This is a lesson in why you don’t want to fight Maranello.
Of all the well-known automakers out there, Ferrari is notoriously the pickiest. The rumor is the company keeps a “blacklist” of people who are never allowed to buy from an authorized dealer. The powers that be in Maranello also decide which cars different individuals can buy, a fact which shocks those unaware of how Ferrari is run. But several years ago, a famous collector decided to sue the automaker when it wouldn’t sell him the car he wanted.
Learn more about a famous blind automotive engineer here.
Considering the kids of resources Ferrari has at its disposal, that’s a gutsy move. But Preston Henn, a former racecar driver, obviously was comfortable with risk. We say “was” because he passed away on April 30, 2017. However, his fight against Ferrari at the sunset of his life wowed many.
It was in August 2016 when news broke that after begging Ferrari to sell a LaFerrari Aperta to him, and the automaker rebuffing him, the man decided to file suit. To make things more fantastic, he asked for $75,000 in damages and a jury trial.
Of course, nobody thought this was going to result in him getting the LaFerrari Aperta. Actually, a lot of people were wondering if Henn would be dealing with a devastating countersuit if he continued pushing the issue since Ferrari has considerable resources and has shown in the past it doesn’t back down from a fight easily.
With only 150 LaFerrari Apertas, plenty of monied people greatly desired to get their hands on one. However, Ferrari has mastered getting people worked up over an extremely limited run, only to sell many interested parties something not quite as rare. If customers behave, do as they’re told, and are patient, one day they might be able to get the ride they really want. Maybe.
According to Henn, Ferrari told his local dealership not to sell a LaFerrari Aperta to him. He also alleged officials from the automaker told his friends he wasn’t going to get the supercar because he wasn’t “qualified.” Yes, he had the money, but he wasn’t what Ferrari was looking for.
Even after sending a $1,000,000 check to Sergio Marchionne, the Chairman of Ferrari Chrysler Automobiles at the time, as a deposit, he still didn’t get the car. In fact, that check reportedly was returned.
In his lawsuit, Henn’s lawyers claimed he was “the most qualified, or among the ten most qualified persons in the United States with regard to the standards that Ferrari has historically used to determine who would have ‘the privilege’ of purchasing unique Ferrari automobiles.”
At the time he filed the lawsuit, Henn owned a total of 17 Ferraris. One of those was a highly desirable and valuable 1955 Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione Speciale with its estimated value back in 2016 clocking in at a whopping $100,000,000-plus. He also owned a LaFerrari, just one with a fixed top instead of the convertible Aperta or Spider. Still, that wasn’t enough.
It seems the lawsuit was really about Henn’s image, not necessarily the LaFerrari Aperta, although we’re sure he would’ve gladly taken one. In the court filing, his lawyers stated that Henn “seeks damages for reputational injury and the mortification caused by declaring him to be not qualified to purchase a LaFerrari Spider.”
Many called him spoiled and worse, but Henn persisted all the way until late November 2016. Road & Track said he dropped the suit because of “exceptional costs involved.” Like we said, Ferrari has resources and the will to fight.
What’s more, Henn told Road & Track he didn’t hold any ill will toward Ferrari. Maybe he was scared of a countersuit or perhaps, as he said, the man realized his legal actions were damaging his reputation further.
But Henn took one final dig at Ferrari, purchasing a new Acura NSX and praising it as “the best damn car I have ever had.” Not everyone believed the man, but that was his story and he was sticking to it all the way to his death bed.
Images via Ferrari