Articles

Michael Sheehan's Ferraris-online.com Article

Where Have All The 1959 TRs Gone?

As appeared in:

Sports Car Market—May 1998 issue

Sheehan Speaks

by Michael Sheehan

Mike Sheehan

Ferrari built three works Testarossas for racing in 1959. Over the next 40 years, this model became legendary and highly sought after. Where have they all gone?

The answer has to do with the name McCaw. John McCaw Sr. was an innovative entrepreneur who bought and sold many radio and TV stations and cable systems. In the early 1970s he sold his four sons a tiny cable TV system in Centralia, Washington. His sons’ business grew and when the senior McCaw learned that AT&T had projected 900,000 cellular phones in the USA by the year 2000, McCaw’s company began to buy licenses for cellular phones at less than $5 per subscriber.

In the late 1980s, the McCaws raised $1.25 billion and went on a buying spree of cellular companies, while selling off the cable business, which had grown to 434,000 subscribers, for $775 million. This allowed John McCaw Jr. to buy a few cars and begin a classic car collection.

The value of cellular phone companies took a jump in the 1990s. AT&T bought 30 percent of the same, now somewhat larger, McCaw communications empire for a modest $3.8 billion. The McCaw brothers became instant billionaires.

With a little time and more than a few dollars in his pocket, in 1997 John McCaw purchased 1959 0770 TR for $4 million. One of only three 1959 TRs built, this car was raced by the Ferrari factory in 1959. It was a great start to a serious Ferrari collection.

Pete Lovely, a well-known racer from the Seattle area, also owned a 1959 TR, serial number 0768. It had a better and less cloudy history than 0770, just purchased by McCaw. If you can’t beat ’em, buy ’em, and so for $5 million, 0768 TR joined the lineup in the McCaw garage.

But wait, there was one more more 1959 TR left. 0766 TR had the best history of the three survivors. For $5.6 million it joined its former team mates in the Pacific Northwest in February of this year, completing the lineup.

1959 TR on its way to McCaw’s garage?
1959 TR on its way to McCaw’s garage?

John McCaw both redefined and cornered the market with each purchase, buying &ldquolthe best of the best” and creating what is unquestionably one of the best Ferrari collections on the planet. So if you have spent many sleepless nights saving your pennies for a 1959 Testa Rossa, you’re too late.

At least until John McCaw decides to sell one of his three cars, and if he does, the price will be whatever he wants it to be.

MICHAEL SHEEHAN has been a Ferrari dealer for 30 years as well as a race car driver and exotic car broker.