The Amelia Sunday

March 19, 2023

I decided to head to Amelia Concours a little late this year since I didn’t have to show a car to be there at the crack of dawn. There was nice collection of Porsche 959s gathered on the back lawn of the Concours. These were techincal marvels of their day, and are the halo car of a modern collection.

There were a lot of cars to see, but this Maserati caught my eye.

Even in bright sun may have made these colors look harsh, but I thought the colors were perfect for this car.

Even though I didn’t have a car to show, I still had work to do. Francois called me from CT to keep an eye out for a 250LM that was going to be at the show. It wasn’t hard to find, but getting a clear shot of the car amongst the growing crowd was going to be a challenge, especially since I arrived late.

Francois is currently restoring a client’s 250LM in CT as a joint effort with the Ferrari Factory. There seemed to be a debate on how the front panels were attached inside the nose of the car, and the only way to settle the argument is to provide pictures of other LMs.

This particular car is owned by the Indianapolis Speedway Museum, and retains a lot of the original details, so Francois asked me to try and take some pictures to help him with his restoration.

I found the guys with the museum and they gladly opened up the car for me to take some pictures which I promptly sent to Monsieur.

Amelia Island 2023 Saturday

March 16, 2023

After my morning coffee, Roger and I headed over to the Caffine and Carburetors show in front of the Ritz.

I found Tom Hill’s custom built Cal Spyder Replica he told me about when I saw him at Cavallino. If my memory serves me right, this car was built on a BMW Z3 Chassis powered by a Chevrolet V-8.

The injected engine has all modern engine management, and intergrates with the gauges and controls.

The attention to detail and craftsmanship was impressive and I’m sure was more comfortable, drove better, and was certainly more powerful than an original Cal Spyder. I should probably get over my aversion to these copies and accept them for what they are. They represent the passion and dedication for something mechanical and aesthetically beautiful. The only thing missing was it wasn’t made 60 years ago by craftsmen in a little town in Italy. How is this any different than someone hot rodding a ’32 Ford with a modern overhead valve V-8 and adding modern mechanicals? I don’t know. Am I a snob? Should I just stop caring? Does anyone else care?

A real Ferrari was parked not car from the Replica Spyder and I saw something interesting in the engine compartment.

The owner said he manufactures clear covers for the air box so owners car see the pretty velocity stacks on the four Weber Carburetors that would normally be covered by the steel cover on the air box. It’s a neat modification for the guys who like to show off this kind of mechanical beauty. It will also force them to make sure their carbs are tuned right, because any backfiring will deposit lots of carbon on the clear plastic cover!

I took a walk over to the Radwood and Lemons show across the street from the Caffine and Carburetors show, but the weather started to get a little damp.

I hid under a pop up tent for about 30 minutes and tried to see as much of the show between showers. I gave up after about an hour and took the shuttle over to the RM Auction to dry off.

The Beach House was calling to me as the weather cleared, so I hitched a ride back to the house and put my feet up on the back deck. I could get used to this lifestyle!

Amelia 2023 Friday

March 14, 2023

I can’t tell you enough how great it is to have a rental house for the Amelia Island Concours week. Hotel prices for these shows around the world are always jacked up, and we are left overpaying for a cramped hotel room too far from the venue, or having to reserve a $$$ room a year in advance. There is always the discussion among car guys about pooling our money together to rent a house, but there are just as many problems, not even considering lifestyle habits with the housemates you choose. Someone has to step up, find a house, put the deposit down, pay for the house, and collect the money from all the guests. Inevitably, someone cancels or can’t commit, so the organizer has to scramble to find a replacement or ends up eating the cost of the empty room. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come up with an idea like this with my friends who say they’re in, only to have them flake out leaving me holding the bag. When my friend Drew offered me a share in a house he was renting in Amelia Island, I jumped at the chance. I planned to pay regardless of my schedule because I would never leave him stranded with my share. I make sure to pull my weight with cooking and cleaning as much as I can so none of my housemates have a reason to complain. The rewards are well worth it.

The benefits are endless. I can wake up in the morning, have a nice cup of coffee while I watch the sunrise. As my housemates wake, we continue the “car talk” conversations from the night before. Because we come from varying backgrounds, the conversations often lead elsewhere and I learn a lot more about things I would have never known. Someone is always coming and going, so I can hitch a ride to and from the venues at different times of the day. In the evenings as Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach gets crowded for dinner and a table for 8 or 10 people becomes impossible, we grill burgers out behind the house. We had a burger night, taco night, and pasta night while we were there. Whenever the shows get too crowded and we need a break from the heat and the traffic, we come back to the house, get something cool to drink out of the fridge and watch the ocean from the deck. If we all had hotel rooms, no matter how nice, the experience would have been alone without the social aspect this house offered!

Roger Morrison was one of my housemates, and we woke up early on Friday before most of the guests and hatched a plan to head over early to see the Porsche show “Werks Reunion.”

As we walked through the show, we met up with Bill Warner, the founder of The Amelia Island Concours. Bill sold his creation to Hagerty and stayed on for a couple of years in a consulting capacity. I can see some disappointment in watching Bill’s “baby” change with the new ownership, but simply having the time to attend a car show during the Amelia Concours weekend was probably a welcome break!

Bill was showing his 1971 Porsche 911T that he’s had since new. It’s been hot rodded a little with a 2.7 liter powerplant and some spoilers. This car even participated in a Cannonball in 1975!

The car has been maintained and refurbished as it needed through the years and had the feeling of being an old friend of Bill’s.

My favorite part of the whole car was the condition of the original key pouch that tells the whole story of Bill Warner’s ownership of this little 911!

We poked around the Werks Reunion looking at some very nice Porsches. We both had stories of how cheap these sunroof coupes were 20-30 years ago, but those days have gone and now they’re highly collectable show pieces!

Today, these cars are restored and near perfect commanding 5 and 6 figure price tags. I kind of miss the days when A coupes were $4-5K cars that needed a little work!

From Werks, we headed over to the Gooding Auction. I missed attending the preview the day before, so I had to make quick work to see the cars as they were getting ready to auction the cars off on Friday.

This pretty 246GTS Dino sold for and eye watering $967,500 including the buyer’s premium, and even though it checked off all the boxes of being a convertible, having Daytona Seats, and having the flairs for the wider wheels, I’m still not a fan of the flairs. They look too crude and takes away from the elegant lines of a Dino, but at nearly a million bucks, the high bidder didn’t seem to mind.

Prices pushing close to a million on these cars makes the car market shake. Will all of these cars start costing more, or was this just an anomaly? I’m sure all of us will be getting calls in the next few weeks with someone wanting to buy or sell a Dino!

The older Ferraris seem to be stagnating, even though this four cam car fetched $3mil, it wasn’t a surprise or a significant change from the past few years. Are the buyers for these cars moving on to other cars? Are they aging out without any buyers to replace them? These are conversations I’ve had time and time again with brokers, collectors, and enthusiasts over this weekend.

The surprise car for me was not only seeing a Stutz Blackhawk being offered at Gooding and Co., but also that it managed to fetch over $200K! I’m sorry, there isn’t a redeeming line on this “Neo Classic” automobile I don’t care if Virgil Exner penned the car. My apologies for offending anyone who loves or owns one of these things, but come on! The fact that someone paid over $200K shows how much I know about taste or value, but let’s just hope the purchase was for those reasons instead of inebriation and a Dare!

Roger and I left Gooding to rescue his 289 Cobra. He drove it down from North Carolina with a group of Cobra guys including Tom Cotter. As he approached Florida, Roger heard a noise coming from the clutch assembly. He parked the car at his friend’s house and borrowed a car to get around for the weekend. During one of our late night discussions at the house, we all agreed the noise was probably nothing major and he could probably safely use the car for the weekend without worry. The nice thing about Cobras is the Ford running gear is nearly bullet proof, and would take a lot for it to break and leave Roger stranded.

To give Roger some more confidence, I offered to ride along and bring his Cobra back to the house so our group of mechanics could confirm our suspicions that it was only a minor noise. At the very least, I could push the car to the side of the road to get help!

The noise was coming from the throw-out bearing and seemed to be less noisy than a few days ago. Roger was generous enough to let me drive his genuine 289 Cobra, my first drive in an original Cobra! I’ve driven replicas, but driving a real one was something special. As I drove the car, I noticed the clutch pedal was a little low, and wasn’t giving full actuation of the clutch. I suspected he was probably low of hydraulic fluid, and could probably benefit from a clutch bleeding. The noise from the t/o bearing was probably from not disengaging the clutch fully while in traffic.

We got the Cobra safely back to the rental house under her own power.

On closer inspection, we found not only the fluid was a little low, but it was also looking a little dark. We suspected the seals were deteriorating and it was time for new seals and fluid replacement. The car was more than driveable for the weekend, so Roger was able to take his Cobra to the Saturday and Sunday events!

I shot video of my ride in a real Cobra!

The wind had died down that evening so we fired up our fire pit and told more car stories with our toes in the sand.

Amelia 2023 Thursday

March 13, 2023

RM Sotheby’s location was moved this year down the road from Bonhams because Broad Arrow usurped their spot at The Ritz Carlton. I heard this was RM’s last year at Amelia Island since Hagerty bought the Amelia Island Concours and inserted their newly acquired Broad Arrow in RM’s slot for an affiliated Auction. RM’s response to the move was to build the best off site auction at Amelia Island as their farewell auction. Rumor has it they’re moving this auction Miami, but whether it will coincide with the Amelia Island Concours is yet to seen, but you can feel the competition rising between these two auction houses.

I was on the hunt for a good “flying mirror” Testarossa, and RM had a nice low mileage example. Having just inspected one a couple days ago in the private market, it was good for me to compare it to this one that was polished and “auction ready.”

There was a lot of good inventory available at RM, so I tried my best to take a look at the cars during the preview.

I had a couple discussions with buyers about Ferrari 365GTC/4s and there are two nearly identical blue C/4s, one at RM and one at Broad Arrow.

The RM car was in slightly lesser condition, and had a couple of incorrect details like the dash had been reupholstered in leather instead of the correct “mouse fur” material. This wouldn’t affect the driving experience, but is certainly a factor when assigning a value to the car.

I even managed a backstage tour of the RM stage to see the video wall and technical install. In a former life, I worked in television and whenever I get a peek behind the scenes, I wonder if I miss it or and am I happy I’m not doing this anymore. I think I’m more the latter!

From RM, I headed over to the Ritz to see how Broad Arrow used the former RM site for their auction.

They also had some good inventory up for auction.

The had most of their preview out on the lawn behind the Ritz where I found the second C/4 up for auction.

This one had better documentation with a lot of money spent on the restoration. The dash on this car was done in the correct material and the car was very clean and neat.

The engine compartment was clean as well with only minor errors in the detailing, but auctions don’t offer you much time to inspect a car thoroughly, and sometimes it requires a gut feeling to pursue a car. I inspected the car with my client and his mechanic in person and discussed what I found. We picked a price the client should pay, and waited for the auction to run in two days. Our client ended up losing the car to a higher bidder at $329K and we felt he was probably better off losing. Well sold.

Wednesday Before Amelia 2023

March 12, 2023

I left Moorehead City NC at 5:30am and ripped down the highway so I could make it to Amelia Island to inspect a car. 8 hours later, I rolled onto the grounds of Bonhams near the Fernandina Beach Airport with plenty of time to spare. I was trying my best not to get a speeding ticket, but I was walking a very fine line of excessive speed!

The car was a 1966 Ferrari 330GT 2+2 and it had extensive receipts from a well known shop. They had for some reason repainted the car after the previous owner bought the car at another auction. Some mechanical work was recently done, but not by the previous shop. I’ve been trying to help my customer buy a SII 330, and he really liked this color combination. He flew in to see the car earlier in the day, but I couldn’t make it to Bonhams in time to inspect the car at the same time because I was en route from NC. After I arrived, I managed to record my inspection on video and sent the report to the customer so he could view it at his leisure and discuss a bidding strategy.

My customer ended up winning the car at auction the next day at $318,500 including the commission. I felt it was well bought, and wish him luck!

Next to the 330 was another “Ferrari” that had some notoriety. It was the rebodied Corvette that was pretending to be a Cal Spyder in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” In the Ferrari world, no matter how famous this replicar was, I didn’t see any of us spending good money for this car. I certainly wouldn’t, but then again, I’ve never been start struck!

The winning bid for this car was $313K, which wasn’t too far from my customer’s 330GT he bought at the same auction, but the difference is who you would end up attracting at a car show or the next Cars and Coffee. The 330 owner would be speaking to people who appreciate Vintage Ferraris, and the sounds of a V-12 Ferrari, while the Replica owner will be surrounded by people quoting lines from the movie! “Bueller,…Bueller? Anyone? Anyone?”…I’ll take the real car.

I ran into two friends at Bonhams that are pretty important in the Vintage Ferrari world. Colleen Sheehan is Mike Sheehan’s daughter and has really made a name for herself working for her father’s Car Brokering Business Ferraris Online to the next level. She’s got a great YouTube channel and seems to effortlessly get more views than my channel (not that there’s any competition!) I think she’s perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between the older collectors and the newer younger collectors getting into Feraris. Next to Colleen is Anthony Stella, from Gullwing Motorcars. Anthony holds down the fort in NY while his boss Peter Kumar is travelling and buying up all the available collector car inventory around the country. He’s a good foil to Peter’s go-go personality and if you call Gullwing Motorcars, you’ll probably get Anthony on the phone.

After Bonhams, I checked into the rental house on Fernandina Beach. This is the second year I’ve shared this house with friends of mine. My friend Drew Garban gets the credit for reserving the house, and offering me a room in this 7 bedroom house. My housemates come from all over the country and have a wide variety of car experiences and collections, so you can imagine the conversations we’re having at the house day and night!

Amelia Island Bound

March 11, 2023

Every year my trip to the Amelia Island Concours for the first week in March changes. Different customers have different needs, and I have to change my plans to help them achieve what they want. This year, the plan was to drive down in my ’03 Porsche 911, but I had to make an overnight stop in Maryland area to inspect a car.

I’ve been advising a customer of mine about buying a Testarossa. It’s been a childhood dream of getting this car for him, and I felt if the car was going into a collection, a first generation car with the single mirror would be the one to buy. There are more powerful versions, and the later two mirror versions offer better visibility, but the icon of the model line is the single mirror of “Monospecchio” Testarossa!

This car was being offered at a reasonable price, but I wanted to take a closer look. It had some cosmetic issues, but looked like an honest low mileage car that needed some work. I made sure this car didn’t suffer from the major issues Testarossas can suffer, and told my client about this diamond in the rough, but I think he’s looking for something ready to go. If you’re looking for one of these, let me know and I can put you in touch with the seller.

From Maryland, I jumped in my Porsche and headed south. I had to catch another group of old friends and car people heading south at the same time for Amelia Island.

If you’ve been following my blog, you would have seen my previous posts about rallying down to Amelia Island with a group of like minded car people for a few years. It was the brain child of my friends Brad Phillips and Pete Engel. It started out as a couple of friends who wanted to caravan to Amelia Island to arrive in time for the Concours. Being friends with Brad, I joined the group in its second year as technical support as the group grew and with Brad’s affiliation with Hagerty Insurance and the Amelia Island or Bust Rally reached an even broader audience. Each year, the group of participants grew and the bonds with past alumni and new members grew stronger. The synergy between the rally members and the Hagerty ideal seemed perfect. We even survived the Pandemic as the year we arrived at Amelia Island in 2020 was the last car show before the world closed down.

Fast forward to 2023, the the group was looking forward to driving to Amelia Island again, and waited for Hagerty to reach out. Things had changed in a couple of years. Brad had left Hagerty for another job, and Hagerty became a public company. I’m not sure if any or both of these factors had anything to do with the change in attitude towards this little rally, but there was little to no interest from Hagerty supporting this group of car people willing to go.

Pete Engel was still involved and decided on his own volition to organize the rally himself and reached out to former rally members and future members on Facebook. The same amount of attendees came as years past with a wide variety of cars to join the 6 day trip to Amelia Island. There was a track day at VIR, museum tours, and great dinners in the evening. It was basically the same event, without Coprorate Support.

My schedule was pretty busy, but I made it a priority to meet up with Pete and his band of rally members that I’ve known for years. I’ve made life-long bonds with these people that I may not have otherwise met, and wouldn’t have missed it to show my support. I drove from Maryland to the North Carolina Coast to catch the ferry and meet the gang.

The local antique auto club hosted a cruise night that welcomed the Amelia Island or Bust crew, and as expected, my Porsche stuck out like a sore thumb, but it was well received and a good time was had by all.

I met some of the newbie AIOB members, and caught up with some of the Alum, but the biggest shout out was to Peter Engel (center with plaid shirt), he deserved all the credit for keeping the AIOB spirit alive.

When I pulled into the parking lot of the Cruise In, two men came up to me, immediately saw the NY plates on my car, and asked where in New York I was from. To outsiders, there are only two regions in NY, New York City, and Upstate New York, and where I currently live, it’s in between the two areas. Most people would assume I was from NYC, but even though I was born in the Bronx, I now live in the Hudson Valley, but most people have not heard of my town. Trying to explain to these strangers where I was from, I told them the largest town near me to make it easier on them, but the older man said he grew up not far from that town! As we started to get specific, it turned out these two random strangers lived 4 miles from my house! They moved away 20 years ago, and now we were standing in a parking lot in Moorehead City, NC swapping stories about people we know in my town in NY. Crazy!

Matt Hagen and his wife Jennifer, AIOB Alum brought us to their local fish fry for dinner that night in Moorhead City. We all keep in touch as friends on Facebook, but it was fun to eat at one of Matt’s favorite local fish joints!

My thanks to Heather for sharing her pictures she took while rallying down with her husband Rick in their FIAT Abarth. The enthusiasm Heather has is inexhaustible, and I would hire her for the position of Social Director for any event I would hold!

Nothing passes Heather for noticing the guys coming back from the local bar next to the hotel in NC for a quick adult beverage!

There was two more days of rallying for the AIOB gang, but I had to leave at dawn to meet a client at Amelia Island for an auction preview. My visit with AIOB was brief, but so worth the extra miles and time to meet up with everyone. I’ll see everyone next year!

Dino Rear Caliper Pistons

March 7, 2023

The rear calipers on this 246GTS I have at the shop had a set of seized calipers. Instead of simply replacing the seals, I decided to replace the pistons with new stainless steel pistons readily available from the Dino aftermarket. The replacements looked great and identical to the original pistons except for one crucial measurement, the outer diameter!! I took my micrometer out and found the stainless steel pistons were just about 1000th to a half a thousandths too thick so when inserted into the stock bore of the caliper, they didn’t slide as nicely as the original ones.

Taking such a little bit of material is not so easy as it’s not enough for a tool on a lathe to cut, so polishing if off with some Emory Cloth was the solution. The stainless steel didn’t turn down very fast, but with patience, I got it to fit and slide easily. As I was working on these pistons, I wondered what every other shop working on Dinos were doing? Were they checking the fit of these pistons or were they just jamming them into the bores?

After I got the piston diameters sorted, I pressed in the parking brake self adjusters into place. The rest of the rear calipers when back together without issues, but I had my fair share of challenges with these Dino rear calipers!

Ferrari 365GT 2+2 Valve Adjustment

February 26, 2023

I had a 365GT 2+2 arrive at my shop last week for some work. It’s a car I’ve known for over a dozen years, through three owners. The current owner has owned this car for about 8 years an it was time for a valve adjustment. The valve adjustment interval for these cars is about 6 thousand miles, which doesn’t seem like a lot of miles between major services, but with the 1000 miles these get driven on average it can be years between valve adjustments for most owners.

A lot more things have to be removed from a 365GT before I can remove the valve covers compared to a 250. There are power steering pumps, air pumps, and associated hoses, so I took several pictures to remind me how it all went back!

A lot of the emissions devices on this car have been disabled but they’re still installed. These devices were designed to pass stricter emission standards at the sake of performance and reliability, so we found taking them out of the loop of the tuning helped make these cars run better.

Another reason to do routine maintenance is to look around for other issues that need addressing. I was going to try to do this valve adjustment without removing the exhaust shields, but was glad I decided to remove them when I spotted an issue.

The right side engine mount was cracked and separated. Normally these have a heat shield protecting it from the heat of the headers, but it must have fallen off.

Pulling both motor mounts was no easy task while the engine was still in the car, but I managed to get both of them out. I didn’t photograph the process because I was covered in old grease and oil while trying to access nearly inaccessible nuts using modified wrenches and tools to complete the task. You’ll have to trust me when I say this job was a bear!

With the valve covers removed, we decided now was the time to strip and repaint the wrinkle finish with a fresh coat, but I first needed to mark and remove the throttle stands and things attached to the valve covers.

I took the parts that needed wrinkle painting down to my local powder coater, not for painting but stripping. I have found the locally available paint strippers have become environmentally friendly, and thus weak at actually stripping paint. The powder coaters however, have large tanks of acid and proper strippers that make fast work of these parts.

After a couple days, the parts were returned ready for my powder coating.

Let’s talk about Ignition

February 25, 2023

I did a piece on Distributor Caps a couple years ago, and I wanted to continue with rotors and points.

There are a few choices of ignition parts available for a Vintage Ferrari, but if you’re only tuning up your car once every several years, or rely on you vendor to supply you with the right parts, you may not know the problems with the parts, or which ones you should try to avoid. Vendors will sell you what they have, and sometimes don’t know about the issues the mechanics have after they buy the parts. I can’t tell you how times I speak to fellow mechanics about our struggles and when we complain to the vendor, their response is “I haven’t heard anyone else complain!” Even if there is a problem, a vendor may assume (and sometime correctly) that it was the problem with the installer, but I wanted to make you all aware of some of the differences in the parts.

This is an original Magneti Marelli rotor. They are made of the translucent plastic with a contact point that is straight with no flare on the nose of the rotor. These rarely wear out and can often be put back into service with some light sanding and a cleaning, but after 30-40 years of service, they will eventually wear out, crack, or start arcing.

This rotor was in the car I was working on, and it too has a Marelli logo on the rotor, I believe it was originally made for a V-8 Ferrari as the nose of the rotor is wider, In fact the V-8 rotor is even wider and this one was cut down to work with a V-12 cap.

This is what is currently available in reproduction and I’m not impressed. The plastic is softer than the original rotor, and the spring clip keeps falling out. The clip moves inside the rotor affecting the height of the rotor, which can damage the center contact. When the rotor doesn’t fit due to the spring, the plastic will deform on the distributor shaft. I’ve also seen this version with casting flash from the plastic partially covering the center contact. I would pass on these rotors.

The black rotors are a little better. The plastic is a little harder, and even though the spring tensioner also falls out, it at least keeps the rotor properly tensioned and snug on the distributor shaft without it being too tight. The harder plastic also makes for a more positive seating on the shaft.

Both rotors will require trimming the T shaped nose off the end of the rotor to work with a V-12 distributor. The wider tip is made for a V-8 distributor that only has 4 contacts inside the distributor cap, with the V-12 cap, there are 6 contacts, and could allow the wider rotor to arc across the adjacent contact point.

Moving on to points. There are two versions of points that I believe are currently available. The one on the left is made of plastic and the one on the right is bakelite. The original points were bakelite, so I would imagine keeping the parts in original materials is better.

Be careful to inspect he points and the springs when they arrive. I’ve found many defects from manufacturing no matter who or what they were made out of. The spacing of each spring is specific because they are meant to bend into the shape of a U when fitted to the distributor.

If the springs are not riveted correctly, this U shape will cause the points to bind. I would also check the diameter of the pivot hole and make sure you use some lubrication when installing. I have a reamer that I can check for the proper diameter of the pivot.

Several years ago, I found this set of points that were improperly riveted causing the springs to bind when bent into shape. Check everything, and trust nothing!

GTE Trunk Lock

February 21, 2023

I went over to my chrome plater’s shop to check a trunk lock he was replating for me. The push button lock was sticking in the lock assembly because of a poor chroming job. I used some machinist blue on the lock cylinder to check for fit and remove material from inside the lock before sending it to my plater, but the plating process only adds more material back onto the part.

My plater polished and restored the surface of the lock, adding a copper plating to the polished part. I checked the fit one last time before the nickel and chromium layer were applied.

When you look at the condition of the part before I sent it to the plater, the reconditioned lock will be in much better shape. My plater even re-engraved the subtle ring in the lock that was all but buffed away by the previous plater. It’s little details like this that make all the difference!