David Lee’s passion for car collecting all started with his pure love for the automobile. His stunning collection of cars has become famous both online and within the automotive world. More importantly, his collection of new and classic Ferraris is one that would make any automotive enthusiast green with envy. What started as a love for the Italian automaker has grown into a pursuit of owning the most significant Ferrari collection.
What inspired you to seek out this Dino and tell us about the process?
The Ferrari Dino was a departure from what I was doing. I was into buying top quality cars, either Concours or driver type classic cars, Blue chip, Supercars and so forth. I would then restore them to even better quality, keeping them all original and Classiche Certified. The Dino came during an interesting time. I made a call to Magnus Walker about doing a video of a Porsche collector and Ferrari collector racing up a mountain. He said, “That’d be great.” I then asked him what kind of car he would use. “I would use my outlaw 911” He then asked if I had anything from the 70’s to match his car. So I said I’d get back to him.
I discussed it with my pal Andy Cohen from Beverly Hills Motoring who helped me build my collection and had a vintage Ferrari background, as well as a passion for upgrading cars, and we decided it was time for a modern restoration and interpretation of the Dino, which many people believe to be one of the most beautiful Italian cars ever built, which no one had ever done in the way we wanted as far as we knew.
So we did some research and found a shop in the UK that did build a 355 powered Dino 11 years ago and decided to find the shop and talk to him about taking what he did and building an even more modern version that would ride and handle like a modern Ferrari and would have much more power, as the original Dino had a pretty low horsepower V6 engine, the first Ferrari with a V6.
He used 360 wheels and other components we did not love, but the basic idea was great but needed a lot more. It looked kind of off, but he had built it over 10 years ago. He did not want to sell his, but he did offer to build a new one. He also said that since his Dino was built over eleven years ago and he’s learned a lot since then and can make it a lot better. Going in, we didn’t know how long it was going to take or cost, but that’s because it was a whole new process to discover. It was the beginning of an adventure to see what we could accomplish.
We upgraded almost everything mechanically from his first build, and it ended up being a 3000 hour ground up restoration that transformed it into a fast modern driving car that still has its vintage look.
It is called Monza 3.6 Evo and it’s a modern interpretation of an iconic sports car.
Is the Monza 3.6 Evo Dino a sign of change for your collection?
The Dino shows a different facet of my collection, but I still love to collect the blue-chip cars. I love the classics, Concours-ready cars, supercars, limited editions, and all that good stuff. I’m going to keep collecting those. I would just say that this is a new phase that I’ve incorporated into how I build my collection. I wanted to do something that would make a statement and answer a question that’s been asked for decades: Could the Dino be better. The Dino is so beautiful it’s worth making it just incredible, but only by doing it in a very careful way, and I think we’ve done that.
What is your favorite feature of this car, and of the Dino series?
What I love about this Dino is that exterior-wise it’s pretty much the same. Its exterior has been restored just like any other Dino, and the interior has been redone very nicely. The difference is the wheels that we had recalibrated by the factory from 13-inches to 17-inches to be a more low-profile. Also, the covered headlights. With today’s technology, we were able to make the covered headlights without clips and have an invisible set. In the back, just like watches, you can see in and view the new heart of this Dino.
The Dino is a great car on the street, so do you consider this a driver or is it for show?
What’s so great about the engineers that worked on this car is that they were able to turn it into a great driver’s car. We took an F40 block, bored it out, put in an aluminum crankshaft, fuel injection, all that. The output of the V8 is now rated at 400 horsepower. That car is 2,400 lbs, so the power-to-weight ratio is incredible. We put in modern brakes, a new drive trans, gearbox, clutch, steering, suspension, exhaust… Many of the mechanical parts have been upgraded with modern Ferrari components. So, it looks like a classic Ferrari, but all of the new mechanical components make it incredibly drivable. It’s not just about adding in one new piece, because everything has to work together and this car runs like a symphony.
“It is called Monza 3.6 Evo and it’s a modern interpretation of an iconic sports car.”
I love driving all of my cars. To me, there’s no car that’s “too good to drive.” But this car is in Concours condition making it more than just a car I love to drive. I’m still going to take it to the Concours, but I’m still going to drive it all the time. It starts right up, goes fast when you need it to and handles just like any other modern Ferrari.
What reaction do you get from Ferrari purists regarding the engine swap?
What I’ve noticed with collecting cars, is that you’re never going to make everybody happy. You’re going to have people from all sides with different opinions. I certainly understand the Ferrari purists’ side, because I own a lot of cars that are within that philosophy. But this car can easily be returned back to stock, and all of the original components are delivered with the car. That should allay the fears of the purists! But as a lot of people my age and the younger generations begin to get into classic cars, they don’t want to deal with the unreliability of the classic car. Now they’re used to performance, because of hypercars. There’s a new understanding in the market, where people appreciate the classic-looking car that has better performance. I think that in 2018 there’s more acceptance if this than ever before.
Are there any other mechanical changes that have been made or are you planning on any future changes to this Monza 3.6 Evo Dino
Since I’ve shared the car on social media, everyone’s been talking about it, and everyone wants to write about. In fact, it’s going to be on Jay Leno’s Garage in May. It’s an interesting topic, and it’s something that hasn’t really been done. A lot of people have started asking me about wanting to do the same thing regarding this modern interpretation of a Dino. So in order to protect the car and do it the right way, I signed an exclusive agreement with the company that made it. We plan on making five of these cars a year, keeping the production low, making them all unique and making each of them very special in all the right ways. People will be proud to own them. And when they decide to sell them, the value will have increased. The price has not been determined yet.
“The Dino is so beautiful it’s worth making it just incredible, but only by doing it in a very careful way, and I think we’ve done that.”
Now that you own one and have possibly raised the value of every other Dino, do you have any advice for our readers who are looking for one?
The most important factor in buying any Dino is to find a rust-free example, as they were not made when new with must rustproofing. But, I do think it will create a new market for this. Other people may try to replicate ours, but it’s not going to be as good as the one I’ve created. This one serves as the blueprint for future examples that will be made. I know what I’ve put into this: time, energy, money and more. It’s not something people can just figure out right away. Because I was so committed to this, the project was able to be completed in the right way. There may be copycats, but they won’t have the quality and integrity of this build.
Do you think Ferrari needs to revive the Dino model?
Ferrari is the top sports car brand in the world’s I am sure they will eventually consider making a new Dino.