Ferrari Club of America - Southwest Region

Oldtimer's Corner - Goldoni part III

By: Ed Niles

Gordon Culp was not the only one who wanted my pal Roberto Goldoni to find him a Ferrari. Among several others who made their wishes known to Roberto was Lyle Tanner, who with his then wife Kathy (our good member Katherine Bard) was very active in the formation of the Ferrari Owner's Club in Southern California. In the early 60's, Lyle was employed by the City of Los Angeles, where I had just completed my internship in the City Attorney's Office.

Lyle and Kathy, like most of us, were impecunious but adventuresome. And they loved those early Ferraris as much as anyone!

Let me try to explain what I mean by the use of those adjectives. Few of us had enough money in our bank account to go out and buy a Ferrari, even a used one. But we would scrape together whatever modest resources we could lay our hands on, and borrow the rest. A Ferrari that was a few years old would usually sell for around $3,000.00; perhaps a bit more. That was about 25% of its original price. The adventure came in not really knowing what we were going to get until it arrived. We were buying a car strictly on description, and if we were lucky, a photograph or two. And I had already learned that the descriptions were sometimes misleading.

So here we were, sending everything we could scrape together over to some guy in Italy, hoping that we would get our money's worth! It was a crap shoot! To this day I can remember how excited I was the day a car arrived from Italy, ready to clear customs and be driven away. I could hardly sleep the night before!.

Lyle and Kathy financed their "Goldoni Ferrari" with the sale of their first Ferrari, a 1955 250 GT "Europa".

But it was a Europa with a difference. (Time for another history lesson, boys and girls). The first Ferrari that approached anything resembling a "production-line model" was the 250 Europa, made on a 110" wheel-base. My first Ferrari was one of those. In 1955, Ferrari started producing the 250GT Europa with an almost identical body, but on a shorter (102") chassis. The 250 GT's featured the new front suspension utilizing coil springs instead the transverse leaf spring, and were considerably lighter and more nimble to drive. Also, they used the "small block" or Colombo engine rather than the large Lampredi-designed engine.

The Europas, like most of the Ferraris that preceded that model, featured an oval, almost round, radiator grill, but the Tanner's "Europa", which bore Serial No. 0407 GT, had a completely different and much lower grill. Also, the rear-end treatment and the tail lights were somewhat different from the standard Europa. There had been a few Pinin Farina show cars (Notably 0393 GT and 0403 GT) that featured the much lower grill, but these were essentially one-off cars. To this day, I have never heard a rational explanation as to why 0407 GT was different from the other 250 GT Europas in the series. It came about 25% of the way through the production series, so would not technically be considered a prototype.

250 GT s/n 0407 The Tanner's first Ferrari, s/n 0407 GT, when it was new. (Pinninfarina Photo).

Lyle and Kathy had purchased O407 GT from "a guy in Long Beach", when they discovered that they could buy a used Ferrari for $2,500.00, the price of a brand new Triumph that they had been contemplating. There were plenty of reasons for the low price. The grey-green-silver paint could only be described as "drab". The salmon vinyl and grey cloth interior didn't help. First one head gasket blew, then the other. And there was the day that the carburetors caught on fire when Kathy was driving to work.

Most of its life with the Tanners (a period of three or four years) the car did not want to seem to start on the battery. So one would find Kathy out in the driveway, in her 3" heels, pushing the car and then hopping in to pop<

For a complete look at Sempre Ferrari, you may want to check out the rest of the articles from Volume 2, Issue 11 - December 1995