderland outside Boston had enormous appeal. Needless to say, the juxtaposition of a car that doesn’t even have a top amongst trees and snow isn’t a scene one sees ever day!

Returning to what happened locally over the past several days, the snowy southwest and taking the Shelby out in it triggered a marvelous trip down memory lane. But as I write this the southwest is quickly returning to normal. Today it was in the low 60s, and temperatures will be back into their typical 70s (22c) by the middle of the week.

I will remember this for quite a while...

...Because 48 hours later there is much less snow, and the landscape isn't quite as visually arresting.

So should the unexpected happen in your backyard, don’t forget to take what you have lurking in the garage when you go exploring. For certain cars make most any occasion become a truly memorable adventure in a way a normal, pedestrian machine cannot!

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