Story by Stephen Mitchell
The first time I saw a Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso was at Riverside Raceway where I was attending the Times Grand Prix. The Mecom team–which earlier had campaigned a GTO I would later acquire–was there with a one-off special named the Hussein for A.J. Foyt to drive. At one point, I noticed an interesting shape in the pits and used my binoculars to get a better look. It was a Ferrari Lusso and it was gorgeous. As it turned out, the car belonged to the actress Jill St. John who I would later encounter on the 405 freeway towing a cabin cruiser on a trailer with her Lusso.
When I bought my first Ferrari, it was a 250 GT Lusso I’d found in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was silver blue with French blue leather–an interesting combination that suited the car well. After having a Jaguar 3.8 E-Type, the Lusso was a revelation and the free-revving V12 made sounds and delivered performance that were inspiring to say the least. I think it could be said that I enjoyed the car to the maximum extent possible getting far more than just daily transportation from it.
Occasionally, my father would ask to borrow the car. I was in my last year of high school at the time, so this was a twist on the cliché of asking Dad for the keys to the car. He frequented jazz clubs in various parts of Los Angeles having been a jazz man from before the war. Often, I would go with him though I was underage. When I couldn’t go because of homework or some similar nuisance, I’d let him take the Lusso to complete his evening’s fun. One night on his way home, my father was stopped at a red light two blocks from home. Another driver ran the red light, hit a car that had right-of-way and they both caromed into the Lusso. My father wasn’t injured but the Lusso’s grill opening and the left front fender were damaged.
It was in this condition that my father and I drove to Las Vegas in the Ferrari 250 GT Lusso and took part in an all-Ferrari parade lap for the Stardust Grand Prix. The sight of the damaged Lusso attracted the attention of Henry N. Manney III whom I was pleased to meet as I was an avid follower of his writings in Road & Track magazine.
After the trip to Las Vegas, the Lusso went into the body shop where it was stripped to bare metal and resprayed Ferrari red. The interior was changed to black. I did this because the silver blue kept fading and I had already resprayed it twice. I can honestly say that it felt like the Lusso gained twenty horsepower with the color change.
I would not have sold the Lusso but for the chance to buy a GTO. Sal di Natale–who worked on the Lusso when it needed servicing–called to say he had a GTO in the shop and the owner wanted to sell. I never noted the Lusso’s serial number and it would be fun to be able to track its history both before and after I owned it. For the record, the California license plate was RSN915 should this help anyone to identify the VIN.
[Source: Stephen Mitchell; photo credit: Tim Scott / Fluid Images]