Collecting cars comes naturally to Fred Fischer. His grandfather was a small dairy farmer in southeast Minnesota and he had an affinity for interesting cars. He owned Rolls-Royces and Duesenbergs, including one made for the Crown Prince of Hyderabad.
Fred’s father, John, continued the family interest in cars and in 1971 he took delivery of a 1957 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta Competition, chassis 0733, a model known as the Tour De France because of its success in that race series. Designed by Pinin Farina and built by Scaglietti in Modena, Italy, the car has a 3.0-liter, V-12 that produced about 250 horsepower.
Fred, from St. Louis, was a teenager when his dad originally bought the car, and he occasionally drove it to high school. He laughs as he says no one paid any attention to it, preferring Mustangs and Camaros instead. When he displayed the car on June 23 in Kansas City at the Art of the Car Concours, its lovely shape and immaculate condition drew oohs and aahs from the spectators. How times change.
Fred said the car was disassembled in 1973 and it languished in a garage for years. Once Fred took possession from his dad, he saved for 10 years, knowing that a full restoration would be very costly.
“My wife Mary always knew that I would restore the car,” he said, “and she never once complained, even when she had to walk around boxes of parts or when I left parts on the kitchen counter.”
After careful research, Fred engaged D&D Classic Auto Restoration in Covington, Ohio, to tackle the project. D&D discovered that the handmade aluminum body, damaged in a racing incident when new, was different from side to side. While some difference is not unusual for a hand- built car, the race damage meant one side needed to be corrected to match the other. D&D used a special coordinate measuring machine to ensure symmetry from side to side.
Covington is about seven hours from St. Louis, and Fred made four or five trips a year to check on the car’s progress. The complete restoration took six years, and Fred attributes his “almost God-given ability to wait” to his German heritage.
The car is painted French racing blue with a dark red stripe, just as it was ordered from the factory for its first race.
When Mary saw the completed car, Fred said she was stunned because it was nothing like what she imagined.
After sitting since 1972, the Fischer Ferrari is now back in action, and it made its public debut last summer at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, during the vintage sports car races.
Fred loves cars, especially “when I hear an engine and smell racing fuel.” But what he loves even more is the joy his Ferrari brings and the way its spoke wheels “sing” at 60-70 miles per hour.
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