Chapter 11 continued

Jerry Haskell took a step toward me and yelled straight at me;

         “Koik, Koik, is that a fuckin’ Galves book you’re readin’? Dat’ book is for schmucks. You know who writes dat’ fuckin joke; your buddy Grossman from Spring Valley: he glides onto da’ street in one of his silk suits, once a month and is in and out of Galves in twenty fuckin’ minutes, writin’ dat’ rag.”

                I slid the book back into my pocket.

                With his voice slightly lowered, Jerry said:

        “Listen to me Koik, get dat’ fuckin book out a yer’ pocket again, I want to show you somethin’ . . .”)

               When I got it out, Jerry said to me, looking straight at me: 

          “Koik, turn to the back page of dat’ book . . . are der’ any “checks” in da’ back of    dat’ fuckin’ Galves book? There ain’t no checks, Koik’! Dat’ fuckin’ rag is somebody’s half ass opinion; dat’s all it is, Koik. There ain’t any fuckin’ price guides, wit ’checks in ‘em!

At that point, fortunately, Eddie Haskell walked out of the office with a smile on his face and said to his old man:

                 “Cut it out, Jerry . . .”


         And to us:

        “He tries that 300SL act all the time; he’ll catch a guy once in a while.”

Well, we came out of the building intact, and I can tell you this: If I had a dollar for every time, over these many years that I have wheeled out Jerry Haskell’s “price guide” act I’d be a damned rich man.

You generally have to clean up the edges of the story a bit, but I’ve never had it blow back on me, and it does get those damn price guides put away!


From a family in New York, we had agreed to take on consignment the amazing Neri & Bonacini roadster pictured on page 160 upper portion of the Fitzgerald & Merritt Ferrari book. Truly, one of the most beautiful Ferraris of all time as far as coachwork is concerned, though it was built on a straight, stock, 250 GT chassis. The car was a knockout.


Truly, less than a foot away. A five MPH accident would almost certainly have been fatal!

For the balance of the drive, I leaned in a bit in toward the drive tunnel.

We sold the car to a remarkably indulgent father who bought the Ferrari for his 17 year old son. They lived in Manhattan, but had an urgent need to have the car in Oregon quickly. I said I’d be glad to arrange shipping, but no, they wanted it flown out there!

And so, we arranged for Flying Tigers Airways to hustle the car straight out to Oregon. Some months later the son telephoned. He and the car were back in New York, and the son was on the way down to the agency via the New Jersey Turnpike.

When he called he was somewhere near exit 9 on the New Jersey Turnpike, and he said that the car was very hot, the engine was “making bad sounds” and the crankcase dipstick showed no oil!

I told him to make arrangements to have it flat bedded to us and return to Manhattan.
Unbelievably, some hours later, he and the car arrived under their own steam. I have never heard an engine make the noises that one did, and still run.

( . . . I am always amused when people unwittingly talk about how fragile or how finicky Ferrari engines are. They are in fact, quite the opposite; how do you suppose they won all those endurance races all over the world??  In all the years I have driven Ferraris, I’ve never had one stop altogether on me. I’ve come home a few times on a single bank of cylinders, but never on foot.)

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We totally rebuilt his engine, but by the time we were done the youngster had lost interest in the Ferrari.


A man in Maryland, we’ll call him Larry, had found us at Auto Enterprises pretty quickly. Larry was a real student of speed, a major drag racer and a very knowledgeable Ferrari tuner. He called his company Combustion Engineering.

The first time I drove to Maryland to visit Larry’s shop was the day after he had been experimenting with an exotic fuel for a drag car. The potion had literally self combusted and sent a fireball into the sky of such magnitude that fire departments from several nearby communities had responded. The back of his building was heavily scorched! And, Larry was damn proud of it!

He had an amazing group of very serious Ferraris, Maseratis, Abarths, Drag racing cars, etc. on hand. I bought an early ’65 275GTB from him that turned out to be a bit disappointing over the road as the early 275GTB drivelines had quite a small diameter driveshaft with a small single midway pilot bearing. They were often a little wiggly, and the engine power output, though adequate, was sluggish and shaky coming to the road itself.

But, it was a very low mileage car, and very good looking in pure silver with a beautiful black leather interior.


The price was particularly reasonable.

Subsequent visits produced additional Ferraris, Maseratis etc., generally at what were always more than fair prices. But in those days there weren’t any “price guides” were there?

Then, one day in early ’69, Larry called in a huge flap.

I should come today, this afternoon; he had a big deal for me.

I mentioned Larry’s conversation to “T”, and asked him if he’d like to go with me.

        “No, and I don’t know how many more of these damn old Ferraris, Alfas, and that sort of stuff we need around here…” he said.

           “Well, I’ll just drive down and see what it’s all about.” I said

So off I went to Larry’s place near Bel Air, Maryland, and by the time I pulled up to his place, I was losing my enthusiasm.

“T” was right, what was I doing with all these “clunks” anyway?


Although, so far the old racers had vacated our premises with some degree of haste, and with tidy profits in the process.

The acquisition of almost every one of those old competition cars was treated like another round of Russian roulette. Sooner or later, one of these deals would blow back on me and we’d be bagged with some laughable old race car.

I entered Larry’s place in a mental nosedive.

There were five cars in his offering: three Ferraris, one a very rare 250 LM, albeit modified, a 275 GTS, and a nearly new 330 GT 2+2, a Maserati Ghibli and finally a nearly new Jaguar XKE roadster.

He was firm at $42,000. And that was very reasonable, even in 1968.

Usually we made our deals fairly quickly.

Lethargically, I passed his offer.

Larry was wild-eyed over my utter lack of interest. You could nearly smell the urgency.

“You know what?” I said. “I think the bloom’s gone off the rose with these goofy old race cars” I said.


“I’m interested in your Jag and the 330, I said. Sell me those cars and let me out of here, I’ve got a long drive.”

Truly crazed at that point . . . He started to drop his price on the package, and at each new low price, I would recommence my doomsday spiel. We were back and forth, almost to the point of silliness, and finally I said:

“Give me five minutes to work something out on paper.”

When we sat back down, I had priced the cars at near scrap value. I wrote my price on a slip of paper, handed to him, stood up and said: “I’ve got to go, we’ll let this deal go by the boards; we’ll do another soon. . .”

He took my deal, which was an absurdly low figure and I felt like I’d really rung the bell. There was so much profit margin. It was simply a bell ringer of a deal, and I was all puffed up again. I stopped at a phone booth before I got back on I-95 and now thoroughly excited, called T.

“This is really exciting! I’m going to read you five cars, give me a price you think you’d really be comfortable with...” I said, all wound up.

“Just tell me what the cars, are and how much they cost….” He said.

I read off the cars as if they were a grocery list, as the wind went out of my sails . . . “$28,000.”


“What the hell is a 250 LM?”
250 GT Neri & Bonacini Spyder
Ferrari 250 LM
So much for my inflated mood . . . I was gaining more and more steam running down these old racing cars and unique vintage sports cars, while T was definitely more interested in the new car end of things, and used cars that would appeal to the upper middle class buyer who was solidly landed on planet earth.

I seemed to be more interested in chasing up the lunatic fringe that owned diamond companies, shifted through the gears with Rolling Rock beer bottles, people like that . . .


One very early morning after The Bridgehampton event I was at the Gulf station right across the street from Auto Enterprises filling my car with gas.

It struck me that I was literally standing in the midst of where I had grown up as a child through the age of fourteen.

As a child, I’d visited Herb Seden’s wonderful old auto repair garage a half mile up the pike from Auto Enterprises. Mr. Seden had always taken care of Mom’s cars (often for no money.)


And just a half mile further up Bethlehem Pike was St Thomas church, where Dad was buried.

Morano Brothers Garage (. . . home of Len Duncan, & engine swaps gone awry . . .) was just the next town down the line in the other direction, Erdenheim.

Our old hot rod hangout, Gert’s Diner was so close down the road from Auto Enterprises, that I could see it. We were in Gert’s almost every night in the mid-fifties, and the memory came back of the night we took off for the 1956 NHRA Nationals in Kansas City with the ‘55 T-Bird. That was just 12 years ago.

         (I was a long way from Kansas, Dorothy . . .) 

Here I was in the midst of the wonderful environment that I grew up in; pumping high test fuel into a new Ferrari 275 GTB/4 that I was driving courtesy of the Auto Enterprises “car pool” which had two more “new” Ferrari 275 GTB/4’s in it!

Currently I seemed to be living life at a very different level. I now lived on Philadelphia’s Main Line. I was a Glenside, Oreland, kind of guy. On Philadelphia’s main line no one was from “the neighborhood . . .”

Through Grant I was socializing with people who lived at an altogether different social level than anything I had known.


Their friends were wealthy young people who had beautiful homes in the Philadelphia area, apartments in New York, and many had additional homes in eastern Long Island, Newport, and the Bahamas etc.

We were being included in a lot of social events, and visits to palatial homes up and down the east coast.

We had just stayed with some friends of “T” and Linda who had a beachfront home in Southampton, Long island. It seemed that every child in Southampton had one of “T’s” gas engined S.C.A.F. Ferraris or Ford GT40’s.

There was no end to the parties and driving your Ferrari GTB/4 all over Long Island, often “over refreshed!”

At the Bridgehampton road circuit we were now members in the exclusive Paddock Club area. The racing was almost secondary.

Hadn’t I been coming to Bridgehampton, just a couple of years ago, happy to stay in a tiny motel way back down the road in the less trendy town of Quogue, and eating my meals in any old roadside restaurant? I used to walk to every vantage point all around that great Bridgehampton road circuit. I had trekked through each parking area carefully taking in the great sports cars that would come out to Bridgehampton to see the races.

Hadn’t I had a Sunday at Bridgehampton a few years back where I had spent almost an hour outside the paddock club enclosure standing next to a nearly new, unbelievably beautiful Ferrari Lusso. The owner had merely parked it carelessly too close to the paddock fence. It had been my responsibility to keep the gawkers at bay.


And now, just a couple of years later in 1968 it certainly appeared I was up there at Bridgehampton raceway for none of the reasons that took me there before.

Hmm . . . The hot rod kid from Church Road in Oreland may have been running headlong up the wrong alley.

That very morning might make a very good point in time to get my re-balancing effort underway.


Early one morning would find me dealing with a very special Ferrari that had belonged to the royal family of the Netherlands!

No ordinary Ferrari mind you, but a “one off” 250 GT Ferrari that had been commissioned by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands!

When I came through the door of the agency it was still well before eight in the morning and the telephone was ringing insistently. When I answered, I distinctly detected the crackle of an inbound overseas call.

“Am I speaking with the party that placed an advertisement in the New York Times seeking Ferrari automobiles?” asked a very faint, but firm voice with a European accent?

I told him, yes it was.

He briefly explained to me that he was: Mr. A.J.M. Dries Van der Lof calling from the Netherlands, and he was calling to see if we might be interested in buying a very special Ferrari that he had had for a number of years. It was originally built for The Crown Prince of the Netherlands, Prince Bernhard. Bernhard had commissioned Pinin Farina to execute a “one off” 250 GT for the Prince.

Von der Lof had seen the ad in the Times, and was calling to see if we may be buyers for such an automobile . . .

(Well, the character you’re talking with on the phone might be very inclined, but most everyone else in this place almost certainly had no interest in pursuing another old clunky Ferrari. Particularly one in the Netherlands!!)

Prince Bernhard’s name rang an immediate bell, as I knew he was a Ferrari enthusiast and one of Ferrari’s very best customers.

I asked Van der Lof a few questions, and it was agreed he would airmail good photographs and details of the car. The First edition of the Warren Fitzgerald/Richard Merritt book had just become available, and what a helpful reference that was! My autodidactic tendency had allowed me to almost commit the book to memory!


I had nearly worn the book to shreds, mere weeks after its publication. Sure enough that Ferrari was pictured, page 151, third and fourth images from the top right corner of the page.

A week or so passed and an overseas envelope arrived with a brief description of the car, four or five 5 x 7 photographs, only one of which was in color. One image showed Prince Bernhard regally standing beside the driver’s door in an elegant cape, with an equally elegant whippet style dog alongside, gazing fondly up at him. None of the images were current; all were useless in determining anything useful as to the current condition of the Ferrari.

But the car was a corker. To this day it ranks as one of the most beautiful Ferrari 250 GT’s of all time. It was finished in a rich black with dark green leather.

The price would be $5,000 landed at the port of Philadelphia.

It was so handsome that everyone in the place was in agreement; it was a splendid Ferrari. We said OK, and sent over the funds.

As soon as the deal was set and the money on its way, I telephoned Carl Bross. Yes he’d certainly like to have a look at that Ferrari at $7,800.

The car came in on a Thursday afternoon and Carl was there that Saturday morning. The Ferrari was far from a show car, showing 98,000 km on the meter. Von der Lof had been an owner who loved to drive his Ferrari, and he had run 63,000 km through Europe.


The paint had been carefully maintained, the green leather was showing some comfort creases. But, the car had been beautifully cared for and was gaining a warm patina. The engine fired easily, a bit smoky, but the car ran like the wind.

It was a Ferrari that just said to you: . . . “You don’t need to bring anything; let’s just go, it’s a great looking day” . . .

Ferrari Prince Bernhard 250 GT
Bross took the car for a drive on his own, returned and came into my office and said thanks for calling him first, and yes he’d take the Ferrari.

When his taxi came to fetch him late in the day we had visited together for nearly two hours. He was a remarkable man, and throughout our conversation, he had urged me to pursue a number of fresh ideas and he’d kicked my mind into overdrive on several marketing ideas.

I walked him out to his cab, and as he ducked in the back, he looked directly at me and said:

        “You’ll need to have your own place soon . . .”

         He waved briefly, turned to the driver, and the cab pulled away.

Owing to the Fourth of July Holiday:


Late one afternoon, at the end of the day, I took it home with me. It was perfectly straightforward to drive, but while I was sitting at a traffic light, seated well back in the cockpit, I noticed the proximity of the top corner of the windshield post to my forehead. It was merely inches away!