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The Ferrari Daytona on Miami Vice

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Ell.a

The Ferrari Daytona on Miami Vice

by Phil Price (Jurassic Narc)

The world of television, like the rest of the world, has been subject to many influences which have resulted in an evolution. One of the constants of all business is money, and TV is no different. Producers push the production staff to find better and cheaper ways to tell stories, to minimize the time involved in filming, and to move the story along without sacrificing the attraction of viewers. With this idea in mind, many movies and television series have used the device of a vehicle as a character. By using a car or truck which is readily identifiable as belonging to the hero (or villain for that matter) a simple shot of that vehicle outside a building helps to set the stage for the next scene without having to use the more expensive “talent†(the actors who play the parts). This device has been used very effectively, particularly in television. On the series Walker, Texas Ranger the distinctive 4x4 truck was sufficiently optioned that you immediately recognize it as belonging to Walker (even though the production company kept 3 identical trucks for use in filming at any given time). The truck was often used in place of an actor to move the plot forward. And the star may or may not be present inside the truck as it zooms down the road.

One of the first TV shows to use the distinctive motor vehicle as an adjunct to the characters was the 1980s Miami Vice. Each character was given a car to drive which seemed to have been an extension of the character whom the actor portrayed. The car driven in the first two seasons by Sergeant Sonny Crockett (of the Metro Dade County, Florida, Drug and Vice Unit or Organized Crime Bureau), played by Don Johnson, was a Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spyder. The car was represented as a seized car, taken from one of the many Miami drug kingpins. Crockett’s partner, Ricardo Tubbs, played by actor Philip Michael Thomas, drives a pristine ‘64 Cadillac DeVille convertible and detective Stan Switek (Michael Talbot), gets to drive a turquoise ‘61Ford Thunderbird. These cars, too, were seized and converted to government use. The use of private property converted to government service upon confiscation from drug dealers was how Crockett and Tubbs were able to wear Rolex and Ebel watches and designer shoes and suits, the show would have you believe.

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The author examines Car #4 in 2007

First, what is the deal with the Daytonas?

The 365GTB/4 Daytona is generally regarded as one of Ferrari's greatest ever GT's. If nothing else mattered, it was the combination of its performance and an amazing Pininfarina body which secured the Daytona’s place in our hearts. The Daytona became the world’s fastest production car. A top speed of 175mph and 0-60 in 5.3 seconds were enough to eclipse every other manufacturer at the time, even Lamborghini. Exuding power from every angle, the Daytona remains one of the most jaw-dropping GT's to this day. Production ran from about 1968 to 1973. The effortlessly long bonnet and chiseled nose housed a full width Plexiglas cover for the headlights (although United States DOT regulations enacted as the Daytona began production resulted in all production models shipped to the US having drop down headlights). Except for a pair of engine vents carved into the hood, Pininfarina kept the Daytona free of ducts, louvers and blisters, its exceptionally clean profile undoubtedly minimizing the effects of age. Only 124 factory spyders (convertibles) were built, and when their values hit $1 million in 1989-91, many 365GTB/4 coupes lost their tops in an attempt to cash in on the boom.

The Replicas

A couple of American car builders and entrepreneurs, Al Mardikian and Tom McBurnie, developed a replicar of the Ferrari Daytona Spyder built around the frame of the C3 Chevrolet Corvette. Al Mardikian was an auto importer who specialized in Grey Market European cars. Mardikian contracted for six Daytona replicars to be built by Tom McBurnie to Mardikian’s specifications. McBurnie used a Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Spyder with serial number 16859 to make the original molds for the conversion. The special car was to be called a MARDIKIAN, and would sell for about $45,000. While Mardikian took his cues from the Ferrari Daytona, he had from the beginning wanted the cars to be unique, and to brand them as his own to be called the Mardikian 350 GTS Turbo.

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The logo for the Mardikian Custom Cars

Eventually, only 4 cars were known to have been produced bearing the Mardikian brand (McBurnie built a fifth car for his brother, but it is unknown if it was branded as a MARDIKIAN). Two of those cars ended up on Miami Vice. They were the first and the fourth car produced. Mardikian's legal problems with importation of Grey Market cars (EPA contended the cars were not being properly converted to US Standards), and the marketing realities of putting a $25,000 suit of clothes on a car that would sell otherwise for about $20,000, caused the project to falter and stall out. The four original cars were sold and driven, but two of them ended up back in Newport Beach on Mardikian's used car lot. According to Kit Car magazine, the original Miami Vice car built by McBurnie was black with a single BAE turbocharger (when both cars were built they had turbo chargers of one kind or another, but the cars used on the show were powered by carburetor fueled crate engines) and a tan interior. It was built as the fourth car for Mardikian. The car began life as a beige 1981 Corvette, It was leased by Universal Studios after it was brought to their attention by Dan Haggerty of Grizzly Adams fame (McBurnie has identified the person responsible for Universal leasing the cars as both Dan Haggerty and Ben Haggerty, who was the Transportation Coordinator for Miami Vice). This car, under lease, was used for the pilot episode.

In the mean time, Trend Imports (Mardikian's auto shop) was the target of a federal investigation. When the series was picked up, Universal Studios first leased and then later purchased two cars from Mardikian for use on the series, although at the time Mardikian could not produce the titles for the cars. They were the car described above, known as Car Number 4 of the Camera Car, and the car known as Car 1 or the Stunt Car. The second Miami Vice car, the first car built by McBurnie, was a 1976 Corvette with a Gale Banks twin turbo charged engine. Car 1 had been involved in an accident before it was converted, and McBurnie had taken many of his original measurements to build the fiberglass bodies using this car. He later discovered that this car was two inches shorter on one side than on the other. This car was built by McBurnie in red with a black interior. The production company was later able to have the car converted to black and tan, and thus had the requisite backup car they would need for their rigorous filming schedule.

Both cars were upholstered in Connolly leather and carpeted with Wilton wool. Both cars were automatics. One point of interest is that Universal added a second brake pedal to both cars. This allowed the stunt drivers to make the required "boot-leg" turns and other maneuvers.

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The second brake pedal installed by stunt coordinators for MV

McBurnie had nothing to do with the cars once they were transferred to Al Mardikian, and had moved on to other projects. However, McBurnie had kept the original molds for the Mardikian car. When Miami Vice became a whirlwind hit for NBC, the production company began to get questions about the cars and how to purchase one. Michael Mann, the show's producer, referred questions about the cars to McBurnie, whom he knew to be the builder. Suddenly, McBurnie was back in the Daytona business. Al Mardikian eventually sued McBurnie to get the body molds - which he ultimately did get custody of. But, by then McBurnie had made his own set of molds (and Mardikian never used the molds again). As the TV show became more popular McBurnie, and then several other companies, started to manufacture the cars as both turn-keys and as kits for do it yourselfers.

Originally the Corvette interior was left intact, with minor cosmetic changes to “suggest†the Italian heritage of the design. The top of the dash was fitted with a cover featuring the typical Ferrari defroster vents and drivers instrument pod, and in the nose square headlights were used. As customers became more interested in the cars duplicating an authentic Ferrari, cars were constructed with round headlights, the instrument panel was replaced with a Ferrari replica, seats were replaced with Ferrari replicas and, in some cases, even pop-up headlights were added to complete the car (authentic Ferrari Daytonas were shipped to the US with pop-up headlights as the lights covered with the plexiglass did not meet new federal production-car requirements). In Europe, enthusiast build replicas using V-12 Jaguars as a starting point, and the cars duplicate the Ferrari to the smallest detail. Many of the facts which surround these cars, and the business men who had them constructed, have been muddied by law suits filed on behalf of Ferrari (for details see Ferrari S.p.A. v. McBurnie, 11 USPQ 2d 1843 (S.D. Cal. 1989)) Most of the major builders of the Daytona replicars were sued by Ferrari, and now those people are reluctant to talk about their involvement in that enterprise. It is doubtful that more than a thousand of the car bodies were ever produced, making the replica as scarce as the original.

Since the idea of rebodied cars was new, the television audience was generally unaware that the show cars were replicars. Prior to the McBurnie/Mardikian project, rebodies were largely limited to VW bugs converted to dune buggies. At the time the cars were originally leased by Universal Studios, they were half of the total replica Daytonas ever produced. The producers intended for the car to be treated as a genuine Ferrari. No one foresaw that the attention to the cars would result in a burgeoning new industry. No attention was given to their replica heritage (as other productions had used replicas in place of collector’s cars) but due to the shows amazing success many magazines were featuring articles about the McBurnie cars. And references to the Corvette innards of the cars were mentioned in general articles about the show. Even as late as 2005, when the Miami Vice Season One DVD was announced, the official Universal Web Site refers to the Ferrari Daytona Spyder driven by Sonny Crockett without ever mentioning it was a replicar. (This is not unusual. No one in the cast of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea or any of the Star Trek series ever indicates that their vessels are only models photographed in a studio.) Much less, for instance, is made of the replica used in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (released 5/11/1986) which features a replica 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California. By the end of the Second Season, Ferrari executives were getting annoyed that the black Daytona, which they knew to be a replicar, was garnering so much attention. Ferrari North America offered to provide two bona-fide Ferraris for Miami Vice. The brand new, 12 cylinder Testarossa was the top car in the Ferrari stable at the time. The cars were furnished in black with a tan interior, but were determined by the crew to be too hard to photograph at night (if you want to see the black Testarossa, it is driven by one of the bad guys in the episode "When Irish Eyes Are Crying"-the same episode where the Daytona is destroyed) . The producers had the black cars repainted, which resulted in the white Testarossas which appeared for the rest of the series.

Daytonas in the Pilot

When you first see Metro-Dade detective Sonny Crockett sitting on a busy street, reading a paper while sitting behind the wheel of a black Ferrari Daytona Spyder, you would never think the car he is seated in is a replicar. And you would be right. When we first see Crockett he is sitting in a real Ferrari. Some of the hints that give this away are the side vent window (present on a real Daytona, but absent on the replicas), the door handles (out of sight on a real Daytona, but visible on the replicas), and the rear side marker light (chrome trimmed and high mounted on a real Daytona, but plain and in the blood line of the replica). And the distinctive headrest of the authentic Ferrari is obvious. But this is the only time in the first two seasons that Crockett sits in an authentic Ferrari (he never actually drives the Daytona on screen). It has been reported that a Miami doctor, Boyd Swartz, owned the real Spyder that was used in the pilot episode. He rented the car to Universal for the production but it was damaged to the tune of a thousand dollars and the good doctor said "Enough! If your not going to take care of my car you cannot use it." (As a side note, however, an authentic Daytona Spyder does appear in a Season Two episode titled “One Way Ticketâ€. The car is yellow, and is driven by a defense attorney who helps Crockett in an investigation.) The producers had probably intended to use the authentic Ferrari Daytona for static and low speed shooting, and use the replicar for stunt work. But when the real car was pulled, there was not a readily available substitute other than the McBurnie/Mardikian car .

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Rear lights on the MV Car

This may account for the fact that the replicar is not seen at all until the second half of the Pilot Episode.

When you do see the Daytona being driven in the pilot episode, “Brother’s Keeperâ€, Sonny Crockett is at the wheel of the black replicar. The car leased and used in the pilot was McBurnie Car 4. This car has the full-length tinted nose plexiglass with a Ferrari badge located in its center, visible door handles, and a tan tonneau cover. The seats featured in this car are noticeably different than the ones used in the cars featured in the rest of the series. One other feature of the car was that the red taillights (brake lights only) were on the outside, and the amber taillights (parking lights and turn indicators) were on the inside. Most production versions of the Ferrari Daytona had this feature reversed. The “Original Ferrari V12 1965-1973, the Restorers Guide†by Keith Bluemel, says that the red taillight was on the inboard side of the amber light in all cases. However the book features a European car which has the taillights displayed just like the Miami Vice cars.

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Season One appearance

Daytonas in Season One

Throughout Season One the appearance of the Ferrari Daytona is consistent. The plexiglass nose-piece is highly noticeable, and the Ferrari nose badge is installed above and off the plexiglass piece. Otherwise, the outside of the car is exactly the same throughout the use of the Daytona replicars. It is not clear if Car 4 was used for anything more than interior shots during Season One. However most authorities agree that Car 1 (the 1976 Vette based car) was the primary car used in that first season in Miami. One curious omission during the first season is the absence of the tan tonneau cover over the convertible roof. This feature doesn’t appear anywhere in Season One (except in the Pilot episode). But late in the season the tonneau appears for a matter of seconds in screen as the two cars are exchanged during different phases of shooting the same scenes(look for the appearance/disappearance of the cover in Home Invaders and Nobody Lives Forever). Inside the car, the seats are Corvette seats of the type used in the 1978-1982 vintage cars. The back of the seats were leather covered to match the seats. And the leather seat inserts were sewn with black stripes to approximate the seats used in the true Ferrari. Car 4 originally had custom made seat cushions which had been made to suggest the headrest on the seat, but after the pilot those seats were replace. During the use of the cars on the show (except the pilot episode), both cars had identical Corvette seats with Daytona strips sewn in them.

The custom interior for Car 4 was done by Auto Designs of San Diego, California. The owner at the time, Marc Cicchetto, made the molds for the doors and reworked the dash and seats. The interior of the car, particularly the gauges, was stock Corvette, with some enhancements to change the appearance. The dash top was remolded to include a driver’s gauge pod and the typical round defrost vents found on that vintage Ferrari. The top of the dash was black, but the face of the dash was tan which matched the rest of the leather interior trim. The speedometer and tachometer cluster was wrapped with leather to a greater extent than the Corvette dash. Exotic wood was used to cover the center console area, and extended up into the center gauge pod. Little else was changed in the basic gauge package. The Corvette climate controls were replaced with controls from a Mercedes, which used electronics to control the vacuum lines for the vent controls. The Wilton wool carpet was black on both cars.

Car 1 had a black steering column and had been fitted with modified standard Corvette door panels. The 1976 dash had been replaced with a 1978-1982 style, and the interior had been reworked to match Car 4. At some point a cover was placed on the dash of Car 1 to make it appear the same as Car 4, at least from the outside (but one of the spotting tips is that the winsheild frame for Car 1-based on a 1976 Corvette-has no provision for sunvisors).

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Car 1 is on the left, notice the differences

Car 4, with the Marc Cicchetto made interior, was the nicer of the two cars internally. Car 4 had a tan steering column and customized door panels. Both cars sported leather covered MOMO steering wheels, and Zenith wire wheels with standard 3 ear spinners. When on screen both cars bore the Florida license plate ZAQ178. Car 4 was actually licensed in Florida with plate number 034FTA when a Florida title was finally secured in February 1986 (see note below). Sources who participated in the filming of the first two seasons agree that only two Daytona replicas were used in production of Season One and Season Two.

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Note missing plexi and items hanging under nose

There are telltale indications which car is being used in the filming process. The windshield trim on Car 1 (1976) was chrome, but on Car 4 (the 1981) the window trim was black. These cars were used for regular driving, for static scenes and for stunt scenes. And as the season progressed, it became obvious that the cars were getting abused. In Season One there are a couple of episodes where the plexiglass is obviously missing, and things appear to be hanging from the bottom of the car. The plexiglass appears to be missing in the episodes “The Little Prince†and “Milk Runâ€. Also, in the earliest scenes with the cars, the rear lights were a problem. McBurnie had used Corvette stock light sockets which did not mate with the Ferrari light housings. This "phantom light" problem is very noticeable in several of the night driving scenes in Season One. As a result of this deterioration of the cars, the Stunt Coordinator for MV, Paul Knuckles recommended that the Producers contact a fellow he knew from home. Knuckles was from Eastern Tennessee, and knew a man in Kingsport, Tennessee, who had a reputation as a Corvette magician. His name was Carl Roberts. Roberts came to Miami, and shortly had made temporary repairs to the two Daytona show cars. But it was apparent that the cars needed some more serious work. So when filming concluded for Season One, the cars made their first trip to Tennessee.

Daytonas in Season Two

Seeing how the Daytona is treated in Season Two, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the good folks at Ferrari were getting steamed. During Season Two the Daytona not only looked better, but it was much more of an integral part of the show. The second episode has the car being repossessed by the “City†(while Sonny Crockett carried the badge and identification of the Metro Dade County Police Department, the show would often make reference to the City in an apparent reference to the City of Miami). It is described as a “Ferrari Daytona Spyder, serial number 23986686J“.

Later in Season Two the Daytona is involved in chases with a Corvette, a Lamborghini, and a Formula 1 Porsche. And in one episode, One Way Ticket, as if to thumb their nose at Ferrari the replicar is parked side by side with a very real yellow 365 GTS/4 Spyder. In each case the Daytona is photographed to the maximum effect. And the boys up at Roberts Motor Group had done a remarkable job in revamping the cars. The nose of both cars had been redone so that the Ferrari badge rode in the middle of the plexiglass nose piece. The nose piece itself was attached in a more attractive manner (in Season One the screws were obvious) and is smoked plexiglass which gave the front a cleaner appearance (in some shots the cars appear to have headlight covers due to the dark tint on the plexiglass). The seat backs on both cars had been re-trimmed with a black accent stripe, and the overall appearance of the cars was much nicer. The missing tan tonneau cover now was back over the convertible roof. And the lights no longer dropped out of the rear housings to give that "phantom taillight" effect. And both cars now had black trim around the windshield. The producers soon decided that they would need a third car, to maximize the use of time and resources on the show. So Carl Roberts set to the task of building this new car at his shop in Tennessee, but before he got very far the plan would be changing.

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Car 4 on display in Georgia in 1990

Daytonas in Season Three

The Daytona appears in only two episodes of Season Three, the first and the seventh episode. Originally the seventh episode of Season Three (Episode 51-El Viejo) was intended to be the season opener. In it Willie Nelson played a retired Texas Ranger who avenges the death of a friend. But it was decided that the second episode filmed (Episode 45-When Irish Eyes are Crying) would be the more dramatic choice for the opening night of Season Three. And the primary reason that it was thought to be more dramatic was the surprise near the middle of the episode when the black Daytona is suddenly blown to pieces before our eyes. The car destroyed in the episode was a body shell with the motor and other parts removed, and the original Miami Vice cars remained intact. It is alleged that one of the “strings†attached to the two new Ferraris provided by the company (three if you count the one given to Don Johnson personally) was that the Daytona be dismissed from the series in such a way as to put it out of the public’s mind. And the producers thought that the explosion would do just that.

Daytonas After Miami Vice

From the streets of Miami to Kingsport, Tennessee. Yes, you heard right. When filming was over for the Daytonas, they were quietly moved up to Roberts Motors in Kingsport. Both of the screen-used cars were in rough shape after two years of hard driving and abuse. Carl Roberts took them in with the intentions to use them as marketing tools to sell his fiberglass Daytona clone and his Testarossa kit. By way of trade he built the Testarossa stunt car used in the final three seasons of the show. But, in March 1988 the case later cited as FERRARI S.P.A. ESERCIZIO FABRICHE AUTOMOBILI E CORSE v. CARL ROBERTS (944 F. 2d 1235 [6th Circuit, 1991]) was filed in Federal Court in Tennessee. Ultimately Roberts was enjoined from the construction and sale of replicars which approximated Ferrari automobiles (both the Daytona and the Testarossa). In fact, Ferrari went after Roberts, McBurnie, and four other companies building and selling the Daytona kits. Most of the builders who were sued by Ferrari had used phrases like “The finest reproduction of the famous Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spyder†(California Custom Coach, Inc.) and “the Daytona Spyder Conversion Kit is so authentic, it’s easily mistaken for an original Ferrari Daytona Spyder Convertible†(Klassen Coach Works).

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Carl Roberts inspects the author's car in 2008

The original Miami Vice Daytona (the 1981 car known as Car 4) sold to a family from South Carolina in 1986. The car was sold again, and then in 1988 was purchased by a Corvette enthusiast living in Augusta, Georgia. The car has been privately held since that time, and is not on display in any venue. At some point the wood trim was removed from the center console and gauges, the door panels were changed, and the standard Corvette shifter knob was installed. And Carl Roberts had changed the rear tail lights so that the amber lights were the outer-most. The wire wheels were still Zenith Wheels, but Carl had replaced the gold-emblem wire wheel spinners with black-emblem spinners. Other than that, the car is identical to the condition it was in when it roamed the mean streets of Miami. The owner has a large box full of documentation of the ownership of the car, and is one of a handful of people who can prove which two cars were actually used on the show.

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Car 4 as it appears today (tail-lights altered for this photo)

(NOTE OF INTEREST: Originally Universal Studios leased the two Daytonas from Al Mardikian, but later decided to purchase the cars. The original titles were reported to have been lost when Mardikian's assets were seized, and Universal Studios needed the titles to legally register the cars in Florida. The State of California would not issue new titles unless the cars were returned to California, but since the cars were being used actively in the production of the series in Florida, Universal could not return them to California. The situation was finally resolved when California agreed to let the Metro-Dade PD inspect the cars, and then submit the required paperwork to have replacement titles issued. Each car bears the original VIN on the legal title, but both are shown as 1984 models on the original California titles as that was the year reflected in the paperwork provided by Metro Dade PD. So subsequent titles issued for the cars reflect 1984 as the model year.)

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The title issued for car 4 in Florida

In 1988 Roberts was asked to provide two Daytonas to a production company filming a movie with John Candy in Canada. The movie, Speed Zone, would be a take on the Cannonball Run series of films. Roberts had received both of the Daytonas used on Miami Vice, but only got a title for one of the cars (Car 4, the 1981 shich he sold in 1986). Roberts had removed the body from Car 1 and originally had tried to fashion a Testarossa body to fit the Corvette frame. When it was apparent that the dimensions were too far off, the frame for Car 1 was abandoned. Roberts had placed the body of the remaining MV car on a different frame, since without a title the car couldn’t be legally sold or shipped to Canada. Some say that the body of Car 1 was on one of the cars sent off to Canada along with a Daytona that the Roberts Motor Company had built. Other sources indicate that the body of Car 1 was sold to an individual in North Carolina. Either way, two Roberts owned cars went to Canada.

This was not Candy’s first contact with a replica Ferrari, since he drives a Ferrari 250 GTO in the 1991 feature Delirious. Prior to the filming of Speed Zone, several changes were made to the car (if in fact it was the Car 1 body). The door handles were changed, the dash was converted to a Ferrari style, and a fuel cell replaced the original gas tank. When that car returned to the US it was to be refurbished in a shop in Texas, as the production had resulted in serious damage to the car. But Roberts never had custody of that car again. Legal wrangling went on for 17 years, while the car sat uncovered in the Texas sun. The carpet was destroyed, as was most of the leather in the interior. Suddenly, in 2006, the car appeared for sale briefly on EBay. The next time the car surfaced it was announced that it had been purchased by the Volo Museum, in Illinois. The Volo car has tried to replicate the appearance of the car used in the show, with the exception of some minor details. The nose plexiglass was furnished by Rowley Corvette, and is closer to an authentic Ferrari piece than the one on the show car. The dash was painted to approximate the modified Corvette dash from the show car. And the steering wheel used is not the leather covered Veloce (made by MOMO) of the show car. But the VIN of the Volo car doesn’t match the one on the 1976 Daytona (Car 1). The second car (Car 1) really no longer exists. The frame, motor and running gear cannot be found. But the car cannot be truly verified as the body has no identification numbers on it, and the Volo car doesn't bear the vehicle ID number of either car documented to have been used on Miami Vice.

One final note of interest, however. The car did not always work on the side of right and justice. In fact, the Miami Herald reported that on June 26, 1985, “Frank Pugliese, a Davie, Florida, mechanic who used the black sports car from Miami Vice to deal in illegal weapons, sold an illegal silencer and two machine guns to federal agents posing as drug dealers. Pugliese used the television detectives' car -- a Corvette customized to look like a Ferrari -- when he delivered one of the guns, agents said. Pugliese had access to the sports car because he was working at the garage where the car had been left for repairs.†He was sentenced to three years in Federal Prison.

 

 

Additional entry by volobrian (2015-05-12)

 

Phil wrote, at the time he mentioned to Volo car was not a real car, may be the body etc..  Since then we had some break throughs which did prove the car to be the #1 car.  I bought the car from Jef thats on the Car Chasers TV show, as the real car... Afterwards is when I learned more about the story behind the cars and that I probably only have the #1 body.  Well Jeff told me to watch his show and I saw his episode which claimed he found the 1976 car, well..... the car I bought from him was supposed to be the 1976 car...  So that got me fired up to really get into it with my car and see what I had.  I started with a reserch on the visible VIN tag #, which was for an 81 Corvette, came back as a beige car with beige interior.  But what I noticed was the VIN was tampered with.  So I threw away everything I thought to know about the car, about the frame being scrapped etc. and decided to listen to the story the car had to tell.  I was able to find the confidential VIN number on the frame, which was a 1976 frame, not an 81 like the visible VIN!  I sent it to Phil and Bob and it was confirmed as the correct VIN for the missing 1976 car.  I was also able to confirm the body, there is a trim tag on the birdcage of the original Corvette which give the Corvette colors and date code.  Car was green, also not the color that was called for by the 81 trim tag...  The codes were 1976 codes so it is a 76 body, but also the date code on the body fell to withing 3 days for the date of the frame, with that and all the other evidence on the body, we have confirmed with Bob and Phil that it is both the #1 car and body.  Whether it was dismantled and reassembled or never dismantled at all we don't know.  I personally don't think the car was ever taken apart, there are no signs of it anywhere.  What I think happened was Carl Roberts bought or had an 81 Vette, it was that frame that he tried to use to build the stunt Testarossa, since the stunt car wouldn't need a title, he used the VIN tag from it on the MV car so that it would have a title since he never got one.

 

So bottom line, the Volo car has been confirmed as the #1 car.

Links:

Article from "Car Kit" (4 pages, 1987) about car fan Carl Roberts, who owns the Daytona Replica as well as a Testarossa ---> click

How to built a "Miami Spyder" (11 pages) ---> click

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