Early in the 1960s, Ferrari was a little-known name in the United States. There was a small community of racers who had imported Ferraris, frequently used ones. These soon became non-competitive, and some, late in their lives, even acquired American engines. In 1961 or 1962, John Lundin, Gerry Sutterfield and Ken Hutchison were at the Elkhart Lake races with friends, and saw a Ferrari Barchetta in tatty condition. Later in the day, the hood was opened, revealing that the Barchetta had a Chevrolet engine! The group agreed that something had to be done to encourage preservation and restoration of such Ferraris. Ken, John and Gerry were motivated by this experience, and soon joined with others of like mind to develop a Ferrari enthusiasts’ club.
Jack Katzen of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania wrote to Road & Track magazine, indicating his desire to join a Ferrari club, if one existed, but it developed that he did not want to undertake founding one. He did, however, write to those who responded, sending each of them a list of all respondents. The resulting awareness of other Ferrari enthusiasts helped make possible the gathering of potential club organizers and members.
The Ferrari Owners’ Club in California (FOC/CA) predated the Ferrari Club of America (FCA), but was considered by mid-westerners to be a local (Los Angeles area) club. FCA folklore later said also that the FOC/CA went inactive for a while in its early years, and then restarted after the FCA. Larry Nicklin and Dick Merritt had met in Detroit around 1957, at a picnic/reunion of Art Center College graduates, held at General Motors. John Delamater also knew Dick, and these three soon became acquainted, and would share information on Ferraris and their frequent travels from owner to owner.
Pictured amid the fall leaves, from left to right:
John Delamater, Ralph Smith, Gerry Buhrman, Dick Merritt, John Lundin, Ken Hutchison, John Habach, Larry Nicklin
The above three knew several interested Ferrari enthusiasts in their respective areas, and Jack Katzen’s letter had helped enlarge this acquaintance. A meeting of seriously-interested people from these groups was arranged at Nicklin’s home at 4746 Stratford Road in Fort Wayne, Indiana on November 19, 1962. Larry Nicklin had moved from Detroit (Chrysler) to Fort Wayne (International Harvester), with his family and 340 Mexico coupe. Larry’s home thus provided a fairly central location between Chicago, Detroit and Indianapolis. Eight persons actually attended, and a group photo of this historic meeting, provided by Larry, has appeared several times over the years in FCA publications. Not shown in the photo was Carmen Nicklin, who helped Larry host a memorable meeting by preparing an exceptional dinner, which still receives praise from attendees, all these years later. The group seriously discussed forming a club, and has come to be regarded as the founders of the FCA. Tom Caulfield must also be considered a founder, as he assisted with the incorporation process and became a Director of the new club.
This group agreed on the initial distribution of responsibilities among Club officers. John Lundin volunteered to be President, Ken Hutchison became Membership Chairman, and John Delamater was Vice President, and in charge of communication with members and the press.
Soon after, Delamater and Hutchison recognized that their experience would be better utilized if they traded positions, which was readily accomplished, with the agreement and support of John Lundin. John embarked on a miniature career in those early days and months, planning and executing the numerous tasks of organization and coordination, to fill needs which he recognized. Larry Nicklin contributed a set of the bylaws of the SCCA, which could serve as the basis for our Club’s bylaws.
C. J. Habich, manager of RRR Motors, the Ferrari dealer in Homewood, Illinois, wrote to Ferrari on behalf of the FCA. This began a chain of correspondence, extending over two years, which dealt with the Club’s early development. Ferrari recognized and encouraged the FCA in its role as a Ferrari enthusiasts’ club, utilizing the Club’s new name.
Their ultimate approval involved our proposed logo, and specified the condition that we always maintain the red background surrounding the official Ferrari badge design, and the words “Club of America” appearing against that background. The FCA Board met, readily approved, and John Lundin responded to Ferrari, agreeing to those conditions. Now we could proceed to procure our “engraved” stationery, the first series of hood badges and other regalia items. To the left you will see three unsuccessful badge prototypes.
On October 24, 1963, incorporation of the FCA was completed in Illinois, with John Lundin, Ken Hutchison, Tom Caulfield, John Delamater, Larry Nicklin and Dick Merritt listed on the papers as Directors. The first three of this group were Illinois residents, and signed the document.
Tom favored a club “spare parts scheme” similar to that of the Bugatti Owners Club in England. Tom had recently bought a group of Ferrari spare parts from Alfred Momo’s company, and proposed that the FCA assume the sale of parts to members. This could have been a great aid to members, but the Club probably did not feel ready to undertake a project of that magnitude at that time.
Back at their regular gathering spot, Randall's Inn, 130 Dixiway South in South Bend, for a 1965 board meeting.
Shortly after incorporation, Ken prepared a mailing to selected enthusiasts who were likely prospects to join as Charter Members (the first one hundred members). Member numbers were assigned to these first one hundred, and their Charter status is still recognized by the Club today. Now the Club required an office and secretarial help, and these were supplied by Bill Markley, who authorized his secretary to handle our needs. Bill also joined the Board of Directors, having also been a de facto patron of the Club, loaning “seed money,” to carry us through the lean early period.
An article by John Bond in Road & Track produced over fifty letters of inquiry, a huge number for a recently-founded club in those days.
This undoubtedly helped fill the Charter Member roster at a brisker pace. John Lundin indicates that, when Ken Hutchison’s mailing was prepared, Club officers considered that membership might never reach one hundred. In fact, that number was achieved by the end of 1965, and reached two hundred during 1966!
On August 13, 1964, the first “Prancing Horse” was published, in mimeographed and stapled format, with a loose 8x10, glossy black-and- white photographic print enclosed as an illustration. The first three issues were on plain paper, and the next seventeen used a color “Prancing Horse” masthead, printed on the Club’s new stationery which had the club logo in color. Ken Hutchison was editor, and began immediately to cover a wide range of topics. These included Karl Ludvigsen’s designation as the New England Area’s new Regional Representative, the Second Annual Meeting in South Bend, planned for April of 1965, Ferrari news, member news, want ads and promises of regalia items soon to come (this one perhaps a bit optimistic).
John Lundin submitted an article describing the first major Club event: a weekend in the Detroit area on the previous October 24 and 25, 1964, attended by 32 members and guests, who brought twelve Ferraris and six other cars. Two of the cars listed were a pair of grand prix Maseratis, which were, in fact, disassembled, and part of Dick Merritt’s famous hoard!
Dick Merritt organized an extensive tour of interesting local car people. The group visited the Merritts’ Ferrari engine and parts collection (and the Maseratis), Doris Blackwood, Proto Products (skilled body fabricators), masterful restorer and Bugatti collector Ray Jones and two other near-by serious collectors Bill Markley and Dick Teague. The First Annual Banquet was at the Detroit Athletic Club, and the Sunday brunch at the Bloomfield Hills Country Club. The business meeting (First Annual Meeting of the Corporation) was at Bill Markley’s home. Bill was extremely kind and helpful in so many ways. In those days, our humble organization could be installed in the prestigious D.A.C. and the Country Club only through Bill’s memberships there.
The next spring, on the weekend of April 23-25, 1965, the Second Annual Meeting was held in South Bend, coinciding with a charitable concours, “Sports Car Spectacular” at Notre Dame University, organized by student Gary Kohs. FCA Annual Meeting attendees were asked to support this event by entering their cars, and we provided eight Ferraris, Gerry Sutterfield’s Gullwing, and Bill Markley’s V16 Cadillac Roadster and SJ Duesenberg dual-cowl phaeton. The Saturday night banquet was at Irvin’s Dining House, and the business meeting (Annual Meeting) was held Sunday afternoon. Election results were announced, confirming the responsibilities undertaken at the time of incorporation by John Lundin, Ken Hutchison and John Delamater.
Our Club went on from this modest beginning to eventually organize a series of ambitious, prestigious Annual Meetings. And Gary Kohs went on to a multifaceted career in business, car- and aircraft-collecting, and the creation of “Fine Art Models,” an exceptional contribution to the art of model production.
The FCA, in its growth over the years to its present success and stature, overcame periodic problems; and a persistent early one was provision of grille badges for members (incorporating an oversized replica of the Ferrari hood badge). Initial efforts met with difficulties, and Gerry Sutterfield offered to help with the project, finding a successful source in Japan. Today, these badges are coveted collectors’ items.
The Third Annual Meeting, and the first in Indianapolis, was on May 14 and 15, 1966, to coincide with time trials for the Indy 500. Bernie and Rue Ann Morgan made their home available for the meet headquarters, and their dramatic garage area provided an exceptional setting for the Sunday concours. The panoramic photo of the gathering has been seen in our Club publications, as well as Road & Track and the 1966 Ferrari Yearbook. The 25 Ferraris ranged from Fred Herdeen’s 166 Inter (earliest) to 275 GTBs (latest). There was John Delamater’s 250 MM roadster, Jack Reuter’s “Dino Ferrari re-body” 166 MM, Dick Merritt’s 410 “Superfast I,” John Lundin’s short-wheelbase berlinetta and Tom Reagan’s 250 LM (driven from Louisiana, with his wife working the clutch, due to his injured leg). Bernie Morgan’s ex- Henry Ford II 212 Barchetta can be seen prominently in the center of the photo’s front row, with Bernie standing proudly behind.
The buffet banquet, hosted by the Morgans, was a grand and wonderful event. In an effort to express our gratitude for providing such a delightful weekend for members, Bernie Morgan was awarded a life membership in the FCA. Although the next year’s Annual Meeting moved on to the East Coast, the Morgans invited our Club to return at the same time the next year. This encouraged a tradition of yearly meetings in Indianapolis, and in 1968, the custom was begun of holding a Central States Regional meeting each summer, organized by John Delamater, at the time of the Classic Car Club of America’s “Grand Classic” concours event, based at the Speedway Motel.
In those early days, Ken Hutchison, in Chicago, and Dick Merritt, in Detroit, discussed collaborating on a Ferrari book. By 1965 or 1966, Warren Fitzgerald joined General Motors Styling, and was located near Dick Merritt. Perhaps it was inevitable that such close proximity would end Ken and Dick’s task of collaboration-at-a-distance, and Warren and Dick would soon begin the formal preparation of their landmark book, “Ferrari, the Sports and Gran Turismo Cars.” Their book undoubtedly gave Ferrari enthusiasm and Ferrari clubs a strong boost. It certainly helped the Ferrari Club of America achieve steady growth out of their early, tentative state, toward its present mature, professional stature.