In 2012, Sports Car Digest and Senior Photographer Dennis Gray profiled famed car collector, Jon Shirley. Ever gracious with his time, our extensive interview with Shirley touched on a variety of automotive topics, such as buying his first collector car, personally restoring his Ferrari NART Spider, his favorite cars to race and why he would sell a car from this collection. If you haven’t done so already, please take time to enjoy our wide-ranging interview and profile.
Hired by Bill Gates in 1983 as President of Microsoft, Shirley’s most notable success was guiding the thriving technology company through its wildly successful initial public offering. He left the company after seven years, deciding “there was a whole mess of other things that I wanted to do with my life.” To the benefit of Sports Car Digest readers, this “mess of other things” would thankfully include gathering and vintage racing a staggering collection of pre-war Alfa Romeos, post-war Ferraris and significant race and street cars from the 1950s, ’60s and beyond.
As Shirley reported to Sports Car Digest, his car collection is “almost two collections. One of them is Ferraris and Alfas. The other one is sports cars from the 1950s and ’60s that I either owned, got the chance to drive, or wanted to own. So that includes things like the two Jags, the Cobra, and the 300 SLs. But the thought process on the Ferraris and the Alfas is the same sort of the process we do with the art collection. I wanted to buy things that were ‘museum standard’. I just wanted to get cars that had really good histories if they were racecars, or that were reasonably unique.”
Highlights of the Jon Shirley Car Collection include:
1934 Alfa Romeo Tipo B P3, chassis number 50005, won the 1935 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring supremely driven by the great Tazio Nuvolari.
1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Touring Berlinetta, chassis 412035. One of six privately commissioned 8C 2900 Berlinettas, chassis 412035 won the first Watkins Glen street race in 1948 driven by Frank Griswold, as well as Best of Show at the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours and the 2009 Concorso Villa d’Este.
1949 Ferrari 166 MM Touring Barchetta, chassis number 0010M, finished first at the 24 Hours of Spa driven by Luigi Chinetti and Jean Lucas.
1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Pinin Farina Coupe, chassis number 0422 MD.
1954 Ferrari 375 MM Scaglietti Coupe, chassis 0402 AM, with an one-off design by Sergio Scaglietti for Italian film director Roberto Rossellini.
1957 Maserati 300 S Fantuzzi Spider, chassis number 3072, finished fourth overall at the 1957 Mille Miglia driven by Giorgio Scarlatti.
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, chassis number 3729GT, raced in period by Roy Salvadori, Graham Hill, Jack Sears and Mike Parkes, among others. Jack Sears later bought the GTO after it stopped racing and famously made it his daily driver for 29 years.
1967 Ferrari 275 GTS/4 N.A.R.T. Spider, chassis 09751, the second of 10 open-top 275 models and one of only two made of alloy.
1997 Ferrari F310B F1 driven by Michael Schumacher to two Grand Prix wins.
After our 2012 interview, Jon Shirley has continued to share his fantastic car collection with enthusiasts around the world, whether vintage racing his Alfa Romeo P3 or racking up awards at the world’s best events. Shirley’s 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Scaglietti Coupe won Best of Show at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance after a restoration that incorporated new research to better focus on originality. For example, the leather seats were returned to their original vinyl. The Best of Show win was only the second time since 1954 that a Post-War era vehicle won the top prize at the Pebble Beach.
The 1949 Ferrari 166 MM Touring Barchetta, chassis number 0010M, participated in the Ferraris in the Pebble Beach Road Races in 2015. The event honored the 1951 effort of Jim Kimberly in chassis 0010M, the first Ferrari to ever race in California.
The 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO was restored in 2015 to the Bianco (white) livery when Graham Hill drove the GTO to a second overall finish at the Goodwood Tourist Trophy. Chassis 3729GT has been subsequently shown at the 2016 Windsor Castle Concours and Pebble Beach’s Ferrari 70th Anniversary Celebration in 2017.
Way back in 2012, featured articles on Sports Car Digest did not benefit from the full width display of our website like today. Therefore, in addition to our wide-ranging interview and profile, we hope you enjoy another look at the Jon Shirley’s cars utilizing larger images of this fantastic collection.
Jon Shirley Car Collection – Photo Gallery (photos: Dennis Gray, Sports Car Digest)
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