Super Senior: Peter Markowski

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FERRISBURGH, Vt. (WCAX) From the outside, you would never know what lies inside the barn just outside Vergennes. But step inside and you'll enter a world of exotic cars from the past. It's Restoration and Performance Motorcars, RPM for short. Peter Markowski owns the business.

"Every car is unique," Peter said. "The AC Cobra in the back is the real deal. It's the 11th one built."

They're taking the bite out of the Cobra, making it more street-friendly for an Argentinian businessman.

Reporter Joe Carroll: How much would that thing be worth?
Peter Markowski: Oh, yeah, stupid money, stupid money, in the millions.

Quickly you understand this isn't your ordinary garage.

One Ferrari came in boxes; they've been working on it for four years. Half a dozen people, including Peter's son Steve, work on getting the cars back to their former glory.

Joe Carroll: What's your favorite car here?
Peter Markowski: The one that's done and paid for! (Laughs)

But the car cache continues. Downstairs there's a fleet of Ferraris.

"This is waiting to go back to Italy," Peter noted. "We sold it; that's where it's going."

European sports cars ready to be shipped out to their loving owners.

Joe Carroll: You've been tinkering on engines a long time.
Peter Markowski: All my life. I grew up on a farm, so fixing farm machinery was an important thing.

But at 15, the farm boy from Florence fell for a Ferrari.

"Yeah, there's something about the shape," he said.

For $500, Peter bought an early 1950s Ferrari from a neighbor. It turned into a major project. The engine was nearly destroyed from years of neglect.

Joe Carroll: Was it worth the effort?
Peter Markowski: Oh, yeah. I paid $500 for an education.

Peter left the farm but his first love was never far away.

"The old Ferrari was what had me thinking forward and ahead," he said.

He started RPM 35 years ago in the basement garage of his house. Now, it's up to three buildings.

Joe Carroll: Do you still get your hands dirty?
Peter Markowski: Yes. In fact, I worked late yesterday to build the tools so we could be moving on this this morning.

Now, the 70-year-old is putting a vintage 1951 Alfa Romeo body onto a modern frame.

Joe Carroll: These vehicles have been here for years. It's like seeing one of your family members leave.
Peter Markowski: Well, some days you want some of your family to leave!

And that beat up Ferrari he bought as a boy turned out to be a winner.

Joe Carroll: So, that first Ferrari, was it a rare Ferrari?
Peter Markowski: One of two.
Joe Carroll: One of two.
Peter Markowski: One of two that were built, yeah.

After he owned it for 40 years, the Ferrari Barchetta is now owned by a German businessman.

Joe Carroll: Why don't you buy it back?
Peter Markowski: 'Cause I can't afford it.
Joe Carroll: I figured that was the answer.
Peter Markowski: That's the answer. 'Cause it's worth 10 times what I sold it for and it was a lot of money back then.

Now, it's worth in the millions.

Joe Carroll: So you look at all these pictures and it's been quite the experience, hunh?
Peter Markowski: It's been fun and it ain't over!

Revving up for the future with cars from the past.