Wednesday, April 25, 2007

When Life Imitates Rush Lyrics

Red Barchetta (from the album 'Moving Pictures', February 1981):

I strip away the old debris
That hides a shining car
A brilliant red Barchetta
From a better, vanished time.

San Francisco Chronicle, last Sunday:

Barn find. It's the phrase that conjures up the notion of that wonderful treasure you sniffed out, heard about on the grapevine, that car that has been sitting at the back of a barn for years, covered with dust, and the original owner who's now in her 80s wants to get rid of it.

Ideally, that creaky old Packard or Alfa-Romeo will be sold for a song and you will gleefully haul the tatty but intact treasure back home, lovingly clean it up and then, fingers crossed, see if she fires up.

The story of Manny Del Arroz's Ferrari is a variation on the barn find -- one important variation is that the seller was extremely savvy and Del Arroz did not get this car for a song. Nonetheless, it's fair to call this story an authentic under-the-carpets-languishing-in-the-Arizona-desert find.

The car is a 1950 Ferrari 166MM Barchetta. According to Michael T. Lynch, a Monterey automotive historian who specializes in Ferraris, only 25 of these cars with the 2-liter V12 motors were built. Most of them still exist.


Nearly 50 years ago, according to Lynch, a guy living in Europe, possibly serving in the U.S. armed forces in Germany, found the 166MM at a used car showroom in Lausanne, Switzerland. He contacted his friend, Reg Lee Litton, in Scottsdale, Ariz., who knew something about Ferraris and, Lynch recalled, "Litton said buy it for me and ship it to California. The car probably went for somewhere between $5,000 and $8,000."

Litton met the car at the port of Long Beach, "gets it running and drives it home. In Arizona, he has some friends with some old Maseratis, one with a Chevy motor, and they would race all over the valley and then they'd go home, have a few beers and talk about it," Lynch said. Eventually, something in the Ferrari broke and "Litton puts it in the backyard, covered up with some rugs and black plastic held down with two-by-fours. Then somebody used the rugs for something else and the car was left open to the sky. The car was just sitting out in the yard until he died."

Fucking sweet!

(link via Carpundit)