Car Collector And Racing Legend Denied LaFerrari Spider; Sues Ferrari for Defamation and Reputational Injury
Preston Henn wants in excess of $75,000 from Ferrari for embarrassing his status as a loyal member of the Tifosiby Kirby Garlitos, on
85-year-old Preston Henn prides himself on being one of America’s most famous car collectors who also happens to be a former 24 Hours of Daytona winner and a flea market baron who founded and grew the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop in Lauderhill, Florida. But none of those things are why he’s in the news these days. Okay, that part about being a famous car collector is tied into it, but that’s the extent of it. Preston Henn is in the news because he’s upset at Ferrari for deeming him unqualified to buy the Ferrari LaFerrari Spider. In fact, Henn is so ticked off that he’s taking the Prancing Horse to court over this perceived slap in the face.
Documents that were first brought to light by Autoweek revealed that Henn was not only calling the Italian automaker out, he’s actually suing Ferrari North America in excess of $75,000 over what he claims as statements made by the company that harmed his reputation as a loyal member of the Tifosi.
In the legal documents, Henn claims that he went to his local Ferrari dealership to place an order on the LaFerrari Spider, only to be rebuked for reasons that are still unknown to him. Undeterred, Henn wrote letters to the Ferrari brass and other execs from FCA, including CEO Sergio Marchionne. The letter to Marchionne also included a check worth $1 million as a deposit on the car.
To Henn’s dismay, the check was returned to him along with a message from Ferrari’s media manager, Enrico Galleria, saying that “all units have been already sold” and a reminder not to mail checks with that amount to Ferrari or any of its managers because they would not be held responsible if the checks ended up getting lost.
Feeling embarrassed by Ferrari’s cold shoulder treatment, Henn is taking the fight through the legal system and is insisting on a jury trial. For its part, Ferrari has yet to comment on the issue but considering the 85-year old’s status as one of the premier Ferrari car collectors in the world, a response from Maranello should be imminent.
Or maybe not. Either way, we’ll update everyone on the developments of a news story that has since turned into a legal drama.
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Why it matters
The first thing that I thought of when I heard this news was how crazy it must be in the world of supercar collecting when a renowned collector has taken legal action over getting stiffed at the chance of owning a supercar. I mean, there is some absurdity to it.
To be fair, Preston Henn’s claims of being a top-class Ferrari collector are true. He owns his share of Ferrari exotics, including a 1955 Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione Speciale that’s rumored to be worth from $75 million to $100 million by itself. Having that car alone makes him a bonafide don in the Ferrari car collecting game, but not enough it seems to be regarded by Ferrari as a worthy owner of the 150-unit LaFerrari Spider, or LaFerrari Aperta, as it will come to be known. Shoot, world famous chef Gordon Ramsay has an order for the supercar but Preston Henn can’t even get Ferrari to accept his $1 million deposit? That’s probably what Henn and his people are thinking right now, which in itself is hilarious and ridiculous at the same time.
I have no clue why Ferrari “LaFerrari Aperta-blocked” Henn out of owning its newest hypercar. Maybe the Italian automaker has its reasons. After all, Henn hasn’t exactly been the type to shy away from controversy. His Swap Shop was the subject of a lawsuit over its role in enabling the sale of knock-off items of a luxurious French brand. His shop also gained notoriety for showing The Interview, the Seth Rogen film about killing the North Korean president.
But from an objective point-of-view, I don’t see those reasons as being enough to keep Henn from buying a LaFerrari Aperta when he can afford it. Maybe it’s because Ferrari just didn’t make enough of the hypercar that some high-profile customers would get left out of it. Henn owns the LaFerrari coupe, but that had a 499-unit run whereas the Aperta is only getting 150 units. Henn’s probably not the only one miffed at missing out on the LaFerrari Aperta despite being qualified to own it.
But he’s probably the one who is taking Ferrari to court because of it. It’s a fascinating story that deserves its own afternoon soap opera time slot. Whatever happens next, we’re definitely going to break it to everyone. No spoilers needed.
Read our full review on the 2017 Ferrari LaFerrari Spider here.