Eric Andrew-Gee / Toronto Star Staff Reporter
During the first two weeks of October, artisans at a factory in Maranello, Italy, will hand-make a silver Ferrari California for Howard Levitt, the lawyer whose last silver Ferrari California ended up swamped in an underpass during July’s flash flooding.
By November, when the new car arrives at the company’s dealership in Vaughan, Levitt will have been Ferrari-less for less than five months.
All in all, things worked out pretty well for the man whose sleek Italian car, abandoned in a lake of sewage, became a defining image of Toronto’s summer flood.
“Everybody’s been great,” he said Thursday. “The insurance company was great, Ferrari was great, the Star was great.”
Days after rainwater inundated the city, the Star reported that the abandoned sports car whose image went viral during the storm belonged to the leading employment lawyer.
Levitt ditched the car when fetid water rose to the cusp of his windows in a Lower Simcoe St. underpass.
Worried he would miss an important court date in Ottawa, he took a cab to the island airport, where all planes were grounded, then rushed to Pearson, where he caught a last-minute flight to the capital.
Before he took off, Levitt called the dealership and asked if his beloved 2010 Ferrari California — which he had purchased used only seven months before — was salvageable. The dealer told him the car was a goner.
It ended up being towed to a municipal lot, where Levitt’s insurance company retrieved it. Levitt hasn’t seen the car since.
The union between man and motor was not finished, though.
Said Levitt: “I loved it, so I wanted to get another one.”
His dealership — Ferrari Maserati of Ontario — couldn’t find the model he wanted in Canada or the U.S., so they ordered a new one from Italy.
The car retails at $198,000, but the dealer gave him a “good deal” — “they appeared to be favorably disposed to the publicity around my sunk Ferrari.”
But Remo Ferri, owner of the dealership, said the discount had nothing to do with his flood-based fame. “He was treated just like every customer who buys a second car from us,” Ferri said. “Nothing special.
“He’s a repeat customer — we take care of repeat customers.”
It helped that Levitt’s insurer, RSA Group, gave him back 100 per cent of what he paid for the abandoned car, minus his deductible.
Ferraris weren’t Levitt’s first flirtation with iconic sports cars — fresh out of law school, he bought a beat-up Jaguar “with holes under the driver’s seat from rust.”
“My friends joked that it was like the Flintstone car,” he said.
But the Ferrari California, Levitt believes, is in a class of its own.
“I think it’s the most beautiful car on the road,” Levitt said. “It’s got power but elegance. It’s the best of all worlds.”
What’s it like to drive a hardtop convertible with 490 horsepower under the hood and a top speed of 310 km/h?
“How does one describe breaking open a great bottle of wine?” Levitt replied. “How does one describe a great romantic experience? Or a great travel experience, walking in the hills of a Chianti town? Sometimes you can’t quite put things into words.”
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