28 July 2022

Canberra nan treated to the ride of her life on 81st birthday

| James Coleman
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Rosemary McLachlan standing by the surprise Ferrari. Photo: Dylan McLachlan.

For as long as 29-year-old Dylan McLachlan can remember, his nan has wanted to ride in a red Ferrari.

“A long, long time ago, my older brother drew a picture of a Ferrari badge and she still has it on her fridge today,” he says.

“It’s always been a dream of hers.”

And on her 81st birthday, it came true. Rosemary McLachlan scored the ride of her life around Canberra in the passenger seat of a red Ferrari convertible on 25 July, 2022.

Dylan says he isn’t really one to post on a public forum such as the Canberra Notice Board Group on Facebook, but for this, he had to.

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“If anything happened to nan tomorrow, I would never live with myself knowing she had never fulfilled that dream.”

On 5 July, he approached the masses and asked where he might be able to find a red Ferrari to make his nan’s 81st birthday. Soon afterwards, he received a private message from Michael.

Michael (last name omitted for privacy reasons) has always loved cars and in 2015, replaced his Porsche with a Ferrari California, a convertible with a metal folding roof and a hulking great 4.3-litre V8 under the long, red bonnet.

“It’s also a little two-plus-two, which means there are two little seats in the back, so my wife and I can take the kids out for a drive.”

It’s not so much the car that’s the attraction for Michael, but what you do with it.

“In some ways, it’s pointless to keep a car in the garage and not drive it. They’re meant to be driven.”

Armed with this philosophy, Michael knew what he had to do when he was forwarded Dylan’s Facebook post.

“I’m also not a big believer in karma, but taking five minutes out of the day to do something for someone else can make everything better.”

He drove up to the address on the appointed day and it soon became clear the California filled the bill.

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When it rolled up in the driveway, Dylan told her to look outside. If that wasn’t a surprise enough for Rosemary, the next part certainly was.

“She thought it was just one of my mates, but I told her it was her ride to dinner tonight,” he says.

“She replied, ‘What? I’m not that special’. She was speechless. We were all getting teary-eyed seeing just how happy she was.”

At her age, Rosemary typically needs a helping hand to get into a car, but not this one.

“I offered to help but she said, ‘No, I’ll be all right’. She was absolutely stoked and couldn’t believe it,” Dylan says.

Prancing Horse

The famous Prancing Horse. Photo: Michael.

With Michael at the helm and a buzzing Rosemary by his side, they set off towards the Royal Australian Mint and Parliament House, where they stopped for a few photos to immortalise the moment.

“We then went through the tunnels underneath Parliament House, where I opened up the car a bit and did a simulated Monaco-type run,” Michael says.

“She was smiling ear to ear the whole time.”

Supercar experiences are hard to come by in Canberra, and range in cost from several hundred to thousands of dollars. Michael did it for nothing and says Canberra’s Ferrari owners are normally happy to oblige similar requests, but don’t like to publicly advertise it.

“Having a Ferrari and advertising it can create animosity with some people, so we try to keep it low key.”

Dylan says his nan isn’t one for alcohol, but at the post-ride dinner asked for a sip of beer to calm her nerves.

“She said that was something she’ll remember for the rest of her life. And that she never thought it would ever happen.”

Royal Australian Mint

A photo shoot outside the Royal Australian Mint in Deakin. Photo: Michael.

Dylan says she also kept raving on about “those tunnels”.

He provided a follow-up to the Canberra Notice Board Group that evening and it “went off”. By the following day, the post had gathered more than 3700 reactions and 150 comments.

“But I don’t do it for the recognition. I just wanted to make my nan happy, and I’m just so grateful everyone in Canberra was willing to help.”

As for the next item on his nan’s bucket list, Dylan says he might have to take her skydiving.

“But everyone knows that a red Ferrari was one of those things that nan loved. We’ll never forget it.”

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