Michelotto, Ferrari's Tuner
Sheehan Speaks
by Michael Sheehan
(Sports Car Market Magazine — August 2002 issue)

Just as AMG is the factory "tuner" for Mercedes, the Kremer Bros. have long been the factory race arm for Porsche, and Jack Roush Racing is the official racing arm for Ford's NASCAR series, Michelotto is the race shop for the Ferrari factory GT and sports prototype racing efforts.

Michelotto began as an authorized Ferrari dealer in Padova, a small town only 50 miles up the road from Venice. In the late 1970s Michelotto started building and race–preparing lightweight 308s for Ferrari France and multiple Italian privateers. While fewer than 20 of these lightweight 308 rally cars were built, they were very successful and hugely popular with rally fans who were thrilled to see Ferraris in competition.

In the early '80s, Michelotto was asked by Ferrari to do the development work for the 288 GTO, and ultimately to build a series of ultra–sophisticated 288 GTO race cars called the 288 GTO Evoluziones. Only six Evoluziones were constructed, and they ended up in the hands of some of the world's most famous collectors, including the Sultan of Brunei.

In the late '80s Ferrari retained Michelotto to develop the replacement for the 288 GTO, the F40. Ten working prototypes were built and used for many thousands of miles of road testing, performance and suspension evaluations. After the introduction of the F40, Ferrari re–entered GT racing and had Michelotto build a series of 19 ultra–high–performance F40 LMs for America's IMSA and Europe's GTC series. Michelotto also built an additional seven F40 GTs for the Italian Supercar Championship and another seven F40 LM GTEs for the BPR GT series.

In 1993 Ferrari made the decision to re–enter sports prototype racing with the 333 SP, the first Ferrari sports racer in almost 20 years. After the first cars were built, the construction and race support were entrusted to Michelotto. The result was great success, with Ferrari winning at the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring and at almost every other racetrack in the IMSA, World SportsCar and European ISRS series. The 333 SP was not only a successful race winner but also very user friendly, with over 40 cars built, some as recently as 2001, for race teams and for private collectors.

Michelotto's most recent racer is the 360 GT, built for the ALMS, the FIA GT series events and the traditional endurance events such as Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans. In 2001, its first year of racing, the 360 GT won the FIA GT class championship.

While the prices of used race cars usually plummet, Michelotto–built cars—due to the number of venues in which they continue to be competitive—are still highly valued. For instance, while a stock 308 is a "how many do you want for $25,000" car, a Michelotto 308 will cost between $150,000 to $200,000, and that's twice what it was worth four years ago.

In America, a stock, no–bad–stories F40 will set you back around $300,000, while you'll need at least $400,000 to slide behind the wheel of a Michelotto F40 LM, GT or GTE. 333 SPs are still strong at $650,000 to $750,000, and don't seem to be depreciating like a normal used race car should. In fact, the winner of the 1998 Daytona 24 Hours and the 12 Hours of Sebring, S/N 19, sold for $1,000,000 two years ago and would still be worth the same today.

It can be safely said that if you are a collector of any modern Ferrari GT or sports prototype race car, you are a Michelotto collector.

(If you are in the market for a Michelotto–built or modified car, be sure to check with Michelotto to verify any claimed provenance. All of the serial numbers of the Michelotto cars are available, and well documented. Contact: Sig. Luigo Dindo, Michelotto G & C S.n.c., Via Chiesanuova, 27, 35136 Padova,Italy.)