Since 1952, Jacques Swaters has had a relationship with Ferrari, including a personal relationship with Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the Ferrari Grand Prix motor racing team and ultimately of the Ferrari car manufacturer.
Having this inside track, Swaters began to collect, store, repair and preserve all things Ferrari, establishing the Ferrari Francorchamps Galleria in honor of the Galleria Ferrari in Modena, Italy, which was the first Ferrari museum opened in 1990. Swaters accumulated one of the most comprehensive collections in the world of Ferrari documents, objects, pictures and other material and is committed to the cultural preservation of important Ferrari cars, including, the 166MM 0064 and the 375 plus (0384AM).
“The beginning of my collection was found in the garbage and on the floors of the Ferrari factory in Italy,” says Swaters.
Swaters picked up everything that Enzo Ferrari tossed away – papers, letters, drawings, renderings – all things Ferrari. However, the notion of starting a collection showcase didn’t begin until the 1980s.
Enzo encouraged and supported Swaters’ collection because he was always dreaming about the car of the future and Swaters was collecting and preserving the past. Enzo knew Swaters would be honest and not divulge any secrets of the Ferrari factory.
“Financially I couldn’t own many Ferraris, so instead I kept pictures, documents, catalogs, historical information, models and any other item of that particular model of car,” Swaters said. “I wanted to show the history and the Ferrari story; I wanted to honor the man and legend, Enzo Ferrari.”
When Ferrari died in August 1988, Swaters wanted to create a “temple” dedicated to Ferrari both the legend and the brand. He moved Garage Francorchamps to a 7,000-square-meter building dedicated to the Prancing Horse, in Zaventem, Belgium.
The building showcased Swaters’ collection. He also created a database that identified each chassis number produced by the factory from the beginning of Ferrari until 2000.
Garage Francorchamps moved to Zaventem in 1991. Swaters moved directly into the 600-square-meter basement, in order to completely devote his time to the preservation of Ferrari, leaving the business to its commercial director, Philippe Lancksweert. Swaters worked and lived there for 15 years, archiving the Ferrari history.
“I tracked each car’s life – the number of owners, colors, accidents, races and results of each race. I traveled all over the world gathering this data,” Swaters says.
Swaters’ collection was private for the most part, but many Ferrari collectors from all over the world went to visit him to see his collection, showcase his work and exchange Ferrari information. The Ferrari world knew Swaters and his “temple” or “bunker” very well.
In 1992, Swaters celebrated the 40th anniversary of Garage Francorchamps’ association with Ferrari by hosting a tremendous party in Brussels and at the Spa circuit. At that time, it was the biggest Ferrari event anywhere in the world with more than 200 Ferrari cars in attendance.
In 1998, Swaters retired from the business but remained fully involved as a collector.