Other items were much less noticeable. “There are a lot of parts that people skip, all the way down to the heater valve,” Nguyen says. “There’s an on/off heater valve [on s/n 3337] that you can replace the diaphragm and re-use the screws, re-plate everything, and put it back together. Some people will instead just buy a new on/off valve, which will come with the incorrect hardware. Just those two tiny little screws, even though they’re little screws, it makes a big difference.”
The job was completed on time, and Nguyen accompanied the car to Cavallino in January, placing it on the field and making himself available for the judges. “We let the judges know that we went the extra mile,” he explained, “doing things that most people wouldn’t do: using the correct hardware, trying to find the closest matching rivet, the closest matching screws for all the hardware, the nuts.
“With the 250 series cars, and the SWB in particular, a lot of the hardware was 12 mm and 14 mm,” continues Nguyen. “They actually skipped 13 mm at that time, even though 13 mm is highly used now in a lot of Ferraris. [S/n 3337] actually had 13 mm nuts on there, so we had to source 12 mm nuts, have ’em plated, and installed.”
All the hard work and attention to detail paid off, as s/n 3337 won the Excellence Cup for Best Restoration. “Rex is able to look at a car and see what other people may not see, and really knows what to do to address each problem,” says a thrilled Cohen. “I also realized he is truly obsessive/compulsive in terms of getting things right.”
The affable Nguyen probably wouldn’t deny that last description. “I like doing the restoration of what’s behind, what you can’t see,” he explains, “because anybody can make anything look good on the outside. But what does it look like under the carpet? What’s it look like inside that fender panel?"
COHEN WASN’T FINISHED YET. After Cavallino, he approached Nguyen with a question: If you owned the car, what colors would it be? The restorer suggested an elegant combination of Grigio Ferro paint and a Red Vaumol leather interior with black and gray accents. Cohen was once again sold, and Nguyen once again embarked on another round of work. This time, with the bulk of the show season approaching, he had only two and a half months to work his magic.
Since the car had to be completely disassembled to be repainted and retrimmed, Nguyen took advantage of the situation to go through everything to the nth degree in his pursuit of perfection. But the tight timeline also introduced its own challenges. Nguyen’s first choice for correct seat upholstery, HVL in The Netherlands, could not deliver an order quickly enough, so the restorer contacted the reborn Connolly concern.