Ferrari S/N 0087/S: A Cinderella Story

Roger Demler

Volume 45 Issue 21

Oct 10, 2020

A Little Background
By 1950 Ferrari had built about 20 “Inter” street cars, which carried odd-numbered chassis; Ferrari did not make bodies for any of his cars for many years.
In 1950 the first two Ferraris with Ghia bodies were built, S/N 0049/S and S/N 0087/S. Eight or nine similar Ghia two-seater coupe bodies were ultimately built.
In 1975 car S/N 0049/S was damaged in a fire and was later rebodied with a racecar-style open body.
The early history of S/N 0087/S is not well-known, although it is rumored to have had a Chevy V8 engine for a time.

A Little Background

By 1950 Ferrari had built about 20 “Inter” street cars, which carried odd-numbered chassis; Ferrari did not make bodies for any of his cars for many years.

In 1950 the first two Ferraris with Ghia bodies were built, S/N 0049/S and S/N 0087/S. Eight or nine similar Ghia two-seater coupe bodies were ultimately built.

In 1975 car S/N 0049/S was damaged in a fire and was later rebodied with a racecar-style open body.

The early history of S/N 0087/S is not well-known, although it is rumored to have had a Chevy V8 engine for a time.

September 1965

We, Roger and Sally Demler, purchased S/N 0087/S, a 1950 Ferrari 195 Inter with a Ghia body, and engine S/N 0145.

The car was pretty rough when we got her. She had been in the Los Angeles area until we brought her to Michigan; we know almost nothing of what she was doing for her first 15 years.

 

 

When we bought her, S/N 0087/S was running, rusty in places, with about 40,000 km on the odometer.

The seats were Naugahyde, the car was painted fire engine red and it looked like the paint had been applied with a whisk broom.

The dashboard was dark green, the interior fabrics were a beige tweed well covered with grime, the interior leather trim was dark green.

The car was a mess, and we had only the sketchiest idea what we would do with her. We were thrilled.

 

 

1966

We stripped paint, removed the gas tank, doors, bonnet, and boot. The car began to “rust to restorable condition.” The original pale green color was revealed in door frames and behind the grille.

1966 to 2014

Life happened. Two children were born, grew, went off to college, got married, grandchildren were born, and grew. Parents died.

Careers grew and were rewarding in various ways. We moved several times and finally landed in Sherborn, MA, in 1976.

The Ferrari was with us for every mile, and every milestone. She was seldom considered, but always a presence.

1977ish

Dick Little found us somehow and came by our Sherborn home in a car he had purchased in 1974.

He took us each for a ride in his 1950 195 Ferrari (the first 195), S/N 0081/S with matching numbers, and an elegant body by Touring.

Years later it was the Dick Little connection that led William Haye to us for help restoring his S/N 0089/S 195 Inter Ghia, which he had found burned out somewhere in Zimbabwe. (That car has since run the Mille Miglia twice.)

In 2016, while visiting our daughter near Blackhawk, CA, we went to the Blackhawk Automotive Museum and found the, by then, late Dick Little car, fully restored and even more beautiful.

Mid 1990s

William Haye visited, and later sent his mechanic, Michael, to visit us for a week to take detailed measurements and drawings of parts that he would later duplicate for Haye’s S/N 0089/S 195.

Over the next few years, we sent parts to the UK for Michael’s measuring; they were always returned.

 

 

By 2006 we had both retired. And we joined the Ferrari Club of America.

2007

In October we visited Italy and spent three fascinating days in Maranello.

We met Roberto Vaglietti, then the head of Ferrari Classiche. He was generous with his time, charming, and eager to have us send our car to him for a full “Red Book” Classiche restoration.

 

 

It was an interesting idea, but we demurred. Roberto was reluctant to give us a cost estimate, saying “Don’t worry. We will take care of everything.”

2013

In March we learned from the Ferrari Market Letter that engine S/N 0087/S was in car S/N 0097/S, in California, and owned by Bruce Vanyo.

2014

In February, under the umbrella of the New England Chapter of the FCA, we visited Paul Russell’s shop in Essex, MA.

We told Paul about our car, he pulled out Marcel Massini’s two-volume collection of vintage Ferrari photos, and showed us a picture of a white car similar to ours.

Uh oh – this was getting serious.

In March, Dave Nelson, owner of Ferrari 212 Inter Ghia S/N 0145/E, with an engine of undetermined provenance, found us, and came to visit.

He offered to purchase S/N 0087/S “as-is.” Should we take the money and move on with our lives, or commit to a real restoration?

We spoke again to Paul Russell, who at the time had a three-year backlog. He encouraged us to contact Peter Markowski of RPM (Restoration & Performance Motorcars) of Vergennes, VT.

 

 

We visited RPM in late July of 2014, and Peter picked her up on September 5th. We entered a new phase.

 The RPM Years: 2014 – 2020

Early on I contacted Bruce Vanyo, owner of S/N 0097/S. That car had a Vignale body, which had inspired Briggs Cunningham to hire Vignale to design and build the bodies for his 1953 C-3 touring cars, although fewer than 30 were ever sold.

In any event, we told Mr. Vanyo that we had Ferrari S/N 0087/S that we had just shipped her off to RPM for restoration.

Knowing the original engine for S/N 0097/S had been destroyed in a fire years before, we suggested that he, Dave Nelson with S/N 0145/E, and we might explore the possibilities of ‘A Great Engine Swap’, an exercise that would include a factory-certified engine for S/N 0097/S.

This approach would reunite the original engines with the chassis of S/N 0087/S and S/N 0145/E and make whole all three cars.

Mr. Vanyo was not interested. He had invested much in restoring the S/N 0087/S engine, and he enjoyed driving his car as it was.

 

 

The Great Engine Swap

Roger and David later agreed that S/N 0087/S would benefit from a 195 engine that could be built from a 212 factory block in David’s possession.

Ferrari was agreeable to this plan, re-sleeved the block to a 195, and stamped it “Classiche 195.”

In exchange for this new engine, Roger would transfer engine S/N 0145/E to David.

David provided the block and some of the components and accessories for RPM to use in building the new engine; new parts included pistons, bearings, valves, and springs.

In the meantime, Bruce decided to have RPM finish the technical restoration of his car, and soon S/N 0087/S and S/N 0097/S were sitting next to each other in Vermont.

Bruce realized that his car would be better off with the Classiche engine; the three-way swap was completed in August 2020.

Meanwhile…

Work progressed on the full body and chassis restoration of S/N 0087/S at RPM.

On August 6, 2020, S/N 0087/S, now with her original engine, and called “Cinderella,” returned home.

It had been nearly six years, and well worth the wait. The pictures say it all.

 

 

Where are they now?

David Nelson with S/N 0145/E, now has her original engine and was shown at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2019.

Bruce Vanyo with S/N 0097/S, now has a Classiche-approved replacement engine and went for her first drive August 27, 2020.

Roger Demler with S/N 0087/S, now with her original engine, is exploring the byways of Massachusetts, and ready for her close-up.