Had you visited the London Motor Show in 1964 you would have found Ferrari 250LM (s/n 6105GT) finished in China Red on the Maranello Concessionaires stand.
One of the visitors to the stand that year was Ron Fry from Bristol, a member of the famous English chocolate making family and he bought the car on the spot. Ron was an enthusiastic hill climb driver and despite the fact that a 250LM was not the best car to go hill climbing on short narrow venues in England, he enjoyed running it all over Britain as well as in a few track events.
However in the Autumn of 1966 he sold the car back to Maranello Concessionaires who tidied it up, gave it a polish, and put it on display once more at the London Motor Show – two years after its debut there.
Once again another enthusiast visited the stand, David Skailes, and he too decided to buy the car off the stand. Ironically he too was in the food business. If you know anything about cheese you will know that England’s most famous cheese is the blue-veined Stilton. One of the prizewinning companies famous for its stilton cheese is Cropwell-Bishop and the brothers David and Ian Skailes today run the family business.
Whereas Ian had an international career racing Chevron sports cars, brother David was more enthusiastic about bigger cars and the 250LM seemed ideal for moving into International racing. “..I reasoned that you had to have a Ford GT or a Ferrari LM and felt that you were more likely to get an entry with the Ferrari.”
When he bought the LM it was still running on narrow wheels and standard tyres but he managed to finish 11thoverall at Silverstone in the Martini Trophy. He found trouble with the brakes and at his next event he was chasing a Cobra and “….ended up with the nose of the LM almost between the back wheels of the Cobra.”
David approached Club member David Piper to share his car at the Zeltweg race in Austria where they finished a creditable 4th overall but David advised him he should really return the car to Maranello and have the car completely checked out at the factory. Piper duly loaded up the car and drove from Austria south to Maranello where it was given a complete mechanical overhaul.
“The car disappeared behind closed doors and it came back with a new Drogo long nose and with the engine and gearbox overhauled. They had also fitted Campagnolo wheels in place of the Borranis which made a great difference.”
Later that year he took the car to South Africa to race at the Kyalami circuit taking along Scots driver Eric Liddell who had distinguished himself driving a Ford GT 40. Again they battled on to finish 6th overall which was a good performance as David Skailes has always insisted that he was a private entrant out to enjoy himself racing and not a professional International contender.
Skailes also tends to be honest about his mistakes. “….I did a race at Croft circuit in the North of England with a worn front off-side tire. I was unplaced because I spent more time off the circuit than on it !!”
David Skailes kept the car for two seasons but in the second he had a lot of problems during the return from Kyalami in South Africa.
His mechanic decided the best thing to do was to fill the bores with oil for the long trip by sea and was trying to do his best. Back in England, the heads were taken off and when they were put back on and the engine started it bent all the valves. It was sent to Maranello Concessionaires in England who rebuilt the engine but it bent all the valves again. “ This was beginning to get expensive until we found that back in Maranello the previous year the factory had changed the timing but not the markings on the flywheel but once we found that out the car ran well.
“The 250LM had amazing handling and it was so well balanced. I once got shoved off at Kyalami when someone came up the inside. I found myself on the sandy gravel, put on some opposite lock and the car went sideways for 100 yards or more but you could still control it.”
However, Skailes began to run out of money and progress had overtaken the 250LM so the car was not so competitive.
From here the car was sold to another Englishman, Jack Maurice, who was another hill climb specialist and the writer saw the car in action at a hill climb in Scotland. It still had its Drogo long nose which must have been difficult on short bumpy hill climbs but Maurice used it for a full season before selling it on. Trader and historic racer Brian Classic offered it for sale in 1976 for $35,000 and it then went to British Ferrari collector and racer Richard Colton.
When Richard Colton had the car he was able to find an original 250LM short nose in Switzerland and replaced the Drogo with the original short nose.
Japanese collectors Hayashi and Matsuda owned the car before it went to the USA with Kevin Crowder in Dallas. He showed it at the Ferrari Club of America Annual meeting in 2001 at the Circle Ranch. However two years later it was back in England with John Collins of Talacrest who had a customer for it in Adrea Burani in Italy and today it is believed to be owned by Pierre Mellinger in Switzerland.