That having been said, it also needs to be said that, in the Italian way of doing things, building the body was not the most expensive part of the proposition. A car could be "re-bodied" in Italy, in the old days, for as little as $1,500.00! For instance, in an earlier episode, I told you about the two "Nembos" both bearing serial number 1777 GT. Those cars were simply Ferraris that had had the old bodies removed (perhaps after a wreck) and new bodies built and installed. This was not a terribly expensive project.
American Tom Meade, who lived in Modena in the 60?s, was responsible for quite a few of these re-bodies. These were legitimate cars, bearing (for the most part) serial numbers from the original car. They were not purporting to be anything they were not: An older Ferrari with a newer body.
The "re-body" game probably started as way to make a usable car out of a piece of junk. But as the older Ferraris became more and more valuable in the 70?s and 80?s, the game took on a different complexion. An example is the series of "fake" 250 GTO?s built by William Favre of France. These cars started with frames from prosaic models such as 250 GTE 2+2?s, the frames were shortened, the engines were moved rearward and modified for dry sump, and completely re-bodied to replicate a 250 GTO. Although a Ferrari expert could easily tell the difference, to the lay person?s eye, they were dead-on ringers. In fact, they were so good that the Ferrari factory brought suit against Favre, obtaining an injunction restraining him from further production of these models. The factory no doubt felt that the potential for deception was simply too great.
As a matter of fact, the Favre GTO?s were built in the Giordanengo shop, in Cuneo, Italy, South of Milano. While these cars were being built, someone sent me a photo taken inside the shop of Giordanengo, and I was interested to see a 250 GT California Spyder in the photo. It seems that a California Spyder on our East Coast had burned to the ground, and after the owner collected on his insurance, the burned-out chassis was sent to Giordanengo?s shop. Eventually, a 250 GT California Spyder emerged, bearing that same serial number. But oddly enough, the original burned-out chassis remained in the shop. So the question becomes that of whether any of the original parts ended up in the rebuilt car.
This, boys and girls, is where we get into an area of great difficulty. And this is but one example. For instance, many years ago, I purchased a wrecked 250 GT Berlinetta, Serial No. 0647 GT, that my friend Peter Helm had managed to roll over in a fit of pique. I sold off all the usable parts, and the bare chassis frame remained at a friend?s shop for years. When I was selling parts, I sold the engine to Dick Merritt, then I closed the book on that particular project. At the expense of a lot of work, I had turned $1,000.00 into $2,000.00. I swore I would never do it again.
But years later, I received a call from someone dying to find the original chassis frame. I couldn?t remember what happened to it, nor could the mechanic at the shop where it had rested, nor could the mechanic who ended up buying that shop. We simply didn?t know. But by then, the frame was valuable enough that it warranted some effort. In desperation, I visited a hypnotist, but even the help of a third party couldn?t dredge up the memory of what happened to the frame.
Recently, (wouldn?t you know it?) I received an inquiry from Europe, asking about the legitimacy o