By Mark Slotkin
I owned 1962 Ferrari GTO #3987, which I purchased from Otto Zipper, the Ferrari dealer in Beverly Hills, California. I bought it in 1966 for $8,000. It was the Pabst-Penske Sebring car that finished third overall and first in its class. It still had the Sebring roof light on it as well as the number painted on the side in a round white circle.
I drove it every day for a couple of years and then sold it for $10,000 to a friend, Bill Reinhart, because it was smoking. He was a member of the Grass Roots rock band. While they were doing a photo shoot with it, a horse fell on the front hood, so, now #3987 smoked and had a dented front fender.
I lost track of it until David Gaon, a close friend and owner of Chemin De Fer jeans added it to his immense collection of Ferraris. However, he purchased it without an engine for $2.5M and retrieved the original engine in Texas for another $500,000.
Ah well, it had only increased by 300 times what I sold it for…. but who’s counting? Someone is: Last year, the car changed hands again — for $52 million!
The GTO and all my other rare Ferraris that I owned in 1977 were my credentials for the elitist collectors good-guy treatment when arriving at the factory in Maranello. At the time, I owned a Super America, a 4-passenger California Spyder, Daytona, GTB 4, and 3 Boxers which were purchased in Rome on my way to the Ferrari factory. Not to mention the Josey Von Neumann ’58 long wheelbase Berlinetta and the 3 short wheelbase Berlinettas that I had sold many years before.
We arrived in the early afternoon in one of the newly purchased 4.4-liter Boxers along with my beautiful girlfriend and 5 of the MG Mitten very expensive and spectacular aluminum color black embroidered Ferrari jackets with the yellow/black embroidered patch, the real thing at the time.
I gave one jacket to the parts man at Maranello and he managed to get me a gear for the Daytona transmission, a windshield for the California (only 12 made), and some stuff for the Super America. He also took me over to the racing division where I sat in one of the cars being built for their drivers. The driver was very short and I had trouble fitting into the car.
I then took the Boxer over to the test track and ran a few laps all to myself. Pretty cool, all this for the price of the second jacket.
The third one went to the head of the factory customer relations. I can’t recall his name. He invited me to a dinner in Modena that night and casually mentioned Enzo was coming. I’ll spare you the feeling I had when knowing that I was going to me the Ferrari God of Gods.
So, girlfriend and I went to the dinner and met Luigi Chinetti, then head of Ferrari North America and the man who was keyed into getting the best cars to the people who always seemed to get them first. Luigi got the fourth jacket while we were waiting for Enzo to make his entry.
Enzo showed up with his mistress about 1/2 hour late. I presented him with the fifth and last jacket. He was quite pleased and made a fuss over it with Chinetti, who was already wearing his. So, 3 of the 5 jackets were worn at the table (the customer relations man came for dinner and acted as translator).
Drinks and dinner lasted for about 2 hours. It was then that Enzo directed a question to me and asked me about the Ferraris I had owned in the past and currently. I rattled off the long list of cars and paid special note to #3987 as I knew it would strike a chord with him. We rattled on back and forth with the translator interposing to make conversation smoother.
What came next was totally out of the blue. When discussing the cars, I made a comment that they all had one thing in common. I said, “You never know if they will start the next morning.”
It was passed to Enzo who looked at me quizzically like he wasn’t aware that this was a commonality amongst all of us who owned Ferraris.
I then said, I’ve got a great idea. “Why not have the Germans build the Italian designs?”
He glared at me and said without the translator, “We tried that, Mark, it was called WWII.”