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Ferrari Club of America International Meet revs up Ohio with vintage sports cars

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Stunning cars: a 1951 340 America Ghia (left) and a 250 Lusso.

By William Hall. Photos by the author.

The Ferrari Club of America held its annual International Meet in Columbus, Ohio June 18-22 and welcomed a record attendance of vintage Ferraris, including a featured class of stunning 1964-1968 275 series cars. Ferrari enthusiasts from around the world came together for four days of concours, rallies, seminars and track time at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, sponsored by Shell gasoline.

The parking lot at the Columbus Hilton-Polaris host hotel became the most valuable acre of land in Ohio during the event, which welcomed more than 175 registered vehicles. Equally valuable to the Ferraristi was the time spent communing and exchanging information on their beloved Maranello-built sports cars.

Ferrari Club of America International Meet 2016

Jim Fuchs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin answers questions about his 1953 166MM Vignale Spyder. The car was one of six Ferraris to finish the Mille Miglia in 1953, and the number it wears refers to its starting time of 4:47 a.m.

Sunday’s Concours d’Elegance was held on the manicured grounds of the Brookside Golf and Country Club in suburban Columbus. For one of the few time in its history the show was open to the public, with ticket proceeds benefiting the Arthritis Foundation. Classes spanned the range and history of Ferrari models, with a special class honoring the 50th Anniversary of the 275 GTB and NART Spyder. The latter is one of the rarest of Ferrari variants; only 10 units were commissioned by Ferrari importer Luigi Chinetti and many consider it the most beautiful car ever constructed.

Ferrari Club of America International Meet 2016

One of the most expensive cars in the world- a Ferrari 275 NART Spyder. Only 10 were ever made.

Interesting seminars included topics such as the basics of car photography and concours detailing tips. Shell Fuels Scientist Sarena Arnold was on hand to speak with car owners about the importance of using premium fuels and addressed concerns about ethanol and octane in vintage cars.

Ferrari Club of America International Meet 2016

Shell’s Sarena Arnold takes questions from Ferrari owners.

A special class of competition Ferraris were assembled as a tribute to recently-passed Ferrari guru Wayne Obry. His firm, Motion Products of Neenah, Wisconsin, had restored all of the cars in the group, which included a white and blue 1954 250 Monza and a silver 1959 250 LWB California Spider Competizione. The cars were simultaneously started by their owners and revved three times to honor Obry’s achievements. Many fondly recalled Obry’s encyclopedic knowledge of Ferrari models, his friendly demeanor, and his trademark Sherlock Holmes tobacco pipe.

Ferrari Club of America International Meet 2016

A 1954 250 Monza, foreground, with a 1959 250 LWB California Spider Competizione.

Driving events filled the calendar for the following days, with a gimmick rally through the rolling central Ohio countryside, and a more-serious competition on the racetrack to become accredited with the FCA’s “Coppa GT”.  It’s the club’s highest award, which considers not only the correctness and functionality of the car but the driver’s proficiency in operation. A thorough understanding of the car’s instruments and controls, as well as competency in smooth shifting and heel-and-toe clutch operation, are just some of the criteria considered when judging for the award.

Ferrari Club of America International Meet 2016

A special class honored the 275 GTB, with beautiful coachwork designed by Scaglietti.

Models which until recently were undervalued and underappreciated as “true” Ferraris- like the mid-engine 308 GT4/GTB/GTS’s, the angular-shaped 400i touring cars, and even the 365GTC/4 2+2- have joined nicely into the pantheon of vintage Enzo-era cars and taken their place in prestige and price. Many interesting examples were present throughout the week.

Ferrari Club of America International Meet 2016

The 365GTC/4 (left) and 308GT4 have risen in value alongside other vintage Ferraris.

Despite the influx of new buyers and the mercurial rise of Ferrari values, you can still find a number of long-term owners who bought these iconic berlinettas and spiders when they were simply used-up old sports cars. Guys like Bill Muno from Wilmette, Illinois, who has owned his white 1967 330 GTC for 38 years, and still enjoys every minute of it. “I never bought it as an investment,” said Muno, “I bought it as a hobby.”

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Bill Muno of Wilmette, IL and his 1967 330 GTC.

William Hall is a writer, car collector and broker based in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.