My friend, I have bought 3 amazing cars from you. I respect your integrity, honesty and loyalty to do the best in your power to provide your friends the best car, exceeding their expectations. Also was impressed the follow up that Doug did with the Daytona, and Janet's persistence to make sure all the shipments were done to my satisfaction.
I know I'm young (comparing to most of your clients), but if I ever want any car, not only a Ferrari, you are the FIRST one I will approach. An example of my trust is that please let the money stay with berlinetta, and we will adjust it to my next purchase.
I thank you (all) for the experince of knowing that there is one company that I can fully trust.
-Cheerag [Dubai, U.A.E.]
PS: my special regards to Janet. -- She's always been very nice to me.
“When asked, ‘ What most impressed me with the car ?’ my answer related to the fact that not only did I purchase the car, but also commissioned modifications solely by telephone.”
-Ron Busuttil, M.D., Ph.D.
"Doug, your reputation is beyond reproach. I have bought several Ferraris in my lifetime, and I know when I buy from you I am buying a car from a reputable person."
"The exhaust and engine work you did are spectacular! The car sounds completely wonderful - I can actually hear it swallowing air, and I have no doubt the bad headers were causing all kind of backpressure issues -- the increase in power is kind of breathtaking. Obviously the timing correction has a lot to do with that as well. I feel pretty sure the car runs better than it did when it was delivered new to Sonny Crockett back in 1997. And it sounds like a Ferrari again, not a landscaping truck!"
"The engine compartment is vastly improved as well, and the resurfaced console etc. looks most excellent."
"None of this was cheap, but it was all well worth it. A job really, really well done!"
Last issue we gave you a breakdown on 206, 246 and 308 GT4 Dinos. Then we hit you with some pretty esoteric trivia: What does the L stand for the in 246’s engine type? Surprisingly enough, answers are still rolling in, so we’re putting off the answer until the next issue.
But for now, let’s move on to something that relates to content in this issue of the Berlinetta Letter. Ferrari has announced the upcoming release of its latest model, the California. A front mid V8 with a seven speed F1 gearbox, back seats and a retractable hard top. It’s the first V8 2+2 since the Mondial series. But Ferrari has been making 2+2s for a long time – since 1951, to be exact. From some of the 212 Inters to the 612 Scaglietti and everything in between (GTE, 330 GT, 365 GT and 365 GT4, 400, 412, etc.), Ferraris with back seats have been around for quite some time.
But before the Mondial, Ferrari only made one other convertible 2+2. What was it? The first reader to E-mail us with the correct answer and will get a Berlinetta Motorcars Ltd. baseball cap.
I’m glad that the fair weather is finally upon us, because that means that all of the Ferrari events start showing up on my calendar. In the off season, I frequent Berlinetta Motorcars’ service facility. There I can see stuff like 275 GTB/4s, Daytona Spyders, and GTOs on a regular basis. But with the arrival of sun and a warm breeze, I can begin “making the rounds”. First up this year (for me) was the Greenwich Concours, a festival of speed and style.
The 2007 Greenwich Concours offered such automotive delights as the Boano-bodied 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis, a 1948 Delahaye and a 1937 Bugatti T37 Cabriolet. So I imagined this year’s event, the 13th anniversary, to be a bit of a difficult task for founders Bruce and Genia Wennerstrom. But not to be outdone by previous years, a discerning array of the last century’s finest modes of transportation (including boats, motorcycles and planes) was on display for all to enjoy. World renowned marques like Bugatti, Peugeot, Cadillac, Packard, Ferrari, and Rolls-Royce proudly graced the lawns with lesser known cars like the Crestmobile Runabout, a Hotchkiss Cabourg 686 Sedan, a Dannenhauer & Strauss Cabriolet, the one and only Fitch Phoenix and an Elva Courier Mk IV T Type.
The Greenwich Concours is a one-of-a-kind event. Nowhere else in the world – not even Villa d’Este – can you see a Lancia Lambda Tourer, Duesenberg J116 Four-Door, a 1941 Lincoln Zephyr Convertible and a Koenigsegg CCX in the same place. The weather for this year’s event was equal to every car on the field: perfect. And speaking of perfect, the Ferraris on display represented 50 years of speed and style from our beloved Italian manufacturer. The diversity of prancing horse adorned examples – from a 250 GT TdF and a 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet to a Dino, an F40 and a ’05 Superamerica – was a testament to the respect and prestige held by the Greenwich Concours. After all, it’s not every day that you see a drop top 400 Superamerica (only ten were made).
The only bad part about the Greenwich Concours is that it has to end. The afternoon sun eventually yielded to a cooler, evening breeze; the lawn’s spectators began to thin out, and vendors and car owners alike started packing up their things. But if I could start off my year with any car event, it would be the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance. It’s a powerful yet elegant introduction to a broad range of historical automobiles spanning the last century.
What could be better than a three day car event focused only on Italian automobiles? How about a three day car event focused only on Italian automobiles that takes place in the Poconos? The genius in having a car event at a place that can be enjoyed by non-car-loving family members must be appreciated – and should, whenever possible, be utilized! Encourage your wife and kids to enjoy a day at the pool while you roam the greens, ogling various Italian exotica. Tell your family to enjoy the resort’s myriad five star accommodations while you watch and listen to Iso Rivoltas, Maserati Birdcages, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis, Alfa Romeos and Fiats scream around the track.
The Skytop Lodge in Skytop, Pennsylvania, is just 15 minutes from Pocono Raceway, so it’s the ideal place to hold this annual Concorso d’Eleganza. The Lodge, originally erected in 1925 as a Gentlemen’s club (no, not that kind of club!), sits on 2,500 acres nestled by West Mountain, overlooking Skytop Lake. Aside from the roar and purr of various engines starting up, pulling in, and driving out, the only other noise I heard was “Fore!” as golfers made their way from green to green. Not to worry though; the event is set up in such a way that no Titleist found itself embedded in the windshield of a car.
The show was dominated by Lamborghinis. Murcielagos, Murcielago LP640s, Gallardos, Gallardo LP560s, and Gallaro Supperleggeras were everywhere. That’s not to mention a whole gaggle of Diablos, a surprising (and stunning) array of Countaches and Lamborghini 350 and 400 GTs. But Ferrari’s presence was made known at the track. However, the track day show stealer wasn’t anything with a bull or a horse. It was something black and menacing; ferociously loud, curvy, low to the ground …and brandishing a shiny trident. The stealthy Maserati MC12 Corsa did to the track day competition what a certain costume party did to Max Mosley’s career. It yielded the type of presence that would make the Batmobile turn tail and head for the bat cave.
Rain threatened to make everyone put the toys away. Perhaps it was the barking downshifts from the Corsa, but the weather abstained from ruining what turned out to be a wonderful event during a wonderful weekend. If every car event were held at a place like the Skytop Lodge, and put on by the folks who organized the 2008 Le Belle Macchine d’Italia, turnouts would surge. I’m just glad that I didn’t bring my golf clubs – if I did, I’d still be there!
You've read about it; you've seen pictures; maybe you've even been there; John and Alicia Barnes' Cavallino Classic. For almost two decades, The Breakers Hotel in West Palm Beach, Florida, has been host to one of America's premier Ferrari events. From the earliest iterations of Ferrari racing and road cars, to the latest and greatest track and street manifestations to emerge from Maranello, the lawns of the Breakers are littered with the rarest, most beautiful cars the world has ever known. So what does it take to get your car on that grass?
Berlinetta Motorcars has been restoring, maintaining and prepping cars for concours for three decades. Every year, Berlinetta Motorcars is commissioned to look after various Ferraris and tend to the imperfect minutiae that would otherwise be cause for point deduction. The slightest things of which you may or may not be aware are common knowledge here at BMC. A period correct car is essential to bringing home silver, gold, and especially platinum. From hose clamps to valve stems, books and tools to knock-offs, we know exactly how your car left the factory- even if you're unsure. We presented four customer cars at this year's Cavallino Classic. We came home with two major cups- oh, and four Gold Class awards, too.
Berlinetta has already filled spots for the Cavallino Classic XVIII, taking place 20 through 25 January, 2009. We have some spots open and would love to alleviate any concerns you may have about entering this extraordinary event. Call or e-mail us to schedule an appointment, or just lay all of your questions on us right then and there. We'd love the opportunity to show you why we leave Cavallino with awards every year. We're happy, our clients are happy; shouldn't you be happy too? Click here to learn more about our restorations and awards:
Pictures courtesy Autobild.de
At the Paris Auto Show, Ferrari will debut its latest model, the California. It’s the first of a new line not related to Ferrari’s current V8 and V12 models. The California, a front mid V8 2+2 with a retractable hardtop, is the first V8 2+2 convertible from Ferrari since the Mondial. The California is cause for much discussion among Ferrari owners and enthusiasts, because of how it looks and what it represents. But first, the facts…
The California’s retractable hard top – or “RHT” – is Ferrari’s first retractable hard top, and utilizes innovative technology providing speed and flexibility. The hard top opens or closes completely in just 15 seconds, and weighs less than any rag top Ferrari has ever put on any of its cars. Facilitating the use of separate, simultaneously moving parts (think Volvo C70), the California’s RHT stows in the trunk, completely out of sight. When up, the top blends in with the rest of car. So whether you’ve got the a/c on or you want wind in your hair, the lines of the California are not compromised.
The California’s engine is not an evolution of anything currently in production. Rather it’s a completely new design (type F149) with a flat crankshaft and direct gasoline injection. Putting out 450 horsepower at 7,600 rpm, and with a top speed of 192 mph, the California is no slouch. Rumored to be the “entry level” Ferrari, the California isn’t exactly vying to replace your neighbor’s Boxster S. Don’t let the rear seats and the RHT fool you. It’s supposed to be the best in its class, but with an all aluminum chassis, carbon ceramic brakes, forged wheels and 53% of the suspended weight focused on the rear axle, the California is in a class all its own.
Ferrari’s first ever seven speed gearbox is both sequential and automatic. With just the push of a button, you can go from fully automatic to shift-by-shift fun. Under the auto mode, shifts are virtually undetectable, so your wife can put on her makeup without worry of a jerk in the ride and a subsequent smear of Lancôme across her face. On the flip side, when you want to have fun (or mess up your wife’s makeup), put the California back into sequential mode and shift away via the F1 transmission. The one thing that the California shares with other current Ferraris is the Manettino on the steering wheel. Adjust the car’s settings from Bentley-like comfort to I-want-to-be-like-Schumacher with the same knob in the F430 and the 599.
The California incorporates other technology ensuring just as much in the way of safety as it does performance. The A shaped double wishbone multilink suspension provides both ride comfort and superior handling. Ferrari’s F1 Trac Evoluzione allows the car to interpret exactly how much grip each tire needs in any given situation, yielding unparalleled performance. Throw in a launch control button for good measure and you’ve got yourself one amazing “entry level” Ferrari.
Ferrari’s extensive use of aluminum in the construction of the California sets new standards for the company, and other manufacturers’ cars that might want to (try to) compete with it. Aluminum is the main component used in the chassis, the engine and the body. The generous employment of this material allows the California to see new heights of fuel efficiency for Ferrari. Every aspect of the California raises the bar for both Ferrari and all of the other sports car makers who wish to remain competitive in this market.
But the California isn’t welcomed with open arms by everyone. Fears of mass production and brand dilution run rampant on the Internet. The appearance of a “comfort” setting on the Manettino has the diehard sports car enthusiasts in an uproar. Some say the California is a strategic move. Much akin to Porsche’s creation of the Cayenne: use the sales of one model to further the research and development of both the race team and other, more high end models. We’ll certainly find out in due time. But we’re interested in hearing the thoughts of our readers. What do you think?
We close the June issue of the Berlinetta Letter with expert advice from Doug Pirrone on automotive restorations. If you missed Part I, check our last issue where Doug began this multi-part series with informative suggestions, and questions you should ask yourself before doing a restoration.
Now that you’ve decided that your car is worthy of a restoration, you must address these following questions:
These are very sensitive issues. Don’t think that anyone will ever come up with only one correct answer. I suppose it’s like many other things in life. You must decide what is correct for you.
Question one: How extensive a restoration should I do? You must now ask yourself, “How original do I want the car to be?” This is the issue at Ferrari concours these days. The International Advisory Council for the Preservation of Ferrari Automobiles (IAC/PFA) stated that originality is the most important consideration. I agree that originality is very, very high up on the list. But if originality is the most important aspect of the concours then I say perhaps it shouldn’t be called a Concours d’Elegance. Maybe it should be called an originality show.
My point being: if you want to keep everything as original as possible, and if the car has never been restored, then don’t touch it. Don’t do a restoration. Just clean it as best you can. When a great painting is restored, it is not repainted! It is taken down to the original layer that was applied when the artist painted it. So again I would say that if originality is of the utmost concern, then don’t restore; just clean it.
Okay, so we have decided that we just can’t stand to look at the old grand lady sitting there in her faded, cracking paint and her tattered interior with split seams and worn corners. So we embark on the journey. If you decide that you can’t stand the paint but the interior looks pretty good, then just do the paint. If the engine compartment is rusty, and its paint is chipped, then by all means do it. If it looks pretty good and very original, then leave it if originality is more important than aesthetic and cosmetic beauty. Again, it’s what is correct for you that ultimately matters.
It’s always hard for me to give advice on this point of total originality vs. cosmetic appearances to someone who asks me, “What do I have to do to win?” It has been my experience that a totally redone car – one that is done to perfection usually ends up beating everything else. Why is this? Well, after all, it is a contest of elegance, is it not? I don’t think that anyone would want to see a worn and tattered car, or one that has had a mediocre restoration done on it, win a first place or best in show award if it’s not elegant. So again we are back to what is correct for you. You have to live with it.
How do you envision your pride and joy? If originality is of utmost importance, then restore as little as possible. If you want it to look like new (or maybe better than new – we’ll discuss this further), do a total restoration. Total means just what it says; total. In our shop we generally do total restorations, especially on older cars. We find that it is usually impossible to do only one area of the car to perfection and not the rest. The areas that do not get done usually end up looking terrible compared to the ones that have been given attention.
Total restoration means paint, engine, engine compartment, suspension, wheels, exhaust system, interior, trunk, transmission, rear axle, window mechanisms, lights, accessories, etc! Some items may need to be replaced (if available) while others may only need to be cleaned. Some may have to be fabricated from scratch. Be prepared!
Question two: Should I use original materials? If your car was manufactured prior to 1980, it most likely has some materials that date back to the early 1900s – especially the paint and primers. It is probable that the engine also has some antique materials used in the valve seats and piston rings. The older paints and primers were usually nitrocellulose lacquer base, or synthetic enamels. Nothing looks better than lacquer, especially nitrocellulose, when properly block sanded and compounded to a high luster. The brilliance is incomparable. Modern urethane enamels can come very close but they can never equal lacquer. That’s because lacquer becomes a very hard, brittle surface when it dries. The microscopic image of its surface therefore can become very, very level with proper finishing and compounding. This is why it reflects more perfectly and will subsequently appear deeper, just like a real mirror.
Urethane enamel is very soft compared to lacquer. Thus, it does not produce a hard mirror-like surface. However this is why urethane enamel is far more durable and less susceptible to cracking than the harder, more brittle lacquer. The original primer on your car is probably a nitrocellulose lacquer type. This means that it is brittle and that it probably has a lot of cracking in it. Lacquer also has to be re-compounded every six months or so because it is continually shrinking. This shrinking occurs because the drying process in lacquer lasts up to five years or more. It’s a good bet that the same type of paint and primers that were used on the exterior of your car were also used in the engine compartment and interior. For a show car, I prefer to use modern urethane enamel primers for the undercoats, and lacquer paint for the color topcoats because of its superior brilliance. What do you want, durability or originality?
The same question comes up for the materials used in the engine. For example, the original valve seats in your engine are either steel or bronze. They are relatively soft materials and will wear rapidly compared to a modern steel valve seat. A valve made of steel is hard, and valve adjustments will not need to be done as often. If it’s a V12 Ferrari engine that you’re rebuilding, that would be an important point since a valve adjustment on a 12-cylinder engine can be a very time consuming affair! The same goes for valve guides. Old bronze ones wear out fast and start letting oil by, which results in your exhaust pipes billowing big clouds of blue smoke. It’s original, but not very elegant.
Question three: I save this question for last since it is the most sensitive and controversial issue, at least in the Ferrari Club of America. As the value and importance of older cars becomes greater and greater, the issue of over restoration comes more to the forefront. Judges are confronted with the car whose paint finish and panel fit is better than it ever was when it left the factory. I find it very difficult or even impossible to strip and repaint a car to the same poor standard to which it was originally done. Some of the original finishes on some cars are atrocious. How do you bring yourself to refinish a car’s paint with orange peel or make panels purposely fit poor when doing a thorough, high-quality, expensive restoration; just to make it look as poorly as it originally did?
I cannot convince myself or the owner that this is what should be done. Especially since on the scoring card of the Ferrari Club judging sheets, points are taken off for “over restoration”. A perfect finish and panel fit can be considered by the judges to be unoriginal and therefore points must be taken off for “over restoration”. There seems to be a contradiction here that must be addressed soon. I, for one, am in favor of performing a job to the highest level that I can. The only reason that the factory didn’t do this is because they could not afford to, both in terms of dollars and time. I don’t think that Enzo Ferrari or Ferdinand Porsche, given the opportunity to choose between mediocre paint and panel finish to superior fit and finish would choose the former. I am sure that, when conceived in the mind of the designer, the automobile was envisioned with a perfect mirror finish and precise panel fit. This is how the manufacturer at the unveiling of a new model at the auto shows presents his car. A model example – a show car.
I also believe that when we show these cars we are putting them up on a platform for admiration by the visitors and for critiques by the judges. After all, a judge’s job is to criticize and point out the aspects of a car that is inferior. We want these cars to be admired because we feel that they are important and different and, therefore, we want them to be exceptional in appearance. This can mean “better than when they left the factory”. I feel that it is impossible to “restore” a car to how it originally was. It can never be the same as it once was. Do you put dirty undercoating and cosmolene overspray on the chassis and engine to make it “as if left the factory”? It is a very difficult point. Of course originality is very, very important. Yet I feel that this need not be sacrificed in terms of original equipment, original color schemes, original types of plating and hardware, original type of leather, vinyl, carpet, etc.
As the owner of a car undergoing restoration, you must ask yourself these questions. We will be getting more specific in future issues of the Berlinetta Letter. Stay tuned.
This month's inventory feature is a 1984 GTO. Liveried in Rosso Corsa with black leather, the immaculate interior of this 35th GTO is outfitted with black mats yielding large red prancing horses. We just did a total service on this car including accessory and timing belts, valve adjustment, re-torqued heads, cam and distributor seals, all fluids, new clutch, new tires - she's ready to go! Pristine and original with 10,500 KMs, the car is available to be seen at Berlinetta Motorcars.
Call today with any questions, or to make an appointment. Click here for more information.