After Three Days Of Digging, A Ferrari 250 GT PF Rolls Out Of The Garage
Photography by Ian Wood
The Internet all but killed the antique shop, but for every handful of “rustic” roadside tourist traps that used to make their buck peddling dusty pieces of old but average furniture, there remain a few places that have withstood the age of eBay and instant palm-of-your-hand research. It’s a similar story with so-called “barn finds” in the world of antique cars; information spreads too far and too quickly for any secret to last longer than a snapshot and an email, and so we’ve entered a new paradigm of such discoveries wherein photoshoots are staged with carefully arranged detritus and cars that were put into storage are recategorized as lost treasure rediscovered.
It’s with a healthy dollop skepticism then that we read about the latest sports car to be exhumed from its would-be grave. Last year the hot find was an aluminum-bodied 365 GTB Daytona that’d sat for decades in a barn in Japan, and also among the more recent discoveries was a Ferrari 250 GT literally walled into the apartment building it occupied in West Hollywood. We covered both in detail, and today we’re looking at another prancing horse covered in cardboard and other garage flotsam. It’s a 1960 Series II Ferrari 250 GT PF Cabriolet, and the distinctive vented wings indicate that it could be a Speciale, of which only eight were built. In other words, quite a car to sock away in a nondescript garage.
If you’ve skipped around through the images already, you might notice a certain shine in the paint that gives away part of this car’s history. Indeed, this is not Grandpa’s forgotten Ferrari inherited by the kids and then promptly left to rot in the shed, but a rather sad story of a restoration that just didn’t have the momentum—not for a lack of passion though, as the late-owner of this 250 was stricken with cancer and forced to put the project behind more pressing matters.
Is it still a barn find in the traditional sense then? The argument could go both ways here, and it seems to come down to arbitrary lengths of time more than anything else. If it’d sat for a few months or a few decades after its owner’s passing, what would change besides the depth of dust on top of everything? It’s not the most romantic version of the archetype, and while it may lack an exotic backwoods location and the rust holes to show for it, it’s a sentimental tale and an ongoing one. I say ongoing because rather than the car disappearing into some clandestine warehouse or headlining a major auction before such a fate, it’s destined instead for a complete restoration aimed at taking home a trophy from Pebble Beach.
It’s a fitting continuation of its history thus far because there’s not much original patina to speak of anyway, or at least not the kind that people like to preserve—nothing to lose in that sense. Seeing as it was in the midst of a restoration before it became buried in boxes of its own innards, the time spent immobilized was more like a lengthy hiatus than an abandonment. How did this all happen though? The way all good discoveries come about: simple word of mouth.
The car is currently under the care of 8912™, an L.A.-based curator of “iconic cars, art, and culture on the Sunset Strip,” who are managing the restoration to be carried out by Carl Steuer of Blackhorse Motorsports. The car’s new owner prefers to remain anonymous at the moment, but considering all this is leading towards a showing at the world’s most prominent concours it’s likely that he or she will be happy to share the completed car. At the moment it’s mostly still separated into its major components that were discovered over the course of a multi-day scavenger hunt through the widow’s home. A client of Mr. Steuer that’d been doing business with him for years turned him on to the car in 2017, mentioning that a friend of his wife had a husband with late-stage cancer who would be leaving behind a small but compelling collection of vintage cars.
Due the sensitive nature of the situation, the investigation into the collection—in particular a blue Ferrari—was slow-going and respectful, and it was only after the husband’s passing that anyone took a look in person. She graciously invited Carl into her home, who brought along the 8912 team along to start getting a grasp of what was socked away in the big garage. 8912 co-founder Aaron Phillips was able to quickly arrange an agreeable offer wherein the Ferrari, four other cars, and a few motorcycles were to be removed from the clutter. A win-win for all parties. Once it was underway in earnest, the salvage and clean-out process took a team of five people more than three full-days to complete. The Ferrari was the last car to leave the property.
“This was a true opportunity we had to jump on. Having this car restored and presented at Pebble Beach is the only way to handle a garage find like this, and will truly pay homage to the previous owner,” remarks 8912’s co-founder and CEO Matthew Zehner.
The former owner of the Ferrari was clearly what we’d call an enthusiast, so the fact that it will finally get to compete on a concours lawn is a fitting future for it. Stacks of motorsport and vintage car magazines and books abound in the home and in the garage, and parts for the 250’s restoration were strewn everywhere; the relatively fresh and complete V12 was sitting about ten feet in front of the car’s empty engine bay, trim pieces were arranged in boxes on the car, in the car, around the car, all over the garage and in the house, just about everywhere. The well-preserved dash was discovered all but hidden in a closet, days after the first sweep for parts. The removable hardtop was found relatively early on in an adjacent room—the homeowner’s instructions were to simply “Look through the house”—and like so many other pieces, it to was in a remarkable condition, a testament to the quality of the restoration the car’s late owner had planned for it.
Like most of the car-obsessed population, he was not one to limit himself to one marque or discipline, and so the garage was also home to a pair of Rolls Royces—a 1967 Silver Shadow with a beautiful, correct lacquer repaint, and new chrome and wood trim throughout the refinished interior, as well as a late-‘40s Silver Wraith saloon, coach-built by James Young and with plenty of rare original pieces still fitted—and “parked” nearby was a 1956 Austin Healey BN1 roadster with a hot motor and other high-perf accoutrements, and the most traditional-looking barn find of the lot sat beside it: a 1966 Jaguar XKE with the front clamshell perched on top of its bare metal bodywork, barely sucking fresh air through its catfish grille.
The Ferrari is the focus of course, but these cars and the handful of bikes help illustrate that car’s history. Owned and cherished and tragically left behind, it’s finally back on the trajectory laid out so long ago, and when it arrives on the lawn of Pebble Beach in 2019, more than just the summer sun will be shining down on it.