Buying an Older Ferrari - Part 4

By: Chris Kantarjiev

When last we left our intrepid pair, they were still scouring the market with money burning a hole in their pockets (well, not really). They had looked at s/n 8679 and decided to give it a pass, since the water jacket on the engine was somewhat suspect and they were worried about the heads having electrolyzed onto the block. Not to mention that they wanted way too much money for a car with no history or tools.

Back to the Market Letter. Several ads came along and were discarded - no history, no tools, "my son bought it six months ago and decided he didn't want it, so I'm trying to sell it; trust me, my mechanic says it runs like new, no, I have no idea who owned it before." Sigh.

After a little while, I get a call from one of the players in the s/n 8679 non-deal. He tells me "Chris, I've got what might be the car for you. It's in Texas, it's still owned by the guy who picked it up from the factory, it's been in storage for about three years. It's in great shape, pretty low mileage. I've seen the car and if I had the extra cash, I'd buy it. He's been asking way too much for a while, but he's come down to asking something reasonable."

Yeah, yeah. You're a car salesman and I don't trust you farther than I can spit, but this is better than anything else I've heard lately. He's going to get me a phone number after making sure that the car is really for sale.

A day goes by, he leaves me a message that the car is in storage in Houston, gives a name and number. OK, by sheer luck I have a good buddy, Stan, who lives in Houston and is a car guy. And even better, is on the Internet. He's a Porsche fanatic, but he knows what's what.

So I send him some e-mail, tell him about the car and where it is and he says "Oh no, not that weasel!". Well, it turns out that the mechanic, let's call him "Junior", does Ferraris and Porsches, and my friend has had some less-than-satisfactory dealings with him in the past on the Porsche side of the house. Oh great. But I don't have a whole lot of choice here, that's where the car is, and it certainly sounds like what we've been looking for.

So I give Junior a call and talk to him about the car. He gives me the basic rundown: serial number 9161, metallic powder blue with a black interior, tools and books, 33K miles, original owner. Power steering and air conditioning. Car has seen some paint, the lacquer shows some checking but otherwise is exceedingly original, down to the factory paint sticker inside the trunk lid. Has the original Blaupunkt radio, all the chrome bits and flag badges. Alloy wheels. Full belly pan is there and intact. Leather is in decent shape, though it could probably use some Lexol and dye. Door lights work. Windows work. Clock doesn't. Headliner "perfect". Bumpers and overriders intact.

He's been maintaining it for the past five or six years. He hasn't done much to the car lately because the owner hasn't been using it and he doesn't want to push preventative maintenance on him for no reason, but the work he describes sounds like it was done right. He promises to send me some photos. He doesn't tell me the name of the owner, but tells me that he's about 70. The owner bought the car in 1966, the car went to New York to Chinetti's agency, the owner picked it up and drove it home to Texas, where it has been ever since. Owner has photos of the car being off loaded from a KLM plane. Asking $38K, he figures $35K would probably take it.

In the meantime, Stan has been poking around his contacts in Houston, mostly trying to figure out the history of the car and who the owner is. One of his racing partners used to be a big Ferrari guy, and he will call around and try to get the skinny on this car; there just aren't that many 330GTs around Houston, so it can't be too hard.

This turns up the story that the owner had Junior do some work and apparently wasn't real satisfied (we never did track down a