It’s the late 1950s. A fifteen-year-old New York kid obsessed with car magazines pesters his father to visit the Manhattan car show to get up close to a Ferrari 250 PF Cabriolet. “The guy behind the rope says he wants 13,000 dollars,” the storyteller says, in an uncompromising New York accent. “My father tells him, ‘You kiddin’? My Cadillac cost six, and carries four people. This thing only carries two, so it should be half that price.’ I’m there with tears in my eyes, knowing I’m never gonna’ get a car like that. My father, he was a funny guy.”
Peter Kalikow, a Ferrari collector since 1967, at home in Purchase, New York with his 812 GTS on the left and, right, his rare 1951 212 Export
By July 1963, now 20, the young man was headed for a day at Jones beach in Long Island with his girlfriend one weekend, but it clouded over. “So we went on up to Nyack in Rockland County to see a guy I knew, Bob Grossman, who had a whole load of Ferrari cars.” That led to his first Ferrari drive, a 1962 SuperAmerica 400 SA Cabriolet. “Bob told me, sure, take it out. But don’t dent it.” He was smitten, but he had no money. “So I hatched a plan”.
He first convinced his indulgent mother to buy herself a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III. After such extravagance her son’s persistent pleas for a Ferrari were more difficult to resist and eventually saw him become the proud owner of a 330 GTC, in 1967. Aged just 24. “Whenever I’m asked how I started my Ferrari collection, hey, I always say: ‘By having great parents!’” he laughs, uproariously.
Kalikow in his 212 Export: "When I take it out with the top down, people always want to know where the driver is! The driver is on the right-hand side"
Today, Kalikow is a hugely successful real estate developer, and respected philanthropist, who supports New York City’s Holocaust Museum, Presbyterian Hospital, Temple Emanu-El synagogue, University, and . He received Italy’s Order of Merit in 2008 for services to Italy’s Jewish community, and he proudly wears the honour’s green lapel pin.
Ten years the SuperAmerica 45, a one-off, celebrated his forty-five years of buying Ferrari. This September will mark 55 years of collecting, manifested in an astonishing array of “about sixty” models. “We still have the Rolls, and I leave it in with them because I call it the genesis of all my Ferrari collection.”
"When there's snow on the ground, my favourite car is the F12berlinetta. And if it's a nice day I take out the 812 GTS (pictured)"
One of its shiniest jewels is the 212 from 1951, acquired in 2018, winner of the 2019 Amelia Concours d’Elegance. “It’s a beautiful car. I was amazed at the line on it when I first saw it. What surprised me was the quality of the bodybuilding. The 212s, especially the exports, were essentially race cars. You either put a race body on it or a street body on it.”
He expertly relates its roller-coaster history, which saw it criss-cross the Atlantic, compete at Le Mans, and undergo a 1980 restoration. Asked if he has taken it for a spin, he responds, “Oh, all the time. It took me a while to learn how to drive it. What I like about that car, I take it with the top down, people always want to know where the driver is! The driver is on the right-hand side,” he chuckles. “Everybody gives me the thumbs up.” He can often be seen zipping around in it in leafy Purchase, New York, where he lives. “And I take it out to Montauk for the Summer.”
Asked why he still buys Ferrari, he pauses. “I bought my first Ferrari before I met my wife. Other than my wife and my children Ferrari has been the one constant thing in my life.” That’s a big thing to say. “Yeah, it is”, he agrees, thoughtfully. Then he brightens. “Ferrari was my ‘go-to’ Saturday car even when I was working my ass off.”
So what became of that magazine- devouring teenager? Is he now a ‘collector’, an ‘investor’, or a ‘Ferrarista’? “I like the last one better,” he smiles, wryly. There can be few people who more deserve the epithet.