But it’s Paul’s latest purchase that puts him truly to the front of the queue for the title king of the PH classifieds. Because he’s the man who blinked first and bought the ‘You Know You Want To’ £17K Ferrari 456 dug out by Chris Harris and introduced with the line “what car currently for sale in the classifieds currently has the greatest potential for financial pain?”
On first sight Paul wasn’t sure if he wanted to. But Harris’s musings gave added impetus to his considerations. And two weeks and 14 pages into the 364-post (and counting) thread that followed the Harris story, he came on to claim the virtual pints offered by PHers in the discussion to the person who dared take a punt on the ‘cheap’ Ferrari.
Stating on the thread he was “worried that my famous rose tinted shed buying specs were taking things just a bit too far this time” he won more kudos still for his frank appraisal of the state of his purchase. Which you can read here.
So, what was he thinking? “I was browsing the classifieds, as you do, and I don’t know what caught my eye about it … well, the price mainly I think!” he muses. “So I phoned the guy and he didn’t call back and then when the Harris story went up I thought ‘I’ve had it now’ and I thought I’d lost it but then the guy phoned me back. But by then the banter had started on the forums...”
The signs weren’t good either. “I must admit, from the advert it was just the sort of thing I’d never touch,” says Paul, speaking with the voice of a battle-hardened classifieds browser. “I like to see a car parked outside a nice house that’s been well cared for but these were possibly the worst photos for selling a car I’d ever seen. Then again I thought there’s no harm in going to see it.
"I met the guy from the advert and a friend of his called George and asked which of them was actually selling the car. When they said neither, that they were selling the car on behalf of the owner and George was there because he looked after it and knew its quirks, I was thinking 'this doesn’t sound right, walk away'. But the car was exactly as described in the advert and hadn’t even been washed.”
With most of the other 456s in the PH classifieds commanding double the £17K asking price, this particular car had ‘too good to be true’ written all over it. But a test drive confirmed it went as well as its history – fully stamped with Graypaul Ferrari until just three years ago – suggested it should and, before he knew it, a deposit was down and, shortly afterwards, he was there with a mate with a van and tow rope, “just in case!”
So, with everyone telling him he’s mad how’s the reality?
Actually pretty pleasant it would seem. “I’m just going to drive it and figure things out as I go,” he says. “There are issues – the exhaust is blowing from the front a bit, the suspension light illuminates from time to time and those Primewall tyres are going to have to go.”
An exploratory drive to Yorkshire recently uncovered no nasty surprises though, those tyres even coping well with hacking across the moorland roads. Harris was right about the low teens mpg, though, but for a man with two V8s and a twin-turbo Skyline this’ll be nothing new. And though it still smells a little musty and bears a few of the war wounds it’s picked up along the way, a thorough de-lousing has gone a long way to recovering its former glory. Relaxing into the creamy leather, click-clacking that metal-topped gearlever through the gate and revelling in the deliciously smooth V12 delivery, Paul looks like a man very happy to have taken a punt on this old nag.