Kerry George Manolas 1938 – 2022


Kerry’s automotive obsession and his accomplishments as both a collector and racing enthusiast was the inspiration that sparked PistonDAO into what it is today. 

Kerry passed away in September 2022 at age 84 leaving behind a vibrant motoring legacy that spanned almost 50 years of collecting, campaigning and restoring some of the world’s most exotic and valuable motor cars.

Kerry’s love of automatIve collecting began in 1977 when he purchased a 1934 3.5 litre Bentley Vanden Plas Tourer that he saw in the window of a showroom. He bought it on the spot and his lifelong passion for motor cars was born. From there Kerry quickly moved to a very rare 1937 Mercedes 540K Speciale Roadster. One of only 25 built, his car was one of only two built with the ‘long-tail’ wheel cover, this car having a particularly colourful history of owners.

Kerry then acquired a 300SL Gullwing Mercedes Coupe, which he took to the Mille Miglia in 1981. Kerry discovered his passion for motor racing and from then on much of his collecting emphasised competition cars.

In 1982 Kerry purchased a sight unseen barn-find from Argentina – a rare 1952 Ferrari 225 Vignale Sport Spider. Following an extensive restoration, Kerry took out the Best Restoration Trophy at the 1984 Pebble Beach Concours.

Next up was a stunning 1953 Ferrari 4.9 litre V12 375 Plus, one of just five built, and the winner of the 1954 Carrera Panamericana. Bought sight unseen, the car arrived in several large crates, having been taken apart by the previous owner. Kerry immediately sent it to Auto Restorations in Christchurch and after an 18 month restoration, it was awarded the Best Restoration Trophy at the 1986 Monterey Historic at Laguna Seca. 

The 375 Plus was followed by what Kerry always said was his ultimate Ferrari, a 1958 250 Testa Rossa, a potent 3 litre V12, and one of only 33 Scaglietti ‘pontoon fenders’ built. The 250TR ‘’Lucybelle II’’ was co-driven by Kerry in the 1991 Mille Miglia with his good friend Bruce Trenery (of Fantasy Junction fame). Kerry and Bruce had previously completed the 1988 Mille Miglia together behind the wheel of Kerry’s SS100 Jaguar and the 1989 Mille Miglia in Kerry’s 1956 Jaguar XKSS (later sold by Kerry to American fashion icon and car collector, Ralph Lauren), and they were itching to complete the trifecta in a Ferrari. Kerry always said the Mille Miglia was the most beautiful race in the world and he competed in it a total of 6 times. 

Always searching for the ultimate Ferrari race car, Kerry traded his 250TR on an exceptionally rare Fantuzzi bodied 1958 196S Dino, one of only three made. The car had a serious race pedigree, having been campaigned hard by Ricardo Rodriguez and his brother Pedro in the Sebring 12-hour, Nürburgring 1000, Targa Florio and the Bahamas Speed Week. Following a brief stint with Auto Restorations NZ, the car was very successful on the track, winning from start to finish on its first appearance at Laguna Seca. It also had several wins at Spa and Nürburgring, and took out the chequered flag at the Coy’s 1995 Silverstone sports car event.

Another of Kerry’s favourite Ferraris was the blisteringly quick 250GT SWB. Kerry was fortunate to own two of these, the first a 1961 250GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione, a rare ‘SEFAC hot rod’, the Scaglietti design considered by many Ferraristi to be one of the most beautiful ever made. Kerry campaigned the car in the 1997 Colorado Grand where the silver and blue hot rod was quickly dubbed the ‘Silver Bullet’. He also had considerable race success in the Silver Bullet at Laguna Seca and at Coy’s Silverstone celebrating Ferrari’s 50th anniversary, where it superbly finished each race third overall (only beaten by two much more powerful 250GTOs).

Kerry later traded the Silver Bullet on a red 1960 alloy bodied 250GT SWB – a decision he prevaricated on at the time – but he had plenty of fun campaigning the alloy bodied 250SWB around Europe.

While he very much emphasised competition cars, Kerry also had a love of classic Ferrari road cars, his collection including a 1964 250 Lusso, a 1965 500 Superfast and more than one 275 GTB. Kerry also greatly enjoyed the modern Ferrari icons including an F40, 512BB, 348TS, 355 Spider, 550 Maranello, and more recently, an 812 Superfast and a GTC4Lusso. 

While Ferrari was his core passion, Kerry occasionally dabbled beyond his favourite marque, always with an eye for the best in any category, and some of the more notable cars in his collection included a very desirable Aston Martin DB3S/9 (one of only 10 works cars and an ex-Stirling Moss and Peter Collins 1956 Le Mans winner), Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 (the ex-Lord Howe 1931 Le Mans winner), Alfa Romeo T33 Stradale, Maserati 300S, Mercedes 300SL Roadster and a Jaguar XJ220.

Aside from his unrivaled collection of vintage and classic cars, Kerry will be long remembered by all who knew him for his humility, his encyclopaedic knowledge and lifelong passion for motor cars, and for his many motoring achievements that cemented his position on the world map.

until “next time…”
PistonDAO 2023.