Posted by: Admin | November 13, 2010

The Saturday Interview – 11

Driving Miss Desi

After a career as a paramedic, Ross Pincott morphed, at 50, into the Lakeland Map-Man. His name might not be as familiar as Wainwright, but like his more famous compatriot, Ross also walked the Lakes, recording his routes into a dictaphone for his wife to test. More than 70 outlets around Lakeland sell the leaflets Ross produced as a result.

On his retirement, Ross turned his attention to another passion: classic cars.

“In 2006 I bought a Mustang,” Ross tells me, but I sold her to make way for Miss Desi.”

“Miss Desi” is a 1953 Desoto Firedome V8 Club Coupe – one of only seven existence and the only one in Europe, the remainder being in the USA.

So what does Miss Desi have that the Mustang didn’t? “She’s a little more…sedate,” Ross replies with a smile.

Ross is a man who smiles a lot, and with good reason. His pleasure at being at the wheel of his beautiful car is palpable and his enthusiasm is infectious. Now I have a confession to make: generally, to me, a car is a car is… a car, but I do love anything to do with 1950s Americana – even the cars. Subsequently, it was a joy for me to listen to Ross talking about his pride and joy.

He tells me that her 4.5 litre engine does 10-15 miles to the gallon and I sense that every one of those miles is savoured. “I do quite often have to pop out for a paper and go the long way round,” Ross admits wryly.

With her creamy beige paintwork and lovingly polished chrome, Miss Desi is definitely more than your average runaround. I ask why there are only seven known models left intact. “It’s because of the teeth,” Ross explains, showing me the chrome ornaments above the front bumper that gleam like sharks’ teeth, “the teeth were taken for hotrods and the rest of the car sold for scrap.” There are 11 teeth on 1953 models like this one.

“Miss Desi” started out as a California girl. Her first owner, a Southern Pacific Railway Engineer, put just 47,000 miles on the clock between 1953 and 1977. Ross is only the fourth owner, having bought the car from the man who bought it on importation in 1988. The original sales invoice, sales literature, handbooks, workshop manual and other documents are still intact.

I sense from talking to Ross that he sees himself, not so much the owner of Miss Desi, but more as a custodian. I can see the appeal of taking care of this glorious piece of mid-twentieth century history. Ross is a lucky man – and Miss Desi is lucky to have him polishing her bumpers!

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