I went down to Queens NY to inspect a 1967 Ferrari Series II 330GT 2+2 for a potential buyer. It’s a car that just came in from California to Gullwing Motors from a dealer in the Bay Area. In the week leading up to my inspection, I discussed with the buyer what his expectations were with this car, and what kind of cars he had already seen. These discussions help me prepare the owner for Vintage Ferrari ownership, and an enjoy the time owning the car they will eventually buy.
Prices are rising slightly for these cars, and I think it’s partially due to the rising prices of the more expensive models like 330GTCs. As the saying goes, “A Rising Tide Floats All Boats!” That being said, a 330GT is no slouch. Even with a 10% rise in prices in the last few years, it’s a lot of car for the money. It’s got a classic Ferrari Columbo V-12 engine, all the Italian design cues from the 60s, and space to bring more than one friend! The trick is to find a good example because a bad car will sink a new owner with high repair bills and no return on his money. It’s very easy to justify an engine rebuild for a 330GTC when the car trades for $350K, but the cost of that engine rebuild is the same for this 330GT 2+2 that has a total value of a third less!
A mechanic’s job is to perform a Pre Purchase Inspection for a potential buyer and find faults with a car to avoid the pitfalls of Ferrari ownership, but there are limits to how thorough an inspection can be performed. A compression test, visual inspection, test drive, and even a leak down test can be done in the course of a day, but looking further into the engine to inspect the valve train would take more than a day, cost more than most buyers would be willing to pay, and probably not allowed by the seller. Many mechanics have started refusing to perform PPIs because of the liabilities associated with putting their opinions on cars. We do not have crystal balls that look deep inside the engines for a potential problem that a 50 year old car will have, and for the payment of a day’s labor is often not worth the exposure to litigation.
Even though there is risk in performing PPIs, I believe there is still a level of faith one must have between mechanic and customer. Without this trust, things can go horribly wrong. My experience is what I am paid for, and I try my very best to make an objective decision on the condition of a car, but I then apply that knowledge with the particular buyer. Some buyers want perfection, while others will take a little less. Applying a third party perspective to the process of buying a car hopefully helps the buyer make a better decision.
This particular car had an extensive folder of receipts that I like to see. Not only does it describe the work that was done, but also shows that previous owners cared for this car on a regular basis. Ferraris are special cars to most of us, and we treat them as valued possessions. It’s nice to spot a car that has been lovingly cared for, and these are the best cars to get for the next caring owner. The trick is to tell ones that are “tarted up” for sale, trying to pass for a good car!
The compression test on this car showed well, and most of the mechanicals worked, but I started a list of needs to discuss with the potential buyer.
Unfortunately, the day I went down to Queens, the temperature was in the 90s, so the test drive was going to be a little uncomfortable (the A/C wasn’t working). The flip side of this was it was a good stress test of the engine, and the ability for the cooling system to shed heat. Trying to find a good stretch of highway in NYC to test all the gears and any drive line vibrations, I managed to get lost, so the drive was a little longer than I expected. As I started to melt inside the car driving on the back streets of Queens, I was impressed how the car did not overheat. The oil pressure remained normal, and she brought me safely back to the dealer without missing a beat. That in itself was a good sign.
I called the buyer after my inspection and had a long discussion with what I found. There were minor issues like the wheels were bare magnesium, and needed to be painted, to major issues like seized front shocks, so I read him my list of needs and estimate of the costs involved to help him with his decision. I felt this car had “good bones” and despite the laundry list of things, was a car worth spending some money on. We’ll see if this car is the right one for this buyer.
Reminder: If you have a Ferrari related project, car, or idea you’d like to explore, I’d love to talk to you. I can also help if you’re thinking of buying or selling. This website represents what I love to do, and now it’s how I make a living, so if you’d like to do something together, let me know. It all begins with an e-mail!
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