1957 Ferrari 250 GT 0733 Tour de France race car arrives at D&D Classic with special restoration needs.
What are the benefits of a Coordinate
Let's digress to the 1950's and earlier to explain the need and dilemma facing automobile builders of the time
as well as many current day restorers. Plain and simple ... historically there wasn't a sophisticated measuring
system, which would allow a designer/builder the means to measure and duplicate his efforts to within a few
thousands of an inch from one side of the car body to the other. Realizing the need, Italians, Dr. Franco Sartorio
and Georgio Mincucciani of Turin, invented a coordinate measuring system in the early 1960s to improve dimensional
accuracy during product development stages. The need was obvious and one has little trouble finding inconsistencies
in cars produced by major auto companies even until the mid-to-late 1970s. Oftentimes, what were intended to be
symmetrical points on a particular vehicle varied as much as a half-inch or more from one point to its complementary
opposite relative to a fixed reference station. In essence, the rhetorical jibber-jabber in the previous sentence
means that builders had less-than-ideal means to duplicate symmetrical features.
The CMM at D&D is equipped with movable columns and arms complete with ultra sensitive measuring probes - all
mounted on a stable carriage. The carriage travels on an X axis down the length of the car, the arms travel on a Y
axis across the width of the car and the columns travel, which is on the Y axis the height of the car (Z). Inspection
is very precise via the three axes making it easy for D&D technicians to "see" and duplicate the deviations
on a hand-built body while weeding-out the crash damage and repairs which failed to match the original skin contours.
It’s not the same from one side to the other.”
Here at D&D Classic, Covington, Ohio we hear that line almost daily when folks refer to a coachbuilt car. And what
they say is usually true to a fault. Typically, a coachbuilt body was delivered from the maker with subtle, non-symmetrical
body skins that were hammered out often with rather crude tools and without the benefit of closely monitored measuring systems.
Such cars demand special attention during restoration and that is what D&D Classic is here for.
During restoration of a hand-built Ferrari or any other coachbuilt car, it’s one thing to mimic those original body
contours… yet another thing to mimic skins that are deformed as a result of a crash as suffered by the ’
57 Ferrari GT now in our shop for restoration. This particular Ferrari 0733 GT was delivered to Shell of France just three days
before the 1957 Tour de France was slated to begin. Within hours driver Francois Picard wheeled the berlinetta off to a nearby
hill to test the car under night conditions. Although brand new, the car had drum brakes that were not “bedded in”
and a subsequent crash left the front sheet metal mashed in and the chassis bent. Over the next couple of days, the frame was
straightened as well as possible and remedial repairs made to the aluminum sheet metal. Down to the wire with little time to spare,
reportedly as little as two hours before the start of the race, the car was still being dialed-in despite its less-than-perfect condition.
Yet true to its breeding it performed well to the end and placed second over all in the Tour de France
Over the passing years 0733GT has been raced in Europe and South America and came to the States in 1968. It has seen a number of owners since.
Recently it appeared on D&D’s door step with orders to massage and repair the aluminum body skins while attending to the corrosion
to the super structure (steel-based) which appears to have been ignored in previous restoration attempts.
Our first order of business was to document damage discernable to the eye and photograph it. Next came an extensive session on our ultra-sensitive
coordinate measurement system where exact contours can be measured within 0.008in. based on X, Y & Z coordinates taken from body skins.
The foundation of our Coordinated Measuring Machine is a 20-ton large steel base plate that measures some 24ft. x 12ft. and is equipped with peripheral
tracks from which computer-driven arms can be articulated and maneuvered to check and record the exact X, Y & Z coordinates of literally thousands
of points. With this machine at our disposal finding the inconsistencies from one body skin to its complementary opposite is literally a piece of cake.
Without it, it would be a hand and eye exercise similar to that performed by the original craftsman. In addition, it helps D&D pinpoint where those
inconsistencies originated… either from the hands of the panel beaters or the crash damage as with the Ferrari berlinetta. For example, we found
that the inside curves where the front fenders flare and meet the hood line are somewhat different from one side to the other. Most of those inconsistencies
have been determined to be crash-related and will be corrected
Armed with modern high-tech equipment such as our CMM and backed by time-tested tools such as our WWII-dated, 4-ton Yoder power hammer, a host of specialized
hand tools and a team of highly-skilled metal shapers earns D&D a spot within a select group of auto restorers.
At this writing our staff is carefully restoring each Ferrari body panel while adhering to the revelations brought to light by the Coordinate Measuring Machine.
If you face a similar dilemma with the restoration of your Ferrari give us a call.