Paul Newman And The Datsun Z: Birthdays For Two Winners

Paul Niedermeyer
by Paul Niedermeyer
paul newman and the datsun z birthdays for two winners

Reading the book “Winning: The Racing Life Of Paul Newman” last night, I realized that there were several connections between Paul and today’s featured Curbside Classic. Newman raced Zs successfully for the Bob Sharp team in the seventies, having started his career in a Datsun 510. And they’re both celebrating birthdays: The Z arrived in the US forty years ago, and Newman would have been 85 today, had he not passed away last year. I’ve praised the coming and eulogized the passing of the 240Z in the CC, but I’d like to give a moment’s tribute to my life hero:

Unlike a lot of Newman fans, my feelings of a connection to him initially had nothing to do with the silver screen. I was a kid and had never seen him in a movie when I read an article about his VW that sported a souped-up Porsche Super 90 engine, and some other tweaks. He bought his first VW in 1953, and drove it for eight years from his home in Connecticut to acting gigs in NYC. Wanting to speed up the trip, he told his mechanic to do something about it. Something in that story resonated deeply with me, and reinforced my love of VWs and all things Paul Newman. And he’s never let me down since.

His remarkable career as an accomplished racer didn’t really start until he was well into his forties. Given that most successful drivers start practically as children to develop the neurons and experience necessary, it’s an unlikely story. As was his marriage to Joanne Woodward. And his commitment to charitable work, having donated some $300 million from his activities. I consider it a privelage to have had a brief encounter with him on a sidewalk as he was getting into his 911 some thirty years ago. The fact we share first names and birthdays are the frosting on the cake whose ingredients are a secret, and will likely never be made again: Paul Newman was an original, authentic hero; to me anyway. A true winner in every arena of life.

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  • .5MT .5MT on Jan 27, 2010

    One very cold 24 Hours of Dayton ('74 or '75?) his wife helped score while wearing a full length mink. She gave me a friendly smile, my life has gone downhill since.

  • Paul Greenberg Paul Greenberg on Jan 27, 2010

    Living in Westport CT, I can add that although he kept a low profile, he was an important contributor to the quality of life in my town and area through his philanthropic, arts, and conservation endeavors. As we would say in yiddish, a real mench.

  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Ed That has to be a joke.