While most of the collector car market percolates along, with prices for sound cars appreciating gradually, one segment has ignited with the fury of a Saturn V booster rocket. During the last month, John McCaw of Bellevue, Washington, who made his fortune in the cellular phone business, has spent over $40 million enhancing his already formidable Ferrari collection, and at the same time redefined the values of an entire echelon of Ferraris.
Here are what our informed sources tell us about the latest transactions. Some years ago, Albert ("Albi") Obrist had convinced three banks to finance his dream of creating the best Ferrari collection in the world. The Obrist family is well known in Europe, amassing its fortune from the Crown Obrist Fastenings (his family had invented the process by which bottle caps are fastened to bottle tops). When Obrist was unable to repay the loans, which were secured by the Ferraris he had purchased, Bernie Ecclestone, czar and premier for life of Formula One racing, purchased the notes from the bank, some say for as little as $20 million, although no one will speak to that issue directly.
Ecclestone then became the owner of the entire Obrist collection. Keeping all the Ferrari F1 cars for himself, Ecclestone sold McCaw the following sports racers (at these estimated values):

1953 340/375MM Berlinetta S/N 322 $1.7M
1957 315S S/N 684 $7.5M
1959 250 TR S/N 766 $5.6M
1961 250 SWB "SEFAC" S/N 2417 $1.7M
1964 330 P S/N 820 $5.5M
1964 250 GTO S/N 5571 $6M
1967 P4 S/N 856 $10M
1971 312 PB S/N 880 $2M

McCaw's collection already included the following Ferraris:
250 GTO (S/N 3909), 275 LM (S/N 5903), 250 SWB, steel body, (S/N 3695), 250 SWB Cal. Spyder (S/N 3293), 250 TR S/N 768 (ex-Pete Lovely), 250 TR (S/N 770), 400 SA (S/N 2861), 500 MD (S/N 408), P 3 / 4 (S/N 854).
We understand that McCaw also purchased from Ecclestone an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza that once belonged to SCM contributing editor Keith Duly.
In one fell swoop, McCaw has created one of the top three or four Ferrari collections in the world. Some might say he paid "above market" for his latest acquisitions, but in fact, when dealing with multi-million-dollar vintage Ferraris, each sale tends to redefine the market. For instance, McCaw now owns all three of the 1959 ex-works 250 Testarossas. How much are these cars worth? Exactly as much or as little as McCaw wants them to be. By the way, our first cellular phones came from Cellular One which was then owned by McCaw and his brothers, Craig and Bruce, and we'd like to feel that each time we pressed the "send" button we were doing our part in helping them amass their collection.
The trend of historic vintage racing cars with sterling histories doubling and doubling again in price is likely to continue, so long as the American economy percolates along. There simply is too much money chasing too few cars.


Regretfully, our time with our long-term test car, the Chrysler Sebring JXi convertible has ended. Although SCM's focus is not on new cars, from time to time a vehicle comes along that stands apart from its contemporaries in a way that intrigues us.
From our first drive, the Sebring impressed us as a ground-breaking, well-thought out design for a modern four-place convertible. During the year we had the car, we put over 8,000 demanding test miles on it. No, these weren't the "Billy and Susie drive across the country" puffball trips the large magazines subject their test cars to. Our Sebring was used for the daily grind of family use, hauling kids to soccer, parking downtown, running to the mountains on the weekend, and endured the indignities of spilled milkshakes in the backseat and half-eaten tuna-fish sandwiches that were left to grow on their own under the seats.
During our year, the car had only two problems, a shredded serpentine belt and a leak in the convertible roof, both repaired in one day by the dealer.
There simply is no other four-seat convertible on the market that offers the stylish appearance, competent handling and intelligent interior layout that the Sebring has, especially considering the reasonable $21,685 base price of the JX.
However, since vintage racing season is coming up, we thought an extended test of a new Dodge Durango, which could see dual duty as a tow rig and family hauler, would be in order, and Dodge kindly consented. At first glance, the Durango seems to be an affordable, competent design package in a market of increasingly bloated, high-priced, poor-driving S.U.V.s. Our black Durango SLT + with its 5.9 liter V8 has a lean, muscular look, and we'll report how it does as we rack up the miles.


A painting by artist Vaclav Zapadlik of the Czech Republic graces our cover this month. It depicts the start of the 1957 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, and shows Mike Hawthorn, Peter Collins and Luigi Musso in the team Lancia-Ferrari D50 F1 cars (S/Ns 0008, 0009 and 0010) leading the eventual winner, Juan Manuel Fangio in a 250F Maserati (S/N 2529). According to subscriber Mark Ketcham, of Mill Valley, California, who provided us with the serial numbers of the cars, Fangio lowered the lap record ten times during this race. Numbered canvas prints of this painting are available for $325, paper prints for $85. Canvas and paper prints of a number of paintings by Mr. Zapadlik as well as Argentine artist Alfredo de La Maria are available through Blackhawk Editions, 510-736-0695, fax 510-736-4375. (CA)

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