Spending A Week On Circuits And Empty French B-Roads With The Collection Anna-Lisa Ferrari F40
Photography by Romuald Clariond
Earlier this year, I received a call from my friend Étienne Raynaud—not to invite me to Journées d’Automne, but rather to 500 Ferrari Contre Le Cancer (500 Ferraris Against Cancer), an event that took place this summer as part of Sport & Collection at Circuit du Val de Vienne in the French commune of Le Vigeant.
Collection Anna-Lisa, AKA Art On Wheels, brought two stallions and a big cat from its stable for the good cause: a Ferrari F40, Ferrari 212 Inter Touring, and a Jaguar XJ220. If you’re not familiar with Collection Anna-Lisa, it’s made up of a group of 72 cars purchased by entrepreneur Patrick Duvarry—who named the collection after his wife, who is a lifelong enthusiast herself having grown up with a father who ran and continues to run a garage well into his seventies. And speaking of maintenance and upkeep, it’s not like one can charge these tasks to any old service center down the street. The collection is maintained by Lyon local Hubert Damoy, who worked with the Ferrari specialists at Gauduel Sport to wake up the 212 and F40, working many long hours to ensure that the cars were in their best performing condition after having sat still for some time.
The majority of the Anna-Lisa cars used to belong to a man who suffered some health issues that precluded him from most driving, much less three-pedal sports cars. A shame no doubt, but it also led to an extremely low-mile collection—for instance, this F40 had around 800km on the clock when Patrick acquired the collection, and it still wore its original tires! Among the 72 cars that make up the group, there are even more rarities than that—like the one of three Ferrari 212 Inter Touring, a one of 24 ISO Grifo IR 9 Can-Am, or the Alfa Romeo 6C 2500—and out of the 72 cars, no less than 22 are eligible for the Mille Miglia. In other words, it’s not an un-serious group of machines.
The owners, the Duvarrys, don’t believe in randomness in life, and they think that there must be a reason that they were able to find and acquire these cars—to that end, they’ve made it imperative that the heritage of these cars (not just as individual items, but as parts of the collection’s whole) remain intact. The cars stay together, and are maintained and driven, but kept in as close to new condition as possible. Perhaps in the future I will be able to share the entirety of the collection with you, but for now I’ll recount the time spent among a few of its traveling representatives.
Like the F40, the XJ220 had quite a low odo’ reading—just over 1,600km—but as soon as the car emerged from its transporter at the track for the event—and despite the fact that it had just come from a check-up at high-performance Jag specialists Don Law Racing—a figurative wrench was put into the plans. The car was not happy, and after bringing it over to the local garage just outside the track, we concluded that it was no more than a simple spark plug issue. We had planned to make a film with the Jag and the Ferrari, but chances were slim that the correct plugs would arrive in time by morning. Time to brainstorm a new narrative.
Thankfully inspiration comes a bit easier in the presence of cars like these. Seeing as the 212 Inter Touring was one of the very first cars made by Ferrari proper, and that the F40 had paid tribute to the 40th anniversary of the Italian manufacturer, they make up two distinctly different bookends to a forty year period of Ferrari excellence. That would be the subject of the film, portraying them on the asphalt of Circuit du Val de Vienne and the winding backroads outside.
On Thursday morning, we started filming with the F40 very early on the circuit, shooting more or less from sunrise to sunset. Our reward (besides spending a day at the track with an iconic supercar), was to find a great gastronomic restaurant inside Le Lucullus hotel in Montmorillon. Even the brasserie side was excellent, and I don’t think our enjoyment came only from the fact that it was the very same day that restaurants were reopening in France after eight shuttered months. Good food is simply good food and I must give my compliments again here to chef Alban Galpin—thank you again for a wonderful meal!
Moments of the day were recounted around the table, the energy of the cars on track reverberating long into the night. The following day, at Restaurant du Barrage for lunch, as Maxence Massaro filmed and I took some photos in the scenic parking area (which was sporting a huge Ferrari banner when we had arrived in town earlier in the week). This lunch was a great moment with Patrick, and his father-in-law, Alain. I can’t stress enough what a great guy he is to still running his garage in his 70s, still looking like a rockstar. A natural raconteur to boot, I can’t wait to visit him in Lyon soon for a more in depth look at his fascinating life.
After a long morning filming with both cars (including Alain driving the 212 Inter Touring) the following day, we stopped by the main square of L’Isle-Jourdain, the village next to Le Vigeant, where serendipity had already parked another F40. Naturally we had to put the pair together, with our 212 Inter Touring acting as a “little” bonus to the scene. Sometime during our lunch on the terrace of Le 10, the owner of the other F40 left with a few friendly beeps and another rendition of the twin-turbo V8 song we’d been playing on repeat for the last few days—never gets old. We kept enjoying great food with Ugo Missana, JB Dessort, and Alain, each of us smiling in that happily bemused way of “How did we get here, and get so lucky?” We were enjoying a peach pie for dessert when a blue short-nose Ferrari 275 GTB parked a couple of meters from our table. We were not in the worst place to car-spot, apparently, and although I don’t much like the 275 GTB (or at least to the same degree as the consensus), the short-nose bodywork makes it into another car, one that’s much more natural and elegant looking in my humble opinion.
On Saturday, Patrick was entering the Concours d’Élégance in his Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 along with Sophie, who runs Courir Pour Elles, an association for people to run against cancer. Remember the 500 Ferrari Contre Le Cancer event I had mentioned earlier: on Sunday about 500 owners brought their Ferraris out for a worthy cause, with some spectators buying laps as passengers onboard during the on-track parade, with the money going to associations that combat and research cancer. The benefit started almost thirty years ago as 100 Ferrari Contre Le Cancer, and has raised five million euros since then. The line-up of cars covered almost every single Ferrari model, but there was no 250 GTO! Oh well, just another reason to go back next year!