You could say some Ferrari of Los Gatos customers were addicted. They had a love affair with the car, and it became their non-romantic mistress. One customer bought, sold, and traded two or three Ferraris a week regularly.
If you had unlimited resources and an open checkbook, Ferraris could satisfy the urge to indulge in something most people never experience. In my interview with Dennis Glavis, past general manager and 24-year employee at Ferrari of Los Gatos, he told about his best customer.
“My best customer was such a nice fellow. He was easy to get along with, and someone you enjoyed interacting with. His father had the distribution rights for Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola in parts of Taiwan and Mainland China.”
Guess that explains why this young man had access to unlimited sums of money. He lived in San Francisco and loved to visit the dealership in Los Gatos. When he couldn’t make the drive, he’d buy or sell a car over the phone.
“I remember the time he bought three Ferraris in one week. Another time he traded in the Ferrari he had purchased a day earlier for a different one over the phone—he hadn’t seen either car. For him, it was like changing socks,” recalled Dennis.
“One day my customer walked into the showroom and told me, ‘I had a good dream last night. I’m going to buy the car that appeared in it.’ When we ordered it, he reminded me of one other thing. ‘The car must have the following numbers on the license plate.’ Numerology was very important to him.”
Dennis continued, “And you get this diversity of customers. I remember the guy that bashed up the Lamborghini, and that was in one of your earlier stories (read the story here). Most of the customers were really, really nice people. It was like you were all part of the same club.”
The Love Affair Generated by Real Passion
Customers had a strong passion for Ferraris. They were buying something extraordinary, not an everyday car or a Toyota pick up truck for an employee to use in their business.
These people were obviously wealthy individuals that enjoyed being in a non-stressful environment where they could reward themselves with something they truly loved. This was especially true for the guys that bought the vintage cars.
Dennis explained how one customer bought a 427 SC Cobra to use as his daily driver. “At the time you could buy the 427 SC Cobra for around $15,000. My customer drove it back and forth to work every day. He traded that Cobra in on a Ferrari 250 GTO. There were only 39 250 GTOs manufactured between 1962 and 1964. Today, a Ferrari 250 GTO is considered the most valuable car the world has ever seen. In 2018, one sold for $48.4 million at an RM Sotheby’s auction in California and a second sold privately for somewhere between $70 and $80 million.”
Dennis knows his customer loved these classic cars, but he’s not sure his old customer still has the Ferrari 250 GTO today. If he does, he’s a lucky man.
Dennis described the storage facility located across the street from the Ferrari of Los Gatos dealership lot. “You know, we had a storage facility across the street that usually had about 10 old, cranky Ferraris in it. Those cars would probably be worth $150 million today. We didn’t show them to all our customers, but when we did, they usually begged us to buy one.”
In 1983 Eagle Computer went public and its Founder, Dennis Barnhart, rewarded himself by purchasing a new Ferrari. Later that day he was killed in an accident while driving it.
Interesting People with Unusual Stories
Ferrari of Los Gatos customers were interesting and successful. For example, a story about the founder of Silicon Valley Eagle Computer rocked the Ferrari world and the Ferrari lifestyle because of the way the press portrayed it. “They milked it as Silicon Valley’s wretched excess,” said Dennis.
In 1983 on the day Eagle Computer went public, it’s CEO and Founder, Dennis Barnhart, rewarded himself by purchasing a new Ferrari. Later that day he had too much to drink and drove too fast on a Los Gatos road just a few blocks from company headquarters. The car flew through the air, tore through 20 feet of metal guardrail, and crashed into the bottom of a ravine. Barnhart was dead on arrival at Los Gatos General Hospital, and his passenger was seriously injured. While it was bad judgment, the press took the angle that it was just another example of the craziness in Silicon Valley.
Many wealthy CEOs purchased a Ferrari when their companies went public. It was an addiction they could not avoid—one that signaled they had arrived.
Barnhart was 40 years young with a wife and three children.
The interview with Dennis Glavis took place in 2018 at his Morgan West car dealership in Santa Monica, California. He can be reached at Dennis@morganwest.net.
His story continues in the next post when he shares more memories of his 24 years at Ferrari of Los Gatos.
Do you have any stories about Ferraris from the 1980s or any other time? Please share the story here, or leave a comment below.