Ferrari 212 Vignale Cabriolet

Last Spring I heard about a very early Ferrari 212 Vignale Cabriolet and knew the guy who would love this car. I offered to export it from its life long home of Toulouse France but the my customer asked me to secure the car and find a local shop to check it out so we could safely drive it to the Ferrari factory in Maranello Italy. The car was born in Italy and delivered new to the first owner in Toulouse where it has stayed since 1952. It is now our job to bring it back home!

All of our plans worked out nicely, Jean-Claude got the car up and running and we headed to Southern France to have Dinner in St. Tropez. What an amazing car, it is so fast and comfortable especially when we pack it full of bags and 100 liters of fuel! I could go on and on about the trip but after a two day stop in Monaco, we decided to press on and get to Italy.

When pulling out of a toll plaza, the car no longer was able to move itself, it was running fine, there were no odd noises, the transmission was shifting perfectly but the car wouldn’t move forward. I thought that the clutch disc broke or maybe something at the back of the transmission which wouldn’t surprise me since the engine was so strong but it turns out that the right hand rear axle shaft broke and the LH one was twisting and close to breaking.

What a supreme disappointment that we couldn’t have pulled into the Ferrari factory with this car but we had it trucked there for a Classiche Inspection and soon certification. It was a great experience none the less, we had a tour of the factory and a wonderful memory.

Ferrari Vignale Cabriolet 1952

Ferrari 212 Vignale cabriolet

212 Vignale Cabriolet

Vignale 212

ferrari axle broken

Show Stopper

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Ferrari Window Regulators

Since I was old enough to hold a wrench, I have been repairing Ferrari cable operated window regulators and have tons of scars on my hands to prove it! Like the Bizarre-O cable operated Maserati Ghibli Water Pump design, this is an equally offbeat way to make a window go up and down. My rant is “these guys has no right building cars”. Whats the deal with Italians and cables?

This cable has to “spool up” and “un-spool” around a drum simultaneously as an electric motor turns it.  If the cable isn’t in perfect condition, it can fall off the pulleys or make a horrible grinding noise when operating. The smallest bend, kink or fray makes the whole system come to a stop. You can get complete new assemblies but often the cable is wound tightly during shipping that it  causes problems so I rebuild them with new cable that I have in massive quantities here at the shop.

Window Regulator Ferrari 308

Ferrari Cable Window Regulator

A frequent problem with these systems is super slow motion of the window glass barely making it to the closed position.  People have all sorts of hair-brained ideas on how to fix this problem but the issue is simple. The green grease in the gearbox gets hard like wax and the motor can’t overcome the resistance. If the cables, pulleys and channel is in good shape simply zip tie the cable to the assembly which maintains the tension and remove the assembly from the door. Remove the 3 screws to the hold the gearbox together and chip out the green wax (that used to be grease).  If you are lucky, you won’t kink or loose the orientation of the cable and can get it all working in 20 minutes!

Cable Operated Window Regulator

Waxy Green Grease to Chip Out

I use a synthetic grease that won’t hurt the plastic housing but make sure it has decent rust preventative, there is a ton of moisture that builds up in these doors that will seize the gearbox as well.

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Ferrari 365 GT 2+2 Wheels

Now that I am finished with my part of the project, these wheels are off to Syl’s shop to be painted. They came off a 1968 Ferrari 365 GT 2+2, affectionately called the “Queen Mother” in our small and incestuous community. These are really attractive wheels and are beautifully cast in Magnesium Alloy.  Along the rim edge is a very deep cut reverse curve that ends in a very thin edge. Every edge on this set of wheels was beat up by sloppy workmanship when changing tires or sloppy driving while grinding on a curb in an attempt to park.

Mag Wheel Repair to Ferrari

Wheel Repair to Ferrari 365 Mag Wheel

Ferrari Wheel Repair, Welding

Repairing Ferrari 365 Wheel

Ferrari Mag Wheel Welded and repaired

Ferrari Welded Wheel

 

I tried to weld only the busted areas but ended up welding along the entire edge and set it up in the lathe to re-cut that delicate area. It is amazing how easy this Magnesium welds once the whole part is warmed up properly. It builds up in such big bubble gum beads that it only took two passes to get enough material on to eventually cut it down to the desired profile. This photo shows only a small area welded but I ended up doing the whole edge for a uniform radius.

After the welding, I sent them to be crack tested as these wheels have a tendency to fatigue at the rim edge and cause the tire to blow out. I have also seen photos of the wheel breaking right at the hub area which is super thick so they must have had some casting flaws in some wheels.

The next step was to dip each wheel in an acid etch followed by “Anodine 1210″ solution to convert the wheel to a neutral condition and protect the casting until I could primer it to seal it against the atmosphere. Magnesium corrodes instantly so the Anodine protects the metal while it dries out. My last step it so shoot the wheels with Zinc Chromate Primer just like they used when the wheels were first painted. I can get this primer in Yellow or pale green so I stuck with the original shade.

365 Ferrari WHeels Magnesium

Magnesium Alloy Wheels for Ferrari 365

Syl will really make the wheels pop with some properly applied polyester filler and another coat of urethane primer which will be sanded to bowling ball smoothness. He shoots the wheels with a PPG basecoat in bright aluminum followed by a Clear Coat that has some flattening agent to dull them down about 20%. Wheels were never totally shiny because they would detract from the bodywork on the car. These wheels will be a little nicer than the original finish but we have different standards these days.

 

 

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Ferrari 330 and 365 Wheel Restoration

Lets see if I can describe this story so its understandable…. In the mid 1960′s, Ferrari was drifting away from Borrani wire wheels on their street cars and started using Campagnolo cast alloy wheels. The first style was the heavily ribbed and complex “starburst” wheel used on the early 275 GTB and GTS, followed by the smooth and sculpted “10 hole” wheel shown in the photo below. A 14″ size was used on the 330 GTC and later 275′s and a 15″ version was used on the 330 and 365 GT 2+2. The offset was different on the 330 and 365′s but they are identical otherwise. In this photo, the 365 wheel is to the left and 330 to the right. The 330 Rim edge is much deeper than on the 365 wheel but otherwise they are very similar.

365/330 Wheels Campagnolo

330/365 Ferrari 15″ wheels

A man in Texas asked for my help to find a set of 5 cast wheels and straight ear center lock nuts for his 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. I called my usual contacts and realized very quickly that these are extremely rare parts and the center lock nuts were simply no longer available.

I did find a complete set of 365 wheels with the more “shallow” rim section but nothing for the 330 type wheel, however, the 365 GT 2+2 at our shop was rolling on the wheels that belong on a 330! I sent my customer a proposal that if he wants wheels for his 330, he’ll have to buy the five 365 type wheels that I found which would be fitted to our 365. He would have to pay me to crack test and refinish all 10 wheels which is a huge job because all of the wheels need welding and cleaning up and go through the process of preparing Magnesium Alloy for painting. After a huge sigh of relief, I just finished packing and shipping the 5 perfectly re-painted wheels to Texas with brand new looking cad plated hubs and original style valve stems and tires.

Since the stars were aligned just right, I found a set of 4 totally ratty straight ear lock nuts a little later in the project.  I welded and straightened the bent and smashed knock off ears in preparation for re-chrome plating and when Mickey sent them back all shiny, they looked just like jewelery. Unfortunately I didn’t take a photo of them all glossy and perfect.

Ferrari 330 Knock off

Ferrari 330, 365 GT Knock Off Nut

330/365 Straight Ear Wheel Nut

Knock off Nut for Ferrari 330

Repainted Ferrari 330 Wheel

Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 Repainted Wheel

Re-Painted Wheels

330 GT 2+2 15″ Wheels Painted

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Brake Fluid Reservior for 250 GTE/SWB/Lusso

So often we try to repair old parts to maintain originality or because new stuff isn’t available and if I tallied up the hours spent patching the often rusted and mangled brake fluid reservoirs for Ferrari 250′s I’d get really depressed. I found a few of these New Old Stock reservoirs with the correct caps and quickly bought them all! Since I have a few more than I need, I’ll sell a few.

Brake Fluid Reservoir 250 Ferrari

Ferrari 250 Brake Fluid Bottle

Brake Fluid Can Lusso, GTE

GTE/Lusso/SWB/PF brake fluid bottle

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Antifreeze Doesn’t Last Forever

What makes antifreeze go from alkaline to acidic? Does combustion gas leak from the head gasket and contaminate it or is it the heating and cooling process? Regardless, we have had two corrosion situations from acidic coolant recently, a pair of 330 cylinder heads and the core plugs in a 365 GTB/4 Daytona. To be fair, the core plugs are very soft alloy in comparison to the engine block so they are kind of sacrificial, unfortunately they are difficult to change. These plugs were so delicate that just by scraping the crusty coolant off to find the source of the leak, the screwdriver poked right through them like they were made from waxed paper.

Daytona engine block

Ferrari 365 Daytona Engine repair

Core Plugs for Daytona Ferrari 365

Ferrari 365 Core Plugs

The 330 heads are a combination of a bad casting and corrosive coolant. I saw a youtube video showing the process of building a modern Ferrari 612 engine where an MRI test was used to determine the thickness and integrity of a cylinder head casting. They didn’t have this technology in 1966 and this is the evidence of it! The deep pores in the exhaust port aren’t from corrosive coolant, it’s from a horrible casting. The pitted areas around the water passages are due to corrosive coolant rotting the material away.

330 Head Gasket leak

Head Gasket leaking on Ferrari 330

Cylinder head Leaking on 330 Ferrari

Welding holes in Ferrari 330 V-12

Like a dentist, I drilled and scraped the corrosive material out so I could weld the holes that were leaking coolant into the exhaust and intake ports. I don’t often remove valve seats and realize what a difficult job it is but I found a great way to get them out easily. I take a valve with the same size stem as the original (8mm for Ferrari) but has a slightly smaller head. I weld the head to the seat and drive the valve and seat out with a hammer from the back side!

Ferrari 330 GTC Head Repair

Repairing 330 GTC Heads

Anyhow, after welding, grinding, pressure testing a number times, I finally have the heads sealed up and looking great. After grinding and cutting the core plugs out of the Daytona block, we installed the new ones and sent the car home.

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330 GTC Rust repair

The GTC project is getting some attention after sitting idle for a few weeks. The car is very solid but suffers from the same problem as all Ferraris which is water getting trapped between layers of unprotected steel and corroding it away. The GTC has a very elegant circular vent in the “C” pillar to let air pressure out of the cabin when the doors are closed and when the vent system is used. Since this vent is an open hole into the interior, a little catch tray with a drain pipe is attached to the inside of the pillar so water doesn’t ruin the headliner and flood into the interior. A hose that can be seen under the car allows this tray to drain onto the ground but over time it plugs with debris and the water builds up and leaks inside the rear fender arch making the car disappear into a cloud of brown dust.

Understanding that this car is 45 years old, the bodywork is in amazing condition but you can see the concentrated rust damage connection to the leaking “drip tray”. The front of the rocker panels is rotten away which makes sense because of all the water spray getting inside while driving in the rain. Pininfarina did a great job sealing these car up when new and we will follow their technique so when we’re done, we’ll use the same super thick and rugged seam sealer (that smells like Star Wars Action Figures) allowing the car to last another 50 years when we finish with it.

Rear fender arches GTC

Remaking fender arches Ferrari GTC

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Maserati Ghibli Project #2

Hi Jack, to answer your question, the car came to us as you see it and was transported by our creative and hard working friend Tom Munier from Exotic Car Transport in Orlando Florida. He and his driver are Saints for dealing with this move which as you can see is bulky and cumbersome with two 4″ by 8″ by 4″ tall crates and one slightly smaller crate. The car was on the “rotisserie” which seems like a well made unit but is the most awkward and impossible thing I have ever tried to move. Tom’s Car Transportation Company is one of the best in the business and I recommend everyone call him if you need a car moved (after you call me first).

We have to repair some things on the body and address every little part that bolts to this car. One of the guys spent the week categorizing many worn and broken parts and it seems that we have nearly everything especially the hard to find stuff like castings and interior trim. Some of the exterior trim is a little trashed but overall, we are starting from a complete deck of cards.

I have always liked the appearance of Maserati Castings because they looked like they were inspired by the human skeletal system. We had a Maserati A6GCS at the shop awhile ago and the rear axle center section casting looked like head protection for a man in armor. The A/C compressor bracket is a light and amazingly strong aluminum piece of beauty with rib like reinforcements and an odd use of negative space to keep things interesting.

Engine Block Casting Maserati V-8

Maserati V8 engine block

Sleeves for 4.9 Ghibli Spyder

Ghibli Spyder sleeves and crankshafts

Engine Parts for Maserati Ghibli 4.9 SS Spyder

Ghibli SS engine parts

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Overhauled Porsche 911 Engine

A very good customer showed up last fall with one of my favorite cars, an early Porsche 911 Coupe. While the car did run and propel itself down the road, it needed lots of mechanical attention to remedy oil leaks, weak compression on a few cylinders and a huge list of other things. We decided that in order to enjoy the car in the future, we needed to go through the engine, transmission, brakes, clutch and other less dramatic things such as the heat and vent controls and … windshield wiper blades!

Here is a video of the engine running on the test stand to check for leaks and the adjustment of the ignition system and carburetors. This engine has German made Solex/Zenith carburetors, an Italian produced Magnetti Marelli distributor in combination with a French S.E.V Marchal Alternator.

Early Porsche 911 Engine Test After Overhaul

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Very Nice Looking V-12

Ferrari 250 GT 6 Carb Manifold

Ferrari 250 GT 6 Carb Manifold

TR Engine for 250

TR Engine for 250

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