PHOTOS & TEXT: JEFFREY CHENG
Arguably one of the most well known S7 TTs and not for something positive (unfortunately). As most S7 enthusiasts are aware this is the infamous “tow truck mishap” car that was repaired, repainted and listed for sale about a year ago. Although it’s been a long road from then to now I’ll try to focus on the highlights.
When I first found 061 she was for sale at Bentley Gold Coast. Despite her storied past I was interested in her for two reasons. I had owned a perfect 900 mile TT a few years back and had regretted letting her go the day she left. So I was intent on replacing her plus 061’s past would afford me an interesting opportunity I would not have otherwise had with a “perfect” car. That opportunity was to restore 061 back to her former glory AND in the process paint her the color of my choice. In this case Ferrari Bianco Fuji Pearl White!
The question for me at the time was whether or not she was mechanically sound. For this I turned to the head tech of the S7 production line who I had been introduced to when I owned my previous S7. He agreed to visit 061 for me and inspect her thoroughly. After two visits, a test drive (at speed) and a thorough inspection of the chassis it was determined that 061 was actually in decent mechanical condition. Nothing that couldn’t be rectified, replaced or repaired easily.
Then came the inspection of the exterior and subsequent repairs to the body. One word. Horrific! Literally beyond comprehension. He described the body work (and repairs) as having been completed by a butcher in a barn. Drip marks, bondo, dirt in the paint, cracks showing through, missing carbon fiber wheel well covers, etc. Essentially a physical wreck! He said that if anyone had actually been interested in the car and had come to inspect it they would have walked away in 10 seconds. Photos never showed any of these imperfections but he said it literally looked like someone had used a rattle can on the car! Again, I wasn’t too concerned about her physical condition since I was planning to repair and repaint her. So I made my deal with Bentley Gold Coast and 061 became the newest addition to the family!
Fast forward 10 days and 061 finally arrived in Southern California. Nothing could have prepared me for the car that backed out of the trailer that day. Nothing. She wasn’t even a 10 footer. I was standing 20 feet away and I could see the waves and discoloration in the paint from the sidewalk. Physically speaking 061 was a wreck. Bad beyond words. So bad that I couldn’t even drive her. Straight into my warehouse and then straight to my body shop the next day. By the way 061’s interior was actually in remarkably good condition with the exception of the yellow painted panels (which are normally silver and which I reverted back to silver). The leather was actually very clean.
My body shop was equally blown away by what they saw when I dropped her off. They could not believe it. We spent hours discussing the rebuild which would entail stripping the car down to its bare chassis and drivetrain and rebuilding her from there. Every panel would be stripped down to raw carbon, repaired as needed with carbon (versus the bondo that was used) and repainted. Estimated time for completion – about four months and a hefty repair bill! But I knew this going in so I was prepared!
As you’d expect from a project of this scope nothing goes quite as planned. What my body shop discovered quickly was that the S7 had not been built very well originally. Once stripped down it became evident that the carbon panels (having nothing to do with the incident) had very poor tolerances and finish quality. The body shop asked me how much I wanted to repair over and above what was related to the incident. In other words – to correct what Saleen had originally failed to make perfect from the outset. Obviously I had no intention of turning this car into a concourse winning car. I simply wanted it to be “nice” and presentable but I also know myself. I couldn’t accept “that’s good enough” if I knew I could make it better!
Almost eight months later 061 finally left the body shop. Literally double the time and double the original repair budget! I will never admit to how much money I spent on 061 as it’s irrelevant to me. I plan to keep her indefinitely. To say that she is perfect is an understatement. I was not happy about what it cost me to make her perfect but when I laid eyes on her that day the expense was worth every penny. Words cannot describe what a S7 TT in pearl white looks like in person. Every part has been repaired to perfection, every seam is in perfect alignment, every panel perfectly painted and the paint looks like glass!
She may have a storied past but that doesn’t matter to me. Had she not had a storied past I would never have repainted her for fear of destroying her value. But her past provided me with this opportunity which I would have otherwise never had. 061 has been reborn and in many ways is better than the day she left the factory!