Millionizing The Rabbit: A counterpoint

The Rabbit Test

VW&Porsche magazine
1987

This project started innocently enough, but for a while it looked as if it might turn out to be a sheer disaster. Not the actual work, of course. Considering that the project that started, for me, almost on the spur of the moment, everything went surprisingly smoothly. The parts fit almost perfectly, and the end result was stunning. But that much was expected.

No, what worried me most when I got the early morning call from editor James Sly was that the food might not measure up to James’ normally high standards. I have eaten James’ culinary creations for years and never once been disappointed. But the hurried schedule implied by that last minute call at 8:30 a.m. Thursday did not bode well for the gastronomic aspects of this endeavor.

James’ call was about as welcome as a pop quiz and was just as unexpected. However, in order to have enough time to perform aerodynamic testing on his stock Rabbit prior to our modifications, we had to start so early that I had barely enough time to choke down my usual breakfast before racing across town to the quaint Michel Richards cafe in Beverly Hills for croissants with him and editor Greg Brown. This inauspicious beginning gave rise to suspicions that all was not well.

The worse was yet to come. Greg and James were so gung-ho that no sooner had I bolted down ten of Michel’s luscious pastries than they started dragging me out the door. It was all I could do to convince them to stop at a convenience store on the way to purchase snacks to hold me over. Then followed a full two hours of testing with nary a scrap of food in sight. The outlook was bleak.

The testing done, we began to schedule time for the rest of the project. You can imagine the dim view I took of James’ plan to get together very early Friday morning to install the fender flares. The timetable he outlined for us would leave me only an hour and a half for breakfast before we would have to hit the road.

I don’t care who you are: an hour and a half is simply not enough time to eat a proper breakfast. If this sounds like an excuse, so be it, but I was not in top condition when we arrived at James’ parents’ house, the site of our workshop for this project. Then, serendipity played its hand. James’ mother greeted us at the door with stacks and stacks of hotcakes, and if I do say so, I distinguished myself. Suddenly, the day’s prospects were much brighter.

Just as suddenly, however, events took an abrupt about-face. In order to get James to l’Orangerie (where he works as head chef) in time for dinner, we had to work straight through: six hours without food! We made it with no time to spare, so that after delivering James to the restaurant I had to make do with some duck paté, half-day old sourdough, cucumber salad, kiwi sherbet, and Perrier. Another hardship to be borne.

Early the next morning, fortified by a slightly more extended breakfast period, we again headed southward to perform the brake modification. No pancakes this time, but I had taken care to stow enough under my belt to last the couple hours it took to complete the task. Accordingly, we arrived at l’Orangerie in plenty of time to beat the dinner crowd. James put the extra moments to good use and prepared a much better snack: two kinds of fish in an excellent sauce, a wonderful soup with some french name, sauteed mushrooms over fresh bread, four different types of desserts, and of course, Perrier.

The tire swap had to wait a week until the next Saturday. Even if I hadn’t been out feeding until four in the morning on caviar, raw oysters, marinated salmon, steak tartar, pork paté, vegetables, swiss cheese, pecan pie, chocolate mousse, and other assorted goodies at a terrific party, the breakfast I received in exchange for a few minutes manual labor would have more than sufficed. I must admit to a weakness for fresh bread, very good brie (served at absolutely the right time and temperature), pumpkin bread, tangerines, and raw apple juice at ten in the morning.

The operation was a success, and if I had it all to do over again, I think the only thing I would have done differently would be to have lots of snacks on hand while installing the flares.

Bon appetite!