Oldtimers Corner - Out of the Barn

Out of the Barn

By: Ed Niles

In the very early 60's, when I started bringing in a few cars from Italy, I met a fellow named Jess Haynes, who told me that he had been one of three partners in a small operation which also had imported a number of Ferraris from Italy for resale in the US. When the partnership broke up, Jess was left with a very attractive Berlinetta, which he indicated had been featured at the 1956 Geneva Auto Show. It was a gorgeous car, painted in that wonderful light, bright silver that Pinin Farina featured on his show cars. The interior was a dark red vinyl material, with contrasting white piping and light grey carpets which almost matched the exterior paint.

It was quite a special car, beautifully done in design as well as execution. The dash board featured a number of unusual and extra instruments not seen on most Ferraris.

Soon thereafter, one Chester Bolin, who went by the name of Chet, showed up with the car at a few Ferrari club events. By then, the car had been painted what we later referred to as "resale red". The style of the car was very much like the early Tour de France Berlinettas, but somehow different; more elegant. But in those days, most of the Ferraris were different from all the other Ferraris in one way or another, so we didn't assign any particular value to the car. It was just another Ferrari of approximately 1956 vintage. Then, when it came time to pay his annual dues, Chet Bolin dropped out of the Ferrari Club, and neither Chet nor the car were to be heard from for a long time thereafter.

250 GT 0425GT250 GT s/n 0425 GT -- note the similarity to the 250 GT "Tour De France" Berlinettas

Fast forward to the 80's. Everybody and his cousin was a "Ferrari Broker". A favorite pastime was researching the older Ferraris, trying to find one that was still "hidden in the barn". I was caught up in the fever, right there with many of my friends. I use to pore over my book of serial numbers, trying to refresh my memory about cars that I might be able to find and buy. Remember, the market was climbing wildly, and in the mid 80's it hardly mattered what you paid for a car. If you overpaid on that day, just wait a day! In other words, today's retail was tomorrow's wholesale.

In poring over my notes, I kept coming across Chet Bolin's name. No one that I knew had seen the car in many years, and most of the newcomers didn't even know the car existed. I had a strong feeling that Chet and the car, which bore Serial No. 0425 GT, were still together. But various attempts to locate an address for Chet met with failure; the telephone directories and the DMV, the L. A. County Registrar of Voters and other inquiries all came up blank.

As we reached the mid 80's, I finally decided to invest a little money with a private detective. Sure enough, he came up with an address for Chester Bolin in Murietta, in Riverside County! When I got this information, my friend John Starkey (to whom I had sold a Tour de France Berlinetta) was visiting, so I said to John, "How would you like to take a drive to Riverside County with me?". I had no telephone number for Chet, only an address. So there was nothing to do but to drive out to Murietta on speculation. When we got there, we pulled into the local gas station, to ask directions to his street, which we discovered was a street of mobile homes. As we rounded the corner we saw, parked in front of the mobile home, a tattered car cover, hiding the unmistakable shape of the Ferrari we were seeking!

It was a Sunday afternoon, and both Chet and his wife Phyllis were home, and delighted to receive some visitors from out of the past. They confirmed that no one had approached them about the car, and they apparently had little idea of its value (then, over $100,0