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Gregg Allman, Southern Rock Pioneer, Dies at 69

Is This the Most Valuable Car in the World?

With the death of Atlanta flea-market magnate Preston Henn, a vintage Ferrari is poised to test the $100 million mark.

by Kyle Stock 
One of the most coveted cars in the world lost its driver this week when Atlanta millionaire Preston Henn, a flea-market magnate and racing aficionado, died at age 86.  

Make no mistake, the 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale could well be the Ferrari, the most rare and storied specimen from a brand built on scarcity and lore. It may also be the world’s first car to break the $100 million mark, provided it finds its way to the auction block.

What is it, mechanically?

Critically, the 275 GTB was designed by Pininfarina, the Italian firm responsible for the bodywork on some of the most coveted Ferraris and Alfa Romeos. When it went into production, Ferrari had recently restructured as a public corporation. For the first time, cars for the road and weekend warrior drivers were no longer solely seen as a way to finance racing teams. Today, cherry versions of the 275 GTB are valued at about $2.4 million.
A few of these machines, however, were built for racing and stamped with a “C”—for “Competizione”—and "Speciale" (lest one think it common). Closer in lineage to the GTO Ferraris that took Europe's racetracks by storm in the early 1960s, the "special" 275 GTBs had thinner body panels and a more spindly infrastructure, a metal diet that trimmed 300 pounds in all. Its engine was mounted lower in the body for better handling. With six carburetors, one for every two cylinders, the car produced 330 horsepower. At the time, that was forza with a capital F. 

What is it, emotionally?

To appreciate in multiples, a classic car needs more than good looks and snappy statistics; it needs a good back story—what collectors call provenance. Henn’s Ferrari is layered with the stuff. In 1965 it won its class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the World Series of motoring

For decades, Henn showed no interest in selling the machine. Rather, he displayed it proudly at his Swap Shop, a giant flea market and drive-in movie theater complex in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (At the moment, the joint is fittingly showing The Fate of the Furious.) A slightly eccentric owner never hurt the value of a car either (see: Joplin, Janis), and Henn falls squarely in that camp. In addition to being a profligate collector, the flea-market magnate ran a racing team and was a respected wheelman in his own right.

"About 10 years ago, he got an offer from a big Japanese collector for 35 to 40 million euros," recalled Ron Vogel, a friend and racing buddy. "I think he responded, ‘Stop talking to me.' "

For Ferrari, he was both a devoted customer and a provocateur. Vogel said Henn repeatedly rejected Ferrari's offers to show the vehicle at its own museum. When Fiat Chrysler rejected his bid to buy the ultra-rare LaFerrari Aperta (and returned his $1 million check), Henn sued the company for defamation. He eventually dropped the suit, telling Road & Track: "It ain't [about] the f---ing car."
Preston Henn, at Florida's Homestead-Miami Speedway, was both a champion and a provocateur of the Ferrari brand.
Photographer: Mark Elias/Bloomberg

What is it, financially?

What is Henn's 275 GTB/C Speciale worth? Well, what someone is willing to pay for it. Brian Rabold, vice president of valuation for the Hagerty Group, said it doesn't have the historical racing significance of Ferrari's coveted early GTOs. But it's a better car and more rare—one of only three.

At auction in 2014, one of its siblings fetched $29.4 million. Rabold said Henn's Speciale would fetch between $50 million and $75 million. 

"But there could be someone that surprises," he said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I'm certain there are people who have long been interested in this car."

Whether the vehicle finds its way to the market, meanwhile, remains to be seen. Henn is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Betty, and four children. Before passing, he told Autoweek that he made sure the Ferrari will stay on display at the Swap Shop long after he is gone. 

"That was his crown jewel," Vogel said. "At one point he said he wanted to be buried in it."

If you are really keen on Ferraris from the 1960s, pick one up for $200,000—say a 300 GT. At that price, one could justifiably drive it down to Fort Lauderdale and ogle Henn's precious machine for free.

The Eagles sue Hotel California

Members of the band The Eagles (L - R) Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit attend the premiere of the film "History of the Eagles Part One" during Sundance London, at the O2 Arena in London.

By Jonathan Stempel
REUTERS - The Eagles have filed a lawsuit accusing the owners of a Mexico hotel of using the name "Hotel California," arguably the band's most famous song, without permission.

In a complaint filed late Monday, the Eagles said owners of the 11-room Todos Santos hotel in Baja California Sur "actively encourage" guests to believe the hotel is associated with the band, in order to sell t-shirts and other merchandise, and make guests feel welcome.

This allegedly included piping "Hotel California" and other Eagles songs through the hotel sound system, and selling t-shirts in that refer to the hotel as "legendary," resulting in apparent confusion among many guests who posted online reviews.

The Eagles also noted that the defendant Hotel California Baja LLC has applied with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register the Hotel California name.

"Defendants lead U.S. consumers to believe that the Todos Santos Hotel is associated with the Eagles and, among other things, served as the inspiration for the lyrics in 'Hotel California,' which is false," the complaint said.

The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court seeks a variety of damages and a halt to any infringement.

Neither the hotel nor the lawyer who filed its trademark application immediately responded on Tuesday to requests for comment.

The Todos Santos hotel was named Hotel California when it opened in 1950, but went through a series of name changes before a Canadian couple, John and Debbie Stewart, bought it in 2001, and according to the Eagles began using the original name in marketing. Its website is ((http://hotelcaliforniabaja.com/)).

"Hotel California" is the title track from the 1976 Eagles album of the same name, and won the 1977 Grammy award for record of the year.

It is known for its long guitar outro featuring Don Felder and Joe Walsh, and complex lyrics sung by Don Henley.

In an interview with CBS News last year, Henley said the song is about "a journey from innocence to experience. It's not really about California; it's about America."

The case is Eagles Ltd v Hotel California Baja LLC et al, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 17-03276.