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Ferrari Dreams


UPDATE: We have updated the story with more photos and an update of the car’s status.

Tom Farrell lives outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, in the land of NASCAR, muscle cars, and hot rods. All his friends drive Mustangs and Camaros, but he has always been more attracted to foreign cars and sports cars. “I always wanted to drive something a little bit different than all my friends drive,” he says.

Farrell works as a model maker for Penske Racing South in Mooresville, North Carolina, in the wind tunnel and aerodynamics department. The team fields NASCAR Nextel Cup cars for drivers Rusty Wallace and Ryan Newman. As part of his job, Farrell can spend six to seven weeks crafting a forty-five-percent model to test in the wind tunnel. So obviously, he has the patience to restore an old car. He’s also handy with a wrench, which he proved as part of Penske South’s winning Junkyard Wars team. With this combination of talents, all he needed to make his personal car dreams come true was a project he was interested in—and a lucky connection.

That connection came through Tom’s friend Lance Hooper, a crew chief on a Craftsman Truck racing team, who was dating an Asheville woman, Lisa Jackson. Her father, Richard, was a one-time Winston Cup team owner who happened to have an old Ferrari—a fact that Hooper casually mentioned to Farrell one day, adding that the car “hasn’t moved in thirteen years.”

Farrell was all ears. “I’d always loved Ferraris, but never thought I’d be able to afford one,” he says.


Eventually, he worked up the nerve to ask if he could look at the car. Lisa cleared it with her parents and Farrell grabbed his camera, jumped in his truck, and headed toward Asheville. “It took us two hours to uncover the car,” he says. “It was a 1963 250 GTE, and had thirteen years of junk piled on it.” He took a number of photos and said he’d be interested in buying if it was available.

After several months, he and Jackson had a phone conversation. Apparently Jackson had given the Ferrari to his wife after she had seen one like it. He had found the nice silver example at FAF Motors in Georgia and surprised her with the 6,700-mile cream puff. Eventually, the car was painted bright red, and his wife drove it with gusto. “I think Richard eventually took it away from his wife because she got too many speeding tickets in it,” Farrell says. So it sat in the garage as years worth of household goods were piled on top of it.


If there was to be a sale, Jackson’s wife would have to approve, and over the years, the couple had been approached by a number of Ferrari enthusiasts. Yet everyone who expressed interest in the car wanted to dismantle it and sell it for parts, which had a value greater than the car as a whole. Farrell convinced the Jackson family that his intentions were different: he had no desire to sell the car for parts. He had wanted a Ferrari for many years, and the purchase of this car would make his dream come true.

Farrell had a dialogue with the Jacksons over the next six months. During that time, he enlisted the expertise of the Ferrari Register’s Len Miller. The register provides a listing of all Ferrari 250 models, ownership history, and other records. Miller told Farrell how much parts and service would cost, and together they came up with a range of value. Eventually, Jackson called Farrell and said he’d take $8,000 for the car. Farrell said he could only afford $7,000. Jackson accepted, and in less than three hours Farrell was sitting in Jackson’s driveway with his trailer in tow.


“When I got the car home, I had to replace most of the upper engine gaskets because they all leaked so badly,” Farrell says. “The good news was that the gas in the tank was still liquid—it hadn’t turned to jelly—probably because Jackson had run racing fuel in the car, which doesn’t go bad like pump gas.”


Farrell did have to relocate some “residents” that had lived in the car during its lengthy storage life. “I found squirrel or rat nests in the glove compartment and under the hood insulation blanket,” he says. “But overall, the car had a sound body.” When he purchased the car, it had covered 25,000 miles.

It seems that the car was stored outside, probably at the race shop, for some time during those thirteen years. When it was trailered to Jackson’s house, the brakes failed while it was being unloaded and the car rolled slowly into the edge of the garage. That explained the dented rear bumper.


Farrell drove the car for two years before disassembling it for restoration. On one last fling before taking it apart, he drove the car to a Ferrari Club of America show in North Carolina and won the People’s Choice Award in 2004.

“When we started taking it apart, my six-year-old son Jared saw the old eight-track tape deck and asked what kind of video player it was,” Farrell says, adding that his young son loves to work on the car.


The car is now disassembled, being returned to as-new condition. Even the red paint will give way to a fresh coat of the factory original silver. Not surprisingly, the restoration is taking much of Farrell’s free time. “My wife hates the car,” he says. “She says it’s my girlfriend.”

Lots of people in the Carolinas don’t know what type of car his Ferrari is, so Farrell has some fun when he tells them it’s a 1963 Ford Mustang, then shows them the prancing horse logo on the hood as “proof.” He hopes to “fool” a few more people when the car is finally ready for summer cruising in 2005.


This story was obviously written before 2005, but here is how Tom’s car looked after much of the restoration was complete. Beautiful car Tom and we all wish we could be so lucky. For more photos of the project visit Farrell Restorations.

cobra-in-the-barn-coverThis story originally appeared in Tom Cotter’s The Cobra in the Barn book. Subscribe to our email list for a chance to win a free copy and submit your own find stories because one is going to get published in Tom’s next In the Barn book!


  1. JP

    Ha! ’63 Ford Mustang! Love it…

    Like 1
  2. braktrcr

    Love happy endings

    Like 1
  3. Rob

    $7,000? Urgh, I feel sick

    Like 1
  4. jim

    great story. any 2013 pictures?

    Like 1
  5. Matt

    Great story… sounds like something from “Chasing Classic Cars” :-)

    Like 1
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Well, it is from Tom Cotter’s The Cobra in the Barn…

      Like 1
  6. Jeff

    Very neat car, luv the style. Hope everything goes well with the restoration and you own/drive for many years. I can remember my first memorable encounter with a Ferrari in 90′, I was working for “Old Cars Weekly” and the editor and I rode down from Iola, WI to Bloomington, IL (Vette show) in his mint 57′ 283 2×4 red/white coves (story itself). They had an auction there also. This little old man in a old suit & bowtie drove up to the auction block in a red 52′ Barchetta 225, the end bid was over 2M and the old guy just shuck his head “No”, got back in it and left…. I fell in luv with Ferrari’s that day.

    Like 1
  7. cameron Krost

    This story is dated by several years. What’s up with that? Rusty Wallace hasn’t driven NASCAR since 2005 and Ryan Newman stopped racing for Penske at the end of the 2008 season.

    Like 1
    • fatbiker

      Really……….Really? You have to go there?

      Like 1
    • accidental Ferrari owner

      fatbikers got it right! Cameron must of just woke up from a nap and realized the race was over a long time ago. updated pics of the restoration are at

      Like 1
      • jim

        thanks for the update on the Ferrari. the rest of the cars/trucks on your web site are very interesting also. great work

        Like 1
      • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

        Thanks for the link! We have updated the story with the new photos.

        Like 1
  8. Dolphin Member

    A 250 GTE for $7K?? That sale had to have happened many years ago. Since this unrestored car won the FCA People’s Choice award in 2004, the sale probably happened at least a decade ago.

    Back then these old 4-seat Ferraris were at the bottom of the Ferrari food chain, and were worth even less than a decent driver 308. People used remove the body and use the frame and drivetrain as a basis for a ‘recreated’ 250 TR race car, which would be worth way more than an old 4-seat Ferrari. If you wanted to drive a Ferrari race car at a Track Day, you would be smarter to take a recreated 250 TR ($150K) than a real 250TR ($1.5 million back then; $15-$20 million now). The frame tube could be shortened to resemble a real 250TR frame, and the V12 engine was very similar to a real 250 TR engine anyway, just in a lesser state of tune. There are people who could make a perfect copy of a 250 TR body for it. A lot of cheap 250 GTs were cut up that way.

    Once the old Ferrari market took off, these old 4-seaters followed…..at a distance. I know someone who bought one for $50K, and we all thought that was way over ‘market’. But now these are worth at least $200K, and climbing.

    Good for Mr. Farrell. He made an astute buy, and his enthusiasm for this old Ferrari is making sure that it will survive in its original form in the future. As the collector car world would say: “Well bought”…..indeed!

    Like 1
    • Jeff

      IMO the 80’s 400i is a neat entry level Ferrari….

      Like 1
      • Mark W

        And your mechanic will love your for it.

        Like 1
  9. Chris

    I remember looking at a blue one of those about 12 years ago for around $30,000. I passed because of the parts costs and didn’t know who would be able to work on it here in Missouri.

    Like 1
  10. scot

    ~ i love its really attractive shape. i’m glad to know it is in the hands of someone (Tom and Jared) who intend it to be restored and driven as was meant, rather than ‘by a number of Ferrari enthusiasts who wanted to dismantle it and sell it for parts’

    Like 1
  11. paul

    Great story, I am happy for him, the only thing is, is their is no such thing as a cheap Ferrari, just like no such thing as a 12 cyl. Jag or 12 cyl. anything, oh you may be able to steal the car for next to nothing but wait till It needs something, anything.
    & we aren’t even talking Insurance yet.

    Like 1
    • Matt

      Back in the 80s, I thought the new Testarossa was the most awesome car I’d ever seen… and of course the price was exorbitant. I saw a really nice low mile one go thru Mecum auction not many months ago for somewhere in the 30s. I’d consider that “cheap” :-)

      Like 1
      • Jeff

        Yeah, I’ve seen some early 80’s 308’s in the mid-high 20’s along with the 80’s Mondial.

        Like 1
      • paul

        Yes but a timing belt replaced cost 10 grand.

        Like 1
      • paul

        Chain I lost my head.

        Like 1
  12. 250 GTE

    Many yrs ago a buddy and found a 250GTE in the paper under used cars for sale. the trans was shot and we bought it for $2000.Engine was OK, the trans was 5 speed and overdrive, the lube for the trans and OD were different, the gear box layshaft stripped the gears and wrecked the GB, we couldnt get parts and finally pound a 330 GB, we made a spacer to put the 330 GB in the rite place, It worked well with the 5 speed NO OD, somewhere out there, there is a 250GTE with a 330 GB. Let me know where.

    Like 1
    • Dolphin Member

      Your story is a good example of how low the values of these 4-seat Ferraris fell years ago. I would guess that $2,000 is probably about as low as they got. But your car had the opposite transmission problem compared to most.

      It’s true that the Ferrari’s manual gearbox and the attached Overdrive unit (Laycock I believe) required different lubricants. The gearbox needed high viscosity gear oil, but the OD unit needed low viscosity oil (SAE 30 engine oil). Ferrari needed to add a 5th gear to the car but didn’t have a 5-speed for it, and had to make do with the Laycock OD for a while. Problem was, whatever lubricant was put into the gearbox was what lubed both the gearbox and the OD unit. Enzo’s engineers favoured the gearbox, and specified the high viscosity gear oil for it, which usually led to the OD eventually unit failing due to the OD not being able to survive with an excessively high viscosity lubricant.

      This makes me wonder whether the previous owner or (non-Ferrari) mechanic had put low viscosity oil in the gearbox in accordance with the OD’s requirements, which would have been too thin to protect the gearbox itself, which then failed in the car that you bought.

      Like 1
  13. Frank

    ty for your gearbox/OD on 250GTE, you would have thought a plate between the 2 units would have allowed each unit to use the correct lube, but what do I know, I ran Laycock in many cars including AH race cars, it worked well,. OK except the selinoid. Another Ferrari story or 2: there was very little you could do with am old Ferrari race car before vintage racing started, they were expensive to fix and when they got old was no place to race them. Im in my 80s now and lived to see a 2 liter Ferrari with trailer in a used car lot for $1500, I saw a 3 liter Monza ad in a local paper for sale, wanted to step up from my racing AH asking price $2700, car was a beauty, red of course, I offered $2200 and did not get it. Always remember those 58mm Webers, sounded wonderful, That might have been a step too high for me, would have been champion or hurt myself. Later vintage racing started and that the rest of the story.

    Like 1
  14. paul

    Very nice , always nice to see these projects end up in a good home, the progress looks top notch with excellent paint / body work.

    Like 1
  15. J. Pickett

    So glad he decided to restore it. Too many of the “cooking” ordinary Ferraris are parted out.

    Like 1
  16. Dianne and Joe Paquette

    As the owner of two classic jaguars, I feel your pain. True “car love” cannot be understood by all but it exists. Your car is beautiful inside and out. I understand how frustrating cars can be, Jags break down daily almost, but thru all the repair bills we love our cars, I get it the Ferrari is beautiful! Best of Luck!!!!

    Dianne and Joe Paquette

    Like 1
  17. Andrea

    I love the story, the pictures, and knowing about crazy car people and their passion.
    After going through the process of selling a classic Porsche – i understand a little bit more.

    Like 1
  18. gunningbar

    Parting out a sericeable car for greed’s sake….shame on these “people.”

    Like 1
  19. Mark W

    In the early 80s in central NJ, I recall seeing one of these being run around in a rather ‘unrestored’ state. Was either grey, or this color silver with bad oxidation. Had surface rust on the bumpers and rockers, had a couple of dents, the Borranis had very grungy/dirty spokes, smoked pretty noticeably out of one bank. Looked tired. Probably ended up as a GTO wannabe donor.

    Like 1
  20. Mike

    Am I missing something? Seems moronic to even consider “parting out” a completely intact restorable car.

    Like 1

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