Lee Jolley remembers the day he saw his first Ferrari as vividly as if it was yesterday—even though it was nearly 40 years ago. In 1971, as he walked through the parking lot of his local church early on a Sunday morning, he spotted an impossibly long and low car, one he had never seen before. When he stopped to look more closely, he discovered it was a 365 GT 2+2. “It had those highly polished wire wheels and was red over tan, and was so sleek,” recalls the Costa Mesa, California resident. “I could not get that thing out of my head. At that moment, I decided I was going to own a Ferrari some day.”
By 2004, after many years providing engineering services to the construction industry, Jolley was finally in a position to buy the car of his dreams. However, his target was not the chrome-bumpered 365 he had seen so many years before; it was the more-modern 512 Berlinetta Boxer. Credit the change to the famous Road & Track cover that pictured a Boxer emerging dramatically from a bank of fog, as well as a later article in which Sam Posey compared the 512 BBi to the Lamborghini Countach S. “I still go back and read that article,” admits Jolley.
Initially, Jolley figured a late-model, fuel-injected version would be the way to go. After driving several examples, however, he couldn’t quite wrap his head around the fact that his old college car, a ’66 Chevelle 396, had delivered a stronger kick in the back. “I started to think I didn’t want a 512 at all,” he says.
During his search, Jolley had gotten to know several people in the Ferrari world, including Tate Casey and Bert Wehr of Carobu Engineering. When he told Casey of his disappointment with the injected cars, “Tate told me that what I wanted was a carbureted Boxer. He also told me that there was a lot more tuning potential with a carbureted car.” And so the search shifted.
In November 2006, Jolley heard about a carbureted 1981 512 BB (s/n 35411) for sale in Oakland. He flew up, and found it was exactly what he was looking for: “There was no comparison with the injected Boxers.” The European-specification car was mechanically solid and, as an added bonus, had somehow avoided being modified to comply with stringent U.S. DOT and EPA requirements.
On the other hand, the Ferrari’s cosmetics were, well, ratty. The front and rear windows were cracked, the front spoiler was damaged and there were several door dings. The interior featured an awful black-and-white color scheme. But the body was basically straight, and the rough condition did allow for some extra bargaining room on the price, so a deal was soon struck. The car was shipped straight to Carobu, and a plan was formulated for a complete restoration—with some additional performance thrown into the equation.