Robert Garven was ten years old in 1967 when he saw his first Ferrari, in San Francisco. He stood there, speechless, as the California sun reflected off the coupe’s taut curves and polished chrome, mesmerized by the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen.
“This truly was a spiritual moment for me,” Garven recalls, “and I clearly remember, while looking at the Prancing Horse emblem, that I vowed I would try to own one of these fantastic vehicles. I connected with the marque as if converting to a religion.”
Garven didn’t know it at the time, but he was born on the same day that Enzo Ferrari’s first son, Alfredo (a.k.a. Dino), died. Coincidence? It’s impossible to say, but Garven had been changed by the sight of that car. His supportive parents took him and his sister, Heather, who shared his interest, to races near their home in Southern California, at Riverside International and Willow Springs.
“I remember seeing the Ferrari 612 with Chris Amon racing in the Can-Am series,” says Garven. “The Ferrari was not successful that day but the sound of the engine had a hypnotic effect on me, which has lasted to this day.”
He also attended many LA Auto Shows, where he saw, among other beauties, the Dino 206 Competizione and the 512 S Berlinetta Speciale concept cars.
At age 14, Garven, gushing with the enthusiasm of youth, wrote a heartfelt fan letter to Enzo Ferrari. He never expected a response, but, six months later, he opened the mailbox to find a letter from Italy, Maranello.
“Inside was an autographed photo of Enzo Ferrari in his signature purple ink!” says Garven. “I was dumbfounded but extremely happy. I immediately framed it myself and started a small shrine with a Ferrari model which I put on a wooden base.”