John Collins, a passionate collector of Ferrari Cars, has a pair of very special 'twins' in his garage
Amongst those who work on Ferrari Special Projects (SP) — often ‘One-Offs’, but not always — there is a saying: “An SP car rewards twice. Once on the day it’s delivered and once on all the days that come before that.” Commissioning your very own Ferrari is indeed a Special Process. It is — famously — not for everyone. Ferrari chooses which customers it will invite to commission a car and it is, if anything, a celebration of the most intense and long-lived relationship, something purchasing power alone will never buy. Typically, such clients have been acquiring Ferrari cars for decades and may well have taken the relationship further, attending events like the Cavalcades or having enlisted for driver training with Corse Clienti.
Or they may have sent their historic cars to Classiche for restoration and factory certification. But even then, that’s not a guarantee of receiving a One-Off invitation. John Collins — known the world over for Talacrest, a company established in 1989 that can reasonably claim to have sold at least one example of all the ‘greatest’ made-in-Maranello cars — is one of the select few. Although Collins' professional life is associated with classic Ferrari models, in his personal life it’s a case of “new, new, new”. Like Enzo Ferrari himself, the entrepreneur's favourite Prancing Horse model is “the next one”.
Among Ferrari One-Off clients Collins is perhaps unique, in that he has not one, but two matching models. We say ‘matching’ but the two cars — dubbed SP3JC, with the ‘JC’ standing for ‘John Collins’ — are, of course, anything but: one is right-hand drive, the other left-hand drive. And then, of course, there is the matter of the liveries: the right-hand-drive one is striking with its bands of blue ‘Azzurro Met’ and yellow ‘Giallo Modena’ over a base of silver-white ‘Bianco Italia’.
The other car is a matt grey ‘Grigio Silverstone’ with bands of white ‘Bianco Bianco’ and ‘Rosso Magma’ painted glossily across its nose. But why the different driving positions? Collins explains: “A couple of years ago, on the Cavalcade, I managed to kerb an alloy wheel because I simply couldn’t see. I swore then I was never going to drive a right-hand-drive car again on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.” Collins' collection is impressive. It is split between two garages, which will ultimately be home to 25 new Ferrari cars.
A peak into the first garage reveals two LaFerrari (a coupe and an Aperta), an F12, an F12tdf, an 812 Superfast and the first of the SP cars. Always thinking ahead to "the next one", does this mean the Ferrari SP he took delivery of just before Christmas 2018 is already out-of-favour? (And is the 488 Pista that’s due very soon now the apple of his eye?) It’s hard to tell with Collins. The sunglasses are always on and he talks with the flat detached tones (a verbal poker face) of someone who’s clearly come out on top in most of the deals he’s ever done.
A long-time client and collector, Collins explains how his passion for Ferrari was sparked by the character Danny Wilde — played by Tony Curtis — who drove a red Dino 246 GT in the 1970s TV series "The Persuaders". And this passion runs deep: Collins has been buying Prancing Horse cars at a rate of over two a year. He is particularly proud of his One-Off creations. The two SP3JC roadsters showcase their distinctive design, something quite unlike that of any other Ferrari on the road today.
“They’re unique,” he says. “There will never be anything like them because they are the only specials that will ever be built on the F12tdf chassis. And that’s important. They’re not investments for me. They’re much more important than that. They’re part of Ferrari history. They’re my part of Ferrari history. They’re where the John Collins name is written alongside Ferrari’s.”