Caring for a Vintage 1963 Ferrari 250 GT: Borrani Wheelsby Greg Nichols
Over the course of my detailing experiences I have come across many different kinds of “issues” my clients vehicles have had, and they trust in my experiences to keep their vehicles safe. If I ever want a second option on something, I can call any of the ask a pros here at Detailed Image for their experience or take on the issue I’m detailing with. Having some of the top detailers in the world working together makes for a tag team detailing enterprise like no other. It’s when you get so good at your trade that you feel you “know it all”, and that is when you fall far from your perch and can possibly mess up…sometimes that mess up can change history.
Vintage cars have serial numbers and if all the numbers for the various parts match on a car, its value is greatly increased. Ferrari’s are typically well documented cars in the vintage world, and the better the documentation, the higher the value the car will keep. Maintaining originality on these vehicles is also very important to the historical value.
I was summoned by a good client of mine to come and take a lo0k at automotive history, a car of only 37 in the world (according to what I was told) and I was asked to improve it and bring it up a few notches in the appearance scale. Sitting there in its glory was an 1963 Ferrari GT 250 SWB aluminum body, a true thoroughbred of Ferrari racing heritage, as well as racing history. This was a race car, a documented race car, and everything on the car was serial matching. While not the original paint it, was still done by Ferrari in Italy. Over the course of its life it had changed hands, been shipped, driven, allowed to dwell in pristine climatic conditions, and quite possibly cared for by good meaning people but lacking the infinite understanding of true detailing and it showed. Here was a multi-million dollar car (it was sold, if I recall correctly, for $4 million a few years ago) that needed some polishing, cleaning and slight restoration. My client’s words rang loudly that day: “she is all yours, don’t screw up!”
WOW! While just a artful pile of metals, parts, and paint…this was history! One oops or improper use of cleaners and the Ferrari documentation that makes this a true piece of history, will forever be altered. Where to start? How do I calm my nerves? No problem, I started with cleaning the wheels! Easy, that is what most people do. I started in being careful cleaning each spoke with one of the finest cleaners, P21s Wheel Gel, it was a perfect choice; neutral based, long dwell times, cleans most anything given time, and would help preserve history. I broke out my toothbrush, well my old one, worked the cleaner all over the wheels and I was singing away, things are gelling, no pun, and I’m working. These spokes are hand-painted original to the car, and there are 5 of them, yes a spare in the trunk. I could have used other cleaners, or even a steamer, but with my assessment they all posed a risk with altering history…one I wasn’t comfortable taking. As I was allowing the gel to dwell and do its thing, the owner returned to see what was going on. He watched, made mental notes, and didn’t say a word for a few moments…this doesn’t worry me as it happens a lot. He inquired what my game plan was so far, and I shared my understanding to care for history while meeting the cleaning goals…this brought some added pressure and thought to the process so I started with the wheels. While I knew the Borrani wheels are hand crafted and original to this car, his words stopped me in my tracks…”good choice, the wheels are only $50,000 for the set, as that is how much they are worth to the documentation of the car”. We both had a good laugh at that…no pressure! Whether they were worth $1000 or $50,000 I knew my P21s wheel gel was the right choice.
Over the next few months I hope to post up some different parts of this project for the purpose of learning and enjoyment of automotive history. I didn’t detail document this restoration, as the sense of responsibility to the vehicle had my main attention.
I had to have a photo with this woman, being so rare. A classy woman don’t you think?
These are racing wheels called knock offs. The center three prongs are hit with a mallet and the wheel spins off the post…no lug nuts per se.
If you look closely you can see the spokes are painted a grey color. The wheel was balanced with a weight and then taped on the rim!
I cleaned/polished the uncoated aluminum rims with p21s finish restorer, which as an anti oxidation property to it.
In keeping with the historical / vintage look of the car, I used a matte finish for the tires using 303 Aerospace Protectant. This also provided a bit of UV barrier as this was a shown car. The final product is a wheel that has been cleaned, shined, and most importantly preserved the history and value of this beauty for a few more generations.
GREG@ reflections detailing of utah
- Ferrari F40: 60 Hour Restorative Detail by Todd Cooperider and Craig Reed
- Full Detail and Paint Correction: Ferrari 458 Italia by Todd Cooperider of Esoteric Auto Detail
- Detailing Projects: Ferrari 488 Pista #2 Paint Correction, Clear Bra, & Ceramic Coating
- Black Ferrari F430 Paint Correction
- Italian Excellence: Ferrari 430 Scuderia Paint Correction and Detailing by AutoLavish
Great work Greg. No pressure on a $50,000 set of wheels.
Thanks Tim! It was all good pressure, pressure keeps me focused on the task at hand.
Wow, a truly amazing car, especially an alloy bodied one, you are lucky to just touch this machine. I can’t wait to see more articles on this beauty. One question….how do you keep your drool off this car while you work on it?
Tiemco Thanks! At the time I was just focused on hand, In reflection I can relish the expereince a bit more.
The drool was a hazzard if it got on the floor…….slippery! A mothers spit cleans most things, but no such luck with mine. On the paint polishing phase it just added to the gloss!
Great job there Greg, and I’m sure you enjoyed having such a rare piece of automotive history in your facility to work on. While it’s great to become part of the vehicle’s history, I know that the stress level of detailing a vehicle such as this is much higher than normal given the rarity and high value. We all look forward to future information on this beauty!
The rareness of the car is astounding, the owner almost got a GTO 250 a few years ago but thought what on earth for at 4 million, he now kicks himself …..they are worth 10+ million!
Stress is a good thing………keeps the focus!
Great article Greg! What an honor to be able to work on such a rare and fine automobile! 🙂
It was an honor to have such a challenge. My only wish, I didn’t get was to drive it!
That’s a 250GT SWB (short wheel base), not a 250GTO, still immeasurably valuable, and gorgeous, but the 250GTO is likely worth 50 million dollars more than the car pictured. We are talking 2022 dollars and not when this blog was written in 2011 of course. I’ve been detailing these old Ferrari for a long time, and Borrani wheels are always a challenge. Those appear to have painted hubs, spokes, and the area where the spokes attach to the wheel is also painted. That sure beats having to polish between all of the spokes and the hub being painted instead of chrome is another bonus reserved for a lot of the Ferrari race cars of the era as opposed to the street driven cars where a bit more sparkly shine was preferred. Beautiful job on the car. It’s a real honor to be trusted with these pieces of automotive history / works of art!