A quick glance at this 250 GT SWB (s/n 3337GT) reveals a handsome, pristine, steel-bodied, factory-correct Ferrari. But s/n 3337, approximately the 131st of 165 such street cars built, didn’t always look this way.
The SWB was ordered new by Monterey Historics founder Steve Earle. It bounced around various West Coast owners for most of the next 25 years until, in the late 1980s, Fossil Motorsports converted it to FIA-approved vintage-racing specifications. Fossil’s modifications including installing a rollbar and hot-rodding the engine with GTO headers, camshafts, and pistons, and a cold-air box, among other measures.
The Ferrari remained in this guise through several more owners, one of whom took the car, in 2001, to Motion Products for a respray in vibrant Giallo Fly paint versus the original dark red. S/n 3337 was shown in this configuration in the SWB 50th Anniversary class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2010, and it’s notable the car was presented for display only. All of the mods likely would have been regarded as significant historical inaccuracies by the judges, although they made the Ferrari a perfect fit for its visit to the Monterey Motorsports Reunion in 2013.
In 2014, s/n 3337 found a new owner—and that owner, Bob Cohen of Beverly Hills, California, wanted to restore the SWB to its original factory configuration. To Cohen, the question of which restorer to entrust his new Ferrari to loomed large.
“I was concerned about giving up a car I had just acquired, and having it disappear for a couple years for a top-to-bottom restoration,” he admits.
For a recommendation, Cohen turned to friend, collector, and fellow SWB owner Ron Hein, who introduced him to Rex Nguyen. As the longtime restorer for one of Los Angeles’ high-line vintage-car brokerages, the slightly built and sinewy Nguyen had worked on many great Ferrari road cars over the years. Following his Platinum-winning restoration of a Daytona in 2011 and a Dino a year later, Nguyen found himself receiving Lussos, 275s, and more, and was invited to become a Ferrari Club of America concours judge in 2012.
“I asked Rex what his opinion of the car was,” recalls Cohen, “and he essentially rattled off a list of things he would do if I wanted to convert it to a concours-type car as opposed to a track car. I thought I knew a lot about these cars but I was just totally overwhelmed with all I did not know, especially when he went through the car and pointed out things on it that weren’t original.”