The Lighter Side of Owning a Ferrari

The 2nd Cool Car Show by john babos


              Well, the rocket factory where I work had the 2nd annual charity car show a short time ago.  As you may or not recall, I entered the 328 last year and it was truly a pilgrim in an unholy land.  The poor thing was parked next to a 64 rusted Chevy Belair and 58 Studabaker and it couldn’t wait to get home. Actually, I couldn’t get it home soon enough either, to where it would be parked comfortably between the Dino and Corvette in a 6 inch mud road-base garage floor covering, a place it calls home.

However, the announcement this year for the show was a little different.  There would be a box in front of each car and the car with the most votes for charity (1 dollar per vote) would win a trophy, and better yet a picture in the company newspaper. So I began thinking about all of the markers I had around the plant and how I would call them in.  Little things like fixing the copier for someone or lending them a quarter 15 years ago and never getting repaid was my bait.  I began to strategize how I might win all prizes, 1st, 2nd and 3rd.  I figured the Dino was a shoe-in for first, the 328 a close second, and with some good marketing and arm twisting, a 3rd for the Vette.

But the problem was; how do I get all three cars to the show by 7:00 A.M. being the only driver?  I contacted a fellow employee, Argyle, living in Colorado Springs and asked him to drive the Vette; after all it was on his way.  At first he declined, but then I reminded him that he was about to get an update for his security clearance and if he wanted everything to go smoothly and eliminate possible jail time it might behoove him to drive the car.  Reluctantly he agreed.  I asked a fellow employee, Billy Joe Bob (we call him Junior), who lived west in the foothills to drive the 328. He was more that happy to oblige, but he had never driven a Ferrari and needed a lesson. The weekend prior to the show I took him out and taught him how to use the shifter and clutch, what RPMs to shift and how to find things on the instrument cluster such as the speedometer and the headlights; we would be leaving my house in the dark.

Bob Gower celebrating the passing of the FCA RMR Vice Presidency

torch to Peter Taylor in his own way by admiring Gil Nichols 1951 Ferrari at the Far Niente Winery


During the week prior to the event I cleaned and detailed the three cars, making sure they were ready for the show.  I was preparing my speech on getting a ‘hat trick’ for the awards; yeah I was going to be really cool.   But the night before the show at about 10:00 P.M. the phone rang and it was Junior.  His family decided that they had to harvest some corn before the local rangers came by and he wouldn’t be available to take the car.  At that time of the evening I had no one else to call.  Okay I thought, first and second place only; I could live with that, I would leave the Vette home. Then it occurred to me that Argyle couldn’t get into the 328 in his current condition.  Actually his current condition had existed for about 40 years, the last time Argyle weighed less than 300 pounds. He was just too big to fit in the 328. (How Magnum squeezed into a 308 is truly a life mystery).   The fact is I wasn’t sure the Ferrari had enough horsepower to break the inertia of the car with him in it let alone having brakes capable of bringing the total mass to a stop once in motion. But I digress; He would have to take the Vette and I would take the Dino; the 328 wouldn’t make the show.

The morning of the show Argyle was right on time.  With me in the Dino and Argyle in the Vette (with a little added air pressure in the left tires) we journeyed to the Cool Car Show.   Unbeknownst to me they were parking the Vettes about a quarter of a mile away from the Dino.  The distance between my cars was just too much and I would have to focus and arm twist for the Dino only. I was directed to park it between a nice 63 Chevy Malibu, partly through restoration and a great looking 67 Shelby Mustang.

As I looked at the competition, I realized it was much different than last years show.  There were about one hundred cars, most of them very nice. It never occurred to me that my fellow employees appreciated anything nice, especially after seeing last years participants.  As I positioned the car I thought about the sales pitch I would use to convince people to vote for the Dino.  Then it happened, the dreaded page.  They needed me in the office immediately for an all day meeting.  “How could I win if I wasn’t there to twist arms and threaten my coworkers?” I muttered as I walked back to the office.

It was now the end of the day, with my head hung low I wandered over to the car show venue.  And amazingly I started receiving congratulations from everyone, the little Dino won by a landslide.  Without calling in a single marker the Dino won.  It seems that the name “Ferrari” needs no help at all standing on its own in a car show. (The subtleties of a Dino being a Ferrari are lost on my coworkers).  So, the next time you gander out into you garage to do an oil change, chop some firewood,  or maybe just to drop off the trash, give your Ferrari a second look and appreciate the treasure you have.

During the annual Enzo Birthday Celebration party, Bob and I were in Sonoma County doing a little celebrating of our own.  We managed to get a reservation for a wine tasting at the wonderful if expensive winery Far Niente.  The tasting always includes a tour of the grounds and a look at the late Gil Nichols car collection.  The cars are maintained by a full time mechanic and most of licensed and street legal. All of them are wonderfully maintained.  On this trip, there was this yellow Ferrari that we had not seen in the collection before.  Our tour guide knew little about cars and told us it was a 1951, one of four made and the only one remaining.


Looking in our reference books, we have been unable to determine exactly what it is so We thought we would give all of you a look at it and see if you knew anymore about it.  If anyone knows the history of the car, please e mail me at and I will note your expertise in the next newsletter.


Incidentally, the tour at Far Niente is a wonderful experience.  As you can see by the glasses in front of us and the smiles on our faces, we enjoyed it.  Tastings are by appointment only and are free if you are a Far Niente Dulce Member and are $50 if you are not.  They include select cheeses to complement each wine and a chardonnay, two cabs and their dessert wine Dulce.  Next time you are in Sonoma, put it on you agenda