Mick Gatto road tests for Wheels

Mick Gatto, colourful crime figure, Rolls-Royce owner and part-time road-tester, is set to be appointed as a Wheels Car of the Year judge and the face of the magazine's 130 - Raise the Limit, Lower the Toll campaign. We might even get him to collect any unpaid debts we've got lying around, just for good measure.

We jest, of course – we couldn't afford him – but the amount of media stir created by his appearance in this month's magazine, helping us test the gangster-spec G63 AMG, does make it tempting.

Stories about the Gatto story have appeared in The Age, The Australian and the Herald Sun today, and Wheels Editor Glenn Butler has been all over the airwaves talking about the feature as well.

The Age didn't bother to actually check its story with Wheels, which is why they report that, despite having to borrow money off his dad to buy his first car, he's now being "paid to test drive them".

It's a claim not even supported by their own story, as Gatto said any money he was going to be paid would go straight to the Royal Children's Hospital, but the fact is no offer of money was ever made to him. We figured he's got plenty, though with the tax department apparently chasing him for $11 million, he might run short eventually.

Gatto did mention a fee in our early negotiations, but we assured him that we weren't a tabloid newspaper, or Today Tonight, so we weren't in the business of paying for guest appearances.

If anyone would like to call him on our behalf and remind him of that, we'd be most grateful. We're really hoping he doesn't turn up at our offices (which have moved to India, if you're reading this, Mick) to collect on this non-existent debt.

Speaking of tabloids, the Herald Sun was most taken with Gatto's admission that he bought his Rolls because he liked the infra-red feature, which he uses to check his driveway for hidden assailants every night. They also embiggened the fact that he "joked" with us about selling the suit he was wearing when he famously shot Andrew Veniamin, complete with powder burns, on Ebay. They suggest he "plans" to do so, which isn't exactly the same thing. Journalists, eh?

The Australian's story adds just a sprinkle of embellishment with its suggestion that Gatto ran "a few red lights". Fortunately, no fines have turned up so far, and if they do we'll be far too scared to pass them on.

The story in the nation's only broadsheet does mention how Gatto told us the boot of the big Benz would fit four bodies, when we'd guess only two, but all the papers missed what we think is the best exchange of the whole story, when he talks about body bags. You can read it here.

The story has also ruffled the feathers of some Mercedes-Benz customers, with a spokesman for the company telling us they'd received phone calls from disgruntled owners.

"But we've had a variety of calls; I think we'll probably get some AMG customers who write in and say they really love it... It's not the sort of story we would have initiated, but in the end, it's a good read," the spokesman said.

Gatto is no stranger to media attention, and one suspects he kind of enjoys it, but his association with Wheels – which was meant to be a bit of fun but turned out to be downright fascinating – has put us right in the spotlight for the day.

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