The first time I saw Doug Algie he was sitting behind the huge steering wheel of a car that once had been driven by the great Tazio Nuvolari. It was February 1966 at a low-key club race meeting on a tidal area near the township of Karitane, north of Dunedin.

Doug was driving an enormous pre-war Alfa Romeo Grand Prix car that had originally been powered by two engines – one at the front, the other at the rear – but that, over time, had been abbreviated to just the front engine, with the original Alfa motor replaced by a GMC truck engine. In other words, it was a typical, cobbled-up New Zealand special of the time. But it was a car with fantastic history – it was the remaining example of the two Alfa Bimotore cars built by Enzo Ferrari to try and beat the silver Mercedes and Auto Unions. Ergo, the ‘first Ferrari’.

However, this is not a story about the Bimotore. It is a story about Doug Algie – my mate.

I’m writing this story not because he’s my mate, not because he was world champion, but because his involvement with motor racing and messing about with cars is a microcosm of the lives of many of us.

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