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But this article about the Ferrari 166MM from February 1973 R&T is special because it’s written by the man who owned two: none other that John R. Bond, the guy responsible for the good years at R&T.
John and Elaine’s Joyful Event. “It was March 4, 1959,” John wrote. “On that morning my mail was delivered, and on the top of the heap was an interesting-looking envelope from Vienna, Austria. I opened it and found three snapshots of a Ferrari roadster.”
John continued, “I slipped the letter and photos onto [wife] Elaine’s desk in the adjoining office and waited. Sure enough, when she found it I heard a yell. ‘John, did you see this Ferrari for sale?’ ”
“So,” John said, “a check went off that day and we began behaving like expectant parents. Our very first Ferrari!”
A Proper Blat. It took some work, paper and otherwise, to get the roadster actually roadable. But John noted, “We drove it for about a year, never very far from home, and never got any tickets though we were stopped a few times for excessive noise. The mufflers were barely expansion chambers and straight through—but stock! It sounded beautiful to us but not to neighbors or police.”
Crash Box Skills. “Most people,” John observed, “think a 5-speed crash gearbox (that’s with no synchronizers, for you who are too young to remember crash boxes) is difficult. It is, but then it isn’t if you know how.”
John explained, “There’s a big gap between 1st and 2nd in this one [11:20 to 8.11 overall]. The correct procedure is to wind the engine up in 1st but not too much, pause a second or two and then go into 2nd firmly with no hesitation. From there on up, to 3rd, 4th, and 5th is (as the British would say) a piece of cake because the ratios are very close from one to the next [5.92:1, 4.66:1, and 3.96:1 overall, respectively].”
What About Downshifting? John said, “But downshifting is another matter. Going from 5th to 4th to 3rd doesn’t call for double-clutching, though it helps to avoid a crunch. But 3rd to 2nd requires double-clutching, and 2nd to 1st—don’t try it unless you’re Phil Hill.”
John tactfully avoids the matter of heel-and-toe, downshifting and braking simultaneously.
Restoring the Bond Barchetta. “Frankly,” John said, “it was a basket case.” And not without complicaions of dealing with later 166MM bits: “… you wouldn’t believe the differences between Ferrari 166 engines nos. 00018 and 00036.”
After significant refurbishing of V-12 internals, John said, the engine was fired up “and the throttles stuck wide open! It may have reached 10,000 rpm! There were three carburetors and Harry [Bond’s ex-Cunningham specialist] has only two hands; I suppose he should have used one foot, but finally he shut it off by pulling the fuel line. There was no damage, incredibly.”
Buy Another? You might think John would have learned.
John wrote, “Skip to September 1972. Fred Leydorf, an engineer at American Motors in Detroit, offered to sell us a coupe [Berlinetta] version of the same model. Leydorf had given it TLC for eight years, and we just had to have it—after all, it and the Barchetta would make a matching His and Hers pair.” ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2021