Cars

The Certificate of Authenticity guarantees the immaculate pedigree of a classic Ferrari. To award it, the experts at the Ferrari Classiche Department delve into the unrivalled archives at Maranello, where the original DNA is conserved for each facet of every car
Words – Alessandro Giudice

Many cars have their own story to tell, but almost every Ferrari has an extraordinary history to reveal

Take, for instance, chassis number 08653, the ruby red 275 GTS Spider Pininfarina once owned by style icon Steve McQueen. It was originally black when he bought it, with matching Franzi leather and cabin trim, wire wheels and Dunlop tyres
We know all this detail because of the absolute precision that Enzo Ferrari demanded in every area of the company. This has produced an unparalleled historical archive in which each car has its own set of documentation right down to the tiniest build detail, plus any after-sales work carried out at the factory, official dealerships or authorised assistance centres.

For instance, we know that the changing of the paintwork of McQueen’s GTS from black to ruby red was done in a Californian coachworks using Rosso Rubino from the Ferrari catalogue. Colour is just one of the many specifications that are added to the Certification book requested by the current owner of this beautiful 275 GTS Spider.
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Andrea Ceccarelli/Red Focus

The stunning 275 GTS awaits inspection. In the background are just some of the thousands of files held in the Classiche Department's technical archives Photo credit: Andrea Ceccarelli - Red Focus

Certification is done to prove a car’s authenticity to ensure that it conforms to its homologated design. It is a complex process that relies upon the original documents held in the Ferrari archives; key to this certification process is the car’s Scheda Vettura, the vehicle specification sheet.

‘In Ferrari, we keep one file for every single chassis and it details all of the components installed in the car,’ says Andrea Modena, who heads up the Ferrari Classiche Department. ‘It is a build sheet that lists all of a car’s components, such as headers, dampers, the type of exhaust fitted. Every single detail, in other words.’
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Andrea Ceccarelli/Red Focus

Enzo Ferrari's insistence on recording every single stage of work on each individual car has created an unparalleled historical archive Photo credit: Andrea Ceccarelli - Red Focus

For example, it is known that Steve McQueen’s 275 GTS, chassis #08653, design #563, had Borletti instruments calibrated in miles, Girling G50 power brakes, plus an extra Bendix pump used as an auxiliary pump.

To support the build sheet, Ferrari also retains all the production bills of materials and the lists of designs for every single component of the car. These assorted technical documents, plus the sales papers, provide the starting point. Then Ferrari Classiche checks that the individual car conforms to the original design.

Checks are made to ensure that the stamps on the main assemblies, such as engine, gearbox, and suspension, comply with the originals. ‘We know that these can be forged or faked,’ says Modena. ‘So we even check the individual casting and bodywork numbers which are all secret and kept in our archive to allow us to crosscheck.’
Image from 50th issue of TOFM

Andrea Ceccarelli/Red Focus

The Classiche Department carries extensive documentation on each car. Pictured on the screen with the 275 GTS is Steve McQueen and then wife Neile Adams Photo credit: Andrea Ceccarelli - Red Focus

Where some components are found to have been replaced with Ferrari originals, this will be attested by the SAT (Technical Assistance Service) sheet on which all scheduled, and unscheduled, maintenance is dutifully recorded. This originality assessment aims to confirm that the components were replaced with spares that themselves were made using the original method.

The actual Certificate of Authenticity, personally signed by Piero Ferrari, is issued by a committee made up of nine external members who evaluate the assessment and certify any exemptions, such as for certain car parts that can no longer be sourced.
Image from 50th issue of TOFM

Andrea Ceccarelli/Red Focus

Checks are carefully carried out, step by step, guided by constant reference to the original technical documentation of the model, and to its chassis specifications Photo credit: Andrea Ceccarelli - Red Focus

One recent demonstration of the meticulous nature of the process was provided by a hugely valuable 250 GTO. Technicians realised the chassis didn’t match the Scheda Vettura. When tracking down why the chassis had been modified, Ferrari Classiche uncovered original drawings of the second GTO prototype, which detailed the work carried out to accommodate a larger fuel tank.

There is sometimes a thin line between a fake and a one-off specimen but the solution is found in the vast archives. Proof that even legends can’t hide the fact that they are created piece by tiny piece, just like a beautiful mosaic.