Keith’s Blog: I Didn’t Mean to Dent the Ferrari

It was a hectic day. I had just picked up the Bertone 308 GT4 from Matt Crandall at Avant-Garde Collection. Its throttle had been sticking, which made driving in rush-hour traffic more exciting that I wanted it to be.

Matt’s ace mechanic Chris Smith attended to it quickly. It turned out to be a combination of throttle linkages that needed lubricating and poorly attached carpet balling up under the gas pedal. Cocoa mats are on the way.

A friend was coming over for his first ride in the GT4. I hustled back to the office, and prepared to slide the GT4 into its slot between a support pole and the SCM Alfa Romeo Sprint Speciale.

My brain wandered for an instant, and I heard (and felt) that sickening sound of car metal impacting something substantial. I stopped and lied to myself (“I must have just grazed the pole, surely it’s nothing but a scratch that will buff out.”)

Sadly, that was not the case. Is it ever? I had pivoted the GT4 while backing up so that it pushed into the pole just behind the driver’s door. The indentation was at least 2 inches deep and 6 inches across. No amount of quick detailer was going to fix this.

I ran the car to Tom Black’s Garage, and he opined that after fixing the dent he would have to also respray the rear quarter and the door to get a good match.

While there’s no “happy moment” from this situation, at least the car wasn’t an un-hit virgin in original paint. There was already some Bondo on the side of the car, and it had been resprayed before.

Nonetheless, the car will now need some substantial attention. And it is all my fault. I simply wasn’t watching where I was going.

While the car is apart, I’m going to have Guy Recordon replace all the door rubbers. They are tired and causing the passenger door to stick. We have already ordered them from Matt Jones at Reoriginals.

Guy will also reupholster and rebuild the front seats using fabric as close to the original as he can find. The back seats are perfect, as is always the case. But the front seats show the car’s 220,000 miles of use.

Things happen to cars when you are moving them around. In fact, things happen to them when they are sitting still, from wheel cylinders leaking to clutch discs cementing themselves to flywheels.

I’m lucky in this case that the sheet-metal damage stops at the rear quarter and does not extend to the door. But I’d rather not have hit the pole at all.

There’s really no teachable moment here except that with old cars you have to always be paying attention. They don’t have nanny-aids like backup cameras or proximity sensors to let you know when you are coming close to something.

When the car is repaired, the new rubber installed and the seats rebuilt, I’ll have a better car than I started with. But I would prefer to have made these improvements because I wanted to do them — not because I had whacked the car and now was forced to do them.

 

Keith Martin

Keith Martin has been involved with the collector car hobby for more than 30 years. As a writer, publisher, television commentator and enthusiast, he is constantly on the go, meeting collectors and getting involved in their activities throughout the world. He is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market and bi-monthly American Car Collector magazines, has written for the New York Times, Automobile, AutoWeek, Road & Track and other publications, is an emcee for numerous concours, and has his own show, “What’s My Car Worth,” shown on Velocity.

Posted in Blogs, Keith Martin

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  1. I did the same thing to my parent’s new car when I was in college. A healthy and somewhat irrational fear for parking garage poles ever since. Sigh.

  2. You have picked up 2 of the cars on “my list”. I noted the F car @ FJ but have neither space nor funds. My way of saying “Great taste”. ;-> Sometimes I start thinking SCM has become just for the wealthy “investors” but it’s significant and welcome when you share things which would remain hidden by most. Thanks.
    PS: I hope you do a write up on your JrZ experiences.

  3. Did the same thing a few months ago. I thought I could back out of my barn the same way I came in but as I moved backwards, I didn’t allow for the large plastic oil tank on the side of the lift I was parked along side of. Yep, same sound and everything I did just made it worse. Eventually I jacked it up and slid it sideways on some rollers. $1800 damage to perfect virgin sheet metal and paint. Fortunately, it was to my Honda Accord coupe and not the classic Mercedes on the lift.

  4. with the miles that car has on it i would keep the dent and call it patina.gives the car character.just correct all the mechanical issues and proudly drive on!

  5. You call it the “offending” pole. But, in fact wasn’t it the pole that was offended? LOL. Love it when the professionals are honest enough to admit they too are human. Makes everything else they say ring that much more true. Bravo. ENjoy!