Ferrari Club of America - Southwest Region

Oldtimer's Corner - Flirting With The Peter Principle

Article and photos by Edwin K. Niles

This is just a little tale of my ownership of Dino 206S number 002 from 1971 to 1974. Like all good fables, it has a moral. But I'm still too close to it, twenty-six years later, to know exactly what the moral is!

Read on.

When I acquired the Dino, the entire superstructure had been carefully removed, including the windshield. The wiring loom had been removed as well, and Merle Brennan, a fine Nevada Driver, had been running the car with just the battery to power the ignition. I called this the "hill-climb configuration;" Brennan claimed that he had lightened the car by several hundred pounds with these efforts. This claim is rather astonishing, since the factory alleged that the dry weight of the car, complete with top, was only 1,276 lbs.

Appropriately enough, the next Ferrari Club event after my acquisition of the Dino was the First Annual Hill-Climb at Virginia City, Nevada (1972). While it rained off and on through the weekend, I was able to get in a terrified run with the Dino. I simply couldn't believe the acceleration shown by this little two-liter car! I felt as if the car was the hit of the weekend, even though the event was pretty well rained out. Whenever I started the engine, everyone within a mile radius came running, with their hands clasped firmly over their ears!

Our next club event was a low-pressure time trial at Willow Springs, California. I had agreed with Ken Starbird (driving his 250 LM) that we would travel to Willow Springs together. I told Ken to keep me informed if police officers should come up behind us, as I had not yet mounted a mirror.

Sure enough, out in the middle of Antelope Valley, (where the deer and the antelope work!), Ken's arms started flying around, and we pulled over to the side of the road. After chatting briefly with Ken, the officer approached me. Since I had neglected to zip up my jacket before departure, my first words to the officer were, "Geez, I'm glad you stopped me; I've been freezing my ass off!" The officer, however, had left his sense of humor at home, and told me that he was going to cite me for modifying my "home-built car" because it was too low. I patiently explained to him that (a) it was not home-built, and (b) I had not modified it. Then he asked me about my windshield wiper, which of course I didn't have mounted, as I didn't have the windshield mounted either. He asked about my horn, which was not yet on the car, and then he asked me where my front license plate was. At least I had an answer for that one: pulling it out from under the passenger seat may or may not have helped. We had a lot more conversation about bumpers, mufflers, racing tires on the street, lights, turn signals, etc. After 15 or 20 minutes, he must have concluded that he didn't have enough citation blanks to cover everything, so he looked me dead I the eye and said, "anybody crazy enough to drive a car like this doesn't deserve a ticket, he deserves to be in the booby hatch! Get the hell out of here!"

Ken and I got the hell out of Dodge as quietly and as quickly as we could. We made it to Willow Springs without further incident. That is, until someone pointed out that my car seemed to be relieving itself on the black top. Gasoline!

As I tried to repair the leak, it only got worse. Before long, I was soaked in gasoline, hoping that the cigarette smokers were keeping their distance!

Eventually, the Dino was dry. But the day was at an end. I slunk home with my metaphorical tail between my legs.

The next club event was the Virginia City Hill-Climb of 1973. By then, I<

For a complete look at Sempre Ferrari, you may want to check out the rest of the articles from Volume 7, Issue 6 - November/December 2000