Buying an Older Ferrari - The Final Chapter

By: Chris Kantarjiev

April 22, 1996: After a year, two months and three days, 9161 is finally home and sitting in our driveway instead of at the body shop. Everything on the list I left after our last visit was done - for a change. I drove her home very gingerly this morning; she?s in the driveway instead of outside my window at work because the battery is all but flat?

She still has to go back to get her headlight trim rings (not back from the platers) and a few other niggardly details, but we all (body shop folks, too!) wanted to get her home and out of the shop.

330 GT s/n 9161 330 GT 2+2 s/n 9161 looks even better than before. Now if she?d only pass that blasted Smog II....

I changed the oil, did a quick tune-up, and took some short trips. We noticed a number of small things that still needed to be done. One of them was to readjust the alignment of the trunk lid to properly fit the new seal; this ended up being the cause of the flat battery, because the trunk light was always on.

One of the trips we took was back up King?s Mountain Road, to and past the accident site. My, but that?s a narrow road! I don?t know what I was thinking going up there at more than a crawl with that big car. That was almost certainly exaggerated by the fact that I had to remind myself to breathe most of the way up, but it is a narrow road, and I had to go quite slowly to not cross the yellow.

The following weekend we were meant to go on the Abalone Run with the FCA Pacific Region, up to Point Reyes. We were really looking forward to finally being able to bring our Ferrari along, rather than a Brand X. Unfortunately, she started fouling plugs during the week, and I couldn?t get the tune straightened out in time to be comfortable driving her on a four hour trip. More hopes dashed; I spent a frustrating day under the hood instead of a pleasant day behind the wheel.

In fact, that?s been the story of the car so far. Her registration expired and she needs a smog certificate. I got her running well, but the emissions were way off. The guy I used to take her to has gone out of business. The guy down the street who tests our Triumphs ran me through a couple of times... and then Smog Check II went into effect. The next time I came in, he said ?We better do a test run first, you don?t want to get labeled a Gross Polluter?... and sure enough, we had that to worry about, too.

I called around to several shops that do Ferrari work. They were all more than an hour?s drive away, or afraid to take on smog work for a car that they haven?t seen before. Very odd - several shops all but told me that they didn?t want my business, even though I tried to make it very clear that it might take many hours to get to the point of running cleanly enough. Smog Check II has folks scared.

Between the lack of a valid registration and going back to the body shop for headlight rings and other details, we missed the Monterey Historics again. But even if we had rushed to get the cosmetics done, I wouldn?t have had enough confidence in driving the car to drive her down.

There are (sadly) some things about the car that aren?t perfect, but aren?t worth making so. For example, there?s a paint flaw (a small crack) in the hood just above the ?safety hook?. It?s not very obvious, it?s down in the color coat, and any repair would inevitably be extremely obvious. A few pieces got lost in the process - we?re still looking for them or replacements. Given how long the car was apart, this is not a big surprise.

Now to try to work on the balance of time; she?s been in the shop longer than we owned her before the accident. She?s mostly been sitting for the past few months, waiting for me to have enough time to deal with the smog problems. She passed easily last time - all she really needs is a very good tune-up.