THE VINTAGE FERRARI SPECIALIST

Ferrari 275GTB Details

June 10, 2021


I had the opportunity to show a Ferrari 275GTB for a friend of mine. Charley Hutton restored this car for a customer of his and he asked me at the time to help him with some of the details. Charley is a well known painter in the hot rodding world, and was even seen on Boyd Coddington’s TV show, but now lives a much quieter life restoring and painting cars. This 275GTB was the first Vintage Ferrari Charley restored, so he asked me to help with sourcing some of the parts, and to guide him through some of the final detailing. I was happy to help, but never got to see the final product until a few weeks ago. The car was invited to show at Amelia Island but Charley had a scheduling conflict. He asked if I could go in his place, and since I was already going to be at Amelia Island, it all worked out perfectly.

The car looked spectacular and I was really impressed with the work. I did manage to find a few things that needed correcting to make it even more perfect, and I shot a video to help Charley out.

Ferrari 365GT 2+2 Service

June 4, 2021


I had Ferrari 365GT 2+2 in for her annual service. I’ve taken care of this car through three owners and it’s always nice to see her again. Aron, the current owner, has been taking good care of this car, and we always try to keep up on the maintenance and improvements.

I noticed this year, the carburetors were running a little roughly. Lack of miles along with deposits from old fuel can clog some of the internal passages in the carburetors, so I felt it was best to disassemble them and give them a good ultrasonic cleaning.

The modern fuel formulation along with the addition of alcohol in American fuel seems to have changed the way carburetors with stock jets run. I’ve been experimenting with changing some of the jets in the carburetors to help them run better. I’ve been consulting with Mike Pierce, the Weber Carburetor Guru, and he feels going up one or two sizes in idle jets seem to help tuning. Each car is different, from compression, to exhaust back pressure, so there is no one rule to jetting a carburetor. Sometimes, it just takes a little trial and error. I went up one size in idle jets on this carburetor, and it seemed to help.

I found a persistent oil leak coming from the back of the engine, and I narrowed it down to the tachometer drive.

There’s a small o-ring that often is forgotten and is a source of leaks when it hardens and stops sealing. Hopefully, with a new one, it’ll stop some of the oil leaks. Ferraris are notorious for leaking oil, and chasing them all can be a challenge!

Ferrari 330 Suspension Arms

May 29, 2021


I worked on the front suspension parts to the 330 that I’m restoring. I wanted to get the suspension arms apart so I could send them out for nickel plating.

Some of the front suspension parts were covered in oily, dirty concretions from years of leaks and exposure.

I also disassembled the king pin assemblies of the front spindles to inspect the bearings and replace the pivot bushings.

After thoroughly cleaning the suspension arms, I pressed out the old bushings.

I checked the steering box for play and it felt pretty good on the bench without any dead spots or binding. I cleaned the outside of the case and put on a fresh coat of paint. I drained the oil gear oil out of the unit and will replace all the seals after the paint has hardened.

The sway bar end links will be included with the nickel plating batch after a good cleaning.

These parts will be heading out to the plater soon!

Amelia Island 2021

May 27, 2021


I woke up to a spectacular sunrise from the house my friends rented on Amelia Island. I met this crew from PA last year on AIOB, and we all became fast friends, so this year I was invited to stay with them at a house they rented. This was much better than anything we could get in a hotel room!

The house had a roof top deck, a pool, four bedrooms, and even a guest bunglow! With a large group like us, it was much nicer to hang out than to try and get reservations for 12 people at a restaurant for a few hours. I knew we were going to have a blow out weekend!

The first stop of the weekend was to go to the Werks Reunion, a Porsche show held on Friday.

The Porsche parking lot was full of dozens of 911s! I’ve been a Porsche fan since I was about 14, but after a few hours of looking at hundreds of 911s, I was ready for something else.

I actually had work to do, so I headed out to a warehouse to inspect a 1966 Ferrari 275GTB.

A friend of mine, Charley Hutton, restored this car a few years ago and contacted me for help on some of the details. Charley used to work for Boyd Coddington as a painter, and is one of the country’s top painters, but he called me for some advice on restoring this Ferrari. I helped him get the details right, from the finishes, plating, and hardware. I had to hold him back from over restoring the car because preserving some of the original details, like the bad welds and imperfect body lines, was what a Concours Ferrari is about and not what a car Charlie is used to creating.

A few weeks before Amelia Island, I got a call from Charley asking me is I was going to Amelia Island for the Concours. The owner of this GTB was invited to show, and Charley had a scheduling conflict and needed someone to show the car. I was looking forward to kicking back after the Hagerty Rally, but duty called!

I joined my PA friends at Doctor Amos’ collection at a private air strip on Amelia Island after looking over the GTB. The party was co-hosted by RM Auctions, so a lot of familiar faces were in the crowd. Thank you Dr. Amos, and Ramsey of RM for hosting.

Back at our house the next morning we found the switch to uncover the pool and the hot tub along with the control panel to operate the LED lights! This house was only getting better!

Saturday morning, we headed over to the Ritz to see what cars showed up for “Cars and Coffee.” Attendance was down about 50%, but after a year in quarantine, any gathering of cars was much appreciated!

I tried my best to enjoy my day, but the job of showing the Ferrari was on my mind the whole weekend. I saw the car for the first time the day before along with the owner. Everyone seemed nice, but the responsibility of driving a 3 million dollar car on public roads, and then navigating a cart path to its final parking place on the lawn is always a challenge, even when I’m familiar with the car! This picture was taken after I arrived on the lawn safe and sound. Boy was I relieved!

I arrived at about 6:30 am Sunday morning to get an early start on wiping off the moisture on the car.

We had our own area on the lawn for 275GTBs, and I was in good company. Joe was presenting Aurriana’s 275 NART Spyder. Francois and I have worked on this car before so it’s always nice to see it again. If I were to own one of the 10 NART Spyder’s I would have to say this would be THE ONE. Steve McQueen drove this car in the “Thomas Crown Affair” with Faye Dunaway, Denise McCluggage drove this same car at 12 Hours of Sebring, and won her class as a all woman team with Pinky Rollo. This is the touchstone of cool Vintage Ferraris!

The Ferrari showing was very light this year at Amelia Island. I’m sure the Pandemic had something to do with it, but having a 275GTB to show put us in the right crowd. There were only a handful of other Ferraris in other parts of the show field, but it was fun to be with all the GTBs.

I spent most of the day showing the 275GTB. The owner joined me for quite a bit of it, and I introduced him to all the people I thought he should meet. This was his first major Concours showing a Ferrari, and I felt it was my responsibility to show him a good time. The Concours show field is not for everyone, but I believe you can have a good time if you know what to expect. I tried my best, and let’s hope he liked it so we can see his car again at another show!

The trip back to the truck was a little harder, but I managed to get her loaded. This car spent the last year on display with very little mileage after Charley restored it. She wasn’t running well when I first started her, and things seemed to be getting worse as we were sending her home. With very little fuel of unknown age in the tank , I felt the carbs were picking up trash from the bottom of the tank and getting clogged, and then the brakes started to seize! Without getting into the details, let’s just say I got the car to the truck without incident! Whew!

With the 275GTB loaded and the owner flying home, I could finally kick back and relax a little bit. We had a little party at the house and I invited some Ferrari friends to join us. Claude is a familiar to anyone in the Vinage Ferrari world and belongs to Greg Jones, a fellow Ferrari restorer. I treat my relationship with this Hawkhead Parrot has always been on his terms because I know he bites!

Spending some time watching the sun set on Fernandina Beach with some good friends on the roof deck was just the perfect end to a long week!

As all the guests went home, I settled in for an nice foot soak with my PA friends in the hot tub. I could get used to this!

After a first restful night’s sleep in over a week, I still had one more job to do, and that was to drive Brad Phillips’ Porsche back to MD. It wasn’t going to be a circuitous route like the one we took going to Florida, but a straight shot up i95. I kept the speed just around 83mph hoping that was low enough not to attract the attention of the State Police!

Life these days seems to be changing daily, and we’re faced with new challenges every day. When I last attended the Amelia Island Concours 14 months ago, we had a worldwide pandemic, a presidential election, a riot at the capitol, economic turmoil, and millions of people dead or affected by this virus. As I drove home, I had a lot of time to reflect on the last year and think about the people I’ve lost in the last year, and friends I got to see this past week. Life is tenuous. Make the most of it while we still can!

Thankfully my introspection and reflection ended when I pulled into Brad’s garage! I think in 10 months, I’ll be ready to do the Hagerty Rally again!

Amelia Island or Bust Hagerty Rally

May 26, 2021


I drove my Porsche 911 to Maryland from NY to kick off a road trip with Hagerty. The “Amelia Island or Bust” rally started 5 years ago to bring Hagerty Insurance policy holders a reason to drive their cars to Florida with like minded Auto enthusiasts, and I’ve been on this rally for the last three years as mechanical support. My role is not necessarily to replace a ball joint on the side of the road, but to offer advice and direction whether a car can be fixed to continue on the rally or if it needed to go home on a flatbed. Hagerty policy holders also have roadside assistance, so with my help, and a network of tow trucks across the country, we were pretty well covered.

Brad Phillips, the brain child of this rally was bringing a familiar car to the rally, his 1987 Porsche 911. Dave Hord, our rally master, and tour specialist, would be piloting this car.

A new addition to Brad’s fleet is this Saab 9000 Aero that he was very excited about, despite 200K miles and peeling clear coat! Despite these deficiencies or because of them, it was the perfect Concours D’Lemons car for the Amelia Island Weekend! We just had to get it there.

Before the rally began, the Hagerty crew and I had to pick up two more Ride Share cars for people joining the rally, A 1984 911 Targa and a Mercedes 380SL.

Our first meeting spot and rally registration was at a private collection hidden in Maryland horse country. The collection was spectacular and the owner was a fellow Ferrari owner I’ve known back from my Spring Car Show at Radcliffe Motorcars. With Richard Garre’s retirement, the closing of the shop, and the Pandemic, it was nice to see this owner again in the Mid-Atlantic region.

I cannot express the joy I had in seeing all the participants pulling in for the start of the rally. Amelia Island 2020 was the last time we saw the majority of these people, and the world shut down the week after we returned! It was a trying year, and with most everyone vaccinated and Amelia Island rescheduled 2 months later, we felt this rally was the first sign that we’re were back on the path to normalcy. It was the first time in over a year I hugged someone outside my immediate family, and I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed human contact!

Although Hagerty limited the entrants to this Rally to respect Covid protocols, we had a few new additions. A Delorean, Back to the Future tribute car, joined us to spread the word on Parkinsons Disease and raise money for the Michael J Fox Foundation. Oliver and Terry immediately joined the Hagerty Tour Fold!

With credentials, mask, and my corporate shirt, I was ready to wave the Hagerty flag!

This picture shows the variety of cars that attended this tour. We had Tom B’s 32 Ford roadster, Brad’s Saab Aero, and the Holler’s Deloran. Other rallies are more focused and sometime exclusive, but this rally is far more inclusive!

I always say the cars just make up part of the recipe for a fun time, the other half is the the people. Drew G is one of the characters that makes for a fun time. He purchased this Ford Focus RS two days before the rally, put racing stripes on the car, changed the tires that were more appropriate for the roads, and even brought his own trophy!

When you’re talking about Characters, you can’t forget our leader, creator of AIOB, and good friend Brad Phillips of Hagerty. He’s the blond on the left, pictured here with Alison, the brains, coordinator, troubleshooter, and all around home office anchor to this tour. I was so glad Alison joined us to see all her hard work come together on this rally!

The accommodations and meals were included in the rally, and we never knew what to expect when we rolled into town, but we were never disappointed.

I was only disappointed when there was a nice amenity at a particular night, and there just wasn’t enough time to enjoy the stay. Dave Hord, our rally master, was a slave driver in making sure he scheduled every twisty back road for the participants to enjoy, but some days, I felt it would have been nice to soak in the pool!

If driving is what you love, there was no shortage of miles to cover. This year we were all introduced to a new App for our phones called “Rallista.” This was a game changing app, because it functioned just like a turn-by-turn GPS system, but loaded the route of the rally. Not only did it allow solo drivers the confidence to go without a co-pilot, it also allowed all of us to see other drivers in our group on the road ahead and behind! Look for this app being implemented in many rallies in the future!

Each night we stopped in a new hotel and sat down at a meal in a private room, and the conversations was usually about cars! Having been away from people for over a year, we were all relishing the human contact!

Parking was often arranged at each hotel, so we could all stick together.

Lunches tended to be more casual, but one nice thing about car people is they’re generally easy to please!

As we were driving through Georgia, the landscape flattened out, so the driving was a little boring, but at least there were some good picture opportunities!

I was driving the 84 Targa when we decided to leave the top off, but I could feel the hot Georgia sun beating down on my forehead. Even with sunscreen, I soon put a hat on to protect my head. Heading into Amelia Island, the last thing I wanted was to start the weekend with a sunburn!

As if a worldwide pandemic wasn’t enough to dampen our return to rallying, four days before our trip, a major pipeline was shut down by computer hackers on the East Coast. Fuel shortages were reported so Brad decided to take matters into his own hands. He purchased a 15 gallon tank and hoarded the fuel in the back of the support SUV. I wasn’t exactly sure how we were going to save 25 cars from running out of fuel, but I drove for four days with this extra fuel sloshing in the back! By the time we got to Georgia, things had basically returned to normal, and fuel was readily available. Since I was driving the last leg of the trip in the 911, I ran her down to empty so I could use up the spare fuel. Finally, we could stop hauling all this fuel around!

We finished up another AIOB with Brad Phillips, Dave Hord, and Me. Thanks for making it another memorable year!

I delivered the red 911 to the Omni on Fernandina Beach, and headed over to the rental house I was staying with some friends. After 5 days of driving, the events of Amelia Island was still to come! As I always say, “Sleep when you get home!”

Ferrari Parts

May 9, 2021


I get emails all the time from people trying to sell me Ferrari parts, and although I’m tempted, I try my best not to buy too many parts, and yet I still end up with a stash of parts! I’ll take them for a good price, but they’re not worth as much as people think. I just got a second set of Camapagnolo wheels that fit a SII 330. These wheels were not in the best shape, but the price was right so I couldn’t pass it up. People have an unrealistic view of Ferrari parts where they think we own a gold mine of parts, but the reality is the only profit to be made is the one time every few years someone needs exactly what you have. The rest of the time, you’re moving the parts from one storage area to the next, cleaning them, taking pictures for potential buyers, assuring the buyer the parts you have will fit their car, and taking time out of your day to pack, ship, and arrange payment, only to have the buyer complain the part was not as you described, and they want their money back! I collect parts more for my personal customers where I know they will fit, and don’t have to deal with the variable buyer looking for random parts. What about these wheels? I’ve already spent 2 hours dismounting the old tires and power washing the mouse poop off of them which I’ll never get back!

Speaking of parts, I broke my rule and sold my last accelerator scuff plate from my stash to a buyer in France. It fit perfectly and he was happy with the part, but I didn’t have any more in case I needed another one. I know these are being made by another supplier, but they cost twice what I charge, and I can have them made for a reasonable cost. The convenience of having a stash of these and ability to sell them for a lot less motivated me to make more. This time I had them made in pre-polished stainless steel and I should have a lifetime supply considering I sold my last one about 2 years ago! Let me know if you need one.

Mustangs Compared to a Ferrari

May 8, 2021


I posted a video getting my 1965 Mustang Fastback started for the first time this Spring. I’ve owned this car for 30 years, and bought it long before I got my 330 America, but it’s interesting how these two cars are similar and yet very different in design and performance. I guess the same comparisons can be made today with a modern Mustang and a new Ferrari. The performance numbers are similar, and yet there is a driving experience that is no match in the exotic. I hope you enjoy watching the video.

Ferrari 308GT/4 Deferred Maintenance

May 7, 2021


The 308GT/4 I have at the shop is coming along. It’s a relatively low mileage car that is largely original, but with original cars, they still have their issues.

Small things needed to be addressed like the door locks. The control rods wear and need adjustments so the locks will work. I pulled the door panel to have a look.

I was happy to see such little rust inside the doors, which supported the low mileage this car showed on the odometer. The light rust you see here is just surface rust, and there was no sign of deep rust. I sprayed some rust converter paint to keep this light rust from spreading.

The next issue to address was the fuse panel. Ferraris from this era used a fuse block that was riveted together. After a couple of decades of use, the rivets start to loosen from heat cycling, and as the rivets loosen, the connection gets hotter, melting the surrounding plastic, loosening the rivets even more, causing more heat, where eventually, everything melts.

The fuse block on this car was in better shape than most I’ve seen, but one junction was starting to show some weakening and melting.

We decided to go ahead and buy the upgraded fuse blocks made by The Birdman. He has been supplying these fuse blocks for many years and although is not a stock replacement, it is a reliable replacement for an original poor design.

You can see how the heat from the blower motor circuit got hot enough to melt the connector together. This kind of heat made the rivet loosen, and once it starts to wiggle, the connection gets worse and worse.

After I rebuilt the front suspension on this car, I noticed a creaking noise coming from the front end. With new A-arm bushings, the tighter front suspension was causing the steering rack to creak. On closer inspection, I found the rubber pads between the rack and frame mounts were deteriorated. I made a new set up from rubber sheets and replaced them. Creaks gone!

As I put more mileage on this car, I found a new oil leak forming in the back of the car. The owner had replaced the clutch recently and they filled the transaxle to the proper level, but the old axle seals were not up to the task of keeping the oil in place! It looks like gear oil had been slinging out past the axle shaft seals and landing all over the exhaust manifolds. I installed new seals, and the leaking stopped.

Ferrari SII 330GT 2+2 Exhaust

May 2, 2021


The new exhaust system finally arrived from Timevalve, so it was time to pull the rotted out ANSA system out of the SII 330.

I talked about ANSA and Abarth exhausts in a previous post, but this ANSA system was showing classic rust issues.

Because of the number of mufflers, short drives where the system doesn’t heat up enough for the moisture to evaporate, and perhaps the quality of the steel, these systems don’t seem to last long. The rust starts from the inside, and eventually turns the steel paper thin and falls apart.

No amount of welding or patching will save this system, so the solution is to replace it with a new one.

The first job is to separate the front Y-pipe from the old system. The pipe was in good condition, but was seized to the first pipe on the muffler, but after heating things up red hot with a torch, the pipes separated. I had more problems holding the system down so I could pull the pipe off by myself. If the sawhorses didn’t work, I was tempted to strap the system to the bed of my pick up truck to pull it apart!

I had Timevalve make me a reproduction Abarth exhaust system that would have originally been installed on a SII 330GT. The details are subtle, but the main differences are the muffler cans are smaller and more square in shape, and the tips are two piece units with a chrome sleeve over a steel resonator.

The next step was to transfer the heat shields from the old system to the new system by locating and welding the attachment nuts to the cans.

Timevalve has the jigs to weld these systems together, but there is always a certain amount of fitting to get it perfect. I’ve installed about half a dozen of these systems, and each time I have them weld more and more of the system as I confirm the accuracy of their jigs, but I’ve never had the hangers line up perfectly!

I had Timevalve lightly tack weld the inlet pipes to the front and rear sections, along with all the hangers so I could get the exhaust onto the car to check the fit.

Cutting off hangers and moving it up to half of an inch gets everything perfect.

The height or how low the exhaust hangs from the car is dictated by how the header inlet lines up with the first muffler, so more cutting and welding was needed to get things to line up.

Timevalve always includes extra hangers when Mike ships me a system, but occasionally I’ll have to make one slightly longer than the ones supplied. I could have simply extended the hanger with a strap, but since we’re taking such care to get things perfect, I might as well get it all to look perfect!

Once I got everything tacked in place and the rear resonators were exiting out back straight and even, I removed the two sides and will get all the hangers and pipe joints welded solidly.

Ferrari 250GTE Spring Drive

April 30, 2021


I took one of the 250GTEs I have at my shop out for a drive this week after a winter in storage. Winter in the Northeast was not willing to leave without a fight, but I think Spring is finally making some headway back into our lives!

250GTEs were the first large production 2+2 car Ferrari produced, and the most of any model they built at that time. They built about 950 of these cars during a span of about 3 years, and the success of this model helped fund some of Ferrari’s racing team. To think this little GTE helped pay for the racing of GTOs and all the LeMans prototypes of a pretty glorious time in racing. Just driving this car connects me with that era!