My Car Quest

September 25, 2021

Editorial: Is This Ferrari Political Poison?

by Wallace Wyss –

Now it happens the Pininfarina designed Ferrari 275GTB is one of my all time favorite Ferraris (not for its brakes but its looks). I’ve painted portraits of several of them.

But there’s one I wouldn’t want to own because of a former owner’s name that appears on the list of titles as it changed owners. On 16 September 1966, the registration document was transferred by her husband to Jane Plemiannikov, better known by her maiden name, Jane Fonda. This car is coming up for auction in July, 2021. If that auction was local to Los Angeles, I’d show up with a signboard of that storied former owner, the board carrying a publicity picture that was printed worldwide.

Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda pictured with their Ferrari 275 GTB

Roger Vadim and Jane Fonda pictured with their 275 GTB in Saint-Tropez in August of 1966. Courtesy of Getty Images.

Let’s see how many of you remember pictures from that publicity shooting session. The setting was North Vietnam in 1972 during the height of the American anti-war protests back in the States. Captured American POWs (including the late Senator John McCain who gained his freedom in 1973) were rotting in a prison camp nearby but here comes this blonde movie star from California. She’s invited to sit in a chair that happened to be the chair attached to an anti-aircraft battery. The crew was usually busy shooting down American bombers.

To me, that picture makes that car undesirable (especially galling is a shot where she focuses the telescopic sight, what was she imagining she was aiming at?) If you met a Vietnam veteran while driving it, and he was informed that it was her car, he might see how well aluminum holds up to a swift kick.

Oh I read decades later she said she really didn’t think of the significance of posing with the AA gun but those poor American POWs rotting in jail nearby sure as hell knew that an American was betraying them by siding with the enemy providing them with publicity fodder.

She sold the car in France and it has been in the hands of its current owner for 20 years. Says RM Sotheby’s “it was sold to its current owner about 20 years ago…the car has Ferrari Classiche red book certification confirming its matching numbers.” They estimate the car will go for between $2.4 and $3 million.

Ferrari 275 GTB

Image courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.

Now I met another guy decades later who had a Bentley Continental drophead coupe that used to belong to Saddam Hussein but I didn’t feel the same way about that car. The owner I met had rescued that car, which Saddam had first tried to legitimately buy from an Iraqi and then grew impatient and just stole it. The car came from Iraq with scars of the conflict but those were erased in the restoration. I know there’s dozens of collector cars that once belonged to the Hussein family, some liberated after a fatal shootout with his sons.

And so it is. I can’t believe the auction company thinks it’s a good thing to market the car based on the fact Jane Fonda owned it. And don’t use the “but she’s an old lady” defense, she’s only a few months older than me. There were Americans in the Hanoi Hilton that lost heart when they heard an American gal–a movie star for Chrissake– was out there posing for pictures with the Viet Cong that shot them down.

Ah, I expect my complaint will fall on deaf ears…chalk it to up to an old Sergeant’s memories…what say you?

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss was a member of two USAR reserve units. A weapons specialist, he achieved the rank of sergeant (albeit briefly).

 
 
 

 

 

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda in Vietnam – 1972

Summary
Editorial: Is This Ferrari Political Poison?
Article Name
Editorial: Is This Ferrari Political Poison?
Description
Can the ownership history of a classic Ferrari detract from its desirability?
Author

Comments

  1. Peter Carniglia says

    Maybe a little sad to waste a Ferrari, but the loss was done a long time ago, no saving this one. Scrap metal price only. Leave it in France, hopefully it, nor any piece of it ever makes it back to US soil.

  2. You cannot blame the car because of the owner, and the fact that the auction house is only in it for the money regardless of ethics or taste, they are counting on the fact that the Fonda name will bring in more money, which is all they care about.
    Regardless of the bad taste in marketing I would say purchase the car and then erase any evidence of the previous owner as best as you can, which may be the best thing a person could do.
    If you chose not to purchase an exotic because of shady owners you may be limited to what is out there.

  3. I’m in complete agreement!

    I promise I will not bid on that vehicle.

  4. Eustaquio Silveira says

    This actress told some months ago Covid-19 was very good for the leftists objectives, something like a gift. Totally stupid, inhumane and anti-democracy. And this model of Ferrari is what I call “Fat Ferrari”. Really ugly to me.
    No interests here.

  5. If you up the price because Sterling Moss or Fangio drove a car you certainly can drop the value because an American traitor drove/owned the car.

  6. Anthony Rainone says

    With utmost sincerity, thank you Wallace Wyss for serving.

    • Richard A Bartholomew says

      Anthony, with utmost sincerity I would ask for proof. There seem to be a lot of people out there these days that falsely claim service in the Army or inflate their actual duty.

  7. True JF did a bad thing back then, but if you are in the market this one is going for a bit of a discount considering McQueen’s 275GTB/4 fetched 10 million in 2014.

    PS The Fondas never did anything for me anyway !

  8. wallace wyss says

    I suppose there are records in the Pentagon of my Army service. I never went overseas, But I was a sergeant–for one day!

  9. Glenn Krasner says

    “There is one thing that happened while in North Vietnam that I will regret to my dying day — I allowed myself to be photographed on a Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun,” Fonda wrote on her website in 2011. “I want to, once again, explain how that came about. I have talked about this numerous times on national television and in my memoirs, ‘My Life So Far,’ but clearly, it needs to be repeated.”

    She said on her site that many people visited North Vietnam during the war — “journalists, diplomats, peace activists, professors, religious leaders and Vietnam Veterans themselves” — in hopes of ending the war. (The North Vietnamese were communists, and the U.S. backed the South Vietnamese in hopes of stopping the spread of communism.) Fonda wrote:

    It was not unusual for Americans who visited North Vietnam to be taken to see Vietnamese military installations and when they did, they were always required to wear a helmet like the kind I was told to wear during the numerous air raids I had experienced. When we arrived at the site of the anti-aircraft installation (somewhere on the outskirts of Hanoi), there was a group of about a dozen young soldiers in uniform who greeted me. There were also many photographers (and perhaps journalists) gathered about, many more than I had seen all in one place in Hanoi. This should have been a red flag.

    She added that she and the North Vietnamese sang songs to each other in gestures of good faith — hers was written by South Vietnamese anti-war students, she said, and the one by the North Vietnamese soldiers included the lines, “All men are created equal; they are given certain rights; among these are life, Liberty and Happiness.” She said she was struck by the fact that the communist soldiers “celebrate the same words Americans do.”

    Also Read:
    ‘Jane Fonda in Five Acts’ Film Review: Doc Explores the Many Lives of the Actress-Activist

    She was exhausted, and emotional at this realization, she said. And then she made the gun-site mistake:

    Everyone was laughing and clapping, including me, overcome on this, my last day, with all that I had experienced during my 2 week visit. What happened next was something I have turned over and over in my mind countless times. Here is my best, honest recollection of what happened: someone (I don’t remember who) led me towards the gun, and I sat down, still laughing, still applauding. It all had nothing to do with where I was sitting. I hardly even thought about where I was sitting. The cameras flashed. I got up, and as I started to walk back to the car with the translator, the implication of what had just happened hit me. “Oh my God. It’s going to look like I was trying to shoot down U.S. planes.” I pleaded with him, “You have to be sure those photographs are not published. Please, you can’t let them be published.” I was assured it would be taken care of. I didn’t know what else to do. (I didn’t know yet that among the photographers there were some Japanese.)

    It is possible that it was a set up, that the Vietnamese had it all planned. I will never know. But if they did I can’t blame them. The buck stops here. If I was used, I allowed it to happen. It was my mistake and I have paid and continue to pay a heavy price for it.”

    This is Ms. Fonda’s explanation or “apology” for what she did. I remember seeing filmed footage of it, and it definitely seemed, as Wallace states, that she was directing anti-aircraft fire to our own planes overhead. It was a despicable moment for her, one that she will never lived down. I am ready to move on from it at this point, and still enjoy some of her older movies, like “Barbarella’ and “Cat Ballou”. As for owning her old Ferrari, well, I don’t think I could afford the maintenance costs for ANY Ferrari, but it still is nice to dream! Glenn in Brooklyn, NY.

  10. Whether or not Wallace served (and I am sure he did ) is NOT pertinent to
    the argument at hand which is : does this Ferrari have higher or lower value because it was at one stage owned by Fonda?

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