“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!"
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?
Roy: "Is it the 365 that was the earlier 2+2 spyder?"
Stacy: "First 2+2 convertible was the 365 California."
In the May issue, we asked you about the significance of the letter 'L' in the Dino 246's engine type name:
The engine type for the 206 GT was 236 B. When the 246 GT came, the engine type changed to 236 L (the GTS engine type changed to 236E). The first 246 GT was even referred to as a 246 GT/L. What does the L represent?
Marcel Massini: "Type L or Series I: Chassis #00400-01116 = 357 cars. Type M or Series II: Chassis #01118-02130 = 507 cars. Type E or Series III: Chassis #02130-08518 = 3,019 cars. Both GT and GTS versions."
Doug Nye: "L would normally signify 'Lusso' - Luxury. E in the early days of Ferrari definitely stood for 'Export' - self-explanatory, tailored for overseas markets."
Gear heads pay special attention. Doug Pirrone asks:
"What are 'mouse trap valve springs', when were they used by Ferrari and why? Why did Ferrari stop using them?"
First person to shoot us the correct answer gets a Berlinetta Motorcars baseball cap.
Did you know that the first modern bank, Banco di San Giorgio (Bank of St. George), was founded in Genoa, Italy, in 1406? I just learned that while doing research on banks. You see, I'm reading up on them because I'm thinking about knocking one over. Not that I'm not a big proponent of hard work, I just need to fund my Monticello Motor Club membership. At first I didn't care about Monticello. I thought it was just another club. I'm not pining to be a Friar, or to be chipping a 10 iron in the Hamptons (because if I were, it'd be a sand wedge), so what's the big deal about not being a member of New York's latest elite outfit? Honestly, I could've cared less about being a member of some new club. But then I went...
Monticello Motor Club's April launch party in the city was fantastic. An evening gala replete with exotic cars, five-star food, racing and driving enthusiasts and like-minded celebrities. But the party only showed computer generated images of what the track was supposed to look like. At the time of the party, the track was still just a dirt road. So I attended the July 20th sneak preview event with apprehension.
A 90 minute drive from Long Island put me in a long-forgotten town whose faded billboards advertise live harness racing (as opposed to dead harness racing?). A town that was once a hub to upstate New York, complete with airport, hotels, resorts, B&Bs and more. Now? Not so much. The only thing that was missing as I drove through the streets was a tumbleweed. In fact, the one variable that separates Monticello from any other one-horse burg is that, lately, it's seeing a lot of traffic.
Jason Bannerman, the face of the Monticello Motor Club, is very proud of the club. He seems most proud of the fact that the club has employed dozens of Monticello residents. "This club is going to benefit not only its members," he said, "but everyone in this town as well." In addition to defibrillating Monticello's job market, the mere existence of the club has quickened the pulse of the local commerce. Business is good for everyone in town: gas stations, restaurants, stores - even banks (hmmm). After my visit on the 20th, I spent some time in town. Proprietors are ecstatic with the influx of patrons and have only nice things to say about the erection and presence of the facility.
Now... about that facility.
I lament conceding that I drove right past the track the first time. Sure it's not finished yet, but it's still huge - it's 177 acres! But once I went back and rolled in, I felt like I was entering Disneyland for the first time. When you pull up, your eyes gaze up and out, seeing different things, looking further and further. First are the welcome gates, then part of the track off to the left. As you drive around, you see a big white building - a two-story, balcony-adorned club house that's bigger than my house. It is preceded only by a large parking lot. Until the other structures are completed, these are the only things you'll see - besides the track of course.
Monticello is not the only private race track in the northeast. There are others; not as close, not as nice, but they exist. And at the end of the day, a track is a track, right? No. If you're even remotely serious about getting on a track, you want to be absolutely certain that there are qualified trackside services and technicians, and ample run-off areas (and if you're not serious about getting on a track, then you definitely want ample run-offs!). In a club like Monticello, you want the best of everything. And that's exactly what you get. Jason describes it as a Four Seasons with a racetrack. But if the Four Seasons had a track, I think people would still come to Monticello.
The club house is broken into two parts: the ground floor and the second floor. The second floor is for members only; pool tables, card tables, a bar, a lounge - and big screen televisions strategically placed so no game or race will ever be missed. There's nothing gold plated; no diamond studded silverware or platinum plated dishes. But the service is top shelf. The staff is everywhere and nowhere all at the same time. You don't feel crowded or incessantly waited on, yet at the same time, the second you need something, someone seems to be right there to help.
There's lots of emphasis on the "club" aspect at Monticello. There's a virtual racing simulator as soon as you walk in the door, available for the video game inclined (and the not so inclined). Just looking at it made me feel ten years younger; playing it reduced me to fits of teenage giggling. To top it all off, the food is incredible. The sneak peek day was catered to the nines and that was just a preview of the July 27th Grand Opening. While everyone else was out on the track, I was inside eating all of the donuts.
Speaking of donuts - and the track - the FAA is very happy that Monticello has put in a skid pad that doubles as a helipad. With a place for choppers to touch down, Monticello can still be considered an airport. With that comes the absence of a noise ordinance. So you can race to your heart's content with one exception. No racing before 8AM on Sundays (so the answer is no, you can't do hot laps before morning service).
The track - the most important part of the facility - is, in a word, breathtaking. I had a chance to go out (in my 18 year old Subaru) on the 20th. Which was a relief - because I would've held up a lot of cars if I went out on the track on the grand opening (over 60 exotics showed up). Despite my woeful lack of sportiness (slow is smooth and smooth is fast, right?), touring the track still yielded a wonderful impression. It's wide and offers an opposing array of elevation changes, chicanes, hairpins and more. The length and complexity of the track prohibits easy memorization and thus is a lasting challenge to racers of all skill types. There's one chicane whose apex is at the top of a hill over which you cannot see until you're mid-crest. And although you know it's there the second, third and fourth time around, going through and over at full throttle still requires considerable cahones.
The grand opening was just as much fun as a spectator as it was for the drivers and members. The turnout of exotica was much akin to touring a Sultan's collection. Scuderias and 599s were well represented, as were high performance Porsches (Carrera GT, 997 Turbo, GT3RS, etc.). On the 20th, car presence was dominated by Lamborghinis; on the 27th, Ferrari trumped the deck. In addition to these Italian marques, there was also a Bugatti Veyron, Ultima GTR, Aerial Atom, Aston Martin Vanquish, McLaren-Mercedes SLR, F40, 250 GTO, Maseratis, Lotus and a race liveried Ford GT (to name but a few).
Attendees got in some track time before the rain came to test out the course. And no sooner were drops falling than staff flocked to the parking lot with umbrellas, shielding everyone from the rain. As soon as the rain left, the cars were back out on the track. Thanks to the meticulous organization of the track staff, and the maturity of the drivers, there were no incidents either weekend. There were, however, incidentals - all taken care of by Monticello. Besides the decadent food and beverage spread, those not driving were welcome at any bar. And whether you were driving or not, if you wanted to ease some tension, masseuses were on hand to work it out for you. The only thing missing was live music - no, wait, they had that, too.
At the end of the day, Monticello Motor Club is the quintessential racetrack slash club slash hangout spot for any driving enthusiast with a penchant for the sybaritic side of life. When the facility is complete, Monticello will flourish to become the town it used to be; the Hamptons of Sullivan County. It will be the premier venue for private racing in the northeast and will be the mold from which other clubs will spawn around the country and around the globe. And you can take that to the bank (just not the one I plan on visiting).
Guidance On What, and What Not, To Do
Are you ready for your total restoration? Well, here we go. It is an immense commitment, mentally and physically. Physically, not only because of the strong effort that is needed for some of the actual operations such as lifting heavy objects, block sanding, sanding and sanding... but also because of the long hours you will be putting in. These long hours will be even more taxing if you are doing your restoration as a part time hobby, since this will mean long evening and weekend hours. After working all day, you will find that it will be tough dragging yourself out to the garage after dinner. However, it can also be tremendously therapeutic. The end result and work itself is well worth it. The gratification is immense.
To complete a total restoration project within a reasonable amount of time - two to four years! - it is helpful to have a very understanding wife or girlfriend. Or no wife or girlfriend. Divorces and breakups can be used to your benefit. You get involved in the project, and feel much better than if you were bar-hopping.
We will start with disassembly and go through each phase as we progress from this article to subsequent articles.
PHOTOS! I cannot emphasize enough the importance of taking photographs as you go. You may think you'll remember how or where something fits, but in two or three years when you are putting it all back together you won't even recognize certain pieces. So, step one is: photograph the car from every angle, inside and out. That way, when you are putting it back together you will save a lot of time not having to stare and wonder, "Now what went here?"
If you have purchased a car that is not running, I would recommend the following: if you are going to rebuild the engine and other mechanicals, I would strongly advise that you take a ride in the car first. Even if this means that you must get the engine running, or that you have to make parts for the brake system that has been sitting and rusting for the last ten years. It is very demoralizing to put the last piece of chrome on the car, be ready to start up your finished product and go for a ride, only to find that the steel fuel line that runs through the chassis vibrates terribly in its old position. Perhaps someone may have enlarged the counterbore on your Porsche 356 normal flywheel so that it would accept a 200mm clutch instead of the old 180mm clutch, but they forgot to also add the proper depth to the counterbore to accept the Super 90 clutch. Or, the chassis tube in your Ferrari 250 LM that carries water from the engine up to the radiator might be rusted through and now leaks, meaning that you may now have to unrivet that beautifully restored belly pan to get at the rusty chassis tube and repair it.
After you have driven the car and you are satisfied that everything that is wrong with the car (e.g. a hum in the differential) has been noted, you can begin disassembly.
Having a neat, well organized, well lit and warm (in the winter months) workplace is half the battle. Have plenty of storage shelf space. Label all of your containers and shelves. While you are taking the car apart, make a lot of notes and diagrams. Take photos as you go. However, sometimes photos are not as clear in showing important details and sequences as drawings and sketches. So do both.
I usually start with the engine and driveline removal. It makes it easier to push the car around for degreasing and other work. It also gives you something to do while you are waiting for the paint remover to work. Take off things that are liable to get broken while leaning over the car, such as side view mirrors and lights.
After you get the engine and transmission out, and you have degreased the chassis, you will want to set up the car in a place where it can stay for a while because you will be taking off the suspension. If you really want to do a 100 point restoration, you should make some type of rolling platform on which to set the car. Preferably a "rotisserie" stand upon which you can mount the car and then turn it at different angles. You can then mount the car and work on the difficult areas easily, rather than ignoring them. We use one of these stands, and they are invaluable. I have seen them advertised, or you can have a local welding shop make one. You will use it to roll the car outside to sandblast the underbody and chassis. After removal of all of the mechanicals, body trim, lights, etc., you will want to remove all of the articles on the dashboard, because the sand from the sandblasting will get into everything.
After sandblasting and cleaning up, be ready to put a light coat of primer on all of the bare metal. Rust begins immediately! If you are going to use a urethane type of paint (either the color of the car for the body or a shade of flat-to-glossy black for the engine compartment) you must use a urethane type of primer. It is more durable and some urethane topcoats are not compatible with lacquer undercoats. Most manufacturers make a urethane primer that is particularly good for under panels. They are called etching primers, and they are good for steel or aluminum. The German company "Glasso" makes a product called "Glasurit Etching Primer". All manufacturers' products are comparable. Chemistry is not the exclusive territory of any one company. However, I do recommend that you stick with one brand of materials because they tend to be more compatible within the different types of materials that you will be using from one stage to the next. It is also less expensive than buying six different types of hardeners, reducers, etc. You should also treat bare metal with the appropriate type of metal conditioner if it is going to sit around for more than half a day unprotected.
There is a process of blasting that uses plastic beads as the blasting medium. This can be used to paint strip the body and the chassis as well, since it will not harm glass and most rubber. There are companies that will do plastic bead blasting for you. They bring a truck with bead blasting equipment, and a plastic bubble tent that covers the car. The car sits in the enclosed tent while the paint is being blasted off. We have used the process, and it is quite efficient. It also will not cause warping to exterior steel body panels. However, I don't think that I would use it on aluminum. I haven't tried that yet. Under any circumstances, do not sandblast exterior body panels with sand! They will surely stretch and warp. Also, a glass bead-blasting cabinet is invaluable in cleaning millions of little parts.
If you have straightening or rust repair to do on the exterior body panels, it is usually better to treat the bare metal with the appropriate type of metal conditioner rather than priming, because you can then weld and lead with a body solder, or fill the minor irregularities with plastic fillers without having to remove the primer first. There are also urethane epoxy primers that will accept plastic body fillers over them. Don't be afraid to use plastic body fillers because someone told you that "real bodymen" don't use them. Sure, it is possible to do an entire car without using any, but do you have the time to pick and file, weld and file? If you are doing it for someone who is paying you, is he willing to pay for all of the extra hours? If so, fine. Bring on the money. I assure you, it is an exercise in self-righteousness. It is not necessary. Modern body fillers are fine if used in small thin layers. Do not use them on edges or corners. They will chip an break off. Use welding or body solder (lead). Anyone who tells you that they use absolutely no filler is either 1) lying 2) has infinite amounts of time 3) has a customer with infinite amounts of money who is willing to pour it into his car 4) is using ten coats of epoxy primer (or featherfill) instead, which is the same thing except that it is sprayed on instead of squeegeed on by hand, or 5) is not really concerned about some waves or irregularities in his body panels.
That ought to keep you busy for a while. Until next time, make sure that you have plenty of midnight oil.
This month's inventory feature is a 1973 Dino 246 GTS with the rare factory chairs and flares package. This is a solid, strong car in great condition. Excellent paint, 8+ interior. Current work scheduled: new dash, engine detailing, rebuilt and detailed suspension, major service. Photos will be posted to www.BerlinettaMotorcars.com in mid September.
We have two other Dinos - a GT and GTS, black and blue respectively - that are available this summer. But the chairs and flares takes the cake.
Call today with any questions, or to make an appointment. Click here for more information on this Berlinetta Car.
NOTE: If you are inquiring about any cars that we are offering for sale, please send an e-mail to: BerlinettaMotorcars@gmail.com or call 631.549.6700 and your inquiry will be answered promptly. Otherwise, we will reply to your e-mail when we return the on the week of September 3rd.
A "Berlinetta car" is one that has been prepared for sale to the standards established by our shop; it is a reliable mark of quality. Purchasing a car from Berlinetta, you will experience an unparalleled level of quality and service. Berlinetta's reputation is built on integrity. Purchase with confidence. Whether you drive your car away, or unload it from a transporter, you can expect that your Berlinetta car will be as represented and ready for the road.
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Berlinetta's reputation is acknowledged and respected by the Ferrari community. Clients benefit from our ability to source the best examples of the most desirable Ferraris both here and abroad. Although many cars are advertised, some of the finest cars in private collections are marketed discreetly by private arrangement, so you need to inquire specifically about cars you might desire. Although advertising generates the most traffic, some sellers have various reasons to offer a car by private treaty, and you may overlook an ideal car if you don't ask widely, or trust us to do it on your behalf.
Additionally, when it's time to sell a car from your own collection, Berlinetta can assure that you get the proper exposure and price in the current market through a widely advertised program or selective confidential presentation to qualified collectors. If you'd like to receive e-mail updates on cars for sale through Berlinetta Motorcars, please click here.
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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:
Stay tuned for our next issue where Doug continues to teach us about restoring a car, and where we'll learn about the greatest racing driver who ever lived (no, not me)...