Thursday, December 18, 2008

Maine mutant Volvo meets Letterman

...or perhaps I should say "melts" instead of "meets"?

A British Columbia local news article in which Dave Letterman reminisces about Paul Newman brings up an interesting example of Maine hybrid motoring -- and I don't mean an environmentally sound hybrid! Nope, this is the fire-breathing Volvo type. Read on...
Once bitten, Newman had the racing bug
December 16, 2008 5:00 PM


“Dave? I’ve got a deal from a guy in Maine,” the voice on the other end said.

“It’s a custom Volvo 960 station wagon, OK? But it’s different. He’s going to take a small-block Ford V8 racing engine, strip out the transmission and suspension, then supercharge it. My guy’s gonna make it for me. Would you like one?”

David Letterman was stunned.

“Well, yeah, Paul,” Letterman told the caller. “Wouldn’t we all?”

So Letterman, one of the most famous late-night talk show hosts and a car nut, told Paul Newman, one of North America’s most famous actors and a car nut, to go for it.

Supercharge the Volvo. Swedish safety be damned! Go nuts!

“So, Paul eventually brings the car over, drops the car off and this is the kind of car that people would stare at street lights,” Letterman told his TV audience earlier this year upon Newman’s death.

“It was like an atomic furnace under the hood. I used to love driving it. It would go 170 miles per hour and, underneath, the exhaust system would glow bright orange.”

Then, one day, Letterman was in the Volvo on a New York interstate with his girlfriend when she asked a simple question: “What’s that smell?”

Letterman turned to her and said, “Raw power and speed, baby.”

Wrong. The Volvo was on fire.

“We had to pull over. The car was shooting flames everywhere. It couldn’t handle the power,” Letterman said.

“I call Paul and say ‘The wheel wells, everything is on fire.’ But, wow, what a car. Paul Newman and I were the only ones with this car.”


[Read the full article here: Source]
Paul Newman fans will be happy to note that the article contains some great anecdotes about the man.

A Bangor Daily News article relates a number of his ties to Maine, where he stayed during the filming of Maine author Richard Russo's story, "Empire Falls." According to the article, Newman was also a regular benefactor of the College of the Atlantic.

Another blog,, did a little sleuthing and found clips of Letterman talking about the car with Jon Stewart in 1995, and lets us know that the "consensus ... is that Converse Engineering in Maine did the V8 conversions." The site sports a transcription of Dave and Jon discussing the events leading up to the car, a videoclip, tons of other links to the Volvos in question, and more! GO THERE NOW!

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