What’s it like to drive a 550HP FERRARI SCUDERIA?

OK, wait — I need to pinch myself again to confirm I actually did this. 

So, this week’s Ride of the Week goes to my good friend Kenny Lombino and his liquid black ‘09 Ferrari Scuderia. 

Why? Well, I’m so glad you asked.

Being president of the Ferrari Club of America, Southwest Region, Kenny gets to spend most of his days around cool cars — the very definition of an exotic car lifestyle. And also being the senior vice president/wealth manager at Merrill Lynch in Beverly Hills, he hangs with some serious cheese. So when Kenny called me up and said, “Hey, we need to go for a spin,” I was like, “In Like Flynn.”

One of only 499 made for the world, Kenny’s race-prepped Ferrari 16M Scuderia is an Italian woman with a mind of her own. And if you’re lucky, she’ll take you for a ride of a lifetime. And that’s exactly what we did through Malibu on this day. Meeting at Bluffs Park, right off the bat I knew that Kenny was my kind of guy. Super passionate about cars, lifestyle and giving, we hit it off like two Ferraris in a pod. Stories, driving experiences, places, we covered the gambit over our 20-minute spin. Kenny mention that he had a few other cars, like a 1965 Jaguar E-Type Roadster, a ‘67 Jaguar E-Type Coupe race car, a ‘15 Porsche GTS coupe, ‘15 Jeep Rubicon and a 1997 Harley Road King. That last one is technically known as a “motorcycle,” but who’s paying attention?

Between the shimmies, slips and sliders of our drive, Kenny started filling me in. 

“This baby has 550 HP, one of 499 made, light weight, convertible and no mods,” he said. “Just black on black with tons of carbon. I bought it in 2011 with 600 miles on it. Bought it from Ferrari of Beverly Hills because it’s rare, exclusive, state of the art at the time, maximum performance, looks fantastic and is basically a street-legal race car.”

Kenny pops this puppy for Ferrari events, long tours including a 5,000-mile trip on back roads up to Canada, through the Canadian Rockies, back down into the U.S. and across the West back to LA and Malibu. 

“In less that four years, I have put 25K miles on her,” he said. “Her name is Valentina, by the way.” 

This gave me an instant reference point. Valentina loves to sing, but Kenny went on. 

“I use her most times only twice a month for Ferrari events but also I take her to the track once or twice a year,” he said.

But this past June, leading 17 Ferraris on Route 66 in Arizona on his way to the Grand Canyon, Kenny took me on a visual journey. 

“Driving at a nice clip, all of a sudden a loud bang sounding like a gunshot hit the drivers’ door window and smashed it into a million pieces,” Kenny said. “Luckily the window tint kept the glass in tact. My girlfriend thought we were shot at and I found myself looking to see if in fact that was true. Thank God, it wasn’t. So I pulled over, stopped, and the window fell out to the ground having caused $7,500 worth of damage.

“The next three days in 100-degree heat, we drove with no window and all the A/C vents pointed at my girlfriend. No explanation as to why it happened, but the drama crowd liked saying I was shot at. My mechanic thinks it was pressure as I passed another car going in the opposite direction. I like to think it was just an accident as the other car threw up a rock. There was no sign of any kind of impact rock or otherwise. Just another story in the book.”

But Malibu is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, Kenny said. 

“There is nothing like driving down the coast with the top down in the Ferrari,” he said. “So many incredible vistas, along with the opportunity at any point to turn up into the canyon roads. It makes one feel alive, makes one grateful, and its one of the main reasons I moved to Southern California from the East Coast. I always post pictures to make my East Coast friends jealous, especially in winter.”

I’m grateful to Kenny for so many reasons, but his infectious passion left me heightened in my search for more automotive experiences. I write this from the SEMA Show in Las Vegas and am about to venture into a Car Wonderland with many Kennys afoot. But my drive with Mr. Lombino left me with a joy I won’t soon forget. And thanks to Valentina, I left the radio off the whole way to Vegas just to hear my own car sing.

What’s it like to drive a 380HP FERRARI 355GTS?

In the movie world, Stunt people are considered “the extreme;” willing to risk life and limb just to get the shot. Fortunately, stuntwoman Diane Peterson has not only made a career in doing the best stunts for film and TV without breaking every bone, she has managed to collect an award-winning Ferrari that’s as immaculate.

Not only is Diana a thrill seeker, having done stunts for “Titanic,” “Batman Forever” and “Last Action Hero,” but as a Malibu realtor and chairwoman on the board of the Ferrari Club of America Southwest Chapter and as the national membership chairwoman for the Ferrari Club of America she spends her time crusining PCH in beautiful machinery selling beautiful houses. Case in point, her 1998 Ferrari 355GTS. As a 6-speed V8 with 380-horsepower, this elegant red slip-streamer was one of Ferrari’s most successful designs and Diane’s full joy. 

Diane is the original owner of this car and ordered it from the dealer when she was living in Dallas working on “Walker Texas Ranger.” The car arrived on the day before Thanksgiving in 1997. 

“I love Ferraris and always wanted one, especially the 355,” Diane said. “The design is so beautiful. It’s fast and I really like to shift gears.”

She shows her Ferrari on many occasions and recently won the Platinum Award at the Concorso Ferrari in Pasadena this past May. She also tracks and rallies the car. The 355 is a five-time Platinum winner at the Annual International Ferrari Club of America Meet and a five-time Coppa Bella Machina winner. That means “beautiful machine,” and every single item has to work on your car as it did when it came from the factory. That’s a lot to ask for.

“As an added bonus, if anybody buys a house from me, they get a ride in my Ferrari,” Diane said. 

Deal. Although I must have been lucky the other day when I shot the car. She immediately asked my if I had to be anywhere soon and I said, “Heck no.” So she floored it and we shot up PCH to Point Dume like only a Ferrari could.

Best story? Diane once did a car chase in Hawaii for “Magnum P.I.” where a woman steals his car. Lucky for her, she was the woman. She spent 10 days driving a Ferrari and lounging on the sands, not in a cell. Bummer.

Claim to fame? Diane got five speeding tickets in three days competing in Gumball Rally. Come on, only five? Seems like this car would get a ticket parked in the Ralph’s parking lot. 

But as a lover of Malibu, Diane is very passionate. 

“Malibu is a slice of heaven for me. I love the beach, the sound of the waves and the small town, cozy vibe. I truly feel blessed to live in paradise and have a cool Ferrari to cruise around in.” Living the dream, as her website says — www.livingthedreammalibu.com.

And Diane’s favorite movie car chase? “Against All Odds.” Ferrari vs. Porsche on Sunset Blvd. is one of her favorites. Mostly because the Ferrari wins, duh.

Congratulations, Diane! You’re Malibu’s Ride of the Week! 

Keep living the dream, baby.

What’s it like to drive a full-custom 1970 MEYERS MANX STREET BUGGY?

What’s it like to drive a full-custom 1970 MEYERS MANX STREET BUGGY?

Living in Malibu, you get to know a wide diversity of people. All unique industries where folks are having fun and being intrinsically creative, and sometimes they live virtually right next to you.

Back in the day, I went to school at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, which has a car design school where many went on to car companies to create amazing machines that we all get to enjoy and drive. Today’s Ride of the Week features one of those guys who has gone on to success. His name’s Derek Jenkins, and he’s right down the street.

Derek is currently director of design for Lucid Motorcars. He’s responsible for some great cars coming out of that company including the all new Lucid Air. But there’s another side to Derek when he’s not being an automotive designer dude.

What’s in Derek’s garage is what he calls his buggy. It’s a fully custom 1970 Meyers Manx Street Buggy that’s beyond most versions. Where you may see them from time to time in Lime Rainbow Metal Flake paint, Derek’s version is what a pro car designer would do.

It’s got a 1800cc Air-Cooled VW motor with 130HP at only 1350 pounds. At that ratio, this lil’ beast can haul through the best of Malibu curves. But the coolest part is the extreme air conditioning system. As in, it’s like driving wind. ‘Bu Powered.

“The project is about 10 years old now,” said Derek. “But it’s been on the road for 5 years. I always loved air cooled VWs. My dad got me started and I have had several over the years. I wanted to create an eclectic mix of nostalgia and California custom perfectly suited for PCH.” 

That’s a severe understatement. 

The cool grey paint scheme with added spices of red makes this thing roll with attitude. It’s all business but doesn’t take itself seriously. In a way, that’s Derek. Under his quiet and poised demeanor is a guy that values the passions of Malibu. If you meet him on the street, he’s got a very humble nature, but look out when he’s behind the wheel of his fun machine.

And although he mainly uses the Buggy for trips to the market and hitting the canyon roads, so do others in their Ferraris and Lambos in this town. This lil’ beast exemplifies solid fun and driving adventure. There’s no hiding in this car. It’s a confidence builder and smile maker. 

“To me, it represents all that’s great about living in California,” Derek said. “It appeals to all types of people.” 

Seriously, who would it not appeal to?

And Derek’s favorite movie car? The Lotus Esprit from “The Spy Who Loved Me.” That clarifies a lot, as anyone in love with a submarine car is very clear on the potentials of driving adventure.

I find people fascinating. What drives them to be successful in many areas including their desire for freedom. But we’re all different in how we get there. The ones that say less and do more are certain of one thing. Passion for cars isn’t in what we talk about as much as what we do. Effects from thinking about things in a certain way. An inspiring notion to teach us all the meaning of true living.

A serious thought wrapped in a funny little car. Don’t be so serious. Life is meant to get a little buggy, and that’s why Derek Jenkins and his zoom machine are this week’s Vlogrocket.

What’s it like to drive a 1957 DODGE CUSTOM ROYAL LANCER?

What’s it like to drive a 1957 DODGE ROYAL LANCER?

Shooting a daily Vlog Show can be a challenge sometimes as not all days are filled with car shows, premieres or cool activities. But fortunately for me, I live here in the Bu, where there’s a wealth of amazing cars that are revealed as you poke around town.

Now, there’s no way to know what you’ll come across, but if I need some quick content to wrap up my show, I just drive through town and always spot something cool. Case in point: Justin Silvers’ 1957 Dodge Royal Lancer.

There’s a few hot spots in town that I can peruse in about 10 minutes and one of them includes Malibu Car Wash in Malibu Country Mart. Justin started MCW about 26 years ago in 1990. That’s a lot of washes. A handy array of car coolness where owners get their dirty rides gleaming again. And owner Justin Silvers and his team do a great job at keeping these puppies glossy and ready for the Oscars — a Car Wash to the Stars, you could say.

So I frequently scoot by and do some snappy drive-bys. But this past week, I stopped in as Justin had an amazing classic, just washed and ready for a photo shoot. So I did my thing and asked him where he managed to wrangle this beauty?

“I sell motor yachts and cars,” Justin began to explain. “But this 1957 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer had a factory installed D500 Hemi and dual 4 Barrel Carburators which pumped it to 315hp from the factory. It has an original torque flight push button transmission, too. So, I bought the car for my father as a birthday present and have been restoring it for the last three years.” 

But there’s more. 

“I purchased the car on the East Coast and had it shipped it to California.” 

The reason he bought it? Here was the diddy.

“My dad had this car in high school and it brings back lots of great memories for him and his twin brother.” Justin went on further. “The best part of the car in my opinion is the Hemi and the rear tail fins.” 

An amazing touch and a clear sister to Hollywood’s “Christine,” having come out the same year as a Plymouth Fury. 

“The car will be used by my father to drive in Palm Springs and take to car shows.” 

A very cool gift indeed for a car guy. His original high school ride. If my son did the same for me … it’d be a 1981 Lemon Yellow Volkswagen Dasher. Not a cool car at the time by any means and it even had four doors. But I kicked the crap outta that car, drew a Van Halen logo on the back with a sharpie and let ‘er rip. It’s where I learned to drift a front-wheel drive and wrangled my first tickets. So proud.

And finally, why Malibu for Justin? 

“I love driving here in town to see the beautiful scenery and to visit with good friends that I have grown to know and love for the last 26 years.” 

Simple. Either you get it or you don’t. 

If you don’t, there’s always the Valley and it’s calling to you. Big thanks, Justin, for the introduction to Della (my name for Christine’s sister). She’s a sweetheart and will be your dad’s new squeeze. But if I head to Palm Springs, I’ll be expecting a ride …

What’s it like to drive a 1971 DODGE CHALLENGER R/T?

I’ve always considered convertible muscle cars to be “relaxed” cruisers. 

While a muscle car generally consists of horsepower, speed, aggression and ego, the convertible has all those things – but with its top down. 

And with that one thing, it chooses to chill and just enjoy the scenery. That’s why Jeff Berger is this week’s Ride of the Week.

Jeff originally reached out to me to do his dad’s amazing Jaguar (which we did), but when he mentioned that he had a ‘71 Dodge Challenger R/T Convertible, my grin turned into a shape resembling tight Japanese soup bowl. I knew at that point, that the only thing that could bring my lips back to their original shape was a ride in that red beast.

Like slick oil spewed from a James Bond car, I scooted down to Jeff’s pad on PCH to get a ride in that 340 4Barrel. Right off the bat, when he pulled the car out his garage, I knew that it was time for some muscle meditation. We were going to head north (with his girlfriend) and experience Pacific Coast Highway, top open. As a DJ manager and event promoter, I knew that Jeff’s excited personality was going to make for a good conversation.

“The car has all the original factory options except the 8-track player,” he revved. “Equipped with the 340cu in – 5573 cc – V8 – 4 bbl  275hp engine and weighs 3,210 pounds with a  110-inch wheelbase, 191.3 inches in length and 76.3 inches in width. It’s a big, heavy, sexy roaring beast.” 

That it was. We drooled through town and up the Pepperdine hill.

“I think we acquired the car in the mid ‘80s,” he said. “My father’s good friend from UCLA was the owner. At the time, the car had been sitting in a storage unit for years with approximately 390,000 miles. The vehicle was in amazing survivor condition and he had all the original manuals and service records.” 

So I asked Jeff to go on, eager to hear more as the wind whipped my red hair into an exploded slinky. 

“I’ve always been a fan of muscle cars,” he said. “Their shape, the stance and how they just look ‘fast’ standing still. And, of course, the sound of the engine when you fire it up.”

There’s something about a muscle car for sure. Your ability to launch off the line and send your guts into a “Nasa Holding Pattern.” But the elevated consciousness of the convertible says, “You can, but let’s cruise and just be a visual badass instead.” We did.

To Jeff, the best part of the car is either view from the front or the side. They both scream “sleek” and “get outta my way.”  And the Challenger’s “power bulge” hood with the R/T letters and cotter pins really emphasize those points. Like a bodybuilder walking up to you and saying, “Hey little man, have you seen my guns anywhere? Oh, there they are, attached to my elbows.”

Primarily for Jeff, this ‘71 is a “cruiser” for sunny Sunday drives up PCH or the Rock Store. And of course attending any Cars and Coffee events.

“I’ve been pulled over several times because police officers wanted to check out the car,” he continued as we drove back after the photo shoot. “After the initial ‘flashing red lights/heart in your throat’ moment subsided, it turned out that these were die-hard car guys and it was the first or second time they had the chance to get up close and personal with a vehicle like this.” 

The only cops on the planet that will literally stop you for coolness.  

And what does Jeff love most about our lil’ town of cars? 

“It’s a toss-up between the stunning views, the looks/smiles/thumbs up you get at the red lights and parking lots or the random conversations you engage in with all types of people and personalities of all ages,” he said.

Ah yes, we are all “Car People” struggling to tell stories of our rides, which is why this article is oh so important. 

What’s it like to have a GARAGE FULLA COOL CARS?

What’s it like to have a GARAGE FULLA COOL CARS?

When you hear the name Thom Panunzio, you may not recognize it at first. But a brief moment in universal contemplation will lead you to Wikipedia, where it states that he’s been the recipient of over 50 gold and platinum records, having worked with John Lennon, Bob Dyan, Ozzie, Aerosmith, The Who and Bruce Springstein. Who? They must’ve been up-and-comers, right? Whatever. The list goes on, but even though Thom has worked with these no-namers, he likes cars. Which makes him my new best friend.

Nestled in the hills of Malibu is Thom’s pad, a sweet and serene piece of land overlooking a fantastic view of Malibu with rolling hills and other celebrity pads. He’s the highest one, so that means something, right? When I walked in the door, I was pleased to learn that he not only loves music and cars, but seems to be a surf fanatic as well. OK, that’s strike three and I’m in. A short jaunt through his homey home and past his cute pup revealed a four-car garage with a gambit of coolness. His dog kept a keen eye on me so I didn’t touch them.

First up was his 1957 Ford Ranchero, the first year — original 312 motor and 3 on the tree. “I bought this car when I first moved to Malibu from NYC to take my dogs and surfboards to the beach,” Thom said. “The beaches in Malibu are why I moved to California.” Thank goodness he didn’t move here to get away from the traffic.

Next up was his 1967 Ford Fairlane 500. A 390 CI big block. 

“My aunt bought this car new in Newport, Rhode Island where she lived and would drive us all to the beach with it. The car was always full of sand. I always loved the Fairlanes, especially the ‘67. She gave it to me in 1980 with 50,000 miles and the motor and interior are still original.” He restored the body, painted it, put on some new shocks, springs, exhaust, chrome mags and a new top on, but left the sand in. Yeah, typical surf punk. I need a bucket just to scoop the sand out of my Tahoe.

Towards the interior of his man-cave, Thom has a 1973 Corvette Stingray T Top with a L82 350 and a 4-speed. He’s the original owner and the car is all original with only 24,000 miles on it. He repainted the car 10 years ago. “I only drive it on Sunday mornings before anybody is out and only if the weather’s nice.”

Finally, and although not a classic, Thom has a 2007 BMW M6 soft top. This car has a V10 with 500-horsepower. This is the bad boy he drives to work everyday. “It loves gas but it’s worth the price. Nobody shuts me down. It’s a beast!”

A lover of cars, true. But as we spoke, it was revealed that Thom’s passion is all encompassing. We talked about the environment, Malibu and even his animals. Clearly Thom’s a waterman and digs all thing Bu. But as a car aficionado, his eclectic collection is historical Americana extending to a bit of German technology. Nice.

“None of my cars are real big bucks rides, but I love them all. The old ones have been with me for a long time and are full of memories. I feel like they are who I am. When I drive my old Fords through the hills I feel like Robert Mitchum in “Thunder Road,” my favorite movie. He runs moonshine in a 50 Ford 2-door coupe and a 1957 Ford Fairlane. That’s how Nascar came about. It’s a real greasy movie.”

Some cars are trailer queens and some drivers, but all have personality. But our own personal collections are about love. You are what you drive, literally. And thanks God for that.