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Then and now

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IN THE BEGINNING: 1953 ex Vignale works Italy first as a coupe with quite a record looking a bit bashed in Les Coupes Des Alpes Rally.

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Quickly made into a spyder remaining competitive as a roadster in several forms with Martial Oblin finally getting it as he wanted it

Ferrari 166 MM 0300 was a more recent story. Long time client and collector Dennis Nicotra said, “I’ve just bought this terrific Ferrari and I want to restore it to its original race winning condition.” Following that it goes to Cavallino then off to Europe to be seen in its original competition environment. Here’s the catch, It’s past mid-September, Cavallino is in January...can you do it? WELL…Noting that Carrozzeria Vignale received Ferrari’s Chassis on April 1, 1953 and delivered Jacques Herzet a coupe he raced on May 17th (finishing 2nd in The Coupes des Spa Francorchamps), what else could we say but, "YES!" One Proviso: quality and attention to detail is paramount, it cannot bear any scars of a rushed restoration. The car must be exactly as it was when winning the SAR cup race in Belgium, April of 1954, then on the Oblin coachworks exhibit at the Brussels motor show thereafter. Yes was provisional, we’ll have to see after we’ve had a good look.

Evaluation underway very soon thereafter; then tested, inspected and all those boxes of bits unpacked. The car was all there, the original unmolested chassis solid and key parts removed decades ago in a previous restoration boxed and in tact. Even the headrest which the first owner driver, Jacques Herzet had fitted was in a box with it’s Dunlo-pillow pad. Though freshening, configuration corrections and restoration was very needed, key components were all correct and fundamentally sound. YES, WE CAN DO THIS within the time frame was the final answer and to work we went.

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September 2012. 0300 M as it arrived at ARI looking and driving quite well but we know Dennis has other historically accurate intentions.

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Cavallino 2013 is the objective so we get right to work.

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The boxes that came with the car contained the original Oblin trunk hinges with the original holes on lid and body found under the finish.

It was a busy 3 months. We were rewarded by it’s owner’s appreciation of the projects timely accomplishments, Marcel Massini’s attention and praise not to mention all the notice the finished project has garnered. 0300 was Invited to and exhibited at the St James Concours on the Royal lawns September 5-7 2013 in Central London among an entry list of only sixty important cars displayed in the gardens of the 300 year-old Royal Palace Marlborough House. Our thanks to Mr. Nicotra, Charlie, Craig, Mark, Dave and ARI crew in addition to all those who were so on point in making this lofty goal an accomplished reality. Yep, it’s that old pictures worth a thousand words scenario again, enjoy the show.

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As October rolled in the details were clear and we went to work revising all needed fabricating to original where appropriate.

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No compound or polish possible post painting on this finish! Well done Dave Fournier, painter extraordinaire.

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December 2012 and 166MM 0300/Oblin is coming together nicely.

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Late December 2012; 0300 M is getting close with brakes, suspension and fuel system up to speed.

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A tonneau was soon built and trimmed in leather just as Oblin did in 1955. Late Nights!


Early January 2013…DONE!

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Dan Savinelli’s photo says it best…Striking and looking as it did on Martial Oblin’s Brussels stand in 1955.

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Mid January 2013, restored, tested, sorted and Cavallino bound 0300’s tidy tail...Southbound at last!

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Exhibited at Cavallino January 2013

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On the road to Mar-a-Lago Sunday.

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Charlie at the wheel and Dan Savinelli on the lens.

Done right, done well, done on time and it was indeed a pleasure. We were pleased to bring our craft to bear on these great cars, but it is the enjoyment and appreciation their owners and viewers share with us that means the most. We take satisfaction when the work endures as it has on 3747. We savor challenges of each restorations then and now not to mention the comments elicited everywhere the cars land. The variety herein exhibits some of what Ferrari is about and has accomplished over decades past and continues at present. When all is said and done it is Ferrari who created the magic then two dedicated enthusiasts that enabled our process. In some small but meaningful way, we feel apart of it. Results, awards and practicing ones craft to high levels of satisfaction. Does it get better? THANKS again & again!

- Kent Bain, Raconteur & director, Automotive Restorations Inc.

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Owner Dennis Nicotra takes a ride round London enjoying the entire St James experience.