Los Gatos, California, was the home of a Ferrari dealer. As a kid, that’s all I knew about that little town. I grew up in Palo Alto, 45 minutes north. And the thought of a Ferrari made me shiver with excitement. Seeing or hearing one stopped me from whatever I was doing to watch the magnificent machine pass. If you are a Ferrari enthusiast, maybe you can relate.
I got hooked watching Magnum, P.I. at 7:30 Thursday nights. Watching Tom Selleck drive around the north shore of Oahu, Hawaii in a red 308 GTSi kept me glued to the TV.
That car impressed me so much I hung a framed poster of it on the wall in front of my desk at work. For years, every time I looked up I saw dual round taillights on either side of the prancing horse – Ferrari’s famous logo.
I told my kids, “Someday, dad will have a Ferrari like that.” I held on to that dream for a long time.
My Lucky Day and an Awesome Dream Car Find
I moved to Los Gatos 30 years later and met Brian Burnett, owner of Ferrari of Los Gatos. I immediately told him of my lifetime love of Ferrari’s and how I’d always wanted one. Not far into the conversation, he asked, “Do you still want one?”
“I know about an ‘82 308 GTSi, red on tan, with just 12,000 miles. And it’s only had one owner.”
“I’ll take it.”
I told him of my lifetime love of Ferrari’s and how I’d always wanted one. Not far into the conversation, he asked, “Do you still want one?”
Without hesitation, he made a call. I heard him say, “Do you still have the 308? Okay, consider it sold. Don’t do anything with it.”
Brian turned to me after he hung up. “Write a check for $10,000.”
“Okay, I’ll be right back. My checkbook is in the car.” As I walked toward the door, I heard, “Jim, Jim.” I turned, and Brian waved me back to my seat. As I sat down, he said, “It was just a test. I wanted to make sure you were serious.”
I said, “Heck, yes, I’m serious. I’ll take it sight unseen.” Brian gave me the ‘you must be kidding look’ and said, “Number one lesson: Don’t ever buy a car you or someone you trust hasn’t seen. We’ll look at it tomorrow. If you still like it, you can buy it then.”
I bought the car, have it today, and don’t plan on getting rid of it anytime soon. It’s brought a lot of joy and pleasure to me and friends or relatives that have driven it.
Stories That Need to be Told
Brian and I became good friends and spent a lot of time together. He never stopped telling me stories about Ferrari of Los Gatos and finished each tale with these words: “And someone ought to write a book about it.”
One night, after many stories and his predictable conclusion “And someone ought to write a book about it” I told him, “I’ll do it. I’ll write the book.”
A Book about Ferrari of Los Gatos that will Surprise You
How difficult could it be, I thought? I’d spent years in the business world writing. I had met a guy with incredible stories about the car I loved. There must be a reason for that chance encounter, I reasoned. I must be destined to write a book based on his stories.
This blog is a prelude to THE DEALER—How One California Dealership Fueled the Rise of Ferrari Cars in America. The book shares behind the scene stories of Brian Burnett and Ferrari of Los Gatos over the twenty-year ride from 1976 to 1995. THE DEALER will share Brian’s journey through the world of Ferrari only a few have ever seen, and tell the story of becoming the best-known dealer in North America, topping all others in sales.
Many car enthusiasts visited that magical, mystical corner of East Main Street and Pageant Way in Los Gatos where the story takes place. Maybe you were one of them?
If you enjoy entertaining and fascinating stories or just love cars, especially Ferraris, you will find the blog posts here just what you want.
Each story will be either a condensed version of something in THE DEALER or a re-print of Ferrari or other classic car information of interest to car enthusiasts.
The ride begins in the next post. Please join me.