Michael Sheehan

On a cold Canadian morning in February 1969, as the sun tried to break through and the early morning snow became a bitterly cold rain, Haight-Ashbury and warmer weather beckoned. In hours, I was on the rain-swept Trans-Canada highway with $10 (Canadian) in my pocket, hitchhiking south. Over the next two years, in a homage to fellow Canadian Jack Kerouac, I made multiple pilgrimages up and down the West Coast.

In 1970, I found myself in downtown San Francisco in need of parts for a 1955 Chevy, when I heard a new-to-me, and hopelessly exotic exhaust rumble from a parking area across the street. The driver was a caricature of a European movie director, wearing a blazer, a cravat and a beret. I crossed the street and fell in love with his car. It was dark blue, had four exhaust pipes, a crossed flag emblem on the trunk, and the chrome script read “Superfast.” I had just seen my first Ferrari, and I was hopelessly imprinted. (Decades and much research later, I found it was 500 Superfast, s/n 08253.)

In 1971, while going to junior college in Orange County, CA, I opened a one-man body shop. Another local shop imported mechanical parts from wrecked 356 Porsches from Germany, using ex-German Post Office VW buses as packing crates that could be driven to the docks in Hamburg. I patched up and resold the buses to Southern California hippies. I did well and eventually moved up the food chain to Austin Healey, and, later, to Jaguar E-type sales and repairs.

In late 1972, I purchased my first Ferrari, 250 PF Coupe, s/n 1447GT, for $2k, at a time when a house in Southern California cost $20k. It taught me the joy of setting 24 valves and syncing double-point distributors. In 1973, I bought my second Ferrari, Vignale 212 Cabriolet, s/n 0125EL, for $850. Now a two-Ferrari owner, I was, by default, in the Ferrari business. In 1973, I moved my shop to Costa Mesa, CA. We were just down the road from Road & Track magazine — and right in the center of Southern California car culture.

In 1974, I purchased Daytona prototype, s/n 12547, an ex-Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring racer, for $14k at a time when buying a used-up and stripped-out race car was masochistic madness. My lame rationale was that the outside fuel filter looked cool, and the roll bar would save me if I flipped it during a late-night run down Laguna Canyon Road.

I began racing, starting with a 206 GT and then moving to Mazda Pro, then Barber Saab, to Trans-Am, IMSA GTO and eventually the Camel-Lite Series. My best — and last — season was 1993, with five podium finishes at Lime Rock, Mid-America, Watkins Glen, Portland and Phoenix. As part of our business strategy, we tracked down, bought, prepared and raced what were then long-lost race cars.

On top of sales, restoration, and racing, I also was the monthly Ferrari columnist for Sports Car Market magazine 1993-2013, Long term contributing author to Ferrari Market Letter & Cavallino magazines, long term author of socio-economic analysis of Global Ferrari price trends,  and am the monthly Ferrari market analysis for FORZA magazine from 2006 to date. Today I no longer run a large restoration shop, but rather happily work with my Daughter Colleen at our showroom specializing in the cars I love so much.