Ostensible Italian Engineering is Actually a Modern Age Retirement Project
When it came time for retired mutual fund management principal Bill Grimsley to fulfill his fantasy of experiencing the performance of the European sports cars he dreamed of driving in childhood, there was just one problem: the aged and archaic machines hardly operated as well as they used to. Modern amenities and advancements such as air conditioning and power steering are non-existent in such early designs. Forget about infamous Texas auto insurance quotes when owning a ’55 Maserati A6G – the real problem for retirees is enjoying the actual driving part without modern creature comforts and safety measures.
It was only when he was introduced to Steve Moal, an equally retired heir to a third-generation luxury car collision repair business, that Mr. Grimsley got the idea to custom design his very own sports car to the tune of the Italian-made racers he grew up dreaming of one-day driving. The two men quickly got to work on a vehicle they would end up naming the Gatto – Italian for cat – which may very well live up to its name in multiple respects.
Five years later their end result is, visually speaking, a showcase homage of mid-20th century Italian sports car design. As New York Times reporter Nick Czap describes: “In profile it resembled a Ferrari from the 1950s, yet its gaping concave grille hiss ‘Maserati.’ A pair of oblong bulges in its roof hinted at the hallmark of a famed Italian coachbuilder, Zagato.” In addition, the candy cobalt paint color both men decided on is era-inducing in and of itself without recalling one particular make and model.
But how does she run? According to Czap, the Gatto ultimately draws its power from a 1960s era Ferrari V-12 coupled with a modern Tremec manual transmission. The result, as the reporter puts it, is that “A century-old art form and craftsmanship felt madly, unstoppably alive” when the Gatto was taken out for test spins.
As far as the introduction of modern elements besides the aforementioned 5-speed transmission, Moal’s shop assembled steering shafts for a state-of-the-art power-assisted rack and pinion system as well as suspension control arms to help keep the unconventional design hugged down by gravity. In addition, the driver and passenger can keep cool thanks to the inclusion of A/C.
Total cost approached $1 million, mostly due to the high intensive labor involved in building a custom mid-20th century Italian-inspired sports car from the ground up, modern amenities included.