Experience is the greatest teacher, and I have to chalk the following up as one of the definitive learning experiences of my career in the collector-car field. I became involved with 1950 Ferrari 166 Inter 0049/S when a Brazilian friend contacted me in late 2015 to discuss consigning the car to one of the upcoming Monterey auctions. He explained the owner was someone with a large and very interesting collection of valuable classic cars. I asked for the car’s location and whether or not the car had a current title in the USA, which it did. My friend did remark “it’s complicated,” which I should have taken as a good opportunity to politely decline his offer to let me help sell the car.
Nonetheless, I’m pretty tenacious by nature and believed that any complications could be handled favorably over the next few months. I researched the car’s history and found that 0049/S was the only example of the Ghia Berlinetta produced out of the 37/38-car run of the 166 Inter – Ferrari’s first road-car series. I wrote the lengthy auction description, even managing to track down the car’s restorer and overcome his fear of being drawn and quartered again publicly over his decision to re-body the car as a Touring-style Barchetta, while the original body escaped total destruction in a garage fire.
As the auction approached, I grew worried that I had yet to receive a copy of the title to the car, despite many calls to my friend. A title copy finally came, and all that remained was to get the car shipped to Monterey in time for the sale. My friend asked me to organize shipping and pricing. The auctioneer gave me the name and number of his preferred shipper, and arrangements were made. When the shipper arrived where the car was located, I received a call asking me who was to pay for shipping. My friend told me that the car was at a showroom and the proprietor was not the car’s owner. Somehow, I convinced them to pay the shipping fee, and the car was on it’s way to California. However, the truck driver told me the car’s radiator cap was missing, the radiator was dry, and the paint finish had several chips and a
The car was on it’s way to the auction site at least, and I had a few days to arrange for a replacement radiator cap and paint/dent correction. After some checking, I learned that a replacement radiator cap would cost about $5,000, but a contact of mine could install one of his extra caps for much less. Once the car arrived at the auction venue, those issues were resolved, only to be trumped by a small fire when a famous collector-car player attempted to start the car with the help of a couple of shots of starting fluid. He escaped with a minor burn, thankfully, and the fire was extinguished before any damage was done to the car.
A few days later, the car failed to meet the overly aggressive reserve (demanded by the owner) and it went unsold. On my way home at LAX, waiting to catch the long flight, I received a phone call from the owner’s representative, telling me how terribly disappointed they were in the no-sale. Undaunted, I resolved to do my best to get the car sold at an acceptable amount while telling them they would have to pay the transport driver upfront before the car would be released for the return trip.
I soon began calling my contacts in the classic Ferrari space and discussed the car’s history and details with them, in the hope of getting a sale done. One even considered restoring the Ghia body – which still exists – and returning it to the chassis. However, the economics of such a restoration