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Texans Restore One-of-a-Kind Thomassima II Italian Supercar

Builders, Classics, Culture, European, Featured  /   /  By Gary Lieber

The highlight of the recent 2015 Concorso Italiano in Pebble Beach, Calif. for me was the first showing of the Thomassima II—a resurrected Italian car designed and fabricated by a couple of Americans. For the past three decades, the low sleek supercar was in pieces, stored in boxes. Then, about six years ago, Larry Hatfield, its current owner who lives in Comfort, Tex., and Tim Taylor of Red Car Restorations in Rockwall, Tex., started the painstaking process of restoration and assembly. The work paid off.

Tim Taylor of Red Car Restorations, owner Larry Hatfield and the pieces that made up the Thomassima II (Photos courtesy of Red Car Restorations)

Tim Taylor of Red Car Restorations, owner Larry Hatfield and the pieces that made up the Thomassima II (Photos courtesy of Red Car Restorations)

The Thomassima II, first commissioned in late 1966, paid homage to the Ferrari 330 P4. Designed and built by American Tom Meade in Modena, Italy, the Thomassima II’s design was a masterpiece of art, engineering, and scrappy ingenuity. (Meade’s previous Thomassima I was a tribute to the Ferrari Testarossa.)

A Cooper single- seat race car provided a chassis (later modified to be a two-seat chassis), while a 250 GT Ferrari donated its V12 engine. A 4-speed ZF commercial front-wheel drive transmission was turned around and upside down for a mid-engine drivetrain configuration. The body is aluminum, with the panels hand-beaten to shape by moonlighting Italian craftsmen. Pieces from an Alfa Romeo rear window became the windshield, and the removable hardtop and side windows took inspiration from the Maserati’s of the time.

The car went through many revisions in Italy until it was shipped to its first owner in Los Gatos, Calif.

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Passed from One to Another

The first owner put a few miles on the car—most importantly driving it to the Pebble Beach Concours 1968. Eventually the car was sold twice, before a third owner ran it into a palm tree—crushing the complex aluminum nose, and damaging the frame. The fourth owner, who lived in New Mexico, had grand dreams of restoring it to its former glory, but ended up turning the car literally into a basket case.

When Hatfield, the current owner, took possession and brought it back to Dallas, the Thomassima II was a rolling kit car, with most of the pieces in boxes. “The car was in such rough shape that when we were towing it home, a wheel came off and the car was damaged even more,” said Hatfield. The car had some of its body panels repaired, but the major damage to the nose and chassis, as well as the jumble of parts still in boxes, represented a big project.

The aluminum nose section was recreated using old photographs for reference.

The aluminum nose section was recreated using old photographs for reference.

That’s where Tim Taylor and his team at Red Car Restorations came in. Red Car specializes in Ferrari raceccar restoration and fabrication. He has a reputation for exceptional quality, especially in terms of finish—all the skills necessary to return the Thomassima II to its original glory.

Taylor said that this was one of his most challenging restorations ever. “There were lots of missing components, and not a lot of photographs of the original car to work from,” he said. “So we had to put a lot thought into figuring out how this car would have been put together back in 1967. After all this is a one-of-a-kind car.”

The Thomassima II’s Cooper chassis and Ferrari/ZF drivetrain during the restoration.

The Thomassima II’s Cooper chassis and Ferrari/ZF drivetrain during the restoration.

After seven years, the project was completed this summer, and had its return/debut at the 2015 Concorso Italiano. It sports a new and very complex nose section and headlight covers. Its drivetrain was rebuilt and improved, and all of its systems are now in top operating order.

Now that it’s done, Hatfield hopes to show it at other Concours events, and perhaps campaign it in historical races. The most important thing, according to Hatfield, is that “we have it back to what designer Tom Meade created it to be, a beautiful voluptuous rolling sculpture.”

 

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About the Author

Gary Lieber is a regular contributor to the eBay Motors Blog, Clean Fleet Reports, MyRideIsMe.com, and PluginCars.com. He likes to modify his cars by adding features that are unique to the marque. His Porsche 911 is a multiple Concours winner including Top 911 at Porsche Parade in 2005 and 2015. His Volkswagen GTI has been tricked out with engine management upgrades and style enhancements not commonly available on this side of the pond.

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