St.Gallen, March 2010
There has been a lot of talk about some European Ferrari-Collections during the last months, after the bankruptcy of the Kroymans Corp. the private collection has been sold to the US and will be split up. Furthermore there were speculations about the future of the Maranello Rosso Museum in San Marino after Fabrizio Violati passed away in January. But there are still great collections in Europe, some of them more private but some of them can be even visited.
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In March we had the opportunity to visit one of these important collections, the Turning Wheel Collection of the Stieger Family in St.Gallen. This collection features some of the rarest examples of the marque dating from 1951 to the latest 599 GTB.
Right at the moment there are 27 cavallino rampante in the stable, the oldest of them is the 1951 212 Inter (s/n 0211EL) with a beautiful two-tone Vignale Berlinetta body. This car was delivered new to no less a figure than Gianni Agnelli who owned several Ferraris years before Ferrari became part of the FIAT-Group. Another early example is the 1953 250 MM Vignale Spider (s/n 0332MM) with Portuguese racing history. This car was exported early in its life to America were it stayed until 1991 before it became part of the Turning Wheel collection in 1998. It replaced another 250 MM that was rebodied, showing the ambition to get the best available car for the collection.
One can see that this is a vivid collection rather than remaining in a status quo as with some of the newer cars some earlier had to make way. One reason might be the limited space in the garage but maybe also a self-restriction to a number of cars that can be kept in good running condition within reasonable efforts. And they are kept in running condition as was indicated during our visit by a bunch of battery chargers to get the cars over the winter.
Another reason might be the focusing on the cars of the 60s as most of the cars given away are from the 50s as the collection once featured a 375 MM, a 410 Sport (0598CM that was just shown a few days earlier in Amelia Island by its new owner), a 250 GT LWB Berlinetta TdF and a duo of 4-cylinder cars (500 Mondial and 750 Monza).
But one has to know that these cars were once part of the collection to miss something as the 60s are very well presented with all the icons of the 250 series including GTO, SWB, LM and California Spider.
During the 1980s with the steadily increasing value of the classic Ferraris many cars were on the market and this was the ideal time to build up a collection. In the 60s and early 70s many of the today most valuable Ferraris were just used cars unable to win races any more. They started their second life in private collections with enthusiasts of the first hours, some of them were wealthy, some of them had to part with their cars when the value and therefore the insurance costs surpassed their means. Some cars did not even had the luck to be with a real enthusiast and waited to be remembered of because of their value. The 250 GTO (s/n 3589GT) in the collection was one of these cars. After its active racing career in the hands of Michael Parkes and Ines Ireland it was later donated to the Victoria High School to practice students. Even later the car ended on a trailer uncovered in a field so the car was in need of a total restoration when acquired by Engelbert Stieger in 1988. After a close inspection of the car it became clear that a reuse of the original body would have meant that a large section of it had to be replaced. Instead of ripping apart the original one just to claim it is still on the car the wise decision was made to build a completely new body. The original body was put aside and today graces the collection in unpainted form as a piece of art. Where else can one see an original GTO body including the hammer finish of the Carrozzeria Scaglietti? The new body was build exactly to the specification prior to the rebuild of the car including the air intakes on the front wings and the louvred bonnet. The car is finished in the very elegant original dark blue and a small white nose band around the radiator.
Another jewel in the collection is the 250 GT SWB (s/n 1931GT), an all alloy competition car that finished 5th overall in Le Mans 1960. The car is finished in yellow wearing the number ô18ö just as it did in 1960. Furthermore there is a SWB California Spider (s/n 2537GT) once owned by Ferrari works driver Graf Berghe von Trips. The car is an open headlight model without bumpers and an unusual set-up of the instruments on the dashboard.
As already mentioned earlier the cars are kept in working order so it is no surprise that some cars are missing from time to time due to required mechanical work. During our visit the 250 LM (s/n 5897) was missing due to work on the engine.
Another focus of the collection are the racing cars of the 1970s. The 312 P (s/n 0888) of 1972 was a very successful car in the hands of Jacky Ickx, Mario Andretti, Brian Redman and Clay Regazzoni. It won races in Daytona, Monza and on the NŘrburgring to name a few before it was sold by the factory to the Swiss Collector Albert Obrist. Together with the 512 S/M (s/n 1018) it was campaigned very successful in the Ferrari Historic Challenge over the years by Patrick and Christoph Stieger as one can see by the very impressive collection of trophies. Until today the cars are used the way they were intended for and although the Historic Challenge now is history they are still on the track regularly. The sports car prototypes are rounded of by a Dino 206S (s/n 010) and a 512 BBLM (s/n 27579).
Furthermore one can admire two very rare formula 1 cars, a 1976 312 T3 (s/n 025) and a 1979 312 T4 (s/n 038). The first was driven by Nikki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni in the 1976 season that would have saw Nikki Lauda as World Champion without his accident on the Ring. The T4 brought Jody Scheckter the title that should become the last for 20 years until the beginning of the Schumacher-Ferrari-era.
The collection is rounded of by a duo of Daytonas (GTB/4 and GTS/4), a 365 GTB/C and a 512 BB on the classic side. Fans of the modern Supercars can admire a 288 GTO, a F40 and the latest Enzo and F430 Challenge Stradale. With just the F50 missing this is an almost complete set.
Although this is a private collection it can be visited by appointment, there are guided tours several times during the year. The best thing is that the guides are Engelbert, Patrick or Christoph Stieger personally, giving the visitors a great inside view by first-hand of the history and the ownership of these gems rather than just stories learnt by rote as in most other museums.
If you became curious by this report and the galleries please visit the museums website for further details.
Text and images Peter Singhof www.ClassicCarPhotography.de
Ferraris in the collection as on March 2010:
1951 Ferrari 212 Inter Vignale Berlinetta s/n 0211EL
1953 Ferrari 250 MM Vignale Spider s/n 0332MM
1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta s/n 1931GT
1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider s/n 2537GT
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO s/n 3589GT
1964 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso s/n 5627GT
1964 Ferrari 250 LM s/n 5897
1965 Ferrari 275 GTB/2 s/n 07899
1966 Ferrari Dino 206 S s/n 010
1970 Ferrari 512 S/M s/n 1018
1972 Ferrari 312 P s/n 0888
1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Coupe s/n 15441
1972 Ferrari 365 GTC/4 2+2 s/n 15547
1973 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider s/n 16475
1973 Ferrari 365 GT4 2+2 Prototype s/n 17117
1976 Ferrari 312 T2 s/n 025
1979 Ferrari 312 T4 s/n 038
1979 Ferrari 512 BB s.25067
1979 Ferrari 512 BBLM s/n 27579
1985 Ferrari 288 GTO s/n 53317
1988 Ferrari F40 s/n 83272
1993 Ferrari 512 TR s/n 94932
1994 Ferrari 456GT 2+2 Coupe s/n 99216
1996 Ferrari 550 Maranello s/n 108188
2003 Ferrari Enzo Collectors Edition s/n 131239
Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale s/n 136779
Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano s/n 153698