My Car Quest

August 20, 2019

The Ferrari In The Lake

Yes, it’s a multi-million dollar car now, but it’s how it got there that’s the story…

by Wallace Wyss –

I suppose some Ferrari owners are what we middle class kids used to call “snooty.” One of the snootiest I ever met was a TV producer named Greg Garrison.

He produced the TV show of the late Dean Martin, also an Italian car nut. When I bumped into Garrison, it was at a concours in Beverly Hills where he was showing an unusual 1957 Ferrari 410 Superamerica, one of 34 made, but the only one originally bodied by Scaglietti.

This car was very unusual in that it had tailfins, that looked like they belonged on a DeSoto, of stainless steel, atop a dark red body. The roof was also covered with engine turned stainless.

Now why I say he was snooty was when I asked about it, he didn’t want to talk to me, because I didn’t immediately recognize the car’s provenance, thinking it was a mere Tour de France 250GT, I didn’t know it was a 410SA, I didn’t know it was built for a Ferrari favored patron, Dottore Enrico Wax, yadda-yadda.

Ferrari 410 Superamerica Coupe by Scaglietti

I was one of the unwashed masses; how did they even let me past the gates of Beverly Hills, right?

The Superamericas were cars that were Ferraris but aimed at a different clientele—not the boy racer but the sophisticated older gentleman. Several series were built, always in very limited numbers. Most were bodied by Pinin Farina (known as Pininfarina after 1959), though some had coachwork designed and built by Mario Boano and Ghia.

Ferrari 410 Superamerica Coupe by Scaglietti

What a fin!

If you look at the names of who bought them, they are the names of entrepreneurs such as Bob Wilkie, oil man William Doheny and gambling czar Bill Harrah.

Or they had a crown on their head like the Shah of Iran, Prince Bernhardt of the Netherlands or Emperor Bao Dai, a Royal who seemed to spend a lot more time on the French Riviera than he did in Vietnam. Now maybe Enzo liked Dottore Enrico Wax because he was the importer of Johnny Walker spirits.

Ferrari 410 Superamerica Coupe by Scaglietti

So Dr. Wax’s car got all sorts of cosmetic goodies to set it apart from the others. The engine was a 4.9-liter, 340-bhp, race-derived, Lampredi-designed V-12 engine.

Sergio Scaglietti built most of his custom bodies without bothering with sketches or drawings. He would just direct his workmen to build a lot of metal tubes and then pound the aluminum panels to clothe the tubes.

A Rough Life In America

Eventually the car came to America where it was kicked around from one owner to another. Nobody here knew about how special it was; and it smoked like crazy so no one wanted to dump the money into it to rebuild the engine. It’s not like Lampredi engines are easy to find parts for, right?

Eventually a man named Gary Wales (former owner of the Ferrari Breadvan) bought it, he who now specializes in hot rodded fire engines, but Gary was one of the first Americans to collect oddball Ferraris. He couldn’t see sinking money into it, so he sold it to Stan Sokol but then it was stolen.

Ferrari 410 Superamerica Coupe by Scaglietti

That should have been the end of the story, but no, there was someone who dreamed of finding that car.

The Quest

That was Garrison. He liked to have one-off cars, in a way like the mindset of those who ordered these special cars in the first place.

While he was collecting Ferraris, he heard rumors the chassis had been seen in Grants Pass, Oregon. He ran ads in the paper for it and got a call and found the farmer who had the car and bought it. But the unique body was gone, apparently thrown into a lake by the thief (I looked at the map, no lake in Grant’s Pass). Even if you could recover it, apparently all the panels were damaged.

All that was left was the chassis, the engine and the transmission. No matter, in the Ferrari world provenance is everything and the right serial number plate on the right chassis is 99% of the car’s provenance.

Then fortune smiled upon Garrison a second time. He was over in Italy doing something for a charity honoring the late Dino Ferrari (son of Enzo) and he secured an audience with not the Pope but the Pope of cars, Il Commendatore himself. He showed Enzo a photo of s/n 0671 SA.

Ferrari 410 Superamerica Coupe by Scaglietti

Ferrari immediately recognized the car as one that he had built especially for Dr. [Enrico] Wax…1956…Distributor Johnny Walker whiskey.”

Garrison told Ferrari he had found the chassis and was going to restore it. Enzo picked up his phone and put together a team to restore it and so it was done. Scaglietti even had to hire back retired workers to work on the car at Carrozzeria Sport Auto, Bachelli & Villa, Bastiglia-Modena. It took four years to do it but it won Best in Class at the 1990 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

I’d like to say it was a successful rebuild. But those who had encountered the car in its pre-stolen days critiqued it; and a few things were off from the original, though it was still an impressive car when you took in the stainless steel roof, the stainless steel fins.

Greg Garrison got to enjoy it for a few years until he died of pneumonia in 2005. And then the car went to a Gooding auction in 2007 where sold for $1.3 million. In 2012 it sold again, for $1.8 million at an RM auction. It’s one of those cars that keeps moving between concours and auctions.

Despite Garrison’s snootiness, I’d dearly love to include this car in my next Incredible Barn Finds tome but am having trouble with answering logical questions that come up when I tell the story like

If the farmer bought stolen property, why wasn’t he prosecuted?

And what did Garrison have to pay for it, and wasn’t he buying stolen property as well?

If anyone knows the answers, I’d like to hear them…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the author of Incredible Barn Finds
series of books, available as a set of four or individually from Enthusiast Books, Hudson, WI.

Photos by Mike Gulett from the Carmel Concours-on-the-Avenue – August 2013 in Carmel, California.

More photos are in the slideshow below.

 

 

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Summary
The Ferrari In The Lake
Article Name
The Ferrari In The Lake
Description
A one-off lost Ferrari is found and restored.
Author

Comments

  1. Rob Krantz says

    Mike, what a great story! I love this Ferrari. Amazing how it was brought back from the dead, if you will. Thanks for this one.

  2. I went to look at this car when for sale by Sokol. It smoked so fiercely that NO-ONE would buy it. Hence the “theft.” It should be noted that the current body is not at all like the one that it wore when Wales/
    Sokol owned it. So was the body changed after Wax owned it, or did Greg just get it all wrong? Greg claimed that he replicated the original body as per period photos, but I’ve never seen those photos so have no comment. The Wales/Sokol body was similar to the “standard” 410SA, except for Stainless top and lower body panels and a few other details.

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