The Ferrari will outlive us all. This is true art in the form of a Ferrari. Marcel Haan visits what is maybe the best Ferrari restoration shop in the US.
Quote from Marcel "When travelling cities worldwide, I try to catch up with Artists who live in the area. So on my recent trip to San Francisco, it gave me a chance to meet up with Alberto Hernandez. He planned a spectacular day in for me and introduced me to his wonderful automotive friends in the bay area where I saw the most amazing cars and art. In the coming three blogs, I will share my story with you. Starting with our first stop at the Ferrari restorer, Patrick Ottis".
The road gets bumpy as we approach what is maybe the best restoration shop for Ferrari in the US. There is construction work being done on the road and I am wondering if a Ferrari would make it here with all these bumps. The building we arrive at doesn’t indicate what is going on inside but through the open garage doors I already spot a Ferrari and on the bridge a mechanic is working on another Ferrari.
A friendly looking guy, grease on his hands, gives us a warm welcome. It's the owner Patrick Ottis. “So you love cars?" he says. I quickly realize that I am in good company and in for a treat because Patrick has brought his Alfa 8C2300 to the shop. This car won best in its' class at Pebble Beach and is the car Patrick took on a European trip, going from Italy to Switzerland to France. Interestingly enough, the first owner happened to be the landlord of a Chateau situated a 100 miles east from Paris.
Patrick had been shown some prewar photos of the Chateau by the landlords daughter, and on a few of the photos the Alfa was parked in front. More than 50 years later, Otis parked the car on that same spot to recapture history and take new photos.
Did I want to see the engine, asked Patrick? With a passion was my emotional response. Under the red two toned hood was this magnificent 8 cylinder engine. This engine had made the Alfa the best race car of its time, winning Mille Miglia, the 24 hours of Le Mans (four times) and the 24 hours of Spa-Franchorchamps.
Patrick explained that all the cars in his shop will outlive us. 30 years from now these cars will still be around. Although it's the task of the Ferrari designers to build timeless cars, I am sure none of them expected the Ferrari to be driven 50 years later. The alluring smell of engine oil welcomes us when we enter another section of his garage where three Ferrari's are parked. One had some issues at Pebble Beach which now need fixing. Another is stripped down to the bare body after having undergone a paint job and is now awaiting brake lines to be installed. The third is a stunning blue Ferrari. The value of these three cars alone tallies over $15 million. Breathtaking stuff!
Patrick explains "No car is worth 15 million but cars are considered to be art and this blue car once had a Corvette engine. We don’t know where the original motor is. It’s probably not lost but we ordered a new engine which Ferrari especially made for this car".
I asked about the restoration process and the technical knowledge required for restoring classic cars. “Well after 40 years of working on Ferrari’s, you kind of know how to do it. My team are all equipped with an equal amount of experience” and sure enough, they all share the same appetite and dedication for the Ferrari. As if to demonstrate this, a guy (well into his retirement) walks in and starts working on one of the engines.
These cars are automotive art and Patrick Ottis is preserving their heritage for future generations.
My very special thanks to Patrick and his team for welcoming me in their shop and for Alberto Hernandez for introducing me.