An American in an Italian Suit

September 25, 2021


I specialize in Vintage Ferraris a my shop and rarely deviate from these cars unless they are my personal cars. It works out for both me and my customers because I’m familiar with the challenges of the old Ferraris, and the customers are not paying me to learn on something I’m not familiar with, but occasionally I will make an exception. A good customer of mine owns a special 1959 Chevrolet Corvette that is one of three cars built back when these cars were new. Three Corvette Chassis were sent to Scaglietti in Italy to design and build bodies that would use the American underpinnings, and this the first version that was completed.

The car was restored several years ago, but the rear exhaust pipe had rusted out and the owner asked me if I could fix it. We agreed this was something a local muffler shop could easily fix, but with a delicate aluminum body, and the high value rarity of this car, the owner didn’t feel comfortable sending it to just any shop.

I certainly have installed exhaust systems, but they are usually complete systems made to fit a Ferrari, but repair work like this required measuring, bending, and fitting, which I would take more time. I explained this to my customer, but his comfort knowing his car was in good hands won over the cost of the extra work.

When I went to my local muffler shop to get pipes bent to match what rotted off, I learned my local shop didn’t have the right pipe for bending, and a second shop’s technician who operates their machine was out sick. After these frustrations, and finding out the exhaust tube they were using was such poor quality, I decided to call my normal exhaust supplier and have him bend the pipes in stainless and ship them to me.

I still ended up taking the pipes that came in the mail to the local muffler shop for them to expand the ends to fit onto the old exhaust system once I cut and tacked everything in place, but these extra steps allowed everything to line up perfectly.

While I was under the car, I noticed the rear axle seal was leaking. I knew the owner was going to ask me to do it since the car was already at my shop, but I would have to delve into something I only had not done on a Corvette before. As I said this, I realized my Mustang was sitting in the background, proving I work on American cars, but it was still something I had to learn. Luckily, I had still had the special brake drum tools in the back of my tool box to make taking the brake assemblies apart so I could remove the axle.

A previous shop had welded the retainer ring to the axle so I had to cut the welds to take it all apart, but eventually I got everything apart, replaced, and back together. Now I can get back to working on Ferraris again!