Featured: David Lee's Ferrari Collection Will Make You Stay in School

David Lee’s Ferrari Collection Will Make You Stay in School

Petrolicious Productions By Petrolicious Productions
December 4, 2014
29 comments

Photography by Luke Wooden

Ferrari collections come in all sizes and flavors, and no two are ever the same as each collector has his or her own distinct collecting style. David Lee’s collection is perhaps one that appeals most to the younger generation of enthusiasts, featuring all the supercar Ferraris from the ‘80s to present, as well as some of the most beautiful examples from the ‘60s.

After taking the reins of his family’s jewelry business established by his father, a master jade craftsman, the younger Lee transformed the business to a retail powerhouse, representing all the high-end, limited production watch brands. He sees many similarities between the watch and automotive industries: it’s about the quality of the engineering, the branding, and image, which is “why there are a lot of partnerships between car and watch companies.”

While he started borrowing car books from the library as a child and learning to sketch Lamborghinis and Ferraris, he eventually worked into a position where he could enjoy the real thing. After dabbling with Porsches and Lamborghinis, an encounter with a Jaguar E-type made him re-evaluate his focus, choosing to collect only classic and supercar Ferraris.

Following is a brief interview with Lee about how his collection evolved, family, and how he established Morning Octane, a local monthly car gathering.

Q: Your collection speaks for itself, how did you get here, from an automotive perspective?

A: My first real sports car was a 911 C2, then a 911 turbo, then a Diablo VT, then just a variety of cars…

I wanted the holy trinity—the best from Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Porsche. So I bought a Carrera GT, Diablo 6.0, and an Enzo. Then one day, I was going to a Christmas party and a friend told me that he had something to show me, he opened his garage and there was this E-type. I looked at it and it was just so cool.

It turned me on to the world of vintage cars.

From there I started researching and it opened up a whole new world for me. I talked to lots of people, and looked into and wound up getting a ’65 Ferrari 275 GTS. Because of the process—the research, learning, understanding the heritage, Enzo’s role—it opened up the floodgates. It’s what sparked my interest and the collection. I wound up selling all the other, newer cars so I could focus on Ferrari supercars and classics.

Q: What made you focus on Ferrari?

A: I really like the history and I don’t think other brands have the range of models and variety that Ferrari has. I picked a certain direction and strategy, I prefer the supercars from the 288GTO through the LaFerrari, but also some of their icons of the ‘60s. And I also like driving something dependable everyday, which is my 2014 Ferrari FF.

Q: Let’s talk about your incredible collection: are they garage queens or do they get driven?

A: I think I’m a rarity in that I drive a Ferrari seven days a week. I don’t drive anything else. Most of the time I drive the FF, but on weekends or special occasions I pick one of the others in the garage. I believe in driving them, a lot of times when I buy a car, they haven’t been driven and need to be tuned up for regular driving. So I do that and then drive them. I get a sense of nostalgia, of what the world was like back then, it’s like a time warp, I enjoy that feeling.

Q: If you had to give them all away and only save one, not necessarily as a daily driver, which would it be?

A: I would have to say either the F40 or 288GTO, the turbo cars. Maybe it’s the era, I remember them going against the Porsche 959, and I was in high school and really engaged in thinking about cars. So maybe that’s why I just love them.

Q: Does your family share your passion?

A: Well my wife is supportive and she enjoys the cars, but she likes the classic ones more. And my son is fifteen years old and in the past he just wasn’t into cars but now he’s really starting to get into cars. I took him to Monterey this year and he’s beginning to understand what the community is all about.

I remember in high school, there was this girl whose father drove her to school everyday in a Ferrari 308. And everybody thought it was so cool and that she was so cool. And I thought, “damn! I wish my dad had cool cars and drove me to school and I’d get to ride in them, man it would be cool!” And now, I can do it for my son and a lot of times he says, “no don’t drive me in the Ferrari, dad!” It’s too much attention for him.

Q: Can you also tell us about the events you’re putting on?

A: What I put together is an event called Morning Octane, it’s once a month. We’ve held it at the Rose Bowl, Pasadena City Hall, and my store’s parking lot. Everyone knows Supercar Sunday, which is a San Fernando Valley thing, Cars & Coffee, which is an Orange County thing, but there was really a void in the San Gabriel Valley.

And because I know a few other owners in the area I was able to call them and invite them, and now people have really embraced it. We’ve been doing it over a year now and there are a lot of different cars, and all ages, different eras, but it’s really to facilitate the passion for cars. That’s why I’ve been doing it.

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29 Comments on "David Lee’s Ferrari Collection Will Make You Stay in School"

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Jon Naylor

Lee didn’t use any college education to get where he is.

Lawrence Bryant
Lawrence Bryant

The fact that he has a 288GTO is stunning…….

Mat Rumbelow
Mat Rumbelow

The thing that pleases me the most is that David drives them. Good man! It’s one thing to have cars in a museum (which serves a purpose for preservation’s sake and as a historical record), but I really admire private collectors who drive their incredibly expensive vehicles and properly enjoy them. Fantastic.

ALJR1963
ALJR1963

I have to agree with Brad T…The F40 & 288 are stunning cars.

Leon Prinsloo
Leon Prinsloo

Many thanks for this fantastic article. Your photographs are always top notch, as a keen photographer myself I am always interested in what equipment each photographer uses and what the settings are for each frame. Keep p the good work!

B RAD T
B RAD T

WOW! This collection is off the charts. Two of my all time favorite cars are front and center, F40 and 288 GTO. Mr Lee is the man!

Andreas Lavesson
Andreas Lavesson
What an amazing collection. If I was successful enough to start a Ferrari collection, this is exactly the kind I’d go for. The supercars and classic GT:s. I’d probably proceed to getting the twelve cylinder boxer cars (Testarossa and 512 BB to be precise). Kudos for everyday driving a Ferrari, it must be nice. To be completely honest, I’ve never even ridden a Ferrari, so I probably shouldn’t comment on the matter. But to me, the FF seem like an excellent choice for a daily driver. At least it’s got an air of being some kind of practical and from… Read more »
Andrew Salt
Andrew Salt

Petrolicious, you just keep giving…
Stunning photos and interesting write-up.
Mr Lee is obviously passionate about cars and Ferraris in particular and he should be applauded for usung them regularly and sharing with us the sight and sound of these beauties on the public highways.
I wish there were more people like him around.
Fantastic!

Wim
Wim

Simply stunning collection! I own the same group of Ferrari supercars albeit in 1:12 scale. Must be wonderful to be able to drive all of them. Thank you to Petrolicious and the owner for sharing!

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay

Looks like a great collection in a nice clean space. How fun and difficult it must be to pick and choose every morning.

Only keep one? I’d have to say the Lusso, then toss between the GTO and the F40.

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay

And thanks for sharing!

Kevin McCauley
Kevin McCauley

This is just a test.

Gianni Burrows
Gianni Burrows

Thanks for posting. I enjoyed reading your post much more than anything TJ Martin has ever posted on this site.

Keith Kenitzer
Keith Kenitzer

As always, Petrolicious presents an interesting story with wonderful photographs. Thanks.

As to “T.J. Martin”, I too find his comments inane and borderline offensive. That said, at this point he is simply a troll. This is my first and last post commenting on this, and I’d suggest others follow that lead. No comment anyone offers will ever change his opinion or result in him leaving the site or commenting less. The best we can hope for is to starve him of attention by not offering our comments on his comments.

Citizens Against TJ Martin
Citizens Against TJ Martin

Err … Here we go again. Mr Martin’s never ending crusade on who has taste, creativity, knowledge, style and design sense on Petrolicious. Mr. Martin, I’d like to inquire just what makes you such a authority in the automotive world? What makes you the King of Kings on this site? Can you share with us a submitted article of your exploits? A photo retrospective of your car collection? I have a feeling you can’t. Put your money where your mouth is.

olddavid
olddavid
Citizen – I am baffled by your response. If the opinions are so egregious to your delicate sensibilities, perhaps in the future when you see the byline of Mr. Martin, you could click one of the puff pieces by the former exec on that pseudo-automotive site to which the dilettantes gravitate? Maybe I miss the point? An old grudge or something? I speak up because I find the photography and diverse range of worldwide content here an enjoyable read to an old jaded fool like me, and I want no discouraging of the correspondents and editors. Books, bikes, designers, new,… Read more »
Josh
Josh

Dave – TJ Martin is in no way one of the editors, he’s just some prig. He’s the one whos constantly negative on the articles because a certain car is not to his liking.

Riccardo
Riccardo

Good story and interview, quite a collection. Personally, I’d take the F40, failing that the 250 Lusso.

I love the fact his kid is like “dad… can we NOT take the Ferrari please…”. How times change.

TJ Martin
TJ Martin

Mr Lange ; You seriously disappoint me !

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange

Glad to be of service :p

TJ Martin
TJ Martin
He almost had me believing he might be a serious Ferrari collector [ versus the usual well heeled poseur ] …. right up until he mentioned owning a Ferrari FF . The FF [ otherwise known as the ____ing Ferrari ] being the single biggest joke/travesty that Ferrari has ever perpetrated upon the Ferrari consumer and the ultimate of the new era Ferrari poseur mobiles . Overly complex . Under performing . And it does not work as advertised … on road or track . Fact is … it doesn’t work .. period ! So apologies in advance to Mr… Read more »
Afshin Behnia
Afshin Behnia
TJ, you clearly have not ever set foot in an FF. I had the good fortune of spending 4 days driving one through Paris and the Champagne countryside (see http://www.petrolicious.com/how-to-crash-a-vintage-car-rally-and-get-away-with-it ). If I had to choose one single current-production car to have as my one and only car, it would without a doubt be the Ferrari FF. It excels in everything – great for everyday driving, it’s beautiful (sorry if you don’t see it), performance is excellent. It’s a car I would want to put lots of miles on. As for your comments on Mr. Lee whom you’ve never met,… Read more »
Carl
Carl

Here are the options: You have an axe to grind against someone with more money than you, you’re simply a troll, or you are truly a snob. No matter what it is, please don’t post again. Clog up the YouTube channel with garbage like this- the actual Petrolicious site should foster constructive discussions.

This guy has a super cool collection. Call me crazy but I love the F50.

Kuroneko
Kuroneko

It should of course be mentioned, TJ (supposedly) got married on a Harley Davidson, or dreamed of getting married on a Harley Davidson. Either way, such an admission is a clear sign of lack of taste. Anything he says ref Ferrari needs to be looked at through his Harley Davidson tinted lenses…

Francois Bozonnet
Francois Bozonnet
i don’t know if the FF is the worst or the best ferrari ever made, but surely this man love the ferrari. maybe, he must buy a daytona or a 275 gtb/4 instead of the FF and go to work with a S mercedes or a simple 308 gtb (to remember him his student period). all the ferrarista with modern car say the same thing about the way they come to this car, the story, the “heritage”, etc…to me, if they want to be part of the heritage, the story end with the 328/412/testarossa/F40 and mondial 3.2, after that car,… Read more »
Paul
Paul

@TJ Martin – would you ever give it a break – people like you are the very reason that people who have cars like these don’t show them to anyone.
Maybe you would like to show us your car collection so that we can be equally as critical.

@ Mr Lee – Thank you for showing us your collection and sharing it with us.

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange

Nice article and cool collection. Anymore pics of the the 250 Lusso and the 330GTS?

Rolf Sigrist
Rolf Sigrist

Wonderful, tasteful collection. Congratulations to Lee !

Paul Bilek
Paul Bilek

I should have went into the Jade Business…. Amazing collection. Thank you for sharing it.

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