Skip to comments.Dingell Attacks Opponent's Auto Enthusiasm in Motor City Stunner ( Dr. Steele )
Posted on 10/18/2010 9:20:08 AM PDT by taildragger
John Dingell Jr. has represented Michigans 15th congressional district for 55 years. His father held the same seat for 22 years before that. Dingell has lived his entire life in Washington, D.C., never in the southwest suburbs of Detroit where his constituents live. For perhaps the first time in his life, Dingell is actually in a political battle. The Detroit Free Press published the results of a poll that showed him 4% down to his challenger, Dr. Rob Steele, a cardiologist from Ann Arbor, with just three weeks to go before the election.
In a naked effort to engage in class warfare, the site originally criticized Steele for making a lot of money as a cardiologist and from the group practice he started (which today employs 300 people). Dr. Steele and his wife, also a successful physician, have a large home, with a five car garage. Now most auto enthusiasts understand the concept of having more cars than storage allows, but to the MDSCC, thats apparently a sin. Originally Who Is Rob Steele? had the following information mined from vehicle registration databases on the site:
His five-car garage isnt big enough to hold all of his eight luxury cars Look at this list of vehicles:
1968 Ferrari 330GTC12 2000 BMW M5 1965 Alfa Romeo 1962 Willys Station Wagon 1970 Fiat 1967 Fiat 1970 Buick Skylark GS 455 1996 Cadillac Seville
Really think a rich doctor with eight fancy cars understands what its like to get by in this economy?
Now how out of touch with the world of cars and with the people of Michigan who love them do you have to be to call a 62 Willys fancy? To describe Fiats as luxury cars?
In response to an inquiry, the Dingell campaign said
Mr. Dingell does not think Rob Steeles 1962 Willys Station Wagon is a fancy luxury car but his other eight autos include a Ferrari, BWM M5, Alfa Romeo and multiple Fiats. Those are pretty darn fancy luxury cars! Made in America? Not so much
Know anything about car culture? Not so much.
Actually, according to Dr. Steele, the Willys belongs to his son, a gift from a grandparent, and the M5 was stolen. To a car nut, that list doesnt say fancy or luxury, it says car guy, cool cars. Car guys know that if Dr. Steele were interested in luxury, the BMW would have been a 7 Series, not a M5. Car guys know that of all the M5s, he picked the purest of the breed.
And Dr. Steele is indeed a car guy, a serious car guy. The list above is incomplete due to project cars, etc. He actually has three Alfas, two 65 Spyders, one he races and one thats being restored as a historic racer since it competed in the 1965 Daytona Continental, and 1988 Alfa Romeo Milano Verde. The Verde means that its a factory hot rod, Steele explained. The Fiats are actually Dino models. Steele is such a car guy that in the middle of campaigning and treating patients he called me back to make sure that I knew that one of the Fiat Dinos is a Pininfarina roadster and the other a Bertone coupe, and that the 65 Alfa had a bunch a aluminum components and one of the first 5spd transmissions you could buy in America. Every single one of his vehicles is a special example of that model or marque. His muscle car is a Buick.
The cars arent trailer queens either. Dr. Steele has raced in SCCA, at the road courses in Waterford Hills and Gratton, Michigan, and he sometimes takes his Buick down to Milan dragway, though he doesnt push it real hard, I want to keep it stock. Our conversation started including words like DeDion rear axle, suspension mods, inboard brakes and dual spark ignition. Not the kind of things you hear from the usual politician.
If Steele wanted to drive fancy luxury cars, he can easily afford something fancier than the eight year old GMC Denali XL thats his daily driver. Thats also the family car (the Steeles have four children), since Mrs. Steele just bought a 2011 Mustang GT that her husband describes as an awesome car that he wishes was his.
As an Italian car lover, hes hoping that Chryslers start coming with Alfa Romeo engines.
Now some of you may be saying, yeah, okay, so he has some interesting collectible cars that are not particularly valuable, what about the Ferrari?
Steele took pains to note that the vast majority of his cars were bought at least 20 years ago. Hes been fooling around with cars since he got an MGB-GT as a teenager (followed by a 240Z, than a 944 Turbo). The Ferrari was bought in 1986, and it took a second mortgage on the family home to afford it @ $40,000. Its hard to say what its worth but in the past half decade the auction prices on 330 GTCs have skyrocketed, peaking last year at ~$670,000. This year, four 68 330 GTCs have sold for an average price of about $400K. So its true that Dr. Steele isnt poor, and its true that his car collection is worth many thousands of dollars. He has nothing to be ashamed about and the truth is that he made his money honestly, helping people, and he is spending his money wisely and creatively, at least from looking at his collection.
Steele responded to the MDSCC attack on his cars directly with the following statement on his campaigns web site:
A long-time auto enthusiast, Dr Steele enjoys all things automotive, including autocross, racing, mechanical work and restoration. He is a lifetime member of the National Motorist Association
Thats also something you dont expect to hear from a politician, even near Detroit. Michiganders are used to our politicians invoking all they have done for the auto industry, or mentioning a favorite Mustang or other special interest car in their garage or their past, but I can never recall a candidate making a point about how important car culture is in his life.
Dingell and lots of dems reduced to attacking their opponents over issues with no substance or relevance.
What would you rather have, a Dr who is a car guy or someone who's no infamous line is to "Control the People"...
Yes like his false attacks on Dr Steele on Social Security.
Read the comments in the article link... Wow, especially from the Democrats that are car guys and “get it”..
Dingell has been re-elected for all those years because he supported the auto industry, or at least the unions, and brought a lot of money to Detroit.
How has that worked out?
The voters are on to him and that’s why he is in trouble.
Pfffffftttt... The 70 Buick Skylark GS is the only one worth owning...
I happen to own a Ferrari 330GTC. No 330GTC that I know about has ever sold for $400,000, much less four of them at that price. Only 599 were made, so it’s relatively easy to track sales, especially through auctions an on-line advertising. One sold recently for, I beleve, $340,000. It is probably the best 330GTC on the planet, and is reported to be the only one ever shown at Pebble Beach. The average price for a very good 330GTC is about $225,000.
A man who has been in DC for 55 years and inherited his seat from his father versus an MD who has spent his life savings others.
A man who is married to a GM heiress and lobbyist versus a self made man whose wife is also a Doc.
A man who spends all his time in politics versus a man whose hobby is very much involved with the main business in his prospective constituency.
What a choice. No wonder Steele is in the lead.
I wondered if it was a Stage 1 car, seeing how the other cars on the list were equally unique. I'm a Ford guy at heart, but I appreciate all the late '50s through early '70s iron. The Buick would be my choice over its Chevelle SS, 442 and GTO siblings; that 455 was a great engine for a street machine.
Dingell has one ad running in southeastern Michigan. It scares seniors into thinking Steele is going to destroy Social Security.
You would think Dingell, who is the Godfather of Health Care Reform, would be running tons of ads bragging about the bill.
I live in his district. All of the lawn signs are for Steele. The only place you will find a Dingell sign is on the lawn of the local UAW building.
Nice choice, Doc!
I am hearing the same thing from a bud of mine down in Monroe-ish about the signs. Many in the yards of Union Big shots according to my friend!
For the record, I am a liberal Democrat. I have no idea why Mr. Dingell has attacked Mr. Steele on this.
Mr. Steele appears to have excellent taste in automobiles, and his garage is not particularly extravagant. It adds up to a pretty decent answer to How would you spend $100,000 on your dream garage?
The Ferrari 330 has often been called a bargain a true Ferrari V12 GT for far less than what its more famous relatives go for and if bought in a year when values were down would have cost less than $20,000.
The Skylark GS-455 was about the peak of the later Detroit muscle-car. It or a Dodge/Plymouth with a Hemi would have been the fastest midsizer you could buy in 1970. If bought before 1985 or in the 1990s it wouldve been just another used car at a four figure price.
An E39 BMW M5 has cost less than $20,000 for the past few years, and would be a bargain if it wasnt for the heavy maintenance cost.
The 65 Alfa, again, was very cheap at some point and between the 1980s boom and the 1990s boom couldve gone for four figures.
The Fiats and Willys, if running and in good condition, are the sort of cool old ordinary cars that go on Jalopnik all the time.
A 1996 Seville is 15 years old now and is probably some sort of winter beater.
It sounds like the doc has a pretty nice collection of cars and a number of folks on both sides of the aisle admire that.
A friend of mine collects Mustangs. He buys old junkers and restores them in his spare time. Last week he was working on a '71 that he'd picked up for a song from a lady his wife works with. I went over and helped a bit with the sanding. He's now all of the dings and dents flattened out and will be repainting her sometime in the next couple of weeks.
Here in Michigan being a “car guy” is going to help him connect with voters not drive them away. Nit wit.
Things are so bad here near the former Motor City that its like a decaying eastern European country after the fall of Communism. Anybody need any vacant auto factories? We got acres of them.
I had a 1970 GS 455, black with mat red hood and side stripes. Would I ever like that car back!
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