Rodolfo Junco de la Vega bought a black and silver Ferrari 212 while on a business trip to Italy in the fall of 1952.
He still owns it.
With only approximately 20,000 miles on it, the rare sleek hard top sports car looks almost new with its original dashboard, Italian leather interior and wood right-side steering wheel.
At age 91, “and proud of it,” Rodolfo said he still drives the car around his gated Jacksonville neighborhood, and maintains it mechanically himself.
Just as he also drives and maintains all his many other rare, collectible cars.
“It’s a disease – the cars,” said Rodolfo, who also has three other Ferraris in his collection, as well as Porsches, Jaguars, Alfa Romeos and others.
“I belong to the cars,” he said. “The cars don’t belong to me.”
Of all his automobiles, the 1952 Ferrari is Rodolfo’s favorite – and the one he is entering in this year’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
He remembers the day he bought it for $10,500.
Driving into the Ferrari factory to get mechanical tips before shipping it to the U.S., he saw Enzo Ferrari, the company’s founder, driving out. Ferrari asked him a question in Italian, and Rodolfo responded in his native language, Spanish. So they switched to English to discuss the car.
“To this day, the car runs good,” Rodolfo said. “They all run good.”
He was born in Mexico in 1922, and first came to the U.S. at age 10 to go to school.
He later enrolled at the University of Texas, but dropped out when his father had a heart attack and he was needed at home in Monterrey to run the family’s newspapers.
He ran the papers, as well as his own businesses, until 1972, when he moved to the United States.
Collecting cars has been a lifelong passion for Rodolfo, who also owns a home in San Antonio where he keeps a few cars.
His home in Jacksonville has two garages, where he keeps most of his prized possessions, maximizing the space by keeping some cars on mechanical lifts above others. They include a yellow 1964 prototype Ferrari 275 series convertible; a red 1965 convertible of the same series; a yellow 1974 Maserati Bora; a cream colored 1958 Mercedes Benz 300SL Roadster convertible; a fawn colored 1968 Jaguar convertible; and a red 1960 Alfa Romeo.
He keeps two “daily drivers” for practical use – a new Audi and a 2002 Honda S2000 convertible – in the driveway.
Rodolfo said he has never sold any of his collectible cars, and does all mechanical maintenance needed, except body work, which isn’t his “cup of tea.”
He occasionally enters his cars in shows “that are for a good cause,” and takes turns driving them on weekends, when he’s not running a business he still owns in San Antonio.
“I’m not about to quit,” he said. “I’m enjoying life very much.”