David Lee isn’t Southern California’s most famous Ferrari collector, but he might be its most determined.
The watch and jewelry magnate has curated a stable of the Italian exotics, which he houses in a private garage in the San Gabriel Valley.
Currently in the collection of red racers is a complete set of Ferrari’s five modern supercars — a 2003 Enzo, a 1995 F50, a 1990 F40, a 1985 280 GTO and a rare 1987 288 GTO Evoluzione, a prototype for a Class B rally race car, of which only five were built.
Rounding out the herd of Italian stallions are an equally rare 1968, six-carb “short nose” 275 GTB, of which only five were made, and a 1964 250 Lusso. Oh, and Lee’s daily driver, a 2014 FF.
“I just fell into it,” Lee explained, dressed in a grey suit and bright pink Hermes necktie, while showing off his collection. “I had the trinity of supercars — the best Ferrari, the best Porsche, and the best Lamborghini — and I was very happy with that. But then I went overboard.”
I had the trinity of supercars — the best Ferrari, the best Porsche, and the best Lamborghini — and I was very happy with that. But then I went overboard.
Lee set out to acquire the full set of the “modern classics” supercars only three years ago, in part because he wanted to become “important to Ferrari,” he said.
“I wanted to be a brand ambassador, and inspire younger collectors to appreciate the classics,” the 46-year-old collector said. “I wanted to drive a Ferrari seven days a week, and really experience the Ferrari traditions.”
The cars are worth a lot — how much exactly, Lee won’t say, though he says he paid “full market price” for each of them, and notes that a lesser version of the Evoluzione was recently offered at $7 million. (“It is reasonable to think mine would be worth more than that,” Lee said matter of factly.)
He bought one of his cars from the Petersen Automotive Museum and another from the founder of Victoria’s Secret.
Lee insists on driving each of the classics regularly, but said doing so meant getting over the idea of “I’m driving a million-dollar car,” and then getting over worrying that driving it is “devaluing the investment.”
He also thinks his passion for Italian cars is going to encourage more interest in classic Ferraris in his native China, which he left as a child. That, in turn, could increase the value of his collection.
“I think the Chinese market is going to be important for classic cars,” he said. “They’re not in the game now. But they will be, and that will drive the prices higher.”
Becoming “important to Ferrari” has certain privileges. Lee will be among the select few to obtain a new LaFerrari, a hybrid supercar that is the most powerful street-legal vehicle the company has ever made.
Only 499 of them will be built, and Lee has dibs on one.
He also says he has dibs on a new 458 Speciale, the most powerful naturally-aspirated V8 in Ferrari’s history.
The LaFerrari is said to be priced at $1.4 million. The 458 Speciale starts at $288,000.
Lee, who recently visited Ferrari’s factory in Maranello, Italy, and got a chance to drive a LaFerrari on the company’s Fiorano test track, expects to take delivery of both vehicles sometime this year.
Will that mean moving something out of the already-full, museum-like garage currenty housing his collection?
“Yes,” Lee said. “But I don’t want to sell anything.”