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Jim Ciardella ---  Ferrari Writer Jim Ciardella --- Ferrari Writer
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Los Gatos, CA
Saturday, February 27, 2021

 
The FLG StoryThe FLG Storyhttps://flgstory.comThe Rise & Fall of an Iconic Car DealershipMon, 29 Jun 2020 00:40:52 +0000en-UShourly1https://flgstory.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/FOLG-Logo-Final-NEW-150x150.pngThe FLG Storyhttps://flgstory.com3232The Muscle Cars of Ferrari of Los Gatoshttps://flgstory.com/ferrari-of-los-gatos-story/the-muscle-cars-of-ferrari-of-los-gatos/https://flgstory.com/ferrari-of-los-gatos-story/the-muscle-cars-of-ferrari-of-los-gatos/#respondTue, 14 Jan 2020 20:56:36 +0000Team FLGhttps://flgstory.com/?p=5060

I lived in Silicon Valley from 1988 to 1991 and remember going there many times on the way to Santa Cruz. I took a Ferrari 308 GTS for a spin there once. The biggest memory I have is they used to rebuild muscle cars from scratch and take Polaroids of the rebuilds in a book […]

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I lived in Silicon Valley from 1988 to 1991 and remember going there many times on the way to Santa Cruz. I took a Ferrari 308 GTS for a spin there once.

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle

The biggest memory I have is they used to rebuild muscle cars from scratch and take Polaroids of the rebuilds in a book to give to the buyers. I thought that was awesome!

Bill J.
Windham, ME

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Ford vs. Ferrari Advance Film Reviewhttps://flgstory.com/ferrari-of-los-gatos-story/ford-vs-ferrari-advance-film-review/https://flgstory.com/ferrari-of-los-gatos-story/ford-vs-ferrari-advance-film-review/#respondWed, 13 Nov 2019 08:01:48 +0000Jim Ciardellahttps://flgstory.com/?p=5028

The movie, Ford v Ferrari, debuts on the big screen Friday, November 15, 2019. As a guest of the Peterson Auto Museum, Wallace Wyss had the opportunity to attend a preview of the movie a few days before its official opening. Here is a reprint of his review courtesy of Mike Gulett from mycarquest.com. By Wallace […]

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The movie, Ford v Ferrari, debuts on the big screen Friday, November 15, 2019. As a guest of the Peterson Auto Museum, Wallace Wyss had the opportunity to attend a preview of the movie a few days before its official opening. Here is a reprint of his review courtesy of Mike Gulett from mycarquest.com.

By Wallace Wyss

The trouble with most racing films is that the producer and director think the audience will be satisfied with lots of zoom-zoom shots and occasional glimpses of the race driver’s lives.

Veteran Hollywood producer and director James Mangold made Ford v Ferrari. He told interviewers he’s not a car guy but knows how to tell a story.

It’s a story of two buddies, both car racers, and how one vaults himself into a race team organizer role and hires the other as his lead driver.

The man who propels himself from the racetrack to the office is Carroll Shelby, a tall in the saddle Texan who had so many things going on in his life that it’s hard to squeeze even a bit of it into this film.

The Life of Carroll Shelby—Worthy of a Movie

Shelby is a WWII veteran, a failed chicken farmer, a self-taught car racer, a horse breeder, a car builder, a big game hunter, oh, and Le Mans winner (’59 for Aston Martin). You just knew there would be a movie about him eventually.

But this is not at all an attempt at a definitive life story. No, this is only a slice of his life from 1962 to 1966, when major American automaker Ford decided to challenge leading sports car builder Ferrari at the world’s best-known automobile race, 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Mangold manages to tell the story from a personal point of view so that, even if you know nothing about racing, you see the conflicts and sympathize with various people in the movie. Christian Bale’s portrayal of Ken Miles, the stubborn British car racer employed by Shelby, is so good that it’s hard to sympathize with this brash immigrant, who always manages to spoil his opportunities by venting his opinion.

The Miles character dominates the story, while the Shelby character is in and out of the story as he comes in to clean up Miles’ latest faux pas.

In a way, it’s a traditional buddy-buddy movie, something like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

        Christian Bale as Ken Miles

It’s Difficult to Determine Who’s Goliath and Who’s David

Just as the racers on the Shelby team are fighting internally with their sponsor Ford, their sponsor is shown fighting with Ferrari. Actor Jon Bernthal plays Iacocca (he doesn’t look like Iacocca but does a great job acting the part) and he convinces Henry Ford II that if Ford can beat Ferrari at Le Mans, it will be great for Ford’s further business ventures in Europe.

Henry Ford II states that Ford makes more cars in a day than Ferrari does in a year, causing the audience to assume Ford is Goliath and Ferrari is David. However, Ferrari has so much racing experience, it’s the other way around, and the movie is about Ford hiring Shelby to shape up their endurance race car.

As far as casting, I was dubious of Damon playing Shelby—he’s too short for one thing. Even at the wrong height, Damon played the role convincingly. Since I knew Shelby personally, I knew he had a jocular manner and, at times, could be hard as nails.

Damon was doing the easy-going aw-shucks Shelby for most of the film, but he had his hands full with Bale stealing most of their scenes. And, naturally, the audience sympathizes with Bale because you get Miles’ back story all the way through (a WWII British Army veteran in Africa and Europe, and an inept businessman who alienates customers by expressing his opinions in no uncertain terms). Once Shelby signs him on as a driver, he is required to go around and put out the fires Miles has started with his unvarnished opinions.

There’s also a family side of the story that shows how Miles’ devoted wife Mollie is satisfied with her husband being a shop owner, but he can’t handle the business and has to take a race driver job. His wife has an intense dread that Shelby is trying to involve her husband in something that is definitely on edge, involving cars that go 200 mph plus.

         Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby

The Movie Puts the Audience Inside the Car

Past racing movies, except for Le Mans, had a lot of the same old whoosh-whoosh flybys of cars. Ford v Ferrari producers went to the trouble to build large rigs to hold the race cars giving the audience the feeling they are right down there at waist level in one of the cars on the race track.

There are a few incredible crashes, and a harrowing scene when Miles fails to get his door closed at the start of Le Mans. As he accelerates to nearly 200 mph, he’s fighting to close his door.

For those hoping to see Ferrari in half the movie, that doesn’t happen. The Ferraris get about 10% on screen time, and other car models get zilch.

Anti-Management Prevails

In this film, Ford management is portrayed as ignorant, crude people in the business. That’s entertaining because an executive like Henry Ford II couldn’t possibly know everything that’s happening down at the race team level—he has to delegate responsibility. He appoints his old basketball coach, Leo Beebe, to run the racing program (the movie doesn’t reveal Beebe’s lack of race experience). Tracey Letts does well portraying Henry Ford II, but Josh Lucas, as Leo Beebe, is more memorable. At one minute, he’s trying to tell Shelby what to do, and the next minute, when Shelby’s intuition pays off, Beebe is proclaiming the success of “his” idea.

The running plot is that Beebe hates Miles but can’t get him fired from the team because Shelby has convinced Ford that he is vital.

The Italian Portrayals

The Italians only get a few minutes on screen, first when they are showing Iacocca and crew through the Maranello factory, and later when they are negotiating. The casting of Enzo Ferrari is perfect—the imperious air and Machiavellian posturing. I don’t know if it’s a fact, but in the film, Ferrari tells Ford to leave (which did happen) but implies the reason was that Ferrari was already negotiating behind the scenes with Fiat for a takeover (which technically didn’t occur until 1969). The film also shows the Italian pit crew shouting at each other when their car breaks down, and they realize Ferrari is going to lose at Le Mans.

Other Actors Portray Key Roles in the Movie

Noah Jupe plays Ken Miles’ son Peter and does an excellent job.

Also, sure to get a mention at Oscar time will be the portrayal of Miles’ wife, Mollie, played by Caitriona Balfe. It draws your sympathy that her husband had a sweet, safe life if he gave up racing, but he can’t seem to do that. It’s never clear how much of Miles’ zeal is due to wanting to win famous races or to make enough money to satisfy his creditors.

Director Mangold surprised an interviewer on YouTube by saying he had initially put together a 3½ hour version. If that is ever available, it will be much sought after by racecar fans; model builders, etc. because there, in the scenes cut out of the theatrical version, might be the answers to things like, why didn’t Ford try for faster Cobras instead of developing an all-new car, etc.

So we come back to the question, “Do you, Mr. Wyss, (author of three books on Shelby) like the film?”

“I can say I liked it on the personal story level. Basing my comments on the 2½ hour film I saw, I can say it’s a certain genre of film, like the space movies showing the trials and tribulations of early astronauts. It’s buddies in peril, only this time on racetracks instead of in outer space. It’s only a coincidence that this buddies-in-peril story takes place in the world of cars.”

“I believe that, eventually, the rags-to-riches story of one Carroll Hall Shelby will be told. Ford v Ferrari has opened the door for that to happen. I think this movie will be the beginning. Perhaps we will see the story told at more length, maybe in a TV series, maybe going back to his beginning as a car racer (after all his chickens up and died and he decided to go to a car race and the rest his history…). And a TV version could illuminate many different phases of his car building career.”

Ford v Ferrari is not without flaws but it opens the door to Shelby’s history. It is even a racing film that you could take a non-racer film buff to, and they might be happy with the story.

Thank you to author Wallace Wyss for letting us reprint his article as it appeared on Mike Gullett’s website mycarquest.com. Wallace is the author of SHELBY: The Man, the Cars, the Legend, and 17 other books. As a fine artist, he is portraying 60’s racing cars in oils. A list of prints is available by request from Mendoart7@gmail.com

Let us know what you think about Ford v Ferrari (or Lemans ’66 if you’re in Europe) in the comments section below.

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Think Big – Thought Ettore Bugattihttps://flgstory.com/ferrari-of-los-gatos-story/think-big-thought-ettore-bugatti/https://flgstory.com/ferrari-of-los-gatos-story/think-big-thought-ettore-bugatti/#commentsFri, 18 Oct 2019 10:01:33 +0000Jim Ciardellahttps://flgstory.com/?p=5003

So he did – but his timing was off. In retrospect, I gotta hand it to car builder Ettore Bugatti because not only did he build cars that ended up winning 1000 races, but for a while, he built the world’s most expensive car. By Wallace Wyss The car was called the Bugatti Type 41 […]

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So he did – but his timing was off. In retrospect, I gotta hand it to car builder Ettore Bugatti because not only did he build cars that ended up winning 1000 races, but for a while, he built the world’s most expensive car.

By Wallace Wyss

The car was called the Bugatti Type 41 Royale, and what he was doing was attempting to piggyback on a contract from the French military. They wanted a 16-cylinder aircraft engine. He developed it, but the contract never came. Nevertheless, rather than waste the tooling, he cut it in half and made one helluva big luxury car powered by a straight-eight.

The Type 41 Royale engine boasted 12.7 liters, or over 700 cubic inches, roughly twice the size of the biggest engines made by Detroit four decades later. Everything about the car was big. It had a 15-foot wheelbase, and the top of the hood was a good five feet from the ground.

However, his timing sucked. The car began rolling off the line in Molsheim just in time for the start of the Great Depression. Only six Royale’s were produced, and two were never sold, staying instead with the Bugatti estate.

  Fitted luggage was the thing back then

The coachwork took various styles. One style, the Kellner Coach (or ‘Coupe’), was hidden from the Nazi occupiers of their factory during the war by bricking it in behind a false wall.

That stayed with the family until 1950 when American yachtsman and multimillionaire Briggs Swift Cunningham showed up, himself a Le Mans 24-Hours racing driver. He told me he bought both Royales dirt cheap because one of the things the family wanted to buy was a refrigerator!

In 1987, one of the Royales, the Kellner style, sold for a record £5.5 million ($7.1 million US Dollars today).

 It had to be the worlds largest sportscar

Bugatti Royale at the French National Railway

The leftover Royale engines found a home at the SNCF (French National Railway), where they powered locomotives. They used them in pairs and even in triplicate to pull passenger railcars. But the engines might not have been right for the application, and they were dumped after the war.

This particular car, depicted in a rendering by your author, has a checkered past in that it escaped World War II by the thinnest of margins. When the Nazis came to power, the original owner, a German named Dr. Fuchs, knew he wouldn’t be welcome because of political differences. He first moved to Switzerland with the car in ’33, then chose another lousy place to live, Shanghai, China, which was only a few years later overrun by the Japanese.

In 1937, when he saw the Japanese Imperial Army made plans to invade China, he drove down to the dock and booked passage for himself and his car to Canada. After arriving in Canada, he drove the car to New York and settled in The Big Apple. In the winter of ’37, he cracked the engine block. Unable to find anyone to fix it, he sold the car for junk to a scrapyard in Queens. The war was coming, and there was a lot of scrap potential in this car, especially aluminum, a material needed desperately for airplanes.

Bugatti Royale Narrowly Escapes Junkyard Meltdown

Destined to be re-cycled into metal for America’s war drive, the Bugatti Royale made another narrow escape. In 1946, a Detroit based dude named “Engine Charley” Wilson, the chief engineer for Buick in charge of making millions of engines each year was tipped off by a fellow New York car enthusiast. Charley moved in and grabbed it, broken engine and all. A guy with a job like that only has to snap his fingers to get an engine repaired. He did that, and no doubt to the horror of later Concours judges changed the original single carburetor for four Stromberg units mounted on a custom intake manifold. And he didn’t much cotton to the mechanical brakes, so had the braking system switched to hydraulics.

It was he who chose to change the color from black to oyster white, with a contrasting character stripe featuring his monogram on the door. Tall like GM’s design chief Harley Earl, he also redid the seating to suit his height. Eventually, he and his wife donated it to a museum.

The Weinberger Cabriolet out in the countryside Giclee print available from Wallace Wyss

I have a special attachment to the car—it was one of the first really “classic” cars I saw the first time I visited the Henry Ford Museum easily a half-century ago. Hey, I know, it’s not a Ford and the Museum is the Henry Ford Museum but I am thankful they didn’t sell it off like the Ferrari Testa Rossa they sold, that buyer using the argument that the Ferrari’s display didn’t coincide with the museum’s mission—to showcase American cars.

So now all of us who visit the museum can see it anytime instead of only when it appears at some prestigious Concours.

Thank you to author Wallace Wyss for allowing us to reprint Think Big – Thought Ettore Bugatti, a story that originally appeared in mycarquest.com.

If you have a similar classic car story, please share it here, or let us know what you think in the Comment section below.

THE AUTHOR/ARTIST: The Weinberger Cabriolet painting is available from Wallace Wyss as an embellished Giclee on canvas, 20” x 30.” Write to mendoart7@gmail.com

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Time Moves On and So Do Famous Car Dealershttps://flgstory.com/ferrari-of-los-gatos-story/time-moves-on-and-so-do-famous-car-dealers/https://flgstory.com/ferrari-of-los-gatos-story/time-moves-on-and-so-do-famous-car-dealers/#respondWed, 25 Sep 2019 07:01:29 +0000Jim Ciardellahttps://flgstory.com/?p=4958

The corner of East Main and Pageant Way in Los Gatos, California has been home to an automobile dealership since the 1920s when Spotswood Dodge moved in. Ferrari of Los Gatos occupied the space from the mid-70s through the mid-90s, followed by Silicon Valley Auto Group, and Los Gatos Luxury Cars. 66 East Main Street […]

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The corner of East Main and Pageant Way in Los Gatos, California has been home to an automobile dealership since the 1920s when Spotswood Dodge moved in. Ferrari of Los Gatos occupied the space from the mid-70s through the mid-90s, followed by Silicon Valley Auto Group, and Los Gatos Luxury Cars.

66 East Main Street back in the day

Mike Gulett and his wife drove down East Main Street a couple years ago and this is a reprint of an article he posted at that time.

The building that once housed Ferrari of Los Gatos has been vacant since Los Gatos Luxury Cars moved out in 2014. The famous corner housed exotic car dealers for 88 years, with Ferrari of Los Gatos located there for 20-years. The Ferrari dealership sold many new and used Ferraris back in the day, maybe more than any other dealer in North America, but suffered from troubles over the years (both legal and business).

The troubles included bankruptcy, criminal charges, and the loss of the Ferrari Dealership. Things certainly changed after Enzo died. The new Ferrari management decided they wanted to convert several dealerships to company stores. The Ferrari sign came down, the dealership turned to luxury cars, and the Ferrari dealership eventually moved to Redwood City.

The Empty Building Can Shock You

When my wife and I drove through Los Gatos a couple of years ago, we were surprised to see the empty site as shown in the photo below.

Ferrari of Los Gatos Building

We lived near this dealership for many years and bought and sold a few cars there. Ferrari of Los Gatos was a fun place to visit on a Saturday afternoon because many other car lovers would stop by, and there was always the opportunity to take out a cool car for a test drive.

It is sad to see an institution close down, but as Bob Dylan said, “The times they are a-changin.”

This article was first published by Mike Gulett at CarQuest.com and is reposted here with permission.

2019 Update. Recently, a fitness center located down the street called The Club of Los Gatos has rented 66 East Main Street. It will be the first non-automobile business to occupy the space since 1926.

Mike received a couple of license plate frames from an ex-Ferrari of Los Gatos employee when the dealership closed down. They’re considered collectibles today.

Did you ever visit a dealership at 66 E Main Street? Please share the story here, or leave a comment below.

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Giotto Bizzarrini, The Great Engineerhttps://flgstory.com/ferrari-of-los-gatos-story/giotto-bizzarrini-the-great-engineer/https://flgstory.com/ferrari-of-los-gatos-story/giotto-bizzarrini-the-great-engineer/#respondThu, 12 Sep 2019 07:01:30 +0000Jim Ciardellahttps://flgstory.com/?p=4918

He was fired by Enzo Ferrari for his role in the failed ‘Palace Revolt,’ fought back by trying to out-do Ferraris on the race track, briefly produced cars under his name before being swindled into bankruptcy, and ended his career as he started, teaching mechanical engineering at the University of Pisa. Giotto Bizzarrini’s journey through […]

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He was fired by Enzo Ferrari for his role in the failed ‘Palace Revolt,’ fought back by trying to out-do Ferraris on the race track, briefly produced cars under his name before being swindled into bankruptcy, and ended his career as he started, teaching mechanical engineering at the University of Pisa. Giotto Bizzarrini’s journey through life was indeed a bumpy one, but along the way, there were some lofty high points.

Ferrari 250 GTO at the Bonhams Auction in Monterey – August 2014

Bizzarrini deserves to be admired for designing the quad-cam V12 engine which powered Lamborghini road cars for decades, starting with the 350 GT and continuing through to the Miura and Countach. He also masterminded one of the most highly revered sports racing cars of all time, the Ferrari 250 GTO. Despite the magnitude of these achievements, Bizzarrini is just as often remembered for a one-off Ferrari special that sticks in the memory because of its odd looks. He modified a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB coupe nicknamed by the British press as the ‘Breadvan’ and by the French as La Camionnette (Little Truck).

Ferrari 250 Breadvan – Ferrari Museum

In an odd twist of Fate, Bizzarrini created the Breadvan to compete against his own creation, the 250 GTO. The Breadvan was the result of a commission from wealthy young Italian aristocrat Count Giovanni Volpi, who had been in-line to buy two GTOs until Enzo blocked the order after hearing the Count was investing in a sports car venture involving his former employee Bizzarrini. The Count retaliated by funding development of the 250 GT SWB.

Ferrari 250 Breadvan on a race track!

Going It Alone

It seems perverse that Ferrari elbowed-out Bizzarrini, creator of one of the firm’s greatest masterpieces, but there were good reasons. One was the 1961 Palace Revolt, triggered when Ferrari dismissed commercial director Girolami Gardini for daring to suggest that Enzo’s wife, Laura, should stop interfering in the factory’s day-to-day operations. Four of Ferrari’s senior staff, including chief engineer Carlo Chiti and development engineer Bizzarrini, staged a walkout to get Gardini re-instated—Ferrari responded by firing them all.

Ferrari 250 GTO at the Petersen Automobile Museum in Los Angeles

Another reason is that no one knew that the 250 GTO would be so successful and ultimately, so coveted. It was clear from the outset the GTO design stretched GT racing rules—a version of the 250 GT SWB but significantly longer, lower, wider and lighter—but when Ferrari sacked Bizzarrini, the car’s capabilities had yet to be proven.

Bizzarrini and Count Volpi did briefly get to stick two fingers up at Il Commendatore, with the Breadvan leading the GTOs at Le Mans in 1962 until halted by prop shaft failure, something Volpi suggested might be due to sabotage. The sports car venture part-funded by Volpi and involving both Bizzarrini and Chiti—ATS (Automobili Turismo e Sport)—also challenged Ferrari briefly before failing. By now Bizzarrini had fallen-out with Chiti over the engine choice for the ATS 2500 GT road car and, not being naturally inclined to accept decisions, he disagreed and decided to go it alone.

ATS 2500 GT at Pebble Beach

Success and Eventual Bankruptcy, a Familiar Story

On his own, Bizzarrini designed the V12 for the first car produced by tractor manufacturer Ferruccio Lamborghini. Shortly after this, he became chief engineer for another wealthy Italian industrialist, former refrigerator manufacturer Renzo Rivolta, who had also moved into the risky business of making cars. The British-made Gordon Keeble GT served as the template for the four-seat Iso Rivolta GT, first shown in January 1962.

Bizzarrini designed and engineered great cars, but what he really wanted was to get back into auto racing. Through continual pestering, he eventually obtained Rivolta’s reluctant permission to develop a two-seater. This was the Iso A3/L Grifo, powered by a front-mounted Chevrolet V8, which spawned the Grifo A3/C competition car. At Le Mans in ’64, the prototype A3/C showed potential, but not enough for Rivolta to keep on pouring money into the project. In 1965, Bizzarrini went solo again. Keeping faith in the A3/C, he built a road version for the American market named the Grifo 5300, but soon renamed it the Bizzarrini GT Strada 5300.

Serial No. 0222, an Iso/Bizzarrini A3/C did win its class at Le Mans in 1965 and is shown here.

Iso Grifo A3/C No. 0222 and owner Bruce Myer at Pebble Beach

Free from the constraints of others, there seemed to be no limit to Bizzarrini’s ambitions. In January 1966, he unveiled a Le Mans challenger to the Ford GT40, the P538, and just ten months later, at the Turin Motor Show, revealed the pretty little GT Europa 1900 road car and the Chevrolet V8-powered GT America 7000 sports car. However, none of these projects would go ahead. Bizzarrini walked away from the GT Europa project when it became apparent that very little of the government money pledged for production would make it to the factory, and the P538 suffered from a Le Mans regulation-change that limited engine capacity of sports prototypes to 3.0 litres.

Bizzarrini P538

After throwing all the money he had and more at the P538, Bizzarrini suppressed his go-it-alone instinct and welcomed investors. The men in suits promised new sources of funding, and sure enough, they proved able to obtain loans on the back of the firm’s supposed market value. However, while Bizzarrini focused on the cars, his ‘investors’ entertained themselves by spending the business’s money on other things. By the time the scam became apparent, it was too late. In 1968, Bizzarrini was bust.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

Bizzarrini’s bumpy ride makes for a fascinating story, and is well told in two books published by Porter Press: Ferrari 250 GTO: The autobiography of 4153 GT (Great Cars) in the highly-acclaimed Great Cars series, and Iso Bizzarrini: The Remarkable Story of A3/C 0222 (Exceptional Cars) in their Exceptional Cars series. If you like automotive histories spiced with ambitious characters and personal rivalries, you’ll find both these books spellbinding.

Mike Gulett with Giotto Bizzarrini

This article was first published by Porter Press International and Mike Gulett at MyCarQuest.com and is reposted here with permission.

If you have a story about any of Bizzarrini’s creations, or any other classic cars, please share it here, or let us know what you think in the comment section below.

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The Time a Blind Man Drove a Ferrarihttps://flgstory.com/ferrari-of-los-gatos-story/ferrari-dealerships-another-side-of-the-story/https://flgstory.com/ferrari-of-los-gatos-story/ferrari-dealerships-another-side-of-the-story/#respondWed, 04 Sep 2019 07:01:41 +0000Jim Ciardellahttps://flgstory.com/?p=4874

Ferraris have appeared in many movies, but only one Ferrari had a blind man behind the wheel. In Scent of a Woman, blind Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, played by Al Pacino, drove a Ferrari Mondial T Cabriolet on the backstreets of New York. This scene from Scent of a Woman took place in a New […]

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Ferraris have appeared in many movies, but only one Ferrari had a blind man behind the wheel. In Scent of a Woman, blind Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, played by Al Pacino, drove a Ferrari Mondial T Cabriolet on the backstreets of New York.

This scene from Scent of a Woman took place in a New York Ferrari dealership

The 1992 movie won Al Pacino the Academy Award for Best Actor, along with Golden Globe Awards for Best Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Motion Picture. In 1994 it won the BMI Film Music Award. A great movie for sure, the Ferrari drive became a classic, along with the Thanksgiving family dinner scene.

If you missed the movie, click on this video to watch the car scene. If you’ve seen the movie before, you might enjoy seeing the scene again. I certainly did.

How to Find Exotic Cars for the Stars

Ferrari of Los Gatos became an exotic car specialist to stars and celebrities from around the world. The list of entertainers, movie stars and famous people that visited the dealership includes Rod Stewart, Joe Montana, Michael Douglas, George Benson, Cher, Jerry Rice, Burt Parks, and Reggie Jackson.

Brian Burnett had the rich and famous showing up at Ferrari of Los Gatos regularly. Many of them were quickly recognizable from movies or professional sporting events. While the Ferrari dealership had become well known, some of its customers didn’t enjoy that status and wanted to keep it that way—mainly people with undocumented cash income.

The May 2018 post title, “An On-Time Delivery that Took All Day,” highlighted the story of one such customer living in the Santa Cruz Mountains near Los Gatos. The cash-only transaction included watching The Long Riders movie and took all day to complete.

Dennis Glavis, a Ferrari of Los Gatos sales manager, said, “One of the toughest parts of the job was counting cash. Those customers would come in after we closed with bags and briefcases full of cash. Sometimes, we’d be counting after midnight.”

Brian and Ferrari of Los Gatos were legendary in helping to build the North American market not only for Ferrari but other exotic cars as well. It’s a shame Brian had to lose the business, in part because he did too good of a job becoming successful.

If you have a good, or bad, dealership story, please share it here, or leave a comment below.

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No One Could Buy a 1995 Ferrari F50 in the U.S.https://flgstory.com/ferrari-of-los-gatos-story/no-one-could-buy-a-1995-ferrari-f50-in-the-u-s/https://flgstory.com/ferrari-of-los-gatos-story/no-one-could-buy-a-1995-ferrari-f50-in-the-u-s/#respondWed, 28 Aug 2019 07:01:34 +0000Jim Ciardellahttps://flgstory.com/?p=4887

Ferrari never liked people buying their cars with the sole intent of flipping them for a profit. In 1995, it launched the new model F50 with a program to beat the speculators. No matter how much money you had, you couldn’t buy one. If you wanted one, you filled out an application and hoped Ferrari […]

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Ferrari never liked people buying their cars with the sole intent of flipping them for a profit. In 1995, it launched the new model F50 with a program to beat the speculators. No matter how much money you had, you couldn’t buy one. If you wanted one, you filled out an application and hoped Ferrari would pick you for their lease-to-own program.

1995 Ferrari F50—Rear View

Those selected would be required to pay a $240,000 deposit (plus sales and luxury tax), and then 24 monthly payments of $5,600. In two years they could own the car by paying an additional $150,000. In total it cost $560,450 for the privilege to lease, then own, an F50.

Ferrari used a questionnaire to determine who got one of the 55 F50’s earmarked for North America. One lessee said, “Applicants had to answer questions like, ‘What Ferraris do you currently own?’ or ‘How many Ferrari have you sold in your lifetime and for how much?’ or ‘Have you raced any Ferraris?’ and ‘Do you plan to race the F50?’ If you had the right answers, your name went on a list of people they’d consider.”

A Car and Driver magazine survey found that most F50 lessees were annoyed at Ferrari’s questionnaire and lease program. “I always pay cash,” said one lessee. “This time, I couldn’t so the car doesn’t feel like it’s mine. This made me feel as though Ferrari was questioning my motives—me, a guy who buys another of its cars every single year.”

Regardless of how the lessees felt, the scheme worked. F50 prices did not skyrocket as the F40 did in 1988, the year of Enzo’s death when turnaround artists jacked the price up as much as $1 million.

How the Rich and Famous Got Manipulated

Car and Driver magazine wanted to test drive an F50 and measure its performance. When they asked Ferrari if they could measure the F50, they were told, “No, there is no press car.” That’s okay they thought, after all, how many companies hand out a half-million-dollar machine to writers who thrash them on a track?

               1995 Ferrari F50

So, they turned to the U.S. lessees. In 1991, one of the current F50 lessees had happily handed them his F40 to test under identical conditions. However, a funny thing happened when they did. First, some lessees enthusiastically replied, “Sure, let’s do it, where do you want to test?” Then, among those who said yes, one of two things happened. With the track reserved and the test date drawing near, they’d stop returning the magazines calls. All contact ceased. Alternatively, sometimes, a stranger response occurred. The lessee would call back and state, “I’d still like to let you test my car, but I can’t. Ferrari doesn’t think it’s a good idea.”

So why would wealthy, independent men care what Ferrari thinks?

“I buy every new Ferrari that comes out,” explained one. “It was suggested that if my F50 got tested, I might not be on the list of preferred customers, which I think is necessary to get the first new models.”

“There are perks for being a loyal Ferrari customer,” said another. “You get personal factory tours in Maranello and private drives at Fiorano. Maybe I have a big ego, but those things mean a lot to me. So, to be told I might lose those perks, well, you know. . .”

That was the end of the discussion.

Was the Ferrari Factory Hiding Something?

No lessee volunteered the name of anyone that uttered any intimidating persuasions, so Car and Driver asked Ferrari North America (FNA) if it recommended that its customers not let them test their F50s? “It is true that we didn’t want a customer’s car tested because you never know what condition it is in, or how it has been maintained. But Ferrari North America never threatened a customer,” replied FNA spokesman Giampaolo Letta.

Car and Driver questioned Letta why no magazine had measured the performance of an F50? “I’m aware your magazine contacted some customers who agreed to test,” said Letta, “but those customers backed out when they heard someone else would drive their car.” However, the truth is that lessees knew they could drive their F50 during the test if they wanted to.

There was one Ferrari dealer that would only speak anonymously. “Understand that Ferrari, the company, has a big ego,” he said, “and the F50 probably isn’t as fast as the F40. I’m sure Ferrari would prefer this go unsaid.”

Ferrari seemed to change after the death of its leader Enzo. The new regime had a different agenda. In the upcoming book on Ferrari of Los Gatos, you can learn more of the details behind what happened in the post-Enzo era. Stay tuned…..

Did you own an F50, or do you know someone that did? Let us know how you feel about Ferrari requiring a lease to purchase program. You can share the story here, or leave a comment below.

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How Can the Average Man Afford a Ferrari?https://flgstory.com/ferrari-of-los-gatos-story/how-can-the-average-man-afford-a-ferrari/https://flgstory.com/ferrari-of-los-gatos-story/how-can-the-average-man-afford-a-ferrari/#respondWed, 14 Aug 2019 07:01:30 +0000Jim Ciardellahttps://flgstory.com/?p=4837

To car enthusiasts, Ferrari is well known. For everyone else, hearing the word gets their attention, and the sound of an approaching Ferrari will turn their head regardless of age or gender. Combined with its distinctive red color, they’re hooked until the engine can no longer be heard and the red blur has faded into […]

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To car enthusiasts, Ferrari is well known. For everyone else, hearing the word gets their attention, and the sound of an approaching Ferrari will turn their head regardless of age or gender. Combined with its distinctive red color, they’re hooked until the engine can no longer be heard and the red blur has faded into the distance.

In 2019, Ferrari introduced the Portofino, a sports coupe that transforms into an open-air convertible.

Most people believe the exotic styling, supercar performance, and stratospheric price tag make the dream of owning a Ferrari unachievable. In the 1980s, Ferrari of Los Gatos ran an ad stating just the opposite. It was titled “The Possible Dream.” Anyone that purchased a Ferrari from them and still owns it today probably doesn’t care about their 401 (k) performance.

   Brian Burnett / Personal Library

David Letterman, a Ferrari fan and owner, was asked what attracted him to Ferraris. “Why Ferraris?” he responded. “Because the cars are so ridiculous. It’s a visceral response. They’re beautiful, sensual. They smell great: the leather and the smell of the oil they inevitably leak. The sounds of the engine, exhaust, and transmission are just so mechanically obvious. Also, who needs a car that can do 180? They’re fabulous.”

The current stable of new Ferraris may suggest that only the rich and famous can afford one. The entry-level Portofino shown above starts around $215,000. The mid-engine F8 Tributo, the 812 Superfast capable of 211 mph, and the GTC4Lusso four-seat hatchback coupe make up the rest of the pack and range in price from $275,000 to $364,000.

How to Earn the Right to say, “I Own a Ferrari.”

Ferrari’s fall into three groups, new, rare vintage, and used. New is expensive, rare vintage commands a stratospheric price, and the price of used depends on the year and model.

Then there’s the group of Ferrari owners who don’t have megabuck incomes. They shop for used Ferraris—not the rare vintage models—in the 25 to 40-year-old range, that sell in the $25,000 to $50,000 range. These used Ferraris don’t have a racing history and are not rare ones, but they are a Ferrari and owning one gives you the right to say, “Yes, I do own a Ferrari.”

Although the Ferrari signature engine is a V-12, there have been models with four, six, and eight cylinders. Models from the mid-70’s to the late-80’s with eight cylinders, fall into an affordable price range. These include the 308, 328, and the Mondial.

For the Ferrari enthusiast that demands a 12 cylinder engine, there are still affordable used cars to buy, just not as many to choose from.

Finding the right used Ferrari involves many variables. A specific model’s value can be determined by aesthetics, engine type, body designer, numbers produced, and racing history. In most cases, the 2+2 cars cost less than the two-seaters, and closed cars less than the open. However, there are exceptions. “I have a rule called Roush’s rule of racecars,” says Mr. Roush of the Ferrari Market Letter with a laugh. “The more a Ferrari looks like a racecar, the more it will cost.”

It might also help if the car looks like the one Tom Selleck drove in Magnum PI, the 1980’s television series. Magnum had a red Ferrari 308GTS. “That car represented Ferrari to a large group of fans,” said Maurizio Parlato, ex-chief executive of Ferrari North America.

Where to Find the Dream Ferrari at the Right Price

To find that dream car without a nightmare price, check out these online sources for used Ferraris and other classic cars. Classified listings can be seen free at the Ferrari Club of America Web site (www.ferrariclubofamerica.org), and eBaymotors.com. The Sports Car Market magazine publishes the results of auctions each month and publishes a price guide. Subscriptions are available through their website at www.sportscarmarket.com. The Ferrari Market Letter prints classified ads and a price index for many models. Cavallino Magazine is the journal of Ferrari history, covering Ferraris old and new for over 40 years. Each issue includes a high/low price guide for all models.

Be sure to browse and bid on the online auctions for the best vintage and classic cars on BringATrailer.com.

If you have a specific Ferrari you are looking for or have one to sell, feel free to share it with our hundreds of readers by posting your listing here, or leaving a comment below. Or, if you just want to share a cool car story, go right ahead at the same places.

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Formula One Racing and Life As Seen by a Doghttps://flgstory.com/ferrari-of-los-gatos-story/formula-one-racing-and-life-as-seen-by-a-dog/https://flgstory.com/ferrari-of-los-gatos-story/formula-one-racing-and-life-as-seen-by-a-dog/#respondWed, 07 Aug 2019 07:01:07 +0000Jim Ciardellahttps://flgstory.com/?p=4825

Something magical takes place this week. On Friday, Garth Stein’s novel The Art of Racing in the Rain is coming to the big screen. This is a movie everyone should see. Lead actor Milo Ventimiglia said, “The making of the movie was like leaves falling on the ground, all landing gently in place and creating […]

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About the Blog

The blog FLGstory.com tells how two young men had a dream to sell Ferraris. In 1976, Richard Rivoir and Brian Burnett's dream turned into a Silicon Valley business that became the best-known Ferrari dealership in the world. It's the story of Ferrari of Los Gatos and corresponds with a book that is a work in progress. 

About the Author 

Jim Ciardella is a storyteller, Ferrari enthusiast, and native Californian. Born and raised in Palo Alto, he grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley and witnessed the dot.com boom and the changes it created.

At one point, he met Brian Burnett, co-owner of Ferrari of Los Gatos. Over the years, Brian told Jim numerous stories about Ferrari of Los Gatos and finished each tale with these words: “And someone ought to write a book about it.”

One night, after many stories and Brian’s predictable conclusion, Jim told him, “I’ll do it. I’ll write the book.”

When he isn’t writing to tell a story, Jim, a finance executive, helps technology companies. He started his career in public accounting and soon realized that growing and improving businesses was his calling. And there was no better place to fulfill that calling than Silicon Valley, the land of startups and successful hi-tech firms.

Writing played a big part in all of Jim’s business experiences and is his real passion. Jim believes, “The written word weaves memories into an amazing story.”

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