John “J” Geils has a penchant for everything Italian. In his garage northwest of the city, an Alfa Romeo, a Maserati, a Lancia, and a Fiat Dino are lorded over by this rare 1961 Ferrari 250 GTE—one of only 950 produced. “The big deal is that this was Ferrari’s first mass-produced car,” Geils says. “It has the same basic engine layout as the 250 GTO racecar, and those sell for $40 million.”
Geils’s infatuation with Ferraris started at a young age: “When I was 10, my father brought me to a race and I asked him, ‘What are those red cars that look the best, sound the best, and keep on winning?’” Geils would end up buying and selling a number of Ferrari 250s in the ’70s and ’80s, many of which are now easily worth seven figures.
While some collectors value originality, Geils reconfigured this GTE to suit himself, swapping out the original automatic transmission for a manual five-speed with electric overdrive from a newer Ferrari. And after toying with painting the car red, he decided to finish it in a quieter two-tone blue and silver, opting for a rich scarlet interior instead.
“I’ll admit it is not the best handling car,” Geils says, “but the experience is so rewarding. Every time that I hop behind the wheel, I smell the leather, see the ‘prancing horse’ on the hood, and the vibration and sound of the V12, and I realize that this is exactly where I want to be.”