This Ferrari BB512, owned by Dunedin businessman Mark Wellington, is the missing link and the final chapter in the engrossing story of Pat Hoare’s 1960 Formula One Ferrari. This is the ‘Logan Fow Ferrari’ — the car he exchanged for the Hoare F1 car but which was ‘lost’ on the Ports of Auckland wharves in 1979 following a long and expensive battle with NZ Customs. When I wrote the story about the Hoare F1 car in an earlier issue (NZ Classic Driver #101, May/June 2022) there was a question mark over what happened to the Logan Fow Ferrari. There was talk that the car sat on the Auckland wharves for so long it virtually disintegrated — it became “munted”.
However, the answer would come in an email from Mark Wellington – “I have the Logan Fow car, would you like to do a story on it?” I have known Mark for many years and he’s a car enthusiast. He’s owned a number of other Ferraris, his daily driver is a blue Porsche Panamera and, until recently, he was a regular competitor in classic racing in a Porsche. And it runs in the family — his three sons are equally enthusiastic. Steve has the 1999 ex-Emma Gilmore Mitsubishi Evo 6 RS rally and Targa car.
Mike has the ex-Hayden Paddon 2005 Mitsubishi Evo 8 RS, rallied by Hayden in New Zealand and Australia, and which in 2016 won the NZRC in the hands of David Holder. The third son, Rick, owns a 1999 Mitsubishi Evo 6 rally car and a 1986 M635 ‘sharknose’. So, very much a car family – but how did this Ferrari story all come about?
AN UNWANTED FERRARI
Without going over too much familiar territory, Hoare’s F1 Ferrari was a car that came to New Zealand just three months after it had won the 1960 Italian Grand Prix and then, for two years, it captivated New Zealand motor racing enthusiasts with its classic long nose, chrome wire-wheeled poise and the blood curdling shriek of the 3.0-litre Testarossa V12 sports car engine it had been repowered with, by the factory, for Hoare. Hoare couldn’t find a buyer for the car at the end of the 1962 New Zealand season and, circa 1964 had it converted into a road car.
Although a somewhat awkward looking car, it was a Ferrari at a time when you could count the number of roadgoing Ferraris in New Zealand on one finger of one hand — possibly the only other example was Bruce Lindemann’s Daytona. There weren’t a lot of them! The converted car was subsequently purchased by Logan Fow, an eccentric Hamilton primary school teacher – but that was really a bit of a front. Logan Fow lived in a grand house on the river in Hamilton, dressed unusually, and came from ‘old money’ via the Waikato-based Turner and Fow group of companies.
He and his wife had nine children. Instead of business, Fow opted to be a teacher with interests in caving, flying kites and, germane to this story, collecting cars — in particular Mistrals. Apparently he was popular with the boy pupils, particularly in designing, making and flying kites. His popularity increased when he bought the Ferrari and arrived in it each day at school.
At one stage, Hoare had had fitted a juryrigged reverse gear (as a racing car it had no reverse), but this broke and Fow had his pupils push him back out of his parking space at high school. Fow apparently loved the car which he called “Louise”, describing it as the best car he had ever driven. By the late seventies, the previously unwanted F1 Ferrari had become desirable, thanks to the increasing popularity of classic motor racing.
Mark Wellington, aware of the history of the car has assembled an impressive collection of letters regarding the troubled history of the BB512 when it arrived in New Zealand, but there is no record of how British classic racer Neil Corner and Logan Fow got together and concluded a deal that saw Fow exchange “Louise” for a brand new Ferrari BB512. At the time the deal was done there was a waiting list for this model Ferrari, but Corner was an insider and Fow was able to ask for a car to his specifications.
Corner, often referred to as ‘Nigel’, came from a wealthy family and his father had raced AJS motorcycles but considered they were too dangerous for his son and encouraged him into cars. He showed prodigious talent.
British Racing Driver Club records show that in 1967, at the age of 30, Neil Corner was well active, racing Ford GT40s in modern racing as well as a Maserati 250F car in classic racing. In late 1977, or perhaps early 1978, Corner and Fow engaged in conversation over the Ferrari and a deal was done.
There is a story that before the Neil Corner deal was done, Logan Fow approached Continental Car Services (CCS) in Auckland looking to swap his car for a new Boxer, but CCS weren’t interested in the ex-F1 car in a ball gown!
The first letter from Mark Wellington’s file is dated March 17, 1978 and is from the New Zealand Ferrari agents at that time, Torino Motors, to Maranello Concessionaires in the UK. The letter introduces Logan Fow to Maranello Concessionaires saying Fow had ordered a BB512 from Tim Bailey at Continental Car Services in Auckland and he would be flying to the UK and taking ‘tourist delivery’ of the car.
Maranello Concessionaires, founded by Colonel Ronnie Hoare in 1960, were the leading Ferrari dealers in the world at that time. The BB512 that Logan Fow ordered from Tim Bailey was to be finished in Blu Scuro with pigskin upholstery.
The Torino letter, signed by P J Clarke (Sales and Marketing Manager) advised that Fow had paid them a deposit of £2,222 pounds, leaving a balance of £20,000, and by the time Fow was to arrive in London Neil Corner would have paid them (Maranello Concessionaires) another US$35,000 which would leave a final balance of £1,350 which either Fow or Neil Corner would pay on receipt of the car.
Then follows a series of letters between Maranello Concessionaires and Torino Motors settling some issues over the price and the commission which was to be shared by both Torino Motors as the NZ importer, Continental Car Services as the NZ dealer and Maranello Concessionaires — interesting stuff, but not really essential to this story.
There is really no way of knowing precisely what the deal was — whether it was a clean swap, ‘Louise’ for a new BB512, or did Fow have to top up the deal with some extra cash? However, there is another letter, more a memo, from Maranello Concessionaires to Neil Corner dated March 23, 1978 thanking him for the £1,000 deposit on a BB512 Ferrari to be delivered in September that year for L. Fow.
A second letter in March from Torino to Maranello changes the colour from blue to red (20.R.190) with cream leather upholstery and black carpets. At that stage it looked like Fow was going to take delivery from the factory in Italy, but he obviously changed his mind.
Another ‘memo’ from Maranello to Neil Corner on April 25, 1978 details £19,000 — which with the £1,000 already paid makes up the £20,000 Corner had agreed to pay. On May 11, 1978 Maranello Concessionaires confirmed the order for one BB512 Ferrari, right hand drive, Rosso Chiaro in colour, interior 3997 (the code for cream) and Nero (black) carpets. There were no options and the car was scheduled for September production.
BB 512 – ‘Berlinetta’ for the style of the body, ‘Boxer’ for the horizontally-opposed engine, ‘5’ for the 5.0-litre engine capacity (actually 4.9) and ‘12’ for the number of cylinders. On July 4, 1978 the Ferrari factory confirmed the order — Ferrari BB512, chassis number 24839 RHD, radio fitted as standard, Rosso Chiaro, crema leather, 1 kilo of spare paint, delivered by lorry (to Dover) and the price (to Maranello Concessionaires) was £15,953.
Included in the file of correspondence is a stamped clearance from paying VAT (the UK equivalent of GST) and HM Customs stamped and signed this on September 28, 1978. On October 12 — and this date is important — “L. Fow Esq” was (presumably on arrival in the UK) presented with an invoice for the balance of money owing on the car. That showed the total price of the car to be £23,718, plus delivery from Dover to Maranello Concessionaires £40, supply and fit number plates £24, and a full tank of petrol £19.93 (that shows inflation!).
Total – £23,801.93, that figure being less the £20,000 (£1,000 and £19,000) paid by Corner and the £2,222 paid by Fow in New Zealand. The balance of £1,579 was paid by Corner on October 23, 1978. The official Ferrari warranty card is dated 12 October 1978. So we have three dates — September 28, October 12 and October 23.
These dates are important, because part of the myth of this car is that Fow lost it because he was two days short of buying and using it in the UK for it to qualify as a used car in New Zealand. But on what precise date did Fow actually assume ownership of the car?
Part of Fow’s extensive defence was that he picked the car up on a Friday and the sale was not registered until the Monday. But, as we shall see, nobody really seemed to have taken the New Zealand required twelve month period seriously and had been casual with some fine detail.
Off went Fow to have a great time driving around the UK and Europe in a car he later described as being exactly what he was expecting — and a step up from ‘Louise’ — the best car, till then, he had ever driven. But Logan Fow didn’t spend all of his time driving the BB512, he also took a job as a gardener at an exclusive boys school.
This was another detail that counted against him back in New Zealand. After his ‘year’ in the UK, the Ferrari was shipped to New Zealand and Logan flew home, got on with life and waited for the ship to arrive with his Ferrari. But NZ Customs were suspicious.
Logan Fow was his own individual and on one occasion he travelled from Hamilton to Auckland to try and sort out the issues over his car, riding a 50cc Honda step-through, wearing yellow waterproofs and an openfaced helmet. This combined with the fact he had described his work in the UK as a “school groundsman” simply heightened NZ Customs’ suspicions with regard to his importing of a new Ferrari.
There’s no record of when the car was actually landed in Auckland and Fow’s troubles started, but on January 23, 1980 Logan Fow sent a hand-written letter to Maranello Concessionaires asking for copies of the receipt for monies paid, so obviously NZ Customs were asking questions. He added that he loved the car and was looking forward to driving it on New Zealand roads even though they were “pathetic” and with “the traffic restrictions we have”.
Back came a letter from Maranello Concessionaires confirming he had paid monies, but English law said that a banked cheque was sufficient evidence of payment and they didn’t issue receipts anymore. By now, Torino Motors were also involved and, like Fow, were getting nowhere with NZ Customs.
On May 1 Maranello Concessionaires wrote to Torino saying Fow collected the car on September 26, 1978 with Neil Corner paying the final £1,579.93 on October 23 1978. On August 1 NZ Customs wrote to Maranello Concessionaires and the whole thing totally unraveled.
Various delivery dates were given, starting with a claimed September 26, 1978, but the warranty card was dated October 12, 1978. There was a delay in Maranello Concessionaires responding to that because of an absence of a key staff member from the office and they admitted that September 26, 1978 was “an estimate” but said it now appeared the car was registered on October 3 and “invoiced” on October 12.
Back went a letter from NZ Customs asking them if they could be more precise on the delivery date and asked what date the vehicle was insured, as they understood all cars in the UK had to be insured. But Maranello Concessionaires dug a deeper hole saying the car was registered as a “red border” Tourist Delivery Car and didn’t require insurance!
By November 12, NZ Customs advised Maranello Concessionaires the matter was now to be decided by legal action, as Fow had claimed he had used the car on dealer plates before it was registered on October 3, 1978. NZ Customs also wanted to know who Neil Corner was, as he paid the bulk of the money for the car but the receipts for payment showed no address. What they appeared to be asking here was “is Neil Corner real?”
Back came a response confirming the BB512 had never been driven on their dealer plates and Mr Neil Corner was well known and had bought several Ferraris off them over the years. Because he was so well known, the receipt did not have quite as much detail as expected.
The various tones of the letters are interesting. Those from Maranello Concessionaires are almost chatty in style and there are even a couple of apologies. NZ Customs letters are cold, authoritative, and leave no room for questions. While there is an occasional “please” most requests are framed “could you advise me…”
The car sat on the wharf, probably under cover, for nearly 18 months, collecting storage and other fees and on top of all of that, was the substantial import duty that legal action by NZ Customs had decided was payable.
In the finish Logan Fow just walked away from it all, flew kites and stood for the Hamilton City Council and would never drive the car in New Zealand. He died in 2008 at the age of 54 from heart issues.
Experts who looked at the car — and remember it was 1980 by then — estimated it would cost about $20,000 to bring it up to the standard expected of an almost brand new car of its desirability and rarity. The fact that it had been allowed to deteriorate should have raised an eyebrow or two at that time.
Vehicle information shows that after the Logan Fow debacle, the first New Zealand owner was registered on May 25, 1984 with just over 4,000 miles on the odometer, and from then it had four private owners, including well-known classic racers Stu McCondach and Ken White, before it was purchased in 1994 and became part of the Lucas family’s Nelson Ferrari Collection.
In 2001 the Ferrari Collection closed and the car was sold to a Christchurch owner. Then in 2009 it was put up for sale again through Gavin Bain at Fazazz. “I looked at the car and liked it,” says Mark Wellington. “I had owned a few other Ferraris, but I liked the BB512 — it was really the first of the new breed of supercars.
“I drove from Dunedin to Christchurch to look at it and went in the 550 Maranello I had at the time — power steering and all that. Gavin gave me the keys to the BB512 and my first thought was ‘my God this is so primitive. . . .’ no power steering, and just a car that demanded you ‘drive’ it.
“But I bought it and since December 2009 I’ve done 9,000 kilometres in the car and I just love it. It’s given no trouble. I maintain it well and I’ve had the belts done, but that’s all. “It is heavy and it uses petrol, but it’s a car that has given me a lot of pleasure. I did change the tyres — it had some cheap Indonesian tyres on it when I bought it. I put some Michelin XWX tyres on and it became a much nicer car to drive.
“It’s increased in value and if I had bought it simply as an investment, I’d be pleased, but I just like it as a car of its era.” How much is the car worth? In March this year, a 1984 model sold in the USA for US$462,000.
I’m in Oamaru, Mark is in Dunedin, so we arrange with Norcombe Barker to photograph the car at Larnach Castle — and thanks to Norcombe for that. I arrange to meet Mark at the start of the drive to the castle along the lower Otago Peninsula road.
The BB512 is a mix of sharp angles and flowing curves and as Mark has already told me, it’s really the first of the ‘supercars’ from the era just before that term was coined. I hear the car before I see it — the guttural noise of the 5.0-litre, flat-12, boxer engine is distinctive and echoes off the boat sheds that surround the car park where we meet. There are two cars in the BB Family — the 365 GT4 BB and then this, the BB512, but they are brothers and come between the legendary Daytona and the somewhat overdone Tessa Rossa.
The 365 was launched to combat the inroads that Lamborghini was making into the high-performance market with the Miura and then the Countach. The BB models represented a significant shift in Enzo Ferrari’s thinking when it came to road cars. Prior to these models he had been reluctant to use racing car technology by mounting the engines behind the cockpit in his road cars, saying that it would make them too tricky to drive for ordinary customers. His engineers pushed him hard and finally convinced him to do it.
The 365 GTB BB was produced from 1973 to 1976 during which time 387 were built. In 1976 came the BB512. Engine capacity was up from 4.4-litres to 4.9 but the styling was almost identical — the work of the Pininfarina studios.
The 5.0-litre flat-12 delivers 250kW (345bhp) at 6200rpm and 451Nm (333ft /lbs) of torque at 4600rpm. Red line is 6800rpm and top speed is 272kph (169mph). It’s a weighty car at 1596kg and 0-100km/h takes 5.3 seconds. Ferrari built almost a thousand examples It’s a car with a big footprint — low and wide — and long. Egress is over wide sills, where you find the ashtrays! Once in, the seats are snug, your feet out in front of you.
There is a mass of black, fine-grained leather across the dash, contrasting with the crema seats. Of course, it has the traditional gated gearshift. Cabin noise levels are low but the mystery is finding your way out of the cockpit once the doors are closed! The release catches — door handles — are tucked away, out of sight up under full width ‘pelmets’. This is something you need to be told rather than finding them by intuition.
A fabulous car with a fascinating story and one that I’m sure, you can make your mind up on whether Logan Fow was treated fairly by NZ Customs, or not. Or was it just a case of too many transactions that confused the picture?
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