Collectors of the Week: Ed and Carryl Howell

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Ed and Carryl Howell, of Nicholasville, KY, sent in the story of their 1972 Ferrari 246 GT Dino and 1967 Fiat Dino Spider:

“Two decades had passed since the beginning of this story and it is now the summer of 1998. We were making our annual pilgrimage to Elkhart Lake, WI to attend the Brian Redman International Challenge Races at Road America.and I were driving our 1972 246 GT Dino and our daughter Pam, along with our son Greg, were driving our recently acquired 1967 Fiat Dino Spider. We left our home in a western suburb of Chicago with two cars. My wife Carryl and I were driving our 1972 246 GT Dino and our daughter Pam, along with our son Greg, were driving our recently acquired 1967 Fiat Dino Spider.

The drive north was spirited but otherwise uneventful. Once we arrived at the track we were, as usual, overcome with sensory overload from the sights, sounds and aromas from the hundreds of vintage racers either on track or in the paddock.

During the noontime break, the track was opened for touring for ‘Run what you brung’ at a maximum of 50 mph with no passing allowed. For this activity, we had both cars staged near the front of the pack to maximize our track time. These track tours are pretty much a parade, but they are great fun if you can create a little space to play for part of a lap.

Both Dinos were right at home for these all-too-brief sprints. Every lap, as I drove through Canada Corner, my mind was jarred with a vivid memory of an event that took place 20 years previously.

The real story begins in the mid-1970s, when a dear friend entrusted us to restore one of his used cars. I shall refer to him as Lee, mainly because that is his name. Lee and his wife Mary moved to the Netherlands in 1975 as a work assignment for International Harvester. They remained there until 1978 before returning to Fort Wayne, IN. At that time, a friend and I operated a small restoration shop and import parts store in Fort Wayne, where we performed the restoration on Lee’s car. Once back in Indiana, Lee seemed pleased with the restoration and suggested that we take it to ‘Joe’s event’ at Road America in mid-July of 1978. We hitched the trailer to my International Travelall and loaded the car for the trip to Wisconsin. ‘Joe’s event’ was Lee’s description for the Chicago Historic Races organized by Joe Marchetti, a distinguished car guy and a noted Chicago restaurateur at the time. A mutual friend, David, joined us for the weekend at Elkhart Lake.

We unloaded Lee’s car and stuck it in the paddock where it drew admiring glances from a few folks. During the noon break, the track was opened for touring. We had the track pretty much to ourselves along with a few others who were ‘touring’ as well. The rules were 50 mph maximum with no passing. OK, we could live with that.

Lee took the car out first and came in after a few laps grinning from ear to ear.

He flipped me the keys and said ‘Here Ed, take David out for a few laps.’

No need to ask twice. David and I were in the car and on our way in seconds, besides, I needed to know that the car was mechanically OK following the restoration, right? Our first lap was fine, and the car was performing beautifully in light traffic. The second lap was better, as I was getting the feel of it. We managed the carrousel and entered the kink when I glanced into the mirror to discover there were no cars behind us or in front of us.

Shifting to fourth, and pressing the throttle to the floor was the obvious thing to do, and off we went. David remarked on the sweet sound of the engine as we sizzled into Canada Corner off line and way, way too fast. As the back end came out, the new Pirelli Cinturatos screamed at me saying, ‘You stupid idiot, we’ve done all we can do back here and now it’s up to you to fix the mess you created.’ I dialed in opposite lock until there was no more, and we proceeded broadside through Canada-headed at an alarming speed toward the outside edge of the track.

The Pirellis regained traction just as the line along the edge of the track disappeared under the driver’s door. I managed to gather it all up and David said, ‘Did you see those photographers running for their lives?’ ‘Sorry, I missed that!’ My trembling right hand was stirring the shift lever to find a lower forward gear to get the hell out of there. I don’t recall much about the next couple of laps-except that I needed the time to regain my composure. After all, I had to tell Lee about my first track experience in his 1961 250 GT SWB California Spyder. Serial Number 2383 is one of just three alloy-bodied SWB Californias to leave the Ferrari factory.

Fast forward to 2010. Both Dinos are still with us, having followed us from Chicago to our retirement home in Lexington, KY. The Bluegrass Region of central Kentucky has some of the most beautiful roads to be found, which, to a large measure, was the reason for us retiring there.

We acquired the 246 GT Dino #03362 in 1983 and have accumulated nearly 40,000 joyful miles on it since then. Clearly, it is not a show car, but it is lovingly maintained for continuing road use. In October, we took it on a road trip of over 1,000 miles to the Euro Festival car show at the BMW factory near Spartanburg, SC. We parked it in the Ferrari display area and walked away to enjoy the show.

This event is judged as peoples’ choice. At the end of the show, we were shocked to hear the announcer award our car 1st place among all of the beautiful Ferraris including another (much better) Dino. Someone must have liked it.

What don’t we like about the little Dino? It leaks water into the car during heavy rains. Other than that, there is very little to dislike. Is it fun wearing the tires out on a Dino? Oh yeah!

The Fiat Dino Spider followed us home from a used car lot in St. Charles, IL in 1996. Sadly neglected, it needed a lot of work to make it roadworthy. Following that effort, it has become our favorite fair-weather daily driver. I can’t recall the last time that we had the top up. The free-revving 2 liter Ferrari V6 makes it a joy to drive, and it is small enough to handle the very narrow Kentucky back roads with room to spare. The Pininfarina body is still very pleasing, just as it was when it left the Fiat factory in 1967. What don’t we like about the Fiat Dino Spider (S/N 0499)? ‘Fix It Again Tony!’.”

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