The Everyman

We talk with Scott Chivers about his low-key, accessible, hands-on approach to Ferrari ownership.

Photo: The Everyman 1
May 30, 2019

The phrase “Ferrari collector” usually brings to mind an image of an immaculate warehouse lined with 166s, 250s, maybe 275s. Or perhaps the modernist lineup of supercars, from 288 GTO to LaFerrari, artfully arranged in a custom, oversized garage. Then there’s Scott Chiver’s collection.

The 45-year-old IT professional, who lives in Bracknell, England, has owned more than 30 Ferraris over the last 20 years. Today, he has seven. They hail from the 1980s, ’90s, and ’00s, and most are powered by V8 engines: a pair of 308s, a 348, an F355, and a 360 Modena. He also has two 12-cylinder cars, a 456 GTA and a Testarossa.

That TR has earned Chivers a bit of fame, or infamy; it’s an unpainted, roofless rat-rod he built himself after finding it in boxes in the U.S. Just as interesting, he works on it, and most of the other Ferraris, in his small, two-car garage—or the driveway, when the weather’s nice—with little more than a complete set of hand tools, literally washing greasy parts in the kitchen sink when needed.

It’s a back-to-basics approach most car enthusiasts can relate to, but one that’s extremely rare in the Ferrari world. So it was a no-brainer to reach out and find out more about Chivers’ story, as well as what makes him tick.

What attracted you to Ferrari in the first place?

Photo: The Everyman 2

Since I was knee high, my dad had enthusiastically talked to me about the Ferrari Dino 246. Upon seeing the beautiful Pininfarina aesthetics in person, then hearing the distinct rasp noise a Ferrari’s engine makes, I was smitten. At weekends he would sometimes take me to the local Ferrari dealer, Maranello, in Egham. I’m sure today if they ran a DNA test on their window, they would probably discover my nose was planted against it, peering in at all the marvelous gleaming cars back in the day. 

Later, in the mid ’80s, I remember my mum subscribed to a magazine called Reader’s Digest. On the cover they ran a competition where you could win a Ferrari 308 or £25,000 in cash. At the time we had no money and lived in a poor neighborhood, but I would constantly pester my mum into entering to win the Ferrari 308. No idea where it would have been parked or how we could have afforded to run it, but you don’t think of these real-life problems as an 8-year-old, you just dream. I still dream.

What was your first Ferrari?

I was lucky enough to attain my Ferrari goal in my mid-20s, when I threw all my saving into a ’94 348 Spider. I had dreamed of that moment since childhood and it didn’t disappoint. It was a left-hand-drive car, therefore it was almost half the price of the equivalent RHD. This made it affordable and somewhat of a bargain. The funny thing was at that point I had never driven a LHD car. When I purchased it and drove it away the same day, down a narrow street with cars parked on either side, it was, shall we say, with extreme trepidation.

Today, you own seven Ferraris, including your daily driver, a Challenge Stradale—or, maybe, “Challenge Stradale.”

Photo: The Everyman 3

Nine years ago, I wanted a specific Challenge Stradale: black with the Alcantara interior with roll bar, race harnesses, yellow calipers, fire extinguisher, etc. Up until that point I had owned a few red Ferraris and wanted a change. I searched for months but couldn’t find the right spec in RHD. There were less than a handful built like that, so I decided to build my own.

CS’s were not worth the money back then that they are currently, and a few damaged Stradales were being parted out, so I acquired a very nice, low-mileage 2003 360 Modena F1. I gradually bought every nut, bolt, and part [that made the Challenge Stradale different from the Modena] and did the conversion over a couple of years. I recently calculated that if you were to attempt the conversion today it would cost in excess of £140,000 [roughly $180,000] in parts alone—if you could get them.

Looking back, obviously from many aspects it was a crazy thing to do, firstly financially and, secondly, because it will never be a true, pure-blood CS built by the factory. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, however, had it been a true factory CS then I probably wouldn’t have used it as a daily driver for the past nine years, and subsequently had so much fun and the enjoyment that doing [the conversion] has brought. Given the choice again, I wouldn’t change that path. Another positive is that, through this build process, I now know the 360 and CS inside out. 

How did you learn to work on cars? And what gave you the confidence to embark on such an intricate and expensive project?

I am entirely self-taught. I was in IT for 22 years, albeit the technical, troubleshooting, and product-design side, therefore I can draw a lot from that experience. From the early age of 8 years old, I was building or upgrading custom BMX bikes for myself and friends. Then I got my first car, which, as expected, was a beater. I then spent most weekends trying to fix it and keep it on the road. During the process I was always learning; I guess it just progressed from there and never stopped.

Photo: The Everyman 4

A Ferrari may wear a Prancing Horse badge, but it’s still a car. I’m mechanically minded and enjoy the challenge and problem solving, and in part the sense of achievement when I fix something. 

Tell us about some of your other Ferrari projects.

I have two 308s, an ’82 GTSi and an ’83 QV. I appreciate the classic lines, and part of it goes back to my early dreams of winning that Reader’s Digest 308 competition.

These two 308s were non-running cars when I purchased them, but I’ve owned a couple of 308s previously and know my way around them fairly well. I enjoy a challenge, so decided to have some fun with the black Quattrovalvole; that rebuild is now being filmed as part of my 308 project on YouTube. With the help of viewers and forums such as FerrariChat, we have resurrected the engine and will shortly be moving on to Stage 2: the bodywork and full Euro conversion, removing those crazy, massive, U.S.-spec rubber bumpers, exhaust system, lights, and flag mirrors, and replacing them with the sleeker European versions. It’s not an easy task, and with enough subscribers and, potentially, the right sponsorship, I am considering a Ferrari giveaway at the end of the project if it gains enough traction.

I took my 1993 348 ts in as a part exchange. I was against the idea at first, as I vitally needed the space, but sentiment got the better of me—my first Ferrari being a 348 Spider—and I decided to go for it. The car was a little neglected, so I started to just clean it up. I decided to show owners via YouTube how it can be done simply and cheaply, with some time and a bit of elbow grease. The results are quite amazing.

Photo: The Everyman 5
Renewing this non-running 308 QV requires neither a fancy four-post lift nor a garage.

What led you onto YouTube?

I’m not a multi-millionaire by any stretch, I simply have a passion—addiction maybe—for Ferraris. The sole reason I have been able to buy, keep, and maintain all my models over the past 20 years is because of the community, places like the forums where I have learnt so much. When something goes wrong, it’s the first place I turn for vital advice.

Because of this, I have always tried to give back, and in turn document all my findings and fixes on various common problems I discover. I still get messages from forum members thanking me for posts I wrote 15 years ago on how to fix a broken 360 door lock or refilling a Spider’s hydraulic roof reservoir.

YouTube and the video experience is the natural, next-step progression. Seeing everything live gives people even more confidence that they can do the job when it comes to fixing a Ferrari. Similarly, viewing some guy that uses a Stradale as a daily driver for nine years proves that not all Ferraris are wrapped up in a garage, and it is something quite different to the norm. It’s personally very fulfilling. Receiving great feedback from owners thanking me, as they have watched the video and suddenly fixed their car or refinished an engine bay themselves, is a major feel-good factor.

I recently did a “common problems and fixes” video on the overly complex and notoriously problematic F355 Spider hydraulic convertible roof. Many Ferrari dealers won’t touch the system, so I documented everything I know within a video to help out. Again, it seems to have struck the right chord: After viewing my video, an owner in Denmark contacted me and convinced me to help with his car, which at some point, years ago, had been converted to a manual top by a previous owner. My viewer then drove his F355 14 hours to me in the U.K. so that I could help him out.

Photo: The Everyman 6
Until it’s running, this 308 GTSi doubles as a useful storage area.

I’m very happy to report the top is now fully working and absolutely perfect. It is experiences like these that give me the drive to create more great online content, but it also takes time and resources. My plan is to grow the channel and ideally attract a sponsor to help out. 

Building a Challenge Stradale from scratch is remarkable, but the “Ratarossa” is something else entirely. How did this project come to pass?

This was a chance find. In the summer of 2015, I had a very nice ’90 Testarossa and was looking online for a heat shield that my car was missing. Strangely, my search bought up the rolling chassis of a Testarossa project, where someone had chopped the roof off. At first I believed it was a kit car, and then, upon closer inspection, discovered it was the real deal. I gave the advert a glance over, then dismissed it as bonkers. However, I found myself thinking about the project more and more.

The initial appeal was the look. I think the Testarossa shape suits a roofless Spider shape, and one-off Agnelli car [built by Pininfarina in the mid-1980s for the chairman of FIAT] is magnificent. The handful of aftermarket conversions from Straman—a rumored 12 cars—and a couple of others in Europe by Lorenz & Rankl all look incredible. Many Ferrari aficionados think it should have been put into production by Ferrari. The challenge was another major factor for me.

The advertisement was three years old, but eventually I managed to contact the owner, and found out it was still tucked up in the back of his garage. My passion then overrode my usually logic-minded approach, and I found myself deep in conversation with the seller. I convinced both him and myself that I was the only person mad enough to take on the project and actually see it through, with full intention of putting the Testarossa back on the road where it belongs. I was certain that anyone else who bought it would simply break it for parts, those being worth more than the asking price.

Photo: The Everyman 7
Chivers turned this 360, piece by authentic piece, into a Challenge Stradale; it’s been his daily driver for the past nine years.

The project was cheap; it cost me £16,000 [just under $21,000 at today’s exchange rates] to purchase, ship, and pay all the taxes to get the car to me in the UK. I subsequently spent more than that to acquire the missing parts and on various other build costs, but in reality I’m not in for much more than £20,000 currently. The cheapest second-hand transmission I’ve seen available for a Testarossa is £18,000, so there was always the backup plan of breaking it for parts if the project became impossible.

And you bought this mostly disassembled, heavily modified Testarossa convertible project sight unseen, correct?

I made the purchase based purely upon seeing pictures and several conversations with the seller. I didn’t travel to the U.S. to view the car, as that would have blown the budget sky-high, so I was really not sure what surprises were in store for me. There was no pressure, though, as this was to be a fun, enjoyable build, and that gave me free reign to create something unique.

The Ratarossa project evolved and took many different turns along the way. When I initially opened the two massive wooden crates of parts that arrived with the rolling shell, I had 80 percent of the car in front of me. However, nearly everything needed refurbishing or replacing to make a fine-example Testarossa, and to do so would cost a considerable amount, far exceeding the market value of even the best TR coupes available. The Ferrari’s roof had also been hacked off, so it had no chance of being a factory-correct purist’s car.

My first decision after seeing the ensemble upon arrival was to create something very unusual and have fun in the process. This evolved into the “rat look” and the [intentionally] very unfinished car we see today. My current plan is to have the Ratarossa as mechanically perfect as possible—I’m still working on this—while leaving the exterior and interior as they are now.

Photo: The Everyman 8

Items such as the Rosso Corsa red strakes were not actually planned. My box of goodies contained a couple of left-side mirrors, but was strangely lacking a right side. Both were in red, as were the famous red side strakes—but again, one side only. When I then acquired the opposite-side parts from a breaker, these also arrived in red. After bolting them onto the flat-grey body, I took a shine to the color combination, and that’s how it has stayed.

One of the first questions people ask me when they see the car is, “When are you going to paint it?” My reply is always, “Never!” I enjoy how things like this on a project evolve over time.

I have tried to stick with the ethos of Ferrari by using as many original parts as possible. I reuse whatever I can. For example, from the redundant roof lining I cut leather to retrim extra interior items. This, in combination with the lack of Testarossa parts available from Ferrari, meant I had to obtain missing parts from broken cars. I like to think that the Ratarossa is therefore an eco-friendly, recycled Ferrari.

Out of necessity, some areas had to be modified. An example is the Koni suspension. Due to the extra tubing added to the [middle of the] chassis for structural rigidity [to compensate for the missing roof structure], the nose of the Testarossa pointed to the sky and looked terrible. To resolve this, I fitted some coilovers. After testing three sets of customs springs, I have finally achieved the ride height and feel that I wanted.

The only other major modification was the exhaust system. The Testarossa exhaust in factory form sounds pretty poor, even more so on the U.S. cars. I picked up a sports muffler from a European car but hadn’t realized the entire exhaust system was different, so then worked with a fabricator to manufacture some custom bypass pipes to delete the U.S. cats. The final result sounds simply amazing. It’s such a transformation from stock, and, I hasten to say, as epic as the Challenge Stradale sound track.

Photo: The Everyman 9

One other extra was a stereo upgrade, taken from a 430 Scuderia, so it’s a genuine Ferrari system. I now own the only TR with working Ferrari satellite navigation. 

How has the Ratarossa been received?

Due to the lack of roof, the Ratarossa can only come out on guaranteed sunny days, which are rare over here. Whether it is parked up or being driven, the reaction the car gets is amazing. Of all the Ferraris I have been fortunate to own or drive, this beast turns more heads and provokes more reaction than all the others combined. It’s funny to literally witness jaws drop and words to the extent of “WTF” mouthed. When it’s parked up, most people initially assume it’s a kit car, so often I will leave the engine lid up to view the gorgeous flat-12 lump in the back.

Here in the U.K., we have a sandwich spread called Marmite. It’s famously known, and even marketed as, “love it or hate it.” The Ratarossa is like Marmite: You either get what I’ve done with the project and love it, or you hate it. There’s no in-between.

Check out Scott Chivers’ Ferrari videos on his YouTube channel, Ratarossa.

Also from Issue 175

  • P80/C first look
  • Alloy-bodied 275 GTB
  • Aurelio Lampredi profile
  • 2018 FCA Coppa GT competition
  • Ferrari and Michelotto go GT racing, Part 2
  • 2019 Sebring spectacular
  • Great Ferrari F1 wins
  • F1: Scuderia struggles
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