After Roberto Goldoni and I realized that we could have some fun and make a little money bringing cars to the US from Italy, we cranked up the volume. Soon, we were importing 3 to 5 cars a year from Italy (mostly Rome), and re-selling them in the US. We were accomplishing all this on a very modest budget, so there were times when we were simply unable financially to take advantage of an opportunity.
My activities created some criticism as well as modest envy. Criticism came in the form of a sharp letter from Mrs. Otto Zipper (remember, Otto was one of the early Los Angeles Ferrari dealers), who accused me of taking advantage of my position as Membership Chairman in the FOC to sell Ferraris, thus cutting into some potential profit of the Zipper family.
But some of my friends saw that I was having a good time, and wanted to get into the act. One such friend was Gordon Culp, a young engineer, inventor, butterfly collector, and world class classical guitarist from the San Fernando Valley. Gordon, in his way, was a real renaissance man, with many and varied interests. But understanding the practicalities of the real world apparently was not his long suit. Let's just say he was left-brain challenged.
It happened this way: Goldoni told me about a most unusual Ferrari which was for sale in Rome, and because I did not have the resources, I asked Gordon if he was interested. He responded with an enthusiastic affirmative, asking me to tell Goldoni to put a deposit on the car. After Goldoni had done so, Gordon went to his bank to borrow the money to complete the purchase. The first question out of the banker's mouth was, "Do you have a California pink slip?" Gordon's face fell. For the first time, he realized that he might not be able to complete the purchase.
If Gordon was dejected, Goldoni was heart-sick! He had made a substantial deposit on the car with his own funds, on my assurance that Gordon was well known to me and reliable! I was in the middle. What to do? What to do?
I scrambled around among my friends, and when I got ahold of Dick Merritt, I hit the jackpot! Merritt said he had a partner, Gary Wales, who could raise the money for a car. Together, they ended up buying the car, and saving my fannie, not to mention Goldoni's.
The car in question was already well-known in Europe. Its serial number is 2819 GT, which tells us that it started life as a "Comp 61" short wheel-base Berlinetta. The car ran, in its original configuration, in the 1961 Tour de France, coming in second overall with Gendebien and Bianchi, after which it was sold to Count Giovanni Volpe's Scuderia SSS (or Serenisima) and under his ownership it came in 3rd. overall in the Montlhery 1000 Kilometers with Trintignant and Vaccarella.
1961 will be remembered as the year of the "palace uprising" at Ferrari. Some of the top engineering people were unhappy with uncle Enzo, partly as a result of his refusal to consider a mid-engined GT car, and left, along with World Champion driver Phil Hill, to form ATS (Automobili Turismo e Sport). Because Volpe was one of the backers of ATS, he suddenly found himself on that well-known list at Ferrari, unable to complete the purchase of a second 250 GTO for competition in the 1962 season (he had purchased 3445 GT through some friends).
Since Ing. G. Bizzarrini was one of the top engineers who left Ferrari for ATS, and since Count Volpe was both the owner of Scuderia SSS and a major backer of ATS, it was only natural that Volpe and Bizzarrini would put their heads together and "remanufacture" 2819 GT. Bizzarrini, with the help of Neri and Bonacini for the mechanical work and several other Modena craftsmen for the body work, disassembled 2819, fabricated a dry sump system for the engine, moved the engine further back and lower in the chassis, and replaced the three carburetor manifold with 6 carburetors. When the mods were completed, the engine was essentially th