The Ferrari 250 GT/E 2+2 is the first Ferrari in which I ever rode and, later, it is also the first Ferrari I ever drove. The 'test ride' came as the courtesy of an extraordinary individual by the name of Trevor Hook who was a salesman at Otto Zipper's Ferrari dealership on Wilshire Blvd at 26th Street in Santa Monica. He was the quintessential Englishman with tweed jackets and a full mustache that merited no less a rank than Colonel. He managed to blend gentlemanly understatement with brochure hyperbole, no mean feat if I may say so, and he did it in a way that made you a party to his point of view referring to Pininfarina as 'the Maestro'--can anyone truthfully say that Ferraris of the post-Pininfarina years can match his work for style and grace?--and I always had the sense that David Niven or Richard Burton was about to arrive when speaking with him.
After a number of visits to the showroom where I would walk from one Ferrari to the next admiring the contours (I'm not even certain I had a driving license at the time), Trevor Hook would approach and we would share our appreciation for the cars. One day he asked, "Would you care to go for a ride?" We rolled out of the service entrance in a gorgeous Bordeaux GT/E with tan leather, turned right out of the alley onto 26th Street and then east on Wilshire. At Stanford we went left and where it merges with Montana, Trevor Hook showed me what he and the Ferrari could do blasting through the continuous right-hander like he was Rubirosa running late for an engagement with one of his consorts. It was a formative moment, to say the least!
Sometime later--months or years, I don't recall--I answered an advertisement in the Los Angeles Times classified section that announced the sale of a similar 250 GT/E. The lady who answered gave me the address and and directions to where the car could be found in Chatsworth telling me she was selling the car for her son. She did not have an English accent. At the address, I found a trailer park, a woman in a mu mu and a Ferrari that had been painted a non-original electric blue which I took to be a Corvette offering. In any case, it was faded and, shall we say, lacked luster. I felt that the cracked red leather interior almost did justice to the faded glory of the exterior paint if one didn't mind the clash but, heigh-ho. In for a penny, in for a pound--I was going to drive my first Ferrari.
The damn thing almost didn't start, the battery having faded as much as the paint job. A relentless north San Fernando Valley sun can be very harsh on classic cars and it had certainly done its work on this poor example of Maranello's finest, I can tell you. Eventually, the starter motor won over the recalcitrant Sears battery (with help from a set of jumper cables) and we were underway. I turned onto the boulevard in search of a sweeping, constant-radius curve that could withstand 7,000 rpm but there were none to be found. However, my dream of finally driving a Ferrari had been accomplished and the sound of the V12 was magnificent though I doubt it had been tuned in recent years and, truth be told, it might have been a V11.
And the rest, as they say, is history...
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