GTO 3987 on Mulholland

GTO 3987 on Mulholland

Monday, January 9, 2012

Serge Dermanian remembers Ferrari GTO 3987

Serge Dermanian looked after the cars in the Ralph Lauren collection that were kept in Montauk. Here he writes about GTO 3987.

Stephen, regarding the 3987 GTO, I remember when I got the car ready for New York State inspection, after carefully checking brake pads, hand brake, all fluid levels, all lights, wipers, etc.

As a whole, I was not to satisfied with the overall condition of the fit & finish. I had noticed, that the roof line was not as a few others I had seen in the past! My first "joy meeting" with a GTO, was in the early 60s at Thompson race track were I was spending my Sunday afternoons with Mike Gamino and his mechanic Liberio Gerardi. The sight of that tall shift lever impressed me, and the sudden silence of a Ferrari, every time he switched off the engine. Wonderful memories!

Now, the test drive. The engine ran "fairly well" but the gear box had a major problem. You probably remember the reverse gear safety feature, which is a piece protruding under the shift gate; in order to engage reverse, when in neutral, you must push the shift lever down to pass this safety feature. It was designed to prevent going inadvertently into reverse when shifting quickly from 1st to 2nd. Imagine the fiasco!

That safety device was completely worn out, probably during extensive racing. It was no trouble for me since I had worked on and driven many of these cars. As a matter of fact,

I had the NART spider next to the GTO and that gate was OK.

The next problem was excessive play in the steering system, I brought the car back to the garage, lifted it to check the steering carefully but all tie rods ends were fine. The steering box was the reason.

I called my friend Geoff Holland in Vermont who had the parts, follower and bearings, in stock. I purchased the shift gate as well. Removing the steering box is an easy task, I had done many of them. After dismantling it, I replaced the worn out parts utilizing special grease with anti-corrosion agents. I filled the box with GLX 140 that I purchased from a trucking company. You should not use 80/90 hypoid oil.

After replacing the shift gate, I purchased a beautiful piece of mahogany (knowing how much Ralph Lauren loved this type of wood) and installed the old gate on the wood block and drilled holes for pens and pencils! On the front, I glued a Ferrari emblem from a key chain and underneath a piece of velvet. Then I mailed it to Ralph for Christmas.

Voila! A Ferrari pencil holder for his desk. If someone sees it on his desk, you will know were it came from!

Hope you like my comments,
Serge Dermanian

I do like them, Serge. Thank you!


JD said...

I was wondering what was different about the roof line that he noticed? Sounds like her really enjoyed taking care of the 3987!!

Chad Glass said...

I found this fascinating. It's not every day one encounters a GTO, less yet to own one, and then have the aspect of life from thereafter of being able to track the car that you owned for a time through history --and it's a Ferrari GTO. I liked how Serge describes things; they are very well described and imbued with a mechanic's point of view. I like the shop talk: "the sudden silence of a Ferrari, every time he switched off the engine." And "I filled the box with GLX 140 that I purchased from a trucking company. You should not use 80/90 hypoid oil." Very amazing. Thanks.

Stephen Mitchell said...

I'll ask him, JD.

I agree with you Chad. Serge demonstrates the quiet confidence of a professional.

PJ said...


After a documentary this GTO deserves a book and then a movie :)

Wonderful first hand testimony.

Thank you Serge and thank you Stephen for the link to Serge's interview.