In 1982 the world of rallying said hello to the real Black Beauty. Yes, Anna Sewell’s book about a horse might have sold more than 50 million copies, but it was Ari Vatanen’s ultimate-specification Ford Escort RS1800 that got the real eyeballs. Remember it? It was a genuine thing of Shell Oils-backed loveliness.
Thirty-eight years on, say hello to Black Beauty, the sequel.
This is the livery Hayden Paddon intended to launch in the middle of last month. The plan was a four-round World Rally Championship effort with Hyundai New Zealand, culminating with a shot at home glory when the WRC returned to Auckland for the first time in eight years this September.
Cue COVID-19. Cue the world turning upside down. Cue curtains for Paddon’s 2020 world rally return.
“The plan was to do Portugal, Sardinia and Finland before we got to Rally New Zealand,” Paddon told DirtFish.
“We were really excited about this opportunity with Hyundai New Zealand – they’re so positive in the support and in everything they do and this was a real chance to get back and come to the home rally with plenty of seat time.
“It’s pretty frustrating what’s happened, but we can’t do anything about it this season.
“We thought we should share the livery we’d decided on for the car – it looks good.
“It had to be black. Like pretty much everything with sport over here in New Zealand, we take a lead from the All Blacks [NZ’s legendary rugby team – tell me, I didn’t need to tell you that…] with the black livery and the silver fern.
“We were really pleased with how it was looking and the opportunity we had.”
Ideally, Paddon would want to keep that four-round deal on the boil for the 2021 season, but he knows it’s not going to be easy.
“Business is tough down here right now,” he said. “We had a lot of good backers – as always – with us for this year, but whether we can get them to come on board again next season is another question.
“The world’s a different place right now, the virus has changed pretty much everything. Of course, we’re working towards it, but I’d say it’s going to be 10 times harder to do next time.
“I’d never say never, but it’s going to be very tough to make it happen.”
Some way, somehow, it has to happen. Black Beauty II has to be seen on the stages next season. A livery like that is far too cool not to be liberated from the hard drive.