A passionate Pretoria-based collector opens his doors to us to showcase his lifelong love for Italian cars, and in particular Ferrari.
Words: Wilhelm Lutjeharms
It is a proper man cave, or a library – probably a combination of both. Here you can spend even more time between the books, the model cars and even Enzo Ferrari’s original, portable TV on which he watched and listened to the races. There are model cars and pictures and each has its own story.
But, back to the cars.
It is quite a view. The courtyard leads to all the garages and the place is kept in an immaculate condition. As the collector opens the garage doors one by one, the mostly Italian beauties come into clear and pristine view. His (and his family’s) passion for cars, Italy and everything that goes with it is immediately evident.
I ask him how many times he had visited Italy, and his answer is scarcely believable! The walls of the garages are lined with memories, memorabilia, pictures and paintings. One could spend hours here listening to his stories.
“For me experiences are very important and what you do with your cars. For example, I’ve taken my Daytona to Italy twice. I’ll admit, the Daytona is probably one of my all-time favourite cars. It has a boot for when you want to travel and it is a reliable car and they are not finicky.” During one of his trips with the Daytona to Italy, he even took the car on track, on the Autodromo di Siracusa on the island of Sicily.
His collection doesn't only include Italian cars though. The locally-manufactured Shelby Daytona Coupé recreation is clearly one of the more macho cars in the collection while there was also until recently a 991 Porsche 911 GT3. Both cars are driver-focused models and fitted with manual transmissions.
I was wondering how the Porsche fitted into the collection, he explains: “If you are a car nut, how can you not have a 911. Even it is only an early air-cooled model. However, you can only have so many old cars. After asking fellow petrolheads and having driven this car, I was smitten.” He drove it for about a year or two and then sold it.
On the other side of the spectrum, there is even a neat 1968 Fiat 500L, by far the smallest car in the collection, but it fits the theme of the collection perfectly. “I found the car in Cape Town and the previous owner restored it. You will be surprised by how much attention this little car garners on the road, almost more than a Ferrari. Everywhere you stop fellow road users want to share their memories of a Fiat 500.”
Earlier in the year a modern Fiat 500 595 Abarth Turismo was added to the collection. “I’m a bit of a purist, and so I like the fact that the the grey colour on this car is actually the same as that of the Abarth racing cars from the 1960s.”
However, he has an open mind when it comes to buying and selling cars. If he has enjoyed a car for a number of years, he will sell it on if he thinks there are too many cars in the collection.
The collector’s father was also a car enthusiast which helped lay the seed for his passion of cars and Italy. His cars can also sometimes be seen at club events and tours while he is also quite handy behind the wheel. In his younger years he raced in Group 1, then Group N and more recently in the historic class. In the latter he competes with a 911 RSR replica. “It is during these races that I got massive respect for a 911.”
One of his latest additions is a newly restored 1977 Ferrari 308 GTB. “Its original colour was red, but I love this silver. It was in a terrible state with lots of rust, so it had to be completely restored. I found the car in the Cape and test drove it. Mechanically it is such a solid car. My father’s first Ferrari was a 308 GTS, and I always told myself that one day I would like to own one. Ivo Sega at Carozzeria Ferrari restored it here in Johannesburg.”
“The 550 Maranello I have owned for around nine years now. It is really like a modern Daytona to me: V12, front-engined and manual.”
One of the more compact cars in the collection is a modern classic Alfa Romeo. “When the Alfa Romeo 4C was launched, I thought this was Alfa at its best again. The first time I drove one, I knew I had to have one. I was immediately sold. It is like a mini supercar for me, a mini-Ferrari. What can you buy for this price that looks so exotic and offers a carbon-fibre tub?”
A very neat 1974 Alfa Romeo 2000 GT Veloce is arguably one of the most loved Alfa Romeos. “I kept an eye on this car for a long time while it was for sale. The price came down, and even when it came down further I phoned the dealership and said the price was still too high.” Eventually he bought it as it was perfectly restored.
He admits, that in essence he has a strong love affair with the lifestyle in Italy during the 60s and 70s – and, who can blame him! I sense that the next trip to Italy is already planned…