History of The Z-Based GTO Replicas
The Z-based GTO replicas were first designed and produced by Barry Goldstein (aka Merlin Coffano, aka Merlin Khodkovsky) at Eagle Engineering in California. If you are looking for Merlin (apparently he has a bit of a "fan club") you can find him through his website at
Barry/Merlin sold his GTO replica tooling to Joe Alphabet. Alphabet was well known in Southern California as a dealer of used, exotic, Italian machinery. Joe called his car the "Alpha 1 GTO." Apparently due to pressure from Ferrari, Joe decided to sell his replica car business to stay in their good graces and maintain a good working relationship. The only references I can find now about Joe relate to vintage surfboards.
Alphabet sold his business to Tom McBurnie. McBurnie owned McBurnie Coachcraft and produced a Corvette-based Daytona Spyder replica. The McBurnie GTO became a complimentary product. However, legal troubles with Ferrari (more on that later), and other problems would eventually drive him out of business.
Jim Simpson, formerly of Blue Ray GT Engineering was the next builder of GTO replicas. Jim called his car the "Blue Ray Rhino GT." In addition to his extensive experience with restoration of esoteric sports cars, Jim brought a keen eye for detail to the production of his Rhino GTs.
However, Jim's desire to do original designs (mostly Miata-based, beautiful Italian-esque cars, see www.simpsondesign.net) led him to sell his tooling to Bill Cummings at Stable Autoworks in Dallas, Texas. Bill called his version the F-250. He built several cars before suffering an untimely death in November 1999 at the age of 41, due to pulmonary embolism. Bill was a truly nice guy in the industry. He will be missed.
Jeff Krekeler purchased the assets of Stable and was operating it out of Missouri. When I last checked (1 Nov 2008) his website address was dead. I assume Stable is no longer in business.
Tom Edward in Washington State built a GTO Replica, then built tooling to reproduce it. He sold his cars under the "Scorpion" moniker.
In 2006, Tom sold his business to Oliver Meulbrouck of OM Sportscars in the UK. However, a recent caller informs me that OM appears to have gone under.
Years ago Arizona Z Car owned some tooling to build GTO replicas. However AZC sold all their fiberglass molds to Tom Crise in OH, who never really did anything with any of the molds.
About the same time as Jim Simpson was beginning his stint with the Rhino, John Washington of Phoenix, Arizona began producing the Velo Rossa Spyder. While none of the Z-based cars could be considered true replicas of the GTO, because of dimensional differences, the Velo Rossa was a radical departure and virtually an original design. It was a roadster, with a trunk and a one-piece tilt-up front end (bonnet). The removal of the roof eliminated one of the strong design clues that gave away the fact that the underlying chassis was that of a Z car. VR Engineering (a division of John's company Reaction Research) can be found at www.kitcarz.com. If Ferrari had followed the path of rival Jaguar and produced a roadster or convertible version of the GTO, this is what it might have looked like.
There have been a number of "one-off" GTO replicas produced, mostly on Datsun Z platforms. However, there have also been a number of replicas built on tube frames (Marauder), one on a 944 Porsche, and a cottage industry existed for a time producing GTO replicas made from modified 250 GTs...real Ferrari's re-bodied as GTOs! There has even been one such re-bodied Ferrari built as a convertible.
Dick Goodman's beautiful Alphabet Alpha One GTO on CarDomain.com
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