Updated: Feb 27
There seems to be a divide among those of us who are convinced vehicles are more than just the four wheels that take them from A to B. All may be classified as enthusiasts, but the mindset could not possibly be more contradictory. There are those who drive the lug nuts off the cars they own. They change the oil every 3,000 miles not out of habit, but out of mechanical sympathy for what the car just went through.
And there are those who buy cars to look at them. Either camp you choose is the one for you, and I won’t argue that. Stance and static have their place among our community, after all. But is buying a car to just say you own it anything special? The same argument can be had, and it often is,for anything that can be purchased with your currency of choice. Something like a classic car is very different. We're talking about something that was bolted together from the minds of maniacs that belches actual fire. It was meant to be hammered and tested in the elements around Sebring or flung into traffic at the Mille Miglia, but now suffer a different fate.
I was summoned (from the good folks at BringATrailer) to shoot a car whose likeness is, or at least what I consider to be, the dusty underdog of the screen-used icons. Our generation grew up with our parents praising Bullitt and our classmates dreaming about Eleanor. Michael J. Fox (and Ready Player One, for that matter) reminded us every time we pass 88mph that there was once a DeLorean that was chased by lighting in 1955.
Less iconic, though, was the Ferrari 250GT California Spyder from Ferris Bueller's Day Off. It's not forgotten by any means, it just isn’t usually the first car anyone thinks of when they think "car movie.” And, like our friend Mr. Frye, the question is: to drive or not to drive?
This particular 1959 model has been in the hands of its restorer for quite some time. What immediately catches your eye upon entry was the odometer showing zero-zero-zero-zero-eight, 3 miles from its home. Meaning, yes, we put almost half the miles the car has on it driving down the street. This car has, for all intents and purposes, never been driven. Numbers matching, affectionately restored, mechanically new, and 240 eager horsepower on tap from the storied Colombo V12.
This is a car that would be worth as much with 800,000 miles as it is with 8. Eight. This is a car that is made of materials from our earthly realm, like aluminum, and leather, and mahogany, that you cannot take to whatever other side you subscribe to when your buzzer rings. While I do understand the impetus behind collecting cars of this caliber, I confess I do not understand having one and not clocking miles on it.
My father, in my earlier years, instilled the term "too many miles" into my brain. "You're putting too many miles on your car" was almost as common as "we need to change your oil again." Maybe that rationality comes from a time when cars were notoriously unreliable?
I refuse to get behind whatever "100,000 mile" stigma which seems to inherently plague anyone who owns a personal vehicle. If you find yourself searching forums in, say, the United Kingdom, you'll see the same nonsense regarding cars with over 100,000 kilometers. It's psychological. It is just a number and has nothing to do with the maintenance or longevity of a vehicle, but I digress.
It's a bit of a travesty that some of these cars never see the Spiral Highway in northern Idaho, 7 miles of windy blacktop that concludes with 50 miles of the Windows 95 wallpaper. Their exhaust notes will never echo in the valleys surrounding The Rattler in North Carolina, the That Other Famous Road's unsung sister that’s 22 miles longer than the infamous US-129 sprint and has a fraction of the traffic. These cars will never see the Mattole Road at Cape Mendocino, one of the more unknown and most spectacular roads in the continental United States.
You can't enjoy something completely if you don't use it for what it was intended for. I'll say it: if it was designed to be driven, and if it sits, there’s something missing there.
A 2011 Toyota Prius with 275,000 miles on it can sit in a garage just as well as this shining example of Enzo’s reluctant road-going legacy, although you’ll probably use less cat litter soaking up leaked oil. Cars like this weren't designed to sit. At no point in Maranello’s history were Italian engineers trying to figure out how long it can sit untouched.
At the end of our story – and Ferris’, for that matter – Cameron Frye realizes just that: itis just a car. Why not drive it like one?