The car hauler should be pulling up any day now, delivering the newest addition to the Martin-Banzer menagerie. Or is that collection?
It's a 1984 Ferrari Mondial Cabriolet, in the distinctive color of light metallic green, with a tan leather interior. A birthday present, sort of, it came into my life this past December 22, the day I was celebrating (or ruing) the beginning of my 51st year.
SCM subscriber Harry Hart, of Belmont, California, called to discuss his automotive dilemma. "I've got a Mondial Cab with 48,000 miles and a recent service, an Apollo GT, an Aston DB2/4 Mk III notchback, and I just bought an XK8 convertible. They won't all fit in my garage, so something's got to go."
He valued each of the three older cars in the $35,000 range, and wondered which to sell.
Through the magic of the Internet, a few minutes later I had images of his collection. The Mondial was stunning in its light, exotic color. When I was a sales manager at Ron Tonkin Gran Turismo, we had a similarly colored used 308 GTS QV on offer. Unfortunately, it had a red interior and red carpets, leading us to refer to it as "The Christmas Special." Fortunately, this was in 1989, and we sold it within a week for somewhere north of $60,000.
I sent the following e-mail: "Harry, it's my birthday and Cindy says I can buy a car for $25,000. I'll pay that much for any of your three cars, you make the choice."
His response was quick. "Tell Cindy that, since it's your birthday, she should give you another $6,000 and you can have the Mondial for $31,000."
"Cindy says I can have another $3,000, making this a $28,000 present, and she's looking forward to driving the Mondial."
A few more rounds of good-natured negotiations ensued, and the Ferrari was soon mine.
Once again, I am fortunate to have in Ms. Banzer a partner who aids and abets the four-wheeled fantasies of an otherwise grown man.
That night, after a couple of glasses of good Oregon Pinot Noir, Ms. Banzer and I settled down for a serious discussion of this acquisition. "I read somewhere that Ferraris have always been good investments," I began. "Yes, especially compared to your shares of webvan and eToys," she replied. "And I don't think we lost more than $10,000 on the 330 America."
I immediately sent e-mails to SCM Ferrari gurus Randy Simon, Steve Serio and Mike Sheehan, informing them of my purchase. Simon's response was first. "Ho ho! And you thought the bills on the 330 were bad. Wait till you have to change the belts, or lube the power windows, or replace the fuse box. And at least the 330 had some chance of holding its value." Serio was more encouraging. "It's a great color, one of my favorites. And so long as you don't have to spend more than about $5 on it for service, you're okay on price." Sheehan was typically blunt. "Great job. You bought a nearly sale-proof car in a totally sale-proof color. Would you like to buy a few carbureted 400 automatics from me as well?"
Following our time-honored tradition of self-inflicted collector car idiocy, we've skipped having the car inspected ("It's a late-model Ferrari, what could it need?"). A cashier's check has been fired off to Martin Swig, who has agreed to confirm that the Mondial has four wheels and two seats before paying for it.
When we return home from January's five-auction Arizona fireworks, the Mondial should be in our driveway. And another adventure begins.
KILL IT, KEEP IT OR SELL IT?
Our 1978 Euro-spec, manual four-speed Mercedes 280 saloon-the subject of our "Kill It or Keep It" saga (December 2000, page 22)-is moving on. As neither RM, Christie's, nor Bonhams seems to want it as a centerpiece for their Monterey auctions, it will be sold on-line, at no reserve, beginning February 15th. Please see the listing and attractive, representative photo in this month's Showcase Gallery for details (page 77).
For reasons nearly inexplicable, but to be elaborated on in a future issue, we are looking for a Peugeot 405 to serve as our SCM staff car. Should you have a decent one (nearly a contradiction in terms), contact me at email@example.com.
ON THE COVER
The 1972 Monaco Grand Prix was a bittersweet moment for BRM. Jean-Pierre Beltoise, driving a BRM P160 through a downpour, was victorious, but it was the last Formula One victory for British Racing Motors. "BRM-the Final Grand Prix Victory" by artist Nicholas Watts, depicts Beltoise leading Jackie Ickx in a Ferrari and SCM subscriber Brian Redman in a McLaren, as they hurtle downhill from Casino Square to Mirabeau.
Watts was born in London after WWII. A self-taught painter, he has concentrated on racing because of his consuming interest in the sport. He has also published The Motor Racing Art of Nicholas Watts, a compilation of his works.
The original painting is in the collection of SCM subscriber Dave McGrath. A limited number of 33" x 25" prints are available, signed by the artist, along with Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Jackie Ickx, car designer Tony Southgate, team owner Louis Stanley and team manager Tim Parnell. Special price for SCM subscribers, $210 (non-subscribers, $250). Contact Steve Austin's Automobilia, 800/452-8434 (OR), www.steveaustins automobilia.com.