The Ferrari Whisperer | I am New Mexico

The Ferrari Whisperer

(June 1, 2016)— Carobu Engineering – Estancia, New Mexico—When you think of Estancia, New Mexico, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe nothing. Maybe endless farmland, dotted with grazing cows and the occasional crow flying overhead and an errant tumbleweed commuting across the road.
            But what most certainly won’t come to anyone’s mind are vintage Ferraris. You know, those slinky, exotic and expensive cars from Italy. But if you take South 14 to where it intersects with NM 55, turn left and then right at a street with a bullet ridden sign, make two more lefts down a bumpy dirt road you will arrive at a large metal building.  Go inside during working hours and you’ll see Bert Wehr, a tall, older Swedish auto technician turning wrenches on a variety of classic Ferraris, from million dollar 365 GTB/4 Daytonas to more common and less valuable 308s, just like the one Magnum P.I. used to drive. That’s right. In the seeming middle of nowhere in the New Mexico country is a shop that builds vintage Ferrari engines, restores cars and even performs maintenance on more recent Ferraris.
Ferrari Daytona and F355 / Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

Ferrari Daytona and F355 / Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

Ferrari Daytona / Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

Ferrari Daytona / Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

Ferrari 512 / Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

Ferrari 512 / Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

Ferrari 275GTB / Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

Ferrari 275GTB / Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

So exactly how did a Ferrari shop end up in Estancia? Carobu Engineering opened up originally in Costa Mesa, California in 1997. SoCal is arguably the most car-centric place in all of the U.S. so that makes sense. But Estancia, New Mexico?  About ten years ago Carobu, which is owned by Bert and his business partner Tate Casey, was facing a rough economy. Bert and his wife Chrissy had purchased land in Estancia around the same. They had intended on retiring there someday so they could enjoy riding their motorcycles around New Mexico and the surrounding states.

            Instead, the owners of Carobu decided to move the physical location of the shop to New Mexico and keep the business office in Costa Mesa, a setup that still works. I guess you could say Wehr is enjoying an early “working” retirement. When he’s not extracting maximum power from exotic Italian engines he’s usually out riding his BMW sport-touring motorcycle.

Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

            The cars Wehr works on aren’t limited to the Italian make. There is also the occasional Fiat, MG, Mercedes or even Lamborghini engine being assembled in the shop. One of the coolest projects that Bert has undertaken recently has got to be building two Lamborghini engines for a twin-engined Riva boat that Ferruccio Lamborghini had built for him in the ‘60s. When the boat underwent an extensive restoration in Holland, the restorers hired Carobu to build the two V12 engines, one of which Bert had to reengineer to run backwards so the two motors could run simultaneously. Carobu has an in house engine dynamometer, an expensive device that measures horsepower and torque on an engine.

Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

The machine is big enough to take up an entire room of its own inside the shop. In addition to using the dyno to test the engines he builds, Wehr also rents out the machine to local engine builders who want to test their motors before they’re installed in the car.

            Wehr’s personal story is as interesting as the cars he works on. He immigrated from Sweden to the U.S. in the 60s in search of a career as an auto mechanic. After living first in Chicago and then Denver, he ended up in Los Angeles. He’s gone on to enjoy an illustrious career working on everything from Rolls Royces, Alfa Romeos and BMWs to the current mainstay of his business, Ferraris. So if you ever find yourself at the bullet ridden street sign for Riley Road just outside of Estancia, stop in and say hello to the only world renowned Ferrari mechanic working in New Mexico.

Bert / Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico

Bert Wehr / Photo: Zachary Mayne / I am New Mexico




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