Rise of the Phoenix

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All this was just a small part of the mind-boggling amount of work that had to be done, however. In addition to the hood and trunk lid, everything inside or outside the car that was made of brass or aluminum had melted. “That included the windshield frame, which is made out of 17 individual pieces of brass, all silver-soldered and metal-fitted together to incorporate the shape of the cowl, but then also to incorporate the shape of the second-generation windshield that we got,” says Obry.

“That was no small task,” he continues, “and there are thousands of other pieces. Even components like door latches, window-crank mechanisms and the springs in them that were compromised by the heat—they can’t just be bought. They had to be hand-wound out of the same material. Something as simple as a window-crank mechanism probably has 50 pieces in it, and it wasn’t designed to be easily disassembled, renovated and reassembled.”

Obry, whose life in rural Wisconsin has chiseled his steadfast character, is candid in describing his trade. “A restoration to us is when you take every single nut, bolt, washer, rivet, every piece off of a car to the point where you would have to use a chisel or a torch to remove more, and you throw all of that stuff in a pile,” he explains. “Then, one piece at a time, every item gets renovated, inspected, reconditioned, reassembled and checked for operation to an as-new standard. When the pile on the floor is gone, the restoration is done.”

Obry then shares a cartoon of a man balking at the price of a starter motor. The clerk then says to him, “You think that’s expensive? Have you ever tried to make one of these?”

Some things that were destroyed in the fire were easy to replace. Says Obry, “All of the lenses, chrome and brass trim pieces, door handles and all that stuff, which are common to other series of Ferraris, were available. We obtained anything that we could buy.” The enormous number of items that couldn’t be bought had to be fabricated from scratch. Luckily, Motion Products’ CNC capabilities took care of most of the “unobtainium.”

To help the process along, PF Cab owner Hilary Raab loaned his own car (s/n 1475GT) to Motion Products for a whole year so critical comparisons could be made during s/n 1075’s reconstruction. Nonetheless, I imagine Obry’s head still reels a bit from all that had to be done. “Peter and I have extended our gratitude to everybody involved in the process,” he says. “It was a helluva challenge, a helluva project, and it’s a helluva car today.” S/n 1075 has since been certified by Ferrari Classiche.

ON MCCOY’S GARAGE WALL, next to where he parks the PF Cab, hangs a poem written by his son and daughter. It reads:

In boxes and bags, they never come whole/His passion for cars is in restoring their soul/Then off to Neenah, Wayne’s got it under control/But getting it to start on the fairway is really the goal.

As we already know, s/n 1075 did start on Pebble’s grass, and—if you’ll pardon my rhyming—it did win its class. Since the restoration, McCoy has shown the car five times: at the 2008 FCA Nationals in Toronto, Pebble Beach, Amelia Island, Villa d’Este and, most recently, the Los Angeles-area Rancho Palos Verdes Concours. It’s now done with the scrupulous Concours d’Elegance circuit, and, says McCoy, “We’ll drive it on the Colorado Grand and the Copperstate.” He hates to see a good car sit.

There are a few footnotes to the s/n 1075 story. Marian Teague built a new home on her fire-swept Fallbrook property. Last year in Carmel, the McCoys saw their old Model A Ford: same scratches, same rumble seat where they used to put their kids. And oh yes, Tom Shaughnessy did get that TdF he wanted. So it goes for a Series I Cabriolet that has no right to be alive today, other than for the dedication and drive of those who cared enough to see it reborn from the ashes of a ravaging wildfire.

Also from Issue 114

  • First look at the new 458 Spider
  • F50 GT1 track test
  • We talk with Chris Amon, 1960s Ferrari racer
  • The 458 GT scores its maiden ALMS win
  • Ferrari's F1 season comes down to the wire
  • A convertible, twin-turbo 400? Why not?
  • Market Update: Modern 12-cylinders
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