Meet the Owners of the East End's Famous Vintage Cars

By Sean Evans | August 18, 2016 | Lifestyle Feature

Summer days are perfect for bringing out your prized collectibles and driving on the open road.

The 1959 California Ferrari Spyder: So Choice.

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Keen readers will instantly recognize this vintage Italian sports car from its commanding cameo in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Of the sexy coupe, Bueller tells us in the movie, “The Ferrari: It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.” With a price tag close to $10 million, few possess the ability to acquire such a legendary stallion, but Howard Lutnick, CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, bought this 1959 California 250 GT Spyder at auction five years ago. Much like its famous Hollywood counterpart, Lutnick’s Ferrari spends plenty of time out of the garage, enjoying the road—just where it belongs.

Some people would say that actually driving a car such as this is sacrilege.
Howard Lutnick:
This isn’t a trailer queen. Driving it doesn’t make it less perfect. I love to drive this, and when I’m out in the Hamptons, I make sure it gets some miles. I probably put on about 150 miles every year.

Are you a speed demon or a slow cruiser?
I’m 55 years old, so I like the slow cruise. The car is just made for that. It’s got a manual top, which can take about 20 minutes to put down, so I only drive it on perfect days. I like to take it to East, South, or Bridgehampton, and when I bring the car into town, people say thank you. They think it’s nice to bring it out. One of the best things to do is park it on the street and let people come up and take a look.

It’s clearly recognizable as a Ferrari, but do many people immediately know the model?
The license plate answers that question now. I had it for a while, and people would always ask what it was, so I had a vanity plate made that lets you know it’s a ’59 California.

Since you got it at auction, we assume it was in fantastic condition.
It was in lovely shape, and I made it more lovely. With a car like this, it’s always a meticulous exercise to keep it running well. In 1959, vehicles weren’t as reliable, so now, 57 years later, they really need lots of love and care. I’ve got detailed mechanics who go through that V12 and inspect all the engine belts, the starter, the carburetors, and everything else to make sure it’s all running perfectly.

What drew you to the car in the first place?
It’s just sexy. I love the deep metallic green with that diamond-stitched cream interior. Those chrome side vents and the covered headlightsÑthere’s nothing more beautiful. It’s great because it’s a matching-parts car, so everything is all original and came together. It was also a race car, though I can’t recall where it campaigned.

Given how fast these 250 GTs are appreciating, would you ever consider selling it?
I’m a good buyer of things, not a good seller of things. I’ve sold some businesses, but I’ve never sold a car. Especially such a thing of beauty like this.

This Pristine 1974 Ford Bronco Gallops around the East End.

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The most iconic Ford is undoubtedly the Mustang, but bucking its way into second place is the Bronco, specifically the first-generation models. With a delightfully boxy body, those round headlights, and the ability to go topless, it’s no secret these SUVs were—and still are—quite coveted. Rob Wiesenthal, founder and CEO of Blade, came upon his beloved Blue Oval in an unorthodox manner.

We hear you won your Bronco. True story?
Rob Wiesenthal:
Accurate. I was a senior at the University of Rochester in 1988, and we were playing poker when a guy owed me in the middle of the game. He was short $200, so he pointed to an old, rusted Bronco by a tree and offered to throw it in. I won the hand, and the car.

Did it need a lot of love to get in working order?
I later realized it would have been cheaper to buy a nicer Bronco and restore it. It was a heap of scrap. The suspension, engine, and firewall panels were shot. It was in a state of disrepair that could be classified as barn-find condition. I had it flatbedded to get restored. I had previously raced Formula Fords in the US and Europe, so I thought I knew everything. [Laughs] I could probably have a fleet of Broncos for what I ended up spending on this one.

It looks like it was well worth the effort.
It came out well. We were able to get a number of original parts, including the mono speaker in the dash, an original AM radio, and a great biscuit-colored interior. I love the paint, which is an original flat navy blue from Mercedes- Benz back in the ’60s. I have a real emotional connection to the car since it grew up with me since I was 20 years old. We’ve seen the good and bad times together.

Do you have a favorite memory with the Bronco?
I love it with the top off. A car that has no top is a very different experience than a targa or a convertible or a sunroof. It’s exhilarating. I also have great memories of my kids and their interactions with the car. My 19-year-old son grew up in a baby seat in the car, and my 5-year-old daughter loves it and can’t wait to ride around in it. She knows how unique it is.

What are your favorite spots to cruise out East?
I live in Sag Harbor, so I take it all around here. It’s my go-to beach car, and I really don’t take it beyond the Hamptons. It’s great on the run to Montauk, and anytime the AM radio can pick up a signal from Connecticut is a banner day.

This Handmade Mercedes-Benz Cabriolet is Craftsmanship Exemplified.

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After World War II, Germany was busy rebuilding its factories, trying to kick-start a crumbled economy. Among the brands eager to resume full operations was Mercedes-Benz. The vehicles rolling off the assembly line were properly handmade works of art. It’s no shock that Marvin Chudnoff, a real estate developer and investor, gravitated toward this 1959 Mercedes-Benz 220SE Cabriolet. With only 1,100 produced over three years, the four-seat convertible is a very rare tri-star, and Chudnoff is fortunate to have found this gem.

We hear you have a penchant for vintage Mercs.
Marvin Chudnoff:
I have six in total, some 220s, some 280s, all spanning the 1950s and ’60s. They’re such stunning cars, but my favorite is the ’59 220SE. It’s considered one of the prettiest cars that Mercedes made.

What do you love about it?
Back in 1959, Mercedes had 2,500 staffers in their woodworking department in Stuttgart, Germany. These were skilled cabinetmakers who were responsible for the fully handmade wooden trim on every car. As a result, the 220SE has this gorgeous elm and ash interior and dash. That’s what a car should be—the real stuff, not the plastic crap you see today.

How did you come across the car?
I bought it six years ago from the original owner. He was a German fellow, living in San Diego. It was never restored and had about 51,000 miles on the odometer. I got all the records with the sale, which was nice. The engine, a 2.2-liter inline six-cylinder, was in good order, though it needed some new bushings and gaskets, and the paint was good since it was always on the West Coast.

You own some new cars along with your vintage ones. Which do you prefer driving?
I have a newer Mercedes- Benz SLS gullwing. It’s a real technological tour de force. But newer cars are like Swatch watches: They always tell the time, they’re never off, and they never break. The old cars, like the ’59, are temperamental, they overheat, they don’t always start, you can’t go across country. [But] they have character. I love that.

Where is your favorite place to drive?
If it’s sunny, I get the top down and run out to Candy Kitchen in Bridgehampton for some coffee, and sit in the car and read the paper. The Candy Kitchen isn’t more than two miles from my house, but I’ll drive 15 miles home. In a car like this, you always take the long way home.

A ’60s Muscle Steed Races around Bridgehampton.

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When you think of iconic American muscle cars, a first-generation Ford Mustang must top your list. Upon its debut in 1964, the Mustang birthed a new class of car, the pony car. Sharp styling cues, timeless fascias, and a potent Windsor V8 engine under that elongated hood meant the early models were often imitated, though rarely duplicated. Absurdly popular decades ago, Mustangs are still an object of lust and envy today—something cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank is quite familiar with. Frank, director of the Fifth Avenue Dermatology Surgery & Laser Center and the proud owner of a 1966 convertible, shares how he fell in love with his Detroit stallion.

What drew you to the car?
Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank: We needed a good, old-school muscle car for the beach. I found this one in 2009, after it had been in the original owner’s family since the ’60s. It was a perfect fit, and I became the second owner. I surprised my wife with it. She’s from Michigan and always wanted a Mustang. When I brought it home, she cried.

Was the car well maintained?
Yes. For a 50-year-old car with 108,000 miles, it’s running great. It’s all original; even the leather on the steering wheel is from the factory. I’ve got family in the car repair business who help me, and we coddle it a bit—it doesn’t do well in the cold—but the engine was clean and it didn’t need any real restoration. Old American muscle is built to last.

What’s your favorite part about owning a vintage Mustang?
You realize how dangerous driving was 50 years ago. We take things like windshield wipers and power steering for granted now. Then again, that’s part of the beauty of older cars; everything is easily handled under the hood. The steering, the transmission—everything is palpable and easy to understand. You’re not messing with a complicated computer or electronics system that can go haywire after a few years.

Where do you drive the car out East?
I take short cruises to town or to the beach. I’m not driving out to Montauk or anything. And it’s something only for nice weather. We put the kids in the back, along with my son’s surfboard, and off we go. It’s fine to get it sandy and do whatever we want. We take care of it, and it takes care of us.

What kinds of reactions do you get when you’re out and about?
Whether it’s an 80-year-old man or an 8-year-old girl, it’s all smiles. Everyone knows the classic Mustang. You can drive a new Lamborghini and you’ll either get a grin or a sneer, but in something like this, everyone’s happy to see it.

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Categories: Lifestyle Feature

photography by GREGG DELMAN

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