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    Interesting Ferrari story

    Hurricane Ferrari: Charley uncovers a treasure trove of vintage sports cars

    Autoweek (c)

    AutoWeek readers, dial your way-back machine to Sept. 17, 1990, when we told you about Florida real estate developer Walter Medlin, a Ferrari collector who owed the Internal Revenue Service $540,000, but for reasons known only to Medlin, he didn't want to pay.

    So the IRS seized a few personal items that he owned-a boat, some guns, a coin collection-and three Ferraris. One was a 1976 308 GTB (yawn), a 1966 Ferrari P3 and a 1967 Ferrari P4.

    The P3 and P4 were worth, oh, maybe $20 million, and along with the 308, the guns, the boat and the coins were scheduled for auction. At the last minute Medlin showed up with a cashier's check for about $600,000.

    Why would Medlin risk $20 million worth of Ferraris over $600,000? "You have to know Walter," a friend said at the time. Another acquaintance called him "a Howard Hughes-type guy."

    Medlin has been in and out of the local news since, mostly over taxes, and in 1997 he pleaded guilty to tax evasion and served a few months in jail. Since then, he had been pretty much out of the public eye, until 1999, when he paid $40,000 at a bankruptcy auction for two bears, a cougar, a leopard and a famous chimpanzee named Rocky that had appeared in movies and on the television series Baywatch.

    Why? Refer to the above: "You have to know Walter."

    Then, Friday the 13th-Aug. 13-Hurricane Charley ripped through Florida. When it hit a rural area near Kissimmee, just south of Walt Disney World, Charley encountered a barn just up the road from Walter Medlin's house, and took it along. Beneath the barn, on a concrete slab, were 19 cars-an Avanti, what appeared to be an old Indy car, and 17 Ferraris.

    "I thought Walter had pretty much dissolved his Ferrari collection," says Bill Warner, founder of the Amelia Island Concours and a longtime acquaintance of Medlin's. In a 1991 Road & Track story on Medlin, Warner wrote, "Walter Medlin was probably sitting on more than $50 million worth of rolling stock, all shoved into a nondescript storage shed on some central Florida farmland, covered in dust and bird droppings stuffed door-to-door, nose-to-tail."

    What was unveiled in that barn wasn't worth $50 million, but it was worth-to plebes like us, anyway-a fortune. Though there were no P3s in the barn, there was a Ferrari 330 GT 2+2, what appeared to be a 410 Superamerica, a 166 or 212 coupe, a 275 GTB and what looked like a Ferrari Formula One car from the late 1960s.

    There were also some other Ferraris difficult to identify, including a rusting chassis with rotting tires and a Ferrari V12. There also appeared to be one of Spike Gelhausen's old Indianapolis 500 cars. Except for the Avanti, all appeared to have been sitting untended for a very long time, even before they suffered from having a barn fall on them.

    Over the next week, one by one, the cars were carted off to an undisclosed location. Medlin could not be reached for comment, but then, he hasn't ever been very reachable. He doesn't seem to like the media. No surprise: In 1995 a local newspaper columnist pleaded with legislators to "remedy" what he called "the Walter Medlin Tax Relief Act," so named for Medlin's habit of letting his property go to tax auction, then buying it back, over and over and over, thereby postponing paying taxes on it.

    As for Rocky, the Baywatch chimp? No sign of him. Has anyone checked with Michael Jackson?

    Re: Interesting Ferrari story

    walter's attitude toward the IRS is commendable



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