Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Pininfarina
Ferrari Classiche Certified ToggleRoss Cortese, Tustin, California (acquired new in 1965)Dr. Roy Porta, Hillsborough, California (acquired circa 1967)John Mecom Jr., Houston, Texas (acquired by 1976)Sid Simpson, Houston, Texas (acquired circa 1977)Robert Taylor, Burlingame, California (acquired in July 1978)Peter and Mary Mathew, Redwood City, California (acquired from the above circa 1979)Edward Hol, San Francisco, California (acquired from the above in 2005)John Calley, Los Angeles, California (acquired in 2007)David Walters, Burbank, California (acquired from the above in 2009)Current Owner (acquired from the estate of the above)
Unveiled at the 1964 Geneva Auto Show, the 500 Superfast was the last in a series of ultra-exclusive Ferrari road cars, built in limited numbers for the world’s elite.
Powered by a special five-liter V-12 engine, the Superfast lived up to the promise of its name. With 400 hp, a claimed top speed of 170 mph, effortless acceleration, and the ability to cruise at 100 mph, this rare Ferrari has long been regarded among the finest grand touring cars.
Combining the ultimate in high performance with understated Italian style, the new Ferrari featured Pininfarina coachwork that struck an ideal balance between fashionable trends and traditional elegance. A refinement of the previous 400 Superamerica Aerodinamico Coupe, the 500 Superfast featured graceful proportions, a large glass greenhouse, and an aerodynamically effective Kamm tail, reminiscent of Ferrari’s contemporary racing cars. Inside the luxurious cabin, passengers were treated to adjustable seats upholstered in the finest Connolly hides, a platform for fitted luggage, beautiful teak veneers, a top-of-the-line radio, and a variety of specialized instruments.
Between March 1964 and August 1966, Ferrari completed only 36 examples of the 500 Superfast. Production took place at the leisurely rate of just one or two cars each month, allowing Pininfarina to custom tailor each car to its original owner’s exacting specifications. Exclusive in all respects, the Superfast was the most expensive Ferrari road car of its day, commanding a price twice that of a 275 GTB and costing nearly as much as a brand-new 250 LM. Among the select few who could afford the Superfast’s extraordinary $15,000-plus asking price were famous names such as Shah Reza Pahlavi of Iran, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, Barbara Hutton, and Peter Sellers.
The 500 Superfast offered here, chassis 5989 SF, is the seventh example built and one of only 28 originally specified in left-hand drive. This car’s history began in March 1964, when its chassis entered the Pininfarina plant in Torino and the project was assigned job number 99586. Pininfarina completed the coachwork on January 12, 1965, finishing it in Azzurro (Blue, code 19278 M) and trimming the upholstery in Panno Blu Speciale, a blue cloth used in the contemporary Lancia Flavia. Consistent with its 1964 build, 5989 SF features the 11-louver front-quarter vents and circular Carello turn-signal lamps, attractive elements that are unique to the earliest 500 Superfasts.
In February 1965, Ferrari shipped the new 500 Superfast to the US, and Luigi Chinetti sold the car to its first owner, Ross Cortese, the California developer behind the planned retirement community Leisure World. Mr. Cortese owned the car for a brief period before selling it to Dr. Roy Porta of Hillsborough, California. An avid sports car enthusiast, Dr. Porta owned a succession of important Ferraris throughout the 1960s, including two Tour de France Berlinettas and the one-of-a-kind 250 GT Sperimentale.
In 1976, 5989 SF was sold to John Mecom Jr. of Houston, Texas. Heir to one of the great Texas oil fortunes, Mr. Mecom founded the New Orleans Saints football franchise, sponsored some of the most successful American racing teams of the 1960s, and amassed a remarkable collection of exotic animals, Tiffany glass, guns, yachts, and planes. At its height, his stable of classic cars included a variety of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Rolls-Royces, as well as important racing cars such as Graham Hill’s 1966 Indy 500-winning Lola T90.
By 1977, the 500 Superfast had been sold to Houston-area Ferrari dealer Sid Simpson after an accident that had damaged the front end. The next year, Robert Taylor of Burlingame, California, acquired the 22,000-mile Ferrari and sold it soon after to Peter and Mary Mathew of Redwood City, California. The Mathews enjoyed the 500 Superfast for over two decades, driving it to local classic car events including the 1984 Monterey Historic Races at Laguna Seca.
In 2005, San Francisco Bay Area resident Edward Hol purchased the Ferrari and commissioned the respected Beckman Coachworks of Costa Mesa, California, to perform a comprehensive restoration. During this two-year process, the bodywork was refinished in an appropriate light metallic blue with the interior retrimmed in elegant dark red leather.
Once completed, the 500 Superfast was sold to influential Hollywood producer and car enthusiast John Calley. The Ferrari remained in Mr. Calley’s care for approximately two years before being sold to David Walters, a Hawaii- and California-based collector with a variety of high-quality classics. In 2011, following Mr. Walters’ passing, 5989 SF was acquired by the consignor, a prominent West Coast collector with a stable of some of the most historically significant Ferraris.
In the current ownership, the 500 Superfast has benefited from expert maintenance, cosmetic attention, and regular exercise. Significant work performed in recent years includes a high-quality repaint by Byers Custom & Restoration in Auburn, Washington, and an engine and gearbox rebuild performed by Dennison International in Puyallup, Washington. Today, the Ferrari is absolutely jewel-like in every detail, from its polished Borrani wire wheels to the three-piece fitted luggage set, and it is said to perform beautifully.
In keeping with its impeccable presentation, the Ferrari Classiche department has issued a Certificate of Authenticity and Red Book for 5989 SF, confirming that this car retains its original chassis, body, engine (internal no. 14/SA), gearbox (internal no. 482), differential (internal no. 11), and other ancillary components. Additionally, this Superfast is offered with a report produced by Ferrari historian Marcel Massini, copies of the factory build sheets, and a file of invoices detailing the work performed during the consignor’s ownership.
A brilliant expression of power and exclusivity, the 500 Superfast exudes the character and artistry of a bygone era in custom coachbuilding. These exotic, large-displacement gran turismos were the most expensive and refined road-going Ferraris of the mid-1960s, built in limited numbers for the company’s most-valued customers. Because of their unmatched quality, style, and sophistication, these special Ferraris have always maintained a peerless reputation, with most examples now held in major private collections.
As one of only 28 left-hand drive Superfasts ever built – and one of considerably fewer early production cars possessing distinctive features – 5989 SF must be considered among the most important coachbuilt Ferraris. Brilliantly presented in a spectacular color scheme, maintained by respected specialists, and certified by the Ferrari Classiche department, this is an immensely desirable classic Ferrari.