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Kenny Lloyd (seated) accepts an award for best of show from Jean Todt, CEO of Ferrari for the 330 P4 — the last of its kind. Lloyd traveled to Italy along with Bob and Beverly Smith and co-workers Chad Baldwin and Ed Insel the weekend of June 23 for a 60th anniversary Ferarri show.

For five Gainesville residents a recent trip to Italy was a pilgrimage to their business’ most sacred site.

Bob Smith, owner of Bob Smith’s Coachworks of Gainesville, his wife Beverly Smith, and employees Chad Baldwin, Ed Insel and Kenny Lloyd took a 23-hour trip to Italy for the Ferrari 60 Concorso d’Eleganza two weeks ago. The event recognized the sports car company’s 60th anniversary, summoning notable Ferraris from around the world to appear for a three-day car show and tour.

Of the hundreds of Ferraris on display at the event three of the vehicles were restored in Gainesville — two of which were the only ones of their kind in the world.

For the invitation-only event, Smith transported a Ferrari 166 Barchatta, a 1966 330 P4 and a personally designed car owned by Ferrari coach builder Carrozerria Bertone to the show. Smith said it was the first event of its kind, and if there is to be another one it would probably not be until the 70th anniversary.

“We won it all with the P4,” Smith said, with a large grin.

The 330 P4 and the Bertone cars are both unique.

“The P4 is a ‘Mona Lisa,’ but I would compare the Bertone to ‘Whistler’s Mother,’” he said.

Smith said the P4 is “the most famous Ferrari of all time,” and there is only one like it left in the world out of three ever built, though there are about a hundred replicas. Various Ferrari enthusiast Web sites say the P4 is worth about $10 million.

“And it was here in Gainesville,” Smith said.

He said restoring coach (meaning the car’s body) of the P4 took 10 months in 2004. The historic car, which won 1967’s “24 Hours of Daytona” endurance race, was restored to its appearance on the track, complete with a slightly offset encircled No. 7.

The concorso (meaning “competition” in Italian and sports car enthusiast lingo) began Friday, June 22, at the Ferrari factory near Maranello, Italy, where 60 cars representing what company officials consider to be the best of the manufacturer took the road test route on an escorted tour down winding paths, old-world Italian villages and open fields. Smith said villagers lined up along the roadways to cheer on the parade of classic sports cars.

Smith said his P4 was not street legal and did not make the road tour, but he and Beverly Smith took the Bertone car on the drive.

On June 23 the V-12 engine sports cars rallied at the company’s private test track in Fiorano, Italy, before lining up in their respective classes to greet spectators. The evening featured a cocktail party, a film showcasing Ferrari’s 60 years of building automobiles projected on a wall of flowing water and a fireworks show which Smith said was one of the most intensive displays he has seen.

That Sunday, June 24, a car show was underway, in which Smith’s company took three awards for the P4: Racing best of show, presented by the president of Ferrari and Fiat Luca di Montezemolo; rear-engine class champion and an employees choice award, which was voted on by about 2,800 Ferrari factory workers and office workers as the most beautiful vehicle.

The Bertone car won third in its class.

“For us this was like winning the Super Bowl,” Smith said.

Smith said he and his four travel partners had “free run” of the Ferrari plant to put some finishing touches on the P4, which he said is usually closed to visitors.

“It would probably have been easier to break into the White House than the Ferrari plant,” Smith said, noting there were guards at every turn.

Lloyd said they were unable to catch a glimpse of any prototype cars at the factory, as some areas were closed off.

Baldwin said he got goosebumps walking through the factory, of which he and his co-workers had only seen photos.

“What was neat is that after working on these cars for so many years we got to work on the P4 right inside the factory,” Baldwin said.

Insel, who called the tour “breathtaking,” noted the cleanliness of the factory, with no fumes as would be expected in a traditional automobile manufacturing facility. Smith compared it to a clean room used by NASA.

The manufacturing facility, Insel said, finishes eight 12-cylinder engine vehicles per day and two 8-cylinders. He said each car takes about a week to assemble and two months to customize, as each car has unique features.

“They always request something different,” Baldwin added. “It could be something little like the color of the brake calipers, but it has to be something.”

Beverly Smith said the tour was inspirational.

“I think we saw a lot of the things we’d like to do in the new shop,” she said, noting that Bob Smith Coachworks plans to move to a location off east FM 922 within the next few years.

Insel said he learned about upholstery application techniques from the factory, but Smith said some of the methods used at the factory cannot easily be duplicated in Cooke County — he said two robots, “Romeo and Juliet,” assembled parts on the Ferraris with a 1/1,000,000th of an inch tolerance.

Insel said he and his co-workers were not nervous about the competition.

“After you do it for awhile you don’t worry much,” he said. “You just treat it like anything else ... but putting in windshields, that when you get nervous!”

Bob Smith Coachworks is located at West Highway 82 and Floral Drive in Gainesville.

On the Net:

Photos of the concorso and more information on the competition may be viewed at Classic Driver magazine’s Web site at www.classicdriver.com/uk/magazine

Ferrari North America: www.ferrariusa.com

Reporter Andy Hogue may be contacted at

andyhoguegdr@ntin.net

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