Mechanic John Heim, of San Francisco Motorsports in San Rafael, California, came to take a look at the F355, then had it hauled to his shop. “The first thing I did was get the engine back in position,” says Heim. “The motor mounts and transmission mounts were broken, and the motor was completely out of place. We took the exhaust off, got a used bell housing and flywheel, put the original clutch and those pieces back on, and made sure the engine ran and the transmission shifted. I actually drove the car around the block with the broken mounts; the motor was basically just sitting there.
“The next thing we did was take it to an alignment shop just to make sure the chassis was still square,” Heim says. “It was close enough. If the motor was broken or the car was bent, it would have been over. I called Kevin and said, ‘It’s fixable.’ He asked me, ‘What’s the estimate?’ I said, ‘I have no idea,’ and he said, ‘Fix it.’”
The fixing process began with Heim removing the Ferrari’s rear subframe, which holds the engine, transmission, and rear suspension. He pulled and set aside the 3.5-liter V8 and six-speed gearbox, then stripped the subframe of its wiring harness, clips, clamps, and studs. Next, he reinstalled the subframe and rear suspension, refit the wheels, and sent the damaged car back to Springer.
Springer’s job would be extensive. Up front, the car was damaged from bumper to A-pillars; aside from some wiring and a few light bulbs, just about everything in between—grille, headlights, brake ducts, fog lights, fenders, hood, subframe, etc.—would need to be repaired or replaced. In back, the damage was less visible but no less extensive.
“The engine didn’t stop at the same rate as the rest of the car,” says Springer. “When it came forward, the harmonic balancer hit the cross member, pushed it into the gas tank, and so on.”
Making matters more difficult, new F355 body parts are no longer available from Ferrari. “We ended up going to a junk yard in Sacramento,” Springer explains. “They had three different cars to choose from, all wrecked in different ways; they were used-used parts. I said, ‘I want this fender from this car, this fender from this car,’ and we ended up taking the whole front section from one car.”
Back in the shop, Springer put the Ferrari up on the frame bench. “Usually you can rent a fixture [for a specific model of car] from someone, but there wasn’t one available for the F355,” he says. “Luckily, I had made a fixture the first time the car was here, so I could re-use that. The fixture has pick-up points for all the suspension members, so I can figure out what’s bent and what’s not, and decide which replacement parts I need.”
The donor front clip came from a 1995 model, so there were a few differences between it and Enderby’s ’97 example, but Springer felt it was worth the extra effort. “We had to utilize parts from different vehicles but I insisted on original parts,” he says. “Some guys are making Challenge car parts and stuff, but they are not real high quality. I wanted everything to be authentic and [the repairs] pretty much undetectable.”