The main effort from there would be to create a company that would rebuild classic cars and restore them to their glory days....Spend time finding them and making them shiney & new all over again....
Here is one guy who is able to do something along those lines and I am willing to bet that we ( him & I ) have a lot of common interest in what can be done when you have the $$$$ and time to make it possible....Lucky guy.
How One Millionaire Made Himself a Pint-Sized Ferrari
“I’m going to need that,” he says, giddily slapping my shoulder. “It’s freaking cold out.”
I reluctantly hand over the cap, sheepishly adjusting my bedhead, and stand aside as Srour, 54, delicately lowers himself into his two-thirds-scale 1952 Ferrari F2 500 race car. At just over 3 feet tall and 6 feet long, the F2 holds the dubious distinction of being the only street-legal model car in Manhattan – if not the Eastern United States. It’s also the first example in Srour’s ambitious plan to transform a duo of model Ferraris into super-powered road-rockets. The second car, another two-thirds-scale 275 GTB/4 – a model made partially famous by Steve McQueen – should be road-ready early next year.
The original F2, driven by Alberto Ascari, was one of the most prolific racing Ferraris ever built. In 1952, it dominated the Formula One World Championship, winning every round except for the Indianapolis 500. It is, in fact, the second most successful car in Formula One history, only behind the incomparable McLaren MP4/4, which won more races in 1988. In a strange twist of fate, Srour’s only encounter with the real F2 was at the Cavallino Classic in 2007. “I had no idea it was going to be there,” says Srour, who was there to show off the two-thirds model for display. “Putting the two cars side by side was like seeing a father and son reunited.”
Today we’re headed to a popular car gathering in New Jersey. I’ll drive Srour’s Ferrari 458 Spider (tough life, I know) and have been instructed to stay close behind the F2 for the duration of our 45-mile journey. And for good reason. While the F2 can hit 90 mph, its small size means even inattentive Mini drivers could take it out.
As I strap into the 458, Srour pulls beside me, gooses the throttle and grins from ear to ear. A lady walking a Chihuahua stops to issue a displeased, authoritative stare. Srour is unfazed.
“Let’s roll,” he says, tearing down the street in one of the oddest sights I’ve ever seen in Manhattan.
To understand Srour’s passion for mini-cars is to enter the mind of the ultimate car fanatic. After finding success in children’s fashion (The Parigi Group, the company he started in 1980, holds exclusive licensing contracts with Puma, DKNY, Lucky Brand, Nicole Miller, and Paul Frank, among others), Srour, a native of Lebanon, began amassing an impressive array of Italian sports cars. His collection, which he calls “The Red Cave,” includes a Ferrari F50, Dino 246, Alfa Giulietta Spider and a Maserati Mexico, all dressed in gleaming Rosso Corso.
Srour purchased the F2 for $75,000 while on business in Las Vegas as a present for his 12-year-old son, who was beginning to show his own passion for exotic cars. Originally crafted by Carrozzerria Allegretti, a shop in Italy that specializes in custom cars, the F2 was tiny, underpowered, and designed for children – not adults.
“My intention was to give it to my son,” Srour said, “however, when I took it out for a spin, I totally fell in love with it. That’s when we came up with the idea to make it street-legal.”
Srour’s clever mechanic, Raffi Najjarian, was given the unenviable job of transforming the F2 into a road-rocket capable of withstanding the rigors of Manhattan streets while seamlessly offering a modicum of comfort and safety for the driver.
“I was surprised to get the project.” Najjarian said. “In fact, it’s still a bit of a joke to me. When he first bought the car, Marco asked if I could make it into a road car and I jokingly responded, ‘Sure, why not.’ And then he said ‘Okay, so do it.’”
The build began in 2005 and was done in three separate stages, each taking about a year to complete: drivetrain then suspension (the F2 came without rear shocks), along with extensive overhauls to the chassis and engine.
Upon completion of the first phase, Najjarian installed headlights, turn signals, 14-inch wire rims and a miniature license plate bracket. To keep the noise down, he tacked on a modified Harley-Davidson muffler to the chrome exhaust tips which instantly transformed the F2 from a blaring hot-rod to a highly tuned gentleman’s racer.
Srour, who is 5 foot 6, required six additional inches of legroom to properly operate the three floor pedals, so the chassis and bodywork were extended accordingly. “We also upgraded the brakes to a dual-circuit system, operating in the front and the back, independently,” says Najjarian. “The car is light enough [roughly 600 lbs] that I was able to use drum brakes as opposed to disk brakes.”
To give the engine – an original 1952 Topolino – a little more pep, Najjarian designed a custom transmission and installed several high-end racing components, including a handmade camshaft.
“The original setup had a 500cc engine that was pretty anemic,” Najjarian told me. “It only made 27 horsepower with a top speed of 40 mph and it was mated to a 4-speed transmission with 4 synchros.” To provide proper motivation, Najjarian pulled the transmission, built a custom housing and fitted a dogleg transmission from a Nissan. “First gear is in line with reverse,” Najjarian says proudly, “just like a modern-day Ferrari 5-speed.”
Surprisingly, Srour and Najjarian agreed to keep the engine, but modified it with Abarth racing parts to increase the displacement to 600cc, boosting output to around 45 hp and delivering a top speed of 90 mph at 7,000 rpm.
“Much to my surprise, it turned out to be a really down-to-earth car,” says Najjarian. “I thought it would it always be a toy, but now I think of it as a real car. It’s completely, 100 percent drivable.”
Next up for Najjarian is Srour’s two-thirds-scale 275 GTB/4 NART Spyder, whose body shell was made by Carrozzeria Allegretti. “This car will have two doors, a passenger seat, and seatbelts – much more advanced than the F2,” Najjarian says. The top speed will be in the neighborhood of 110 to 120 mph, but the main challenge will be mating the new engine to the reworked transaxle. “I plan on making them a stressed member of the frame,” Najjarian explains, “which will make everything more rigid.”
Back in New Jersey, Srour pulls next to me on the highway. One guy in a Chevy Malibu was so befuddled by the presence of the F2 he almost plowed head-first into a construction median. After his near-miss, he caught up, gave an enthusiastic (if not foolhardy) thumbs up, and continued snapping photos on his smartphone.
The guys at the car show were equally mystified. A large crowd gathered as Srour elegantly removed the engine cover, exposing the F2′s complex innards. One slightly husky 12-year-old boy jumped into the driver’s seat. While most collectors cringe at the thought of kids poking around in their cars, Srour isn’t that guy.
“Hey, this thing’s a toy,” said the boy, fumbling with the rear-view mirror.
“Not quite, kid,” said Srour. “Not quite.”