Road Trip to the FCA Meet Part II
Road Trip to the FCA, Part II
On day two, we met General at his shop at about 10 am to pick up Sam’s C/4. General had laid out some glass cleaner and other cleaning supplies if we needed them. After a brief visit, we were on our way out to Indiana. Besides, General had a lot of sanding to do on his Chris Craft!
Although he’s a General by name and not rank, he still managed to lead us on a wonderful tour of his shop! Thanks General and your friends in the Cleveland area for making our stay so memorable!
A high cloud cover was a welcome relief from the heat of the day before as we motored across Ohio into Indiana. The low hills of Ohio soon turned into the flat farm land of Indiana. The clouds soon turned into thunderstorms and were were met with some heavy downpours. The wipers moved across the windshield, but did a barely adequate job at clearing all the rain. Thank goodness for Rain-X! Drivers began slowing down in the interstate to about 45 mph with flashers on, so we joined them in a line. We passed a small towel between passenger and driver to wipe up the small leaks past the door seals in the heavy rain and spray.
We drove out of the rain in Valpariso, Indiana and to the university to meet our third party of the trip. Todd Hudkins was going to drive his GTE to the Ferrari meet, but also ran into a problem when preparing his car for the show, so he met us with a daily driver. What was a simple windshield gasket replacement for his car turned into a major problem with fit and a hunt for the right gasket. With any luck, he’ll have his car for the Milwaukee Masters, but his car was sitting out the FCA event this time.
After lunch, Todd led us into Crown Point Indiana to our final destination of the night, Hilary Raab’s house. Hilary Raab is one of the most revered names in the Vintage Ferrari community. His knowledge of the history of Vintage Ferraris is matched by few people, and was built from decades of relentless research, travel to the factory, and collecting all things Ferrari. His personal collection of cars, parts and artifacts are of legend, and we had a rare invitation to stay at Hilary’s house!
Walking into the door, we were met with a large table stacked with oversize binders, and photographs. The research materials were evidence of the heated discussion that occurred the night before with another Swiss Ferrari Historian, Marcel Massini. With barely time to settle in, Hilary showed us some of the records he was able to photocopy from Pininfarina and Ferrari back in the late 60s and 70s! He explained that back in his youth, his travels to Europe allowed him to stop by the Ferrari factory in Modena. Some days he was allowed open access to the Factory’s records, allowing whole stacks of paperwork to be photocopied! Much of these records are available today to the owners when they are purchased from the Factory through their Classiche Certification Program.
Mark Dempsey soon arrived in his 365GT 2+2 from Maryland. He missed joining us in Cleveland because of scheduling conflicts, but was NOT going to miss Hilary’s house! He drove over 600 miles in one day averaging 65 mph including stops! There were stretches of road where he put the pedal down to over 90 mph to get to Crown Point IN, to meet us at a reasonable hour. I was pleased to see Mark’s Queen roll down Raab’s driveway safe and sound.
Hilary invited us to look up the records that showed how each of our cars was originally delivered, but this required several different books. 250 series cars were filed separately from the 330 2+2s, as well as the 365GT 2+2s. Hilary showed us how rare it was when a vintage Ferrari was delivered as a red car, and the variety of factory ordered options. It was fascinating to see all these hand written records kept by the Factory from 40-50 years ago. Pictured here is Tom Kizer and Hil Raab looking up the records to his Queen in one of Hil’s garages. Everything from a VIntage Jaguar to a newer Maserati Coupe were represented in this collection of cars.
After perusing the stacks of records and a couple of garages filled with spectacular cars, Hil led us into another room to show us some more Ferrari material. As if I wasn’t already overwhelmed with what I already saw, the library was beyond belief! In a room that was easily 30 feet long was Hil’s library. The shelves were filled with Ferrari books, manuals, and documents. Everywhere you looked was another Ferrari related item from Ferrari awards, to commemorative tokens. Steering wheels, exhaust headers from a famous race car, plaques awarded from the Factory, and piles and piles of Ferrari stuff filled every surface. I’ve seen some pretty large collections in my dozen years of looking at Ferraris, but in this collection, everything was the best of the best! We all suffered from visual overload, and it took some time to realize we needed to focus only on small sections of the room at a time so not to become over loaded. Two of Hilary’s friends joined us in the library, and recognized that familiar daze when they first witnessed this collection themselves!
Almost as a quiz, Hil showed me a fitted wooden box with a special set of tools, and asked me if I knew what tools they belonged to. I immediately recognized one of the tools was Lampredi “Mouse trap” spring compressor tool! François has the same tool hanging on the wall at his shop that was issued to him from the factory when he completed his apprenticeship, but Hilary still had the box it came in!!
By dinner time, we piled seven of us into Hilary’s mini van and headed to a very nice Italian restaurant. Conversation was lively with our favorite topic, and Hilary shared many stories about visiting the Factory, and the small shops around Maranello. Coming back to the house, we retired to the library to continue our exploration. Just as I felt comfortable with the amount of stuff to absorb in this room, Hil took us downstairs to see the level below the Library! In a room the same size as the floor above, the basement was filled with more display cases showcasing his collection of pre war tin boats, or wooden boats, or anything that caught his fancy during his travels. All of these collectibles were neatly arranged in display cases. Any question asked was expertly answered by Hil, with the history of the piece, and the craftsman that made it. Mr. Raab was the collector of collectors.
We spent the rest of the evening talking more about Ferraris and Hil’s experience with the factory, and the differences between today and what it was like years ago. Raab’s insight to having such a long and strong relationship with the Factory today was very interesting. His views are helping shape my views of what the Ferrari Factory is trying to do with the Classiche department, and where we as Vintage Ferrari owners stand in its future.
I decided not to post pictures of Hil’s collection as it would only attract more interest in what he has, but if you try your best to imagine what I described, then try to exceed it. At that point, you’ll come close to what we saw! Thanks Hil!
Just a reminder, I’m looking for a new Vintage Ferrari Project. If you have, or know of a restoration project, please let me know. It would be great to restore another car on this website! My E-mail.
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