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An Interview With David Lee, LA's mega Ferrari Collector

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by Talenia 

 

We had chat with Ferrari Collector David Lee and spoke about his biggest passion in life, CARS. He's gone through an amazing journey so far and was extremely determined and laser-focused in pursuing his childhood dreams of buying his very own supercar. He has now amassed a collection of 30 cars and, with close to 720k Instagram followers, is showing no signs of slowing down!

David Lee in his garage in LA

How would you say you began your collection? What inspired you to start on this journey and how long ago did this begin?

DL: You know for me it began with a love for cars, which would be in elementary school after my family immigrated to the US from Hong Kong. My teacher asked us to pick out any book of interest from the library, to encourage us to read. So, while my friends were picking up books on dinosaurs, I chose to select one on Italian sports cars! I remember the appeal of Romeo and the Maserati, learning how to drive by memory alone at the time. Following that, in high school it was the quintessential poster-on-the-wall, which for me was the Lamborghini Countach, one I dreamt to buy once I had enough money.

I vowed to myself that I would buy it before I turned thirty, and by the time I was twenty-eight, I was able to realize that dream when I bought my first Lamborghini Diablo, the next model in the series from the Coutach. I soon realized that it was quite temperamental and due to a lack of factory services in the US it was not as reliable and I had to let it go, but nevertheless it was a great experience. Soon after, I changed to Ferrari and my first model was the F355 Spider. 

Was it a red one and do you still have it as part of your collection?

DL: Of course, the first one is always red! This was 20 or so years back and this was my special car, as how it is with everyone's first car. And no, I sold it and it has been quite a journey as I have changed many cars since then, but I do still have a picture of it. It so happened that some years ago, I had a desire to own the best of each of the famous sports cars, which led me to buy a Ferrari GT and a Diablo, which was the last Diablo of the mass-produced models in the series. Thinking that I was happy with my collection, I went to my friend’s house who wished to show me his Jaguar E Type convertible, a classic which needed some work. Classic cars had never appealed to me before this day, and by the end of the it I had already made up my mind about buying one, but a Ferrari. It was the turning point for me when I really began my research on classic cars, their cost, their history and their outstanding value. This was especially so for Ferrari and I was very interested in how others have been collecting very deeply for thirty years. This eventually leads us to present day and my collection which I am now known for.   

So now your collection is a split between modern and classic? What would be the ratio?

DL: It depends on what era is defined as ‘classic’ as the younger people consider 80s and 90s as ‘vintage’ too. I have about 30 cars in total which span the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and the 90s, leading to the 2000s. My own definition of a classic car would be one from the 50s or the 60s and if that’s the case then I’d say I have about nine classic cars. I would estimate that I have about one-third of the old classics and one-third of the new like the 90s. I have an evenly spread-out collection of cars belonging to different eras, unlike some collectors who have either one or the other. 

Which is the oldest, most precious Ferrari that you own?

DL: Ah, that would probably be the 250 Lusso Competizione 1964, which is quite rare as the Lusso was not originally meant for sports car races or competitions but some of them were still being used on tracks. As a matter of fact, I entered mine into a competition only last weekend, where it won the ‘Most Significant Ferrari’ award. Most people choose not to take their cars on tracks, but for me I am a driver as much as I’m a collector, so I drive the car sometimes which is perfectly fine.

Have you ever participated in a Mille Miglia?

DL: No, I haven’t since but, I did participate in the California Mille as well as some race programs and events in the States. I would love to but I can't do them all, there are so many!

Out of all these events, which would you say is your favorite or the most important event in the calendar, at least in the US?

DL: In the US, I would say ‘Monterey Car Week’, Pebble Beach held in August. There are many other important events as well such as the Concorso Italiano, where I have been asked to judge the races, a true honor and such a great pleasure as not many modern collectors receive this privilege.

How would you say the service industry for classic cars has improved in LA, especially in terms of maintenance?

DL: It has improved a lot over the years. We are fortunate now to have several restoration shops that are in operation for classics, as well as some of the GTO engineers who have come from the UK to open shop here in Beverly Hills. For me, specifically, it is about the Ferrari dealers, who are now getting involved with the Classiche certifications which means that they are able to help collectors who want to bring in their cars for proper restoration and repairs. Of course, they already do that in the factory but this helps too.  It’s basically about what the cars need, and if I need to fix my cars, I leave it to the guys with a bit of instruction. There are guys who specialize in one specific thing or part of a car and guys who specialize in another, so I wouldn’t say there is one person who does all things well.

Do you usually buy your cars at auctions or through friends?

DL: It is more like a wide network of the who’s who and their private brokers who communicate with others to obtain the ownership of these cars. I do buy at auctions, but this network is more suited for those looking for specific cars. Mostly, people who know me and know what my collection is made up of, so they reach out to me in case they see something potentially interesting. For instance, I am currently in talks for a special car being made especially for me, but I can’t reveal what just yet! It's very exciting!

What is your advice to someone who is just starting out as a collector?

DL: That’s really a big question as a lot of it depends on the budget because there is a market price for the cars. Next, it depends on what the purpose is and what you are looking for, whether it is performance-based or for investment. So, it depends on which direction you choose as there is no one alternative situation. It's hard to say whether a car will go up in value or not. You can technically keep track of private exchange prices and you can use that as a gauge of the market. It is about how dialed in you are, at least with the auctions as everyone has access to that.

Finally, which is your favorite car from your collection?

DL: That is the most asked question and I can understand the appeal but the thing is that collectors may have hundred or two hundred cars, but that’s not for me. I want significant cars and all my cars are significant to me. If I’m spending a lot of money on each car then I have to really like it. If I have 30 cars, then I love all of them. Imagine it’s like if you have 30 kids and you like one better than the other! Another example; the greatest hits or songs, some songs are meant for some movies and other for something else. Similarly, for cars I use each of them for different purposes.

That said, I can actually answer your question by saying that the one car has more of a sentimental value for me, is the 288 GTO. This is the car which I really loved and wanted in high school. So, accomplishing that and to be able to obtain it makes me feel great about myself.


Follow David's daily car journeys here:

 

@jaylenosgarage and I discussing his new detailing products @lenos_garage I use it, it's great!. 📷 @rossvance

A post shared by David SK Lee (Los Angeles) (@ferraricollector_davidlee) on


 

 

People asked me if I have 7 people driving my 7 cars to a car event like a week ago's @sanmarinomotorclassic for example. The answer is: SWIPE LEFT.

A post shared by David SK Lee (Los Angeles) (@ferraricollector_davidlee) on


Car lovers - come and gather at our next car Classic Car event in Singapore in July! More info here.

Browse some of our Classic Cars available for sale here! 

 

 

 



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@jaylenosgarage and I discussing his new detailing products @lenos_garage I use it, it's great!. \\ud83d\\udcf7 @rossvance

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A post shared by David SK Lee (Los Angeles) (@ferraricollector_davidlee) on

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People asked me if I have 7 people driving my 7 cars to a car event like a week ago's @sanmarinomotorclassic for example. The answer is: SWIPE LEFT.

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A post shared by David SK Lee (Los Angeles) (@ferraricollector_davidlee) on

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Car lovers - come and gather at our next car Classic Car event in Singapore in July! More info here.

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Browse some of our Classic Cars available for sale here! 

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