Scuderia Rampante

Saturday, March 30

This month’s Lotus Colorado meeting was held in Erie at Scuderia Rampante, a high-end Ferrari restoration shop. Calling the place a high-end Ferrari restoration shop is a bit redundant, I guess, but I think I can get away with it. If you had a Ferrari and wanted some work done on it, how far would you be willing to send it? They’re working on a car that, when they’re done, will go back to Hong Kong. I’m not sure there is anywhere farther from Hong Kong than Erie, Colorado.

They called the event a “shop tour”. That probably overstates it. To me, a tour implies some sort of guide telling us what we’re seeing: what’s important or interesting. Nothing like that today, we just wandered around the place. Several employees were there to answer questions, so we weren’t completely on our own.

This was not our first visit. We were here a few years ago. Not much has changed, and for somebody not very interested in cars it might be fair to ask what there is to see a second time. For those of us quite interested in cars, there’s always something to see. I’m not particularly a Ferrari fan – I’ll never own one and probably never drive one – but I think they’re fascinating examples of engineering and technology.

And it’s not just Ferraris. There are a variety of other cars there as well. Most are stored in a giant rack but a number are in various states of disassembly. To do engine work on most of the Ferraris, they simply remove the entire engine, transmission, and rear suspension and put that assembly on a table or rack.

As I said, I’m not that into Ferraris. For the most part, I can’t look at one and say, “That one is a 430 and that one is a California.” I don’t know what any of them is worth (other than more than I’ll ever spend on a car) or how much it might cost to have one worked on. On many of them, I’d guess a clutch service would go for perhaps as much as I paid for the Elise. So I won’t go into any detail on any of the cars I saw.

F40 and F50

On prominent display were an F40 and an F50 side by side. The F40 is the red one, the F50 is the black one. The F40 was built between 1987 and 1992. I have no idea how many of these they made. A quick look on the internet tells me if you want one today, you can expect to spend about $1.6 million. The F50 dates from 1995-1997. You’d need to sell two F-40’s and kick in an extra few hundred thousand dollars beside to pick one up. I’m guessing you don’t get to see these cars side by side very often.

Lamborghini 350GT

I know even less about Lamborghinis than I do Ferraris. This one is an example of the first Lamborghini model made. It’s a 350GT. They hadn’t yet started naming their cars after bulls. There was a 350GT and a 400GT. If I understood correctly, this car was an interim car – a 350GT with the motor from a 400GT, which makes it quite rare. Even so, it probably could be had (were you to find one for sale) for somewhere in the neighborhood of a million.

Cadillac Fleetwood

I thought the Fleetwood was interesting. I don’t know what year it was, but it was a giant. I believe this one is a 1952 Fleetwood Seventy Five limousine. It’s about a mile long and has more chrome on one car than on all Cadillacs built in the last decade. Looking at it, I couldn’t help but wonder what the thing weighed. I was guessing it might be 6,000 pounds. That was way off. In fact, these cars were closer to 4,700. For comparison, my 1967 Imperial was 4,900. The Imperial had a giant 440cid engine, while this Fleetwood was motivated by an eight cylinder 331cid motor that cranked out 190hp. Again, for comparison, my Elise generates 190hp.

They don’t just work on cars here, they store them as well. I didn’t count them, but they can probably stack something like forty cars in this giant rack. I’m sure it’s quite the operation to get one off the top: move the bottom one out of the way, rotate the stack down, take the next one out, repeat. Every car in there looked to be hooked up to a battery tender, so you could just jump right in and drive them off, once you managed to get to the one that belongs to you. Not all of them are super-exotics. In this photo, the car on the other side of the Testarossa is a modern Ford Mustang. And there were a few examples of Detroit iron from the same era as the Fleetwood above.

Engine test

Here’s one of the engines they had taken out of the car. It’s the engine, transmission, and suspension. This one was hooked up to a device that lets them run the thing. I wasn’t in the room when they fired it up, but it was much quieter than I expected. I guess you’ll get that, given the size of the muffler hanging off the back.

It wasn’t just cars. In the back corner they had a little sitting area with a couple of stuffed bears (including a polar bear smoking a cigar and holding a pool cue), a couple of cabinets filled with knick-knacks, and some vintage race posters on the walls. This portrait of Steve McQueen caught my eye. It’s made up of articles, photos, and advertisements from magazines.

Not a bad place to spend a Saturday morning.

Clive Cussler Museum

I’m a bit late posting this… on Saturday LoCo was invited by the Peak to Peak Miata Club to visit novelist Clive Cussler’s car museum.

We met in Golden for a short drive before visiting the museum. Up Golden Gate canyon, north on the Peak to Peak highway, then down Coal Creek canyon and to the museum in Arvada. The museum parking lot is quite small, so most of the dozens of cars parked on the street. This is where I met Ron, the owner of the Ariel Atom I saw a few weeks ago at Cars and Coffee. I just missed getting a picture of his “trunk”, which you can see him fastening in this photo. He’s only had the car about a month so he hasn’t had a chance to get it to the track yet.IMG_0565s

I haven’t read any of Cussler’s books, but I may have to pick one up just to see how he puts these fantastic cars in the stories. Many of the cars in the museum have books in front of them, with the picture of the car on the back cover.

I’d say this collection of cars compares quite favorably to the Tebo collection. Tebo has many more cars than Cussler, but Cussler’s are much more impressive.

I’ve been taking pictures of cars in this sort of setting for quite a while – the Barrett-Jackson auction, the Tebo collection, Cars & Coffee meets, here. It’s next to impossible to get a good picture of any of the cars. They’re packed tightly together in a small space and there are always other car lovers looking at them. So, for the most part, I concentrate on the details: hood ornaments, emblems, hub caps.


Hood ornament from 1928 Isotta Fraschetti Tipo 8A S Boattail Speedster. This car sold for $26,000 in the 1930’s. Ponder that for a minute.


1931 Stutz Boattail DV-32 Speedster. Sixteen were built, six are believed to still exist.


1933 Lincoln KB-Series V-12 Limousine. 448 cubic inch displacement engine puts out 150 horsepower.


V-16 Cadillac


1913 Stutz Bearcat Series 4B. 389 cubic inch 4 cylinder, 50 horsepower.


1955 Chrysler 300 hubcap. The world’s first true muscle car, it had the first commercial stock engine to deliver 300 horsepower.