"Long before we were exhibiting most of us went to club events where we talked to each other about how to keep our cars running."
— Hilary Raab
ilary Raab is widely known for his collection of
rare Ferraris, parts, priceless artifacts, manuals, and has enough original factory delivery records in his possessions to start a museum his home town of Crown Point, Indiana.
Crown Point isn’t exactly one of those getaway destinations for Americans. In the days before movies had sound it was one of the only towns in America where a couple could get married and drive out that same day with a marriage license.
But the Crown Point of today is considered a majestic and spiritual place, not unlike Badrinath or The Ganges. Well, not really. It is, however, home to one of the most respected names in the vintage Ferrari community.
Originally from Chicago’s South Side, Raab went to high school in Hammond, Indiana and his eventual road to automotive erudition was paved with countless hours learning about vintage cars alongside fellow collectors at car club events.
“We were just novices, really,” Raab told us in a recent interview. “Long before we were exhibiting most of us went to club events where we talked to each other about how to keep our cars running."
Then in 1971, Raab had a rendezvous with destiny when he bought his first Ferrari. Life as he knew it would never be the same.
"It was a Series II Cabriolet,” beamed Raab. “My next one was a 375 American for $2,000 and from that point on I started adding Ferraris to my collection."
When Raab later met Ferrari historian Richard Merritt he wanted to know how many Cabriolets were made. When Merritt didn’t know the exact number, Raab took it upon himself to painstakingly start building a database of serial numbers, from supplier records made accessible to him by then Ferrari executive Amerigo Manicardi in Modena, Italy. Raab’s fifteen year long research revealed that only 201 of the Series II Cabriolet were made and his find was considered revelatory to the vintage car community.
“In some ways I spoiled the market,” said Raab. “But that information would have come out later.”
From that point forward he accelerated his research. He traveled back and forth to Europe and began to amass enough original records of vintage Ferraris to dazzle any owner lucky enough to meet him. His knowledge of vintage Ferraris is considered to be encyclopedic, even by some of the leading Ferrari experts and Raab’s years of passionate work was recognized with the Stan Nowak Award.
These days Raab can be found out on the exhibition circuit in the US and abroad displaying some his stunning collection of award winning vintage cars which include: a 1928 Bentley, 250 GT Cabriolet Series II (his first Ferrari), a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT PF Cabriolet (Series I), 250 GTO Spider, a Maserati Ghibli, 1958 Facel Vega FVS, and 1963 Facel II. He’s even been known to show a 1935 Type 58 Atlantic, here and there, but to Raab nothing compares to the soul of a vintage Ferrari.