When his Ferrari becomes her Ferrari

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Martha Glasser with her 1969 Ferrari 365 GT 2+2. Roberto Westbrook

Martha had first seen the unrestored 1969 Ferrari 365 GT 2+2 in Richard Glasser’s garage when they were dating, but she didn’t think much about it. After all, Richard had a number of cars in his garage. 

“It was never that reliable because it never had a mechanic who could really keep the car running,” Martha recalled.

Richard had spotted the car in 1996. “I was supposed to go out to Barrett-Jackson, but I was going to miss the sale,” he said. “So I went to Tom Barrett’s home, and it was the first car that I saw, and I really liked it.”

Barrett told him the car, one of 801 built from 1967–71, had originally been owned by singer Nancy Sinatra until 1987, and it had just sold for $65,000. Glasser was unfazed. Even though he didn’t know what Ferraris were worth, he promised Barrett he would buy the car at that price if the sale didn’t go through. It didn’t.

Fast forward to 2003. Now married, Richard and Martha were attending the Cavallino Classic, the famous Ferrari car show held every January at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida. In the rarified air of this legendary hotel, walking on an impeccably manicured lawn, Martha had a thought.

“We’re looking at all of the cars, and I’m thinking that what we have is so beautiful,” Martha said of their car. “It’s a beautiful representation of that 1969 era, and it’s unrestored. I think I am going to try and enter it.”

What comes next sounds as if it was lifted from a sitcom. Upon arriving home, and without telling Richard, Martha contacted the Cavallino, got an application, and filled it out. “And I got a response that we were going to be in the show,” she said.

But there was a catch. Because Martha had applied, she had to show the car. Too bad she knew nothing about it. 

“Richard gave me a crash course on everything that I needed to know. When the awards banquet came, I got a second prize. We were elated.”

From there, the Glassers took the car on a driving tour that took them through the mountains of western Virginia, including the legendary Virginia International Raceway. 

“I really got a feel for the car and a feel for myself in the car,” Martha recalled. “It pushed me; I pushed it. That’s where my affair with that Ferrari really cemented.”

It’s also when Richard learned the car was no longer his—after he drove a leg of the driving tour. As he tackled the twisting highland roads, Martha could smell the car giving off odors the way athletes do when pushed to their limits. She had always admired her husband’s driving skill, but she became alarmed.  

 “Oh my gosh,” she recalled thinking. “This poor car!” 

1969-Ferrari-365-2-2 headlight
Roberto Westbrook

Later, while relaxing over cocktails, Martha delivered her ultimatum. Richard was to buy his own sports car. “Get whatever car you want,” she said. “Start looking.”

“I love you but you’re not driving my car like that ever again,” Richard remembered her saying.

The car would take the couple to Ferrari’s driving school in Maranello, Italy, in 2009. Once they arrived, they discovered some women in the group had preconceived notions about what Martha preferred.

“When the wives said to Martha, ‘Do you want to come shopping for vinegar?’ she said, ‘I’m driving,’” Richard recalled. “Then, two of the women there said, ‘We want to drive.’ And I am not sure that they ever had a class that had four women in it.”

“You don’t see a lot of women driving, but you’re seeing more and more starting to appreciate and love the cars,” Martha added while talking about why she loved the car.

“Because it’s manual, the car asks you to get to know it, and the only way you get to know it is to develop a relationship and to drive it. And it puts you through a lot of tests. I mean, you never know how reliable it’s going to be. It teaches you more about who you are, like, how true you are to the car.”

Martha also knows how it differs from other Ferraris.

“It’s not a race car; it’s a touring car. So, it doesn’t have that same sort of speed or have the agility, but it has a lot of power when it moves at speed. And you can take a couple behind you because it has the 2+2 seating.”

She also likes that it’s unrestored. “It shows its life on the interior and on the paint; it has a story to tell. Once you start a restoration, you erase that. It’s like an antique.”

But it’s about more than the car that appeals to Martha. “I love the way people feel about Ferrari. It’s not just the car. There’s a passion for history. And Ferrari was about rebuilding a country when it was on its knees. They gave the soul and the spirit back. And that car represents so much of that.”

While the couple was never able to reunite the car with Sinatra during a visit to Palm Springs, Martha did speak with her later. “I did tell her I’m so proud that she was the owner and that I’m carrying on and preserving that history of the 365.”

This year’s Cavallino found Martha back on the show field with her Queen Mother, but without Richard, who recently passed away.

1969-Ferrari-365-2-2 engine
Roberto Westbrook

“The car embodies so much of us together,” Martha said. “Richard used to say it was his game of golf. You know that we really shared so much interest in the love and the passion of the car. We built such a wonderful relationship around the people that we met here, and so the continuation of him is in the deep friendships that we made.”

And it all started with a Queen Mother.

“We have a good relationship,” Martha said, “and I’m in it for the long run.”

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