Bruce Meyer Collection – Profile and Photos Page Two
But that’s not the only Ferrari in the Meyer stable. Another outstanding car is a 1961 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione. It has at least as, if not a more, illustrious racing history than the Von Neumann car. The ’61 Ferrari was dubbed the “SEFAC Hot Rod” by famed motorsports reporter Henry Manney III. (“SEFAC” is an Italian legal acronym for the partnership that then owned the Ferrari company). According to Ferrari lore, there were between 19 and 21 of the model that were so-called “hot rods.” Why “hot rods?” Because each car had the modifications Enzo thought appropriate for the intended competition. They were designated “Competizione.” (In earlier days, racing rules allowed constructors relatively free rein to make whatever modifications they thought would produce a winner on sports-racing cars).
Bruce’s car was purchased new from the factory by race-driver Pierre Noblet, on June 3, 1961. Noblet entered Le Mans that year and selected Jean Gutchet as his co-driver. Seven ’61 Competizione SWBs were entered, but only five started the race. Noblet’s plan was not to overstress the car in order to insure finishing. They took third overall and first in the GT category. Noblet continued to campaign the car that year finishing first at Monza and eighth at Monthlhery. In 1962, he won the Coupes de Bruxelles, was second at Spa, seventh overall and second in class at the Nurburgring and sixth in the Trophess d’Auvergne. After that, Noblet retired and sold it.
Until 1975 when it was acquired by John Upton, the 250 SWB went through many different owners (all documented by Meyer). Upton had the car restored and entered its original owner-driver, Pierre Noblet, in the 1984 Monterey Historics. Afterward he entered some Concours and drove it himself at Monterey in 1987. Next Upton sold it to Bob Baker, who vintage raced it; then it went to Kerry Nanolas, Lord Michael Cowdray and finally Greg Whitten, from whom Bruce bought it in 1993.
Of course, Meyer has a Corvette, but not just any ‘Vette. It’s one of the 1960 models entered at Le Mans by Briggs Cunningham. They were assigned numbers 1, 2 and 3. Number 1 was driven by Briggs himself and Bill Kimberley, with Dr. Dick Thompson and Fred Windridge in number 2 while John Fitch and Bob Grossman drove number 3. Regarded as too heavy, Corvettes that year were not thought to be a serious threat. Fitch, a wonderfully talented driver, pushed his car as high as third overall during a rainstorm. Kimberley ran off the road during the storm and crashed. Luckily he was not injured. Then Dr. Thompson damaged his car when he ran into a bank, leaving the Fitch/Grossman car the only Cunningham Corvette running. They finished eighth overall, the best any American car would do until Shelby’s Cobras came along. (More on the #2 Corvette)
Bruce has hot rods too. As a matter of fact in 1997, he persuaded the powers that be at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance to include rods. On that occasion, he won the Historic Hot Rods Class with his 1932 Doane Spencer Roadster. The car started life as a stock 1932 Ford Roadster. In 1941, Jack Dorn bought it, painted it black and installed a stock 1937 flathead Ford engine. Dorn sold it to his Hollywood High School classmate, Doanne Spencer, in 1944 for $500. Spencer removed the fenders and put in a modified 1946 flathead Mercury. He won the Best Appearing Roadster award at the Pasadena Roadster Club’s Reliability Run in 1947. Then he clocked 112.35 mph at El Mirage that year and in 1949 he did 126.76, after which he sold it to Lynn Wineland who installed a Thunderbird V8. Neal East bought it in 1968, who sold it to Bruce Meyer in 1995. Bruce had Pete Chapouris restore it to its original hot rod configuration.
Another hot rod Bruce is proud of is his 1934 Pierson Brothers Ford Coupe. Built by Dick and Bob Pierson in 1949, the body was chopped to the max and the windshield raked back 50 degrees. The engine—a 267 cid flathead Ford V8—was built by Edlebrock employee Bobby Meeks. In its first time out, the brothers turned 142.98mph at the El Mirage dry lakes. They sold it in 1953 to Tom Cobb who did 198.86 at Bonneville. In 1956, Tom Bryant went 227.33 after installing a Chevy V-8 engine. Meyer acquired it from Bryant in 1991 and had it restored to original at the So-Cal Speed Shop.