Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Swap Shop Exotic Car Collection


This story started with a simple rumor I overheard at an automotive show, the rumor was that there was a Maserati MC12 on display at a flea market in Ft Lauderdale Florida. I did a little web searching and found some basic photos that convinced me there was truth to this story. I decided to pay a visit to Ft Lauderdale as it’s only a few hours away to see this MC12 and the mysterious “other” Exotics for myself.



With the help of my trusty GPS I found “The Swap Shop”, a massive and I mean truly massive flea market/drive in movie theater in the heart of Ft Lauderdale. I managed to find parking on a crowded Sunday and begin wondering the endless halls in search of the modern day “El Durado”.



As I walked passed booths selling everything from fake “Loui Vuitton” handbags to three hundred varieties of perfume; I finally crossed into a massive video arcade suddenly the car collection rumor was rumor no more…



There spinning in the center of a massive room was an immaculate ultra rare Ferrari 275 GTB/C surrounded by the Ferrari Testarossa from the “Miami Vice” TV show and a group of Race Spec Porsche's.




> The Ferrari 275 GTB/C built in the mid 60’by Carrozzeria Scaglietti, the 300HP V12 is considered one of the top five best European sports cars of it's era. This one however is extra special in that it has a LeMans Racing History, valued around 15 Million. There were only three such versions of the C .



Surrounding these automobiles were endless rows of automobile memorabilia and trophies.



And even a Ferrari F1!



I of course was shocked and very impressed with what was there but what of that Maserati MC12?
In search for perhaps a part two of this display I wondered up to information desk. Before I could even ask a thing I saw on the security monitor the fabled Maserati MC12. I asked the security officer “Excuse me, how do I find that room?” The young lady there sent me down a long hallway passing more booths



...until finally I turned the corner at a jaw dropping Ferrari FXX (one of 29 released)!


> The Ferrari FXX is an ultra rare race version of the road legal Enzo model. It’s only available to Ferrari’s most elite customers for a price of about two million dollars. 29 of these vehicles went public but perhaps the most interesting part of the Swap Shop FXX is that the owner is able to keep it here in the states. Most of the FXX models are kept and maintained by Ferrari and only brought to specific venues approved by the company for the owners to race.



Yes kids the rumor is true but one has to ask how on Earth did some of the world’s rarest and most desirable supercars show up in a massive flea market? The answer to that question is a rhetorical one, the flea market itself provided the money. The Swap Shop has been an overwhelming success since its opening in 1966 (It actually started with the drive in movie theater part three years earlier). The owner of the massive “Swap Shop” Mr. Preston Henn owns all of these vehicles and many more.





> This is the Ford GT, the 2003 remake of the “Ferrari Killer” GT40 that dominated the Le Mans in the 60’s. The Ford GT40 story is one of the great stories of automotive history as at the time Enzo Ferrari was considering merging with Ford. The Ford Company began the process only to have Ferrari back out abruptly late in the deal. There is more detail to this but ultimately the Ford GT40 was built to kick Ferrari where it hurts and beat them at Le Mans and they did two years in a row. The remake is taller than the 40” of its legendary father but it is such an awesome handling exotic that the even the ever-critical Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson had one (though that is a story all its own).


> The Maserati MC12 is another ultra rare hyper car with only 50 unites ever produced. The MC12 is essentially a reworked and re-bodied Ferrari Enzo and to many automotive enthusiasts the more attractive of the two. The race version of the MC12 enjoyed success in the GT1 circuit winning the 2007 season and many single events in the couple years that followed.


>AMG SL65


> Corvette Grand Sport


> The Mercedes McLaren SLR is considered one of the first Hypercars when it entered the Exotic scene in 2003. This stunningly beautiful half-million dollar exotic embraces both pure performance while wrapping the driver in the latest in creature comforts and technology.


> The Nissan GT-R: Often called "Godzilla" as it has become known as the most powerful Japanese sports car. The GT-R formally known as the Skyline has a long heritage of both racing and tuning and wasn't available in the USA until 2007. The GT-R is an all wheel drive 545hp high tech monster that has taken on and beat many exotics two to three times its cost.


> The Ferrari 458 Italia came out of the gates swinging like a heavyweight champ. The 458 completely impressed the Top Gear team during its review hailed as one of Ferrari’s all time greats. Aggressive styling, outstanding performance and an amazing exhaust sound has put Ferrari back in the limelight even in an era of so many top tier supercars.


>The Flagship Ferrari Enzo is the F1 hybrid successor to the F50 with far more aggressive styling and aerodynamics. Many of the Enzo’s parts are derivatives from Ferrari’s F1 lineage including the transmission, brakes and carbon fiber body. It also holds a new generation of Ferrari’s V12 engine under its back deck. This supercar’s sister is the Maserati MC12.


> Porsche 911 Turbo


> This is the highly desirable Ferrari 365 Spider, only 122 in the world. Nick-named the “Daytona” after winning the 1967 “24 Hours of Daytona” Race

From what I was able to find Mr. Henn has a great history as an automotive enthusiast and a race car driver. Preston and his co-drivers even won the “24 hours of Daytona” In 1983.


> The Porsche 959 was built in 1986 and at that time was the most technically advanced and fastest road legal sports car on the planet. Only 337 were made and the technology that embraced the 959 significantly influenced modern day exotics.


> This Ferrari 512BB is very unique as it has been converted into a Spyder style convertible perhaps by Lorenz & Rankl, a German styling group similar to the modern day Mansory that were known for high end conversions in the 80’s era. I have seen only a few 512’s ever but never one like this. For those who don’t know the Ferrari 512 successor was the iconic Testarossa. Personally I always felt the 512 was the better looking design and apparently so did singer Eric Clapton who recently had Ferrari rebody his new 458 in the Berlinetta Boxer style.

As odd as it is to see such Exotic beauties in such a common setting I have to say I am very impressed that Mr. Henn is willing to show off his collection to anyone who wishes to pay the Swap Shop a visit and at no charge to boot. While most exotic owners hide away their treasures from the eyes of the adoring public, here in Florida you can simply stand in awe in a room full of dreams.


> The Ferrari F40 was in stark contrast to the Porsche 959 built a year prior. Enzo Ferrari himself wanted to create a Supercar without equal for Ferrari’s 40th anniversary and helped plan out this bare bones all performance super-Ferrari. Unlike the Porsche 959 the F40 featured very little technology; it didn't even have interior door handles (just a cord). The F40 was the first road production sports car to break the 200 MPH mark. It is considered still as one of the best handling Ferrari’s every made and like the 959 it help set the standard for the term Supercar for decades after.


>Just shy of a half-million dollars the elegant Porsche Carrera GT is part of the 911 GT1 lineage (my all time favorite Porsche) as well as the 959. Due to the way the GT was parked I couldn't photograph the radical back end that holds as very high tech V10 that can slingshot a driver to 60 MPH is a mere 3.6 seconds.


> Only 350 of the stunningly beautiful Ferrari F50’s were ever made. A newly designed 750hp V12 replaced the twin turbo V8 from the F40. The large vents in the front channeled air to create down force like a spoiler. The F50 was a very unique and radical design for it’s era.

I am also impressed that the exotics here are also regularly driven. Videos can be found online of Preston’s Exotics participating in track days, car shows and even ripping down the Florida highways.





If you ever find yourself in South Florida the Swap Shop is a must see. After you are all done admiring these modern day automotive masterpieces you can walk down the hall for some good food, perhaps a souvenir or two and catch a movie before you go home.



Here is a little video I shot on my last visit to the Swap Shop:



Thanks for reading,
- Jesse James Allen