Would you pay $15K for a toolkit you would never use?

Tom Yang

There are multitudes of odd and interesting things in the automotive-enthusiast universe. One of the more interesting objects belongs to the world of the concours d’elegance: factory-fit toolkits. The cars least likely to need on-the-go maintenance are often the examples most likely to have these desirable kits: for example, concours-bound Ferraris. Marque expert Tom Yang recently posted a video talking through all the finer points of the vintage tools that were meant to keep Maranello’s finest on the road, tools that now are the final touch for examples that rarely see the road.

A factory-fit toolkit recalls a different era of the automobile. Toolkits allowed drivers to solve a problem roadside and limp their vehicle to a safe location. Ironically, the tools in factory kits are often the last ones you would want to use to actually work on your car: The wrenches and pliers were typically built by the car company or sourced as affordably as possible. They rarely display the attention to detail or finish that good tools require. Can’t criticize the automakers too much, though; these tools were meant to be a last resort.

Over the years, these antique toolkits became critical in the Ferrari-judging world. With the rise of concours and exacting restorations, suddenly the tools you thought you’d never need became all you could ever want.

See, top-tier concours judging is based on a points system, with a maximum score of 100. Flaws or incorrect parts earn point deductions. A properly spec’d toolkit accounts for four points of the 100-point total accord to Yang, a man who would know. That means, if you want to reach the top tier of concours competition, your car must have a toolkit.

Of course, having a bunch of tools in a canvas bag or plastic bin is not what judges are looking for. Originality is paramount, from the materials of the roll to the tools themselves. I’ve personally been a part of the hunt for specific bits and bobs to complete a Ferrari toolkit while walking the rows of the Hershey AACA fall swap meet. We got lucky, but it truly wasn’t til now that I understood just how fortunate we were.

It just goes to show that the restoration-rabbit hole is as deep as one wants to go. Hearing Yang talk through the exacting details that separate the best from the rest feels like a seminar, and we love that he is willing to share this information. For most of us, it’s fun car trivia, but there is likely someone out there who now knows the exact spark-plug wrench they should be looking for to capture those last critical points.

 

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Comments

    Not only Ferraris came with a roll of tools. The first generation (‘73-‘79) of the Honda Civic came with a simple tool set. It consisted of a couple double-open end wrenches, spark plug socket, slip-joint pliers, Phillips and flat blade interchangeable bit screwdriver and lug nut wrench. They were not first rate quality, but with the very detailed owner’s manual made it possible to do basic roadside repairs.

    Kyle, it’s like the vanities that came with the 1957-1958 Eldorado Brougham an original set can sell for up to $25K if you can find a set. The set is are absolutely necessary if you are aiming for a 100 point car.

    Tool rolls for early E-types are extremely exacting to get right. They changed subtly at specific serial numbers and have been documented to death by a handful of global experts who have seemingly made entire careers detailing precisely what tools came with any given car. It took me two years and nearly $5k to get mine right.

    Thank goodness the original owner of my E-Type didn’t loose or use the tools it came with! The tools are 100 point correct and unused!!!!! The owner did drive the car for 50+ years on and off, just like I do, drive cars! The car’s not 100 points, but the tools are gold!

    Forget a pedestrian canvas bag or plastic bin, My Ferrari’s tool kit has three flocked plastic trays with fitted slots for the tools and a number of spare parts. The trays are stored in a cuoio Schedoni leather case with a carrying handle and straps that slide through brass retaining loops to securely close the case. The tool kit, together with the tire inflator kit, is secured at the side of the trunk by a cuoio leather belt with a brass buckle. It’s the nicest factory tool set of any car I have ever owned.

    I could see anything Ferrari being both expensive and critical to concours judging. Tool kits are a niche hobby on their own with bicycle lovers lusting for classic Campagnolo shop tool kits in the fitted wooden box or the less expensive but rarer French VAR kits. As a kid I loved the tool roll from our 66 Mercedes and mourned when it was stolen. We also had a 70 BMW with a similar tool roll and the later BMWs with the tools in a tray attached to the trunk lid were very cool. None of my modern cars had much beyond a wrench, a screwdriver and lug wrench so I have to bring my own.

    My Morgan tools were Polish, if I remember correctly. Wish I still had them. . .They would accompany the workshop manual and the owner’s manual that I still have in my posession.

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