My Car Quest

November 19, 2018

One Shot at Glory: Or How I Passed Up A Million Dollar Car When It Was Only $30,000

by Wallace Wyss –

In my Incredible Barn Finds books (available from Enthusiast Books, Hudson, WI) I tell some pretty embarrassing stories about my own car buying faux pax.

Like selling my first Mercedes Gullwing for $2,500 (they are now worth a million).

But the reason I tell all is because I think that adds believability to the product. Readers learn from my mistakes.

One of the bigger mistakes was, back in 1983, passing up a Ferrari 400 Superamerica, SN 2207, that was down in San Diego at the shop of Gary Bobileff.

ferrari_400_superamerica_superfast_ii_2

Ferrari 400 Superamerica Superfast II

He let me drive it. It was a big ol’ thing, light green, and rather tank like. Neither of us was that excited about it and he said he would take $30,000.

I knew that Superamericas were in essence, limited edition Ferraris for VIPs. They were produced in two series between 1960 and 1964. They had a powerful 4-liter V12 which could get it up to 170 mph but the emphasis was really on luxury, with a fancy interior (some even had chronometric watches or stopwatches on the console or dash).

The car was a serious update from the 410 Superamerica predecessor. The chassis was new with a shorter wheelbase and it had a narrower track front and rear. The engine, fortunately, was not the Lampredi based design like in the 410 but a Gioachino Colombo design.

It was rated at 340 hp. The Ferrari 400 Superamerica was the last model a client could order custom coachwork, for awhile though now Ferrari has a special division that will rework the body to your specifications.

THE KICKER

So, end of story, I turned it down (having only $18K in cash at the time) and Gary sold it eventually. It took me, oh, 30 years before I discovered, how special that car was, before the open headlight version I saw, the hidden headlight prototype 400 Superfast II that had a boffo debut at the Turin Motor Show in October of 1960 on the stand of Pininfarina.

I think it was white at that debut and had rear skirts fairly tightly fitted (i.e. no flare lips for the wheelwells).

So not only was it the Superfast II but the car kept being brought back into the shop and redesigned. I figure it was rebodied three times, which made sense to Pininfarina because then they didn’t have to source another chassis to present an alternative design. That same body shape by the way was even tested at LeMans on no less a chassis than the 250 GTO.

Ferrari Superfast

Ferrari Superfast

So that Superfast II was also the Superfast III, and Superfast IV even though I also saw a dark blue Ferrari at the Los Alamitos car meet decades ago that also said Superfast IV on it (so there may have been more than one Superfast IV).

At any rate, the car finally found its “home” so to speak, an appreciative owner who respected its contribution to car design and decided to choose one “look” and return it to the Superfast II configuration that hasn’t been seen since the Turin Motor Show in 1960.

Lesson learned? That when you have a car that doesn’t look like any other model, do some research, find out if it could have been rebodied. Gary admitted to me, in a forward for my next book, he didn’t research it that much and you have to know that was the days before the internet.

Today I can type “Superfast II” and see 100 pictures in milliseconds. I think the problem was though we both liked the Superfast II we didn’t realize this was the Superfast II though it had been restyled in the nose and repainted.

1960-Pininarina-Ferrari-Superfast-II-Design-Sketch-by-Aldo-Brovarone

1960 Pininarina Ferrari Superfast II Design Sketch by Aldo Brovarone

I think we both didn’t realize a shop like Pininfarina do not like to spend money on what’s under the car if all they need it for is a static display. So they just rolled it back and began retrimming the body.

Today’s value? I am sure it starts at a million and goes way up from there.

So now I can say I know Superamericas. The hard way.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss’ painting of a Ferrari 400 Superamerica will be on display at Concorso Italiano in Monterey August 21st.

 

 

ferrari logo

Summary
One Shot at Glory: Or How I Passed Up A Million Dollar Car When It Was Only $30,000
Article Name
One Shot at Glory: Or How I Passed Up A Million Dollar Car When It Was Only $30,000
Description
A missed opportunity at a very valuable and rare Ferrari.
Author

Comments

  1. Roger B. Hirschland says:

    In my book, if Wallace Wyss was “not that excited about it,” he made the right choice not to buy it — at any price. Do we buy cars because we love them, or instead as investments? Sure, it would have been nice to see a car appreciate by almost a million dollars or more, but if you buy it for that purpose, then you have become an investor in automobiles and not an aficionado who has a car because he really likes it.

  2. Wayne Watkins says:

    In the mid 70’s I could have bought Pedro Owen’s 100S Healey for around $1000 , which is now worth well over a million bucks , but that’s life . I sold my RHD Mangusta , one of 4 sold new in Australia for $17900 in the late 70’s and thought I was king of the world , coz I only paid $8500 for it . It is now probably worth 1/4 million bucks !! Once again , that’s life .

  3. Art Salo says:

    In the 1950s, when my older brother and I were teenagers, we rode our bicycles along country roads looking in old barns for a Model T Ford, but never found one. I recall that at the top of a hill there was a house with several older cars for sale. A black 1937 Packard sedan for $30, a dark green 1938 Packard sedan for $40 and a 1940 Hudson sedan for $40. My brother wanted to buy one of these, but my dad talked him out of it. Now, of course, these cars don’t approach the kind of money that you are talking about, but, still, at $110 for all three, if they were still owned by my brother and me, we would have made a tidy little profit.

  4. Ciaran Payne says:

    OOOPS!!! But we enthusiasts have all been there, me included!!!

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