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Gas Monkey Garage's Richard Rawlings gets Ferrari fever in Mallusk

(l-r) John Walsh Jnr, J&F Group, Richard Rawlings and Chris Smith from Gas Monkey Garage. Picture by Mal McCann.
(l-r) John Walsh Jnr, J&F Group, Richard Rawlings and Chris Smith from Gas Monkey Garage. Picture by Mal McCann. (l-r) John Walsh Jnr, J&F Group, Richard Rawlings and Chris Smith from Gas Monkey Garage. Picture by Mal McCann.

WORLD-famous car nut Richard Rawlings flew in to Dublin this morning and immediately headed north on a mission to view a collection of very special Ferraris.

The Texas-born Gas Monkey Garage proprietor and former Fast N' Loud star turned You Tube sensation (980k subscribers and counting) had been invited over from Dallas to visit the J&F Group showroom in Mallusk where five classic Ferrari Testarossas with movie star provenance were up for sale.

Four of these iconic 1980s supercars had been heavily customised for use as stunt vehicles in the 2021 Mark Wahlberg sci-fi action flop Infinite, including one Testarossa modified with a rear-facing steering wheel for high speed reversing maneuvers.

These cars still wear their battle scars today – dents, scrapes, cracked windscreens and even fake 'stick-on' bullet holes – and most have been stripped of their engines and interior trims, safely packed into crates just in case anyone is brave enough to undertake the mammoth restorations required.

However, while the stunt cars may look about as fresh as the film's reviews (17 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes), the 'hero' Testarossa used for close-ups is still in showroom condition and remains just as much of a head turner as when it rolled off the Ferrari assembly line back in 1990 during the model's penultimate year of production.

Richard Rawlings checks out the 'hero' Testarossa. Picture by Mal McCann.
Richard Rawlings checks out the 'hero' Testarossa. Picture by Mal McCann. Richard Rawlings checks out the 'hero' Testarossa. Picture by Mal McCann.

"We bought the cars a couple of years ago with the intention of rebuilding and selling them ourselves," explains John Walsh Junior, a partner at the family-run J&F Group which specialise in selling luxury and performance vehicles.

"These particular cars are special, not just because of the movie but because Ferraris have become very very collectible over the last few years, particularly the older models like the Testarossa.

"About a month ago I had a brainwave and reached out to Gas Monkey Garage in Texas. I thought 'these guys are huge and it's what they do – they buy cars, they restore them and they rebuild them'.

"I didn't know whether anything would come of it or not, but here we are: I picked Richard and his crew up from Dublin this morning and brought them straight up to see the Ferraris."

Despite their preferred tipple of Miller Lite beer being unavailable in Ireland to help ease their jet-lag, the Gas Monkeys seemed to enjoy their visit to the J&F Group: Bud Light was deemed an acceptable substitute by Rawlings, who also met with local fans, artist Terry Bradley and comedian Paddy McDonnell, while at the showroom.

"We got a call from a friend of ours to say they had these Ferraris for sale as a package," explains the Gas Monkey chief of his first ever trip to Ireland.

"That interested me – I mean, who gets to go buy five Ferrari Testarossas at one time? That was literally 36 hours ago, so we booked some flights and here we are.

"I graduated high school in 1987, and back then the Testarossa was the Ferrari. They are super cars, and pretty different. But I just looked at all the movie cars in there and they are going to need a lot of work, so I don't know.

"This is really what we call in Texas 'a ghost chase'. You don't know if you're going to get a real something or if it's just no good. But the cars are here and we're here ­– now we've got to figure out if we can get them bought."

Richard Rawlings and Chris Smith from Gas Monkey with John Walsh Jnr. Picture by Mal McCann.
Richard Rawlings and Chris Smith from Gas Monkey with John Walsh Jnr. Picture by Mal McCann. Richard Rawlings and Chris Smith from Gas Monkey with John Walsh Jnr. Picture by Mal McCann.

Up for sale for an undisclosed sum, the negotiations took place behind closed doors once Rawlings and co had checked out the Ferraris and been given a tour of the J&F Group's recently opened new premises.

Did they seal the deal? You'll just have to tune in to the next exciting instalment of Gas Monkey Garage to find out.