The market continues to surge toward all-time highs and surpass the prices made 18 years ago as more and more people look to buy used cars at all levels. For those looking to buy, questions about authenticity and provenance continue to be one of their keys to valuation. As we noted in our review of RM's blockbuster $45m Maranello sale (September, p. 68), we believe cars that had a Ferrari factory Certificate of Authenticity consistently brought better money than they would have without. The reasons are simple. For a Ferrari, there is no higher authority of correctness than a blessing by the factory. And in a world of seven-digit cars and clever fakers, every bit of expert assurance helps, even if the assurance is that the engine in your TdF is a factory re-creation. But the whole notion of factory-authorized re-creations is a complicated one, as illustrated by the email exchange below.

Quality or Correctness

Perhaps I was reading your September column incorrectly, but I was confused by a comment that seemed to give your blessing to the factory-recast-parts program at Ferrari and, by extension, any other manufacturers that decide to follow suit. Maybe I'm being dense here, but I don't understand how these differ from any other repro parts. Okay, so the head comes from the Ferrari factory. But it's not the same factory that built the head back in 1962. I doubt it comes out of the same tooling. None of the original craftsman laid a hand on it. Aside from the Certificate of Authenticity, what makes it any better than any other head from any other vendor? The quality, you say? Okay, so let's make quality the issue, not "authenticity," as defined by a company that has found yet another way to stick it to consumers. Maybe I'm out to lunch, but it seems to me that a 250 GTO with an engine that was originally found in a 250 GTE is more "authentic" (whatever that means) than one with a brand new engine that happens to be sold with a Ferrari Certificate of Authenticity.-Preston Lerner, via email KM responds: You ask a good question, and my response is purely my opinion, and based more on a gut feeling than anything else. After all, we are traversing uncharted waters here, as factories get into the "repop and certification" business. So here goes. I would assume we all agree that once a car has lost its original engine, it will always be imperfect, and, when compared to a car with its original engine, less collectible. There's no way around that. So your question becomes which is less imperfect, a car with a period-correct but non-original engine, or a factory repop to original factory specs? I would rather have a factory-"certified" reproduction than a swapped engine. First, it means that another Ferrari didn't have to become a V12 castrati to make another car whole, and second, there are subtle differences between engines for different models, although ostensibly of the same type and displacement, and in theory, the factory repops will have all of the nuances correct. Finally, in a provenance-hungry world, "factory certification" is certainly better than a note scribbled on the back of a napkin that says something like, "SWB engine blown up, replaced with 250 GTE." Lerner responds: This gets into issues that are tangential to value and collectibility. I'm fascinated by the whole reproduction movement, not so much kit cars and GTE/GTO swaps, but "continuation" cars (which strike me as a sham) and exquisite pieces of work like the contemporary D50 and the new Jim Hall/Jim Musser Chaparrals. At a certain level, you could argue that nothing distinguishes them from the real thing-except, of course, for the inconvenient fact that they're not the real thing. I'm not sure if this is an issue of collectibility or etymology-or even epistemology. KM responds: You continue to ask the right questions. It is no secret that SCM's position is that all "continuation" or "tribute cars," no matter how well or poorly executed, are simply fakes. The amount of "original content" is merely a modifier, such as "complete fake," or "fake with a real Ferrari drivetrain," or "fake built with some authentic bits." (I recall being offered a replica D-type, and the seller touting that the car was equipped with "original spark plug wires from an original D-type." Do tell.) Consider this: I'm sure it is possible to make a reproduction of the Mona Lisa that is so accurate it could fool nearly anyone; do you care? Or if your local museum advertised a new show that had "perfect replicas of famous gems," would you be interested in attending? Anyone who collects-with any thoughtfulness-will always value the real thing above all else. The original object is imbued with an essence that simply doesn't exist with a replica. Of course, that is one of the driving forces behind collecting, which is to seek out the most original object, in its most original state. As a group, car collectors have been late in coming to the table to ask for bullet-proof authentication and verification; aside from Miles Collier's biennial seminars on Connoisseurship, I know of no other non-marque-specific organized attempts to illuminate thoughtful collecting. As cars increase in value, we can expect to see more attempts by factories to protect and enhance their brand heritage by engaging in "certification" and "certified replacement parts," including recast original blocks, heads, and other significant parts. The task before the collector car community is to decide how to value these certified cars when compared with original cars. The market speaks with its wallet, and its voice is already being heard.

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