Ferrari Club of America - Southwest Region

Oldtimer's Corner - Cycles

By: Ed Niles

I have this theory of cycles, see. Everything in the world goes in cycles.

World economics change in broad cycles. The trouble is, most of us don't live long enough to perceive these broad cycles, nor learn the lessons to be derived therefrom.

Governmental cycles are sometimes so grand that they span several generations. Personal cycles, on the other hand, tend to follow the lunar orbit.

The list goes on endlessly. The stock market, housing surpluses and deficits, clothing styles, you name it.

Right now, we're in a crazy part of a cycle involving automobile prices, especially Ferraris. Lord knows I'm an expert on this subject. I wish that I had retained about 95 percent of the Ferraris I have owned in my lifetime, which in turn is about 95 percent of all the Ferraris ever made! But then, I simply didn't have the foresight to see where I was in that particular cycle.

But this isn't a story about car values. We're supposed to be talking about LM's, right?

I once owned an LM. In fact, I twice owned an LM. The same one. So this is a story about the short but violent cycles through which that particular car travelled in the short time that I knew and loved it.

You know my philosophy; if there is a Ferrari I haven't tried, I should try it. At least once. Maybe more, if the first one was an okay car. I have owned about a half a dozen Lussos and a like number of short-wheel-base Berlinettas, so you can see where my fondness lies.

There was a time in my life when I had never owned an LM, so when one came up for sale in San Francisco at a time in my personal economic cycle when I could afford it, nothing would do but that I buy it. I flew up to San Francisco and met Bob Cooper of Cooper Lumber Company who said, "Here, you drive it and see if you like it." I probably didn't kill the engine more than three or four times before I finally got it rolling, and was then so intimidated that I tried to shift into 2nd at about 3500 r.p.m. Garaunch! I discovered that the LM had a crashbox, and along with it discovered that the car was not accustomed to being shifted at 3500 r.p.m. The next time I ran it up to 7000 r.p.m. before shifting, and discovered that it slipped into the next gear as smoothly as a hot knife through butter. (Or knife through hot butter? I never could keep my cliches straight.)

Having thus convinced myself that I was truly a winning driver of world championship class, I immediately bought the car and took it on its drive home to Los Angeles. I soon discovered that LM's are very hot cars. This one was particularly hot. The rubber bellows around the pedals were all shot, so that radiator heat blasted in from the floor board. The water pipes running along the door sills didn't help either, nor did the sharply sloped windshield which let an extraordinary amount of hot sun touch the black upholster. The engine heat came right through the fire wall, locate immediately adjacent to my spine. As it turned out, this was the hottest day of the summer of 1967, so all in all, it was not your thrilling drive home.

Ed Niles 250 LM s/n 5909 (24162 bytes)But I did have a little diversion along the way. I picked up a black-and-white in my rear-view mirror, while travelling down 101. This car, number 5909, had been relegated to street use for a while, and had a speedometer attached. I carefully maintained my speed within the limit, and after four or five miles I saw the black-and-white ease off toward the off-ramp. I maintained my speed, however, and -- sure enough -- he came immediately back on the on-ramp. He did this to me no less than five times, but I was lucky smart enough to maintain my speed throughout the whole exercise.

I finally got the car home, and after several days of r

For a complete look at Sempre Ferrari, you may want to check out the rest of the articles from Volume 5, Issue 3 - June 1998