Believe It Or Not: Ferraris, Rolls, Lambos…</br> & A DeLorean Live Here
Into The Vault

A back road street in Brooklyn on a boiling summer’s afternoon is not exactly where you would expect to find a hidden treasure trove. This isn’t Williamsburg, where hipsters drive Mercedes-Benz W123s, or Park Slope with its stylish brownstones and Audis. This is the part of Brooklyn where you do not walk alone after sunset. It’s so far off the beaten path that you cannot see the path from here.


Yet here I am, peeking through a garage door at the tip of the iceberg – a Rolls in slightly less than pristine condition, nuzzled up against some lawn care equipment. The car itself is a diamond in the rough, carefully maintained and ready and able to emerge from its dingy surroundings to tackle the punishing roads of New York.


This is the Pannicioli Rabanne collection, a veritable hoard of luxury, rare and exotic vehicles that range in condition from race-ready to freshly salvaged from the junkyard. When I first heard rumors of it, I assumed it would be your average home-based collection. A few trophies worth showing off, but not much beyond that. Boy, was I underestimating it. But this back entrance, down the corner of a rundown alley in the middle of nowhere, is just the beginning.


When we reach the main garage, I feel something of what Alice must have felt when she landed in Wonderland. Every inch of space inside is packed – this is sensory overload. I would feel claustrophobic except that I’m too busy being blown away. Our host, Roberto Rabanne, is a Brooklyn-based artist and photographer. He talks us through his personal history with the Lamborghini Diablo and the wild rides taken as we delve deeper into the depths of his lair.


The expert parking jobs alone in this cramped basement would turn NYC lot attendants green with envy – never mind the garage’s contents. The exotic and ultra rare Ferrari 512BB Koenig Targa boasts 750hp from its 512 twin turbo engine. The smell of the freshly-upholstered Daytona seats cut through the air.  I have never wanted to raid a hoarder’s stash before, but this one tempts me.


Every time I think I have come to grips with this discovery, another detail arrests me.

The Nitty-Gritty

An eerie inch-thick coat of dust covers everything. The vintage headlamps of twin black Rolls-Royce Silver Ghosts stare me down through the dim-lit underground gloom. I’m drawn to them, but as I tiptoe between cars, I have to watch my step to avoid tripping on the batteries that march across the floor like lead soldiers. Stacks of tires cushion the walls, half storage space and half strangely appealing decoration.


Steering wheels dangle from cabinets. Old school thin wooden rims to leather wrapped to rubber to airbag-equipped steering wheels – it’s a study in contrast. The cabinets themselves are filled with spare equipment and parts – trays of spark plugs, scattered spare headlight bulbs. Every spare inch of space down here seems to belong to the cars. And no matter what you fancy, there’s a car here for everyone to lust after.


Here and there, however, I spot anomalies. Reminders that people occupy this space as well as vehicles. It’s a byproduct of overcrowding, I suppose, but it seems wrong to let a classic Giugiaro-styled Italdesign Maserati Merak butt up against gardening supplies, or to lean a lawnmower against any Spirit of Ecstasy.


It’s the kind of miscellany you’d see in any old house, but here it makes me do a double-take. This collection would be perfectly at home in a museum or on a classic car rally, but the environment of casual clutter almost makes the cars seem average. Oh yeah, who doesn’t have an XJ220 sitting around downstairs, let alone one that once belonged to Jay Leno?


Not to mention the 3.5-liter twin turbo V6 Jaguar XJ220 in the corner – one of only 275 ever produced, and thanks to its 213mph top speed, the fastest production car of 1992. We will just have to push the Dino 308 GT4 out of the way to get this Brit out in Brooklyn.


In truth, the breadth and diversity of this collection astounds me. A Ferrari Testarossa, a Bentley Arnage, Daimlers and Lamborghinis parked beside a Delorean. It is truly eclectic.


Though, for all its randomness, the longer I studied the room, the more I found some continuity in the chaos. Some places you may think this is weird but here it is the order of the day.


Uncovering car after car was a new surprise. The atmosphere started to relax as I noticed the Rolls’ and Bentleys lounge beneath their flags covering the aged walls; even the Porches are represented with their own section on the wall to give life to the stale ambiance.


A track-ready Ferrari Challenge race car, a Drophead and a Countach seductively stand guard between the red Ferrari flag and Formula 1 posters of their relatives in action. I take a moment to pinch myself as this is becoming to much to handle – I think the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat are here to start the tea party.

Backyard & Bonuses

I have to wonder how long it has been since some of these cars felt road beneath their sometimes deflated tires. This prepped and partially-primed classic British luxury cruiser in particular has my sympathy. Half-hidden behind drapes in the corner, waiting for an overdue paint job, it cries out to me for to drive! Did I mention they have their own paint shop in the basement? This car will be something I request to explore after the planned full in-house restoration takes place.


It’s an endless magic trick, secrets within secrets. A pure gold hood ornament shows itself in full glory sitting proud when the blue plastic tarp is pulled off. Every time you think you’ve reached the end of the collection, one more Lamborghini Diablo peers out from behind its fellows.


I want to linger in here, drink in every nitty-gritty element of this place. But Rabanne gestures to us, and our tour moves along.


Out back, Wonderland continues. The exterior lot is one-part junkyard, one-part collector’s paradise. Rabanne has gathered these treasures slowly over the years, hunting his prey with a practiced eye.


His attention to detail shows in every inch of the collection. This is the house and yard of a man who loves art in all forms, and who sees and is absorbed in the curve of a hood, the lip of a fender, the smile of a grill. Pure Joy of Machine!


When it’s time to leave, I linger at the door and give one last wave to the XJ220 that guards the gates of this subterranean paradise. Maybe if I’m lucky, I can sneak another peek someday. The next time I venture this deep into the heart of Brooklyn, this place will certainly be on my mind.

Elizabeth White
Instagram: @itswhitenoise

Photos by Matthew Jones
Instagram: MatthewJonesPhoto

More Collections on Speedhunters
Speedhunting in a New York Minute

Cutting Room Floor


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I want to do a NYC dream drive in that DeLorean.


Nice write up again. You captured the grainy gritty essence of the environment while enjoying the diamond in the rough autos.


The writing
is nothing short of spectacular.It
first grabbing me by the throat – like Brooklyn.Then, I almost felt the dust and everything
jammed around me as you got in deeper.

then the line that made me SMILE :-)  "The atmosphere
started to relax"  AndI found myself feeling the same way – Something for
everything …

And of course, the photography….. oh Yeah!!!



There's a place like that here in Michigan kind of. It's an unmarked building filled with about 100 cars from a mid '80s Diablo to about five E-Types and Rolls and Cadillacs. It's a storage place for locals around, and every first Saturday of the month they have a car show, but the only way to know about it is if someone "in the know" tells you about it. Reminds me a lot of this place, just the one you guys have here, has a lot rarer cars and it's all one person. Very cool place though!


These is some of the best photography I've seen yet, in what appears to be extremely difficult conditions!  Ability to capture the atmosphere is nothing short of spectacular! 
SH should be proud of their staff


Never knew this existed in Brooklyn! Amazing! Especially that xj220!


I dunno, this makes me sad to think car like that are just sitting there... hard to explain.


Like...WHAT?! This is actually unbelievable.


Exactly what I thought when I first heard of this "supposed" collection. I was skeptical up to the moment of the garage door opening! Even then I had to crawl around to find the treasures! Very worthwhile and a great discovery.


Where is this location? Or whose the owner? I want to do business with the man!


Wow! Makes me question the love for these vehicles if they sit dorment in the basement of a Brooklyn building. Has the owner any plans in the future to do something with them? That XJ220 and Countach! ::jawdropped::
At first I was trying to decipher through all the adjectives and descriptives used, but I soon came to the realization that this collection was way beyond what I had imagined/pictured; in which there aren't enough words to describe how I would feel in the same position walking through this dark and dusty gold mine! Great write-up!


It is crazy to think let alone see. A few of the cars run and a few others are being restored. I was promised a drive in the Countach and the XJ220 though and will share with you after!


Great collection, awesome article. One of the best articles I've read here. Between the pictures and descriptions, thanks for bringing us in the garage with you. Now I just have to find one to drive!


Seeing the pictures of the contach, xj, delorean, and testarossa you have my complete attention. Still can't believe all this goodness is under one roof, Just so surreal!


Now this is REAL Speedhunting!! More articles like this, please.


I completely lost my mind when I saw the last photo in the first chapter! Everything about this article is awesome!


its totally a shame that they just sit there, getting scratched and dinged and not driven, he should sell a couple so that the others can be better cared for and have some room to move.....


Exactly...Those Koenig seats are as good as new or better!


Thank you for the compliment. As I know you have been a supporter of Speedhunters through the years this means a lot! We are discovering and uncovering unique and unseen content as we speak. Please send any thoughts or suggestions our way.
Pure Automotive Enjoyment!

Gianluca FairladyZ

Nice collection... But man... Clean this room when someone comes and shoots your treasures....

Jeroen Willemsen

The full screen viewing mode doesn't work for me.


Philmanktelow on the contrary... this is the precise reason I find this so fascinating. A ramshackle, esoteric scene of disarray. It's so enticing and charismatic in this state! Otherwise it'd just be another clinical garage full of exotica. Somehow the way it is, just exudes this air of auto-enthusiasm.


Great writeup! So cool! Sounds like I place I want to explore as well! Am looking forward to reading more of your articles!


SnoozinRichy Philmanktelow Exactly!  The way the story was written really brought that home - at first I thought this is going to be tragic - but as the story unfolded, I started feeling in the groove with everything - A picture may be worth a thousand words, but when the words are as good as this .... the experience is taken to another level!


Nice writing and photography, about some urban lore that I heard about from a photography friend up in Harlem, but never really believed it was true. Now I need to buy him some beers and apologize, thanks SH!


Millions and millions of dollars worth of cars!  But many of the people on here are right by saying the owner should sell some off.  One fire could ruin all of these treasures and then no one could ever enjoy them.  The owner has a good theory around restoring and storing them for the future, but the smallest accident could ruin that for everyone.  At lease move them to a vintage car storage facility!


Uncovering these legends and bringing them to light is exactly what I want to do! I hope you aren't going to owe him another beer after you read my next NYC discovery.


itswhitenoise I can afford the beers.It is when I say "BS, I'll buy you that Ferrari 512BB Koenig if you can find one in this fictitious Brooklyn garage." that it becomes wee 'bit burdensome on my PFB.


itswhitenoise PFB=Party Favor Budget. Everyone has one, but we all use it differently.


Aamazing! However.. Whats the point of owning such fast cars and never driving them?
Or at least i assume these poor cars never see sunlight. It could be a horror to get them out of there.
Thats why Jay Kay is my favorite car guy :)


SnoozinRichy Philmanktelow 
I disagree, generally someone who has the funds to buy a collection like this has the habits and ethics to put them somewhere they deserve to be... hence the "boring" clinical garage/museums of guys like James Glickenhaus or Ralph Lauren. If this was the collection of an eccentric designer/engineer who was actively involved in the development of these cars it would make more sense, but it wouldn't be millions of dollars worth of random make cars. I find this as sad as the Sultan of Brunei's rotting collection. I would rather see someone treasure a MKI GTI in a one car garage than some washed up millionaire's detritus.


where in Brooklyn is this? I'm from real Brooklyn (grew up here and all, nowhere near any hipsters)


As breath taking as this article was I'm strangely more interested in the man behind the mask and the owner of this madness in the basement. How did this collection come to be and why it's in Brooklyn.


So many mixed emotions and questions about this collection. You know when you see your buddy with a really nice car but he lives in a crappy apartment and eats ramen noodles everyday? I just imagine some old Italian guy from Brooklyn living with his mother eating her food, but he only does it so he can have a fleet of exotics in an underground garage down the block.


They called him "Dirty Ernie" this is close to 86th street near L&B Spumoni gardens


Love it!!


I'm pretty familiar with that section of Bhurst/
Gravesend, the outside pictures looked very familiar so just for fun I
tried to pinpoint which building. So far I haven't been able to locate
it, what an incredible collection though.


Spumoni Gardens rocks. Nothing like eating a square with the gravy on top. Sorta like this garage. A little messy but worth it


This is the best thing I have read all year


Cool article and I appreciate the read and pics but this is still the worst thing you can do to a car. Letting them sit. They need to be driven the mechanics need to move, the fluids need to get up to operating temps, this is how you destroy cars. I know from experience. I had picked up a car that was a latemodel vehicle that seemed road worthy.  It had sat for about three years not ten minutes down the road it burnt to the ground.  Luckily it was FREE but still do not let cars sit. Especially high-end vehicles like this.


Great article! So many hidden gems!


Such a compliment!
Thank you. Keep reading and providing feedback!


I'm not sure why I didn't have one before but I do now! I may start owing you soon.


We are looking into this issue. Please standby.


Maybe Roberto will open it up for a day to our readers?
We should all ask nicely!


The way we went to shoot was/is the way this collection lives. I wouldn't have wanted to highlight in authentic material for you and I like that they didn't try to clean up for us.


A crazy find!


You are teasing another story like this! I need to know more.


Thank you!


Hmm, do I hear a Dream Drive through Manhattan is in the works?


Seems like a Forza Motorsport garage...
Amazing collection!


itswhitenoise It's an awesome garage. People bring in their cars during the car show too. That alone is usually pretty crazy. A few years ago a guy brought in the most recent B.A.T. concept car from '08. Vettel's F1 car from the Detroit Auto Show this year showed up, you can never really guess what will show up until you get there. If you guys are ever around Ann Arbor, MI during the first of the month, I'll get you there. Happens every month!


Great read! Nice collection. Every single picture screams pure Joy of Machine! I get in line with others and say i would like to find some "barn sleepers" or hidden treasures like these. Thank you Elizabeth for the article, and Matthew for the photos. :)


DerrickCordray Mechanical issues aside, I just think cars are meant to be driven! Such a waste to see these sitting presumably unused.


veecee8 you are making me miss home with that comment!


Jizanthapus I love that visual!


keviiinn A true New Yorker!

If you look at some of the other readers comments they may have mentioned or have an idea of where it is in Brooklyn (not confirming or denying). I wish I could tell you...


@Jeroen Willemsen This has been fixed for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!


arutter614 The owner is restoring quite a few of them and the XJ220 runs! Im taking the Diablo out for another story in the fall so stay tuned!


EricSeanDelaney email please!


The cars LIVE here? More like they are DYING here. Such an awesome collection but it would be better if they could be driven around!


Aaron_the_Azn Agreed! Excellent article and a fantastic find, but its a shame to see so many classics hoarded away from site rather than being out on the road as they should be.


Wonderful collection of cars... Interesting to find them in Brooklyn too!

Ah collectors... everyone wants them to do something with there stuff (cars, books, beanie babies), but that isn't in the nature of a collector? Remember that Jay Leno / Magnus Walker are the odd ones out. Most collectors don't use the collection, they just like to look at it. 
I've heard of some collections in the middle east that would make gear heads cry at the waste... a barn find in Edmonton just uncovered dozens of rare cars... this is the norm. It is what is driving up the cost of buying a classic car.


Yeah, like the cars LIVE there... It's more like the cars are DYING there!!! Awesome cars like that must be driven around to be what they were made to be...


/ Keith.


itswhitenoise Sent one!


Please keep us in the loop if that does in fact happen! It would be quite a treat to be able to experience this. I didn't mention it in my first comment but the article and pictures are top notch, you guys should be proud of your work!


Home.... <3 ....


Great piece and the kind of discovery that ignites the passion in all of us for these machines.  Would love to see these driven but the fact that they're there to begin with is a great story and I'm glad you brought it to us.  

Keep them coming!


Would love to know if these cars were found in the condition they are now and he plans on working on them someday or were they his in their heyday and just rotting?

Wow, I would never leave my place if I had these. Just spend every day working on them and restoring them to their past glory. Awesome glimpse and makes me miss BK (moved from there down to DC two months ago)!


Wonderful. Beautiful story telling and perfectly matched images.


The luxurious car collections are matchless and they create the fad with most of the car lovers of this generation. Lamborghini and Ferrari that are sole meant for its sophistication and opulence can never take the eyes off from them.


Why would you even do this? You can barely even look at the cars, let alone drive them or do any kind of maintenance on them.

This is like finding out that someone is holding exotic pets in tiny cages in their basement and they're dying, yet there's no pet rescue to call in this case.


wartzilla Just my $0.02, but I actually found it hopeful that deep in the most urban-est of urban settings, the heartbeat of the love of the automobile is strong - As I read the story, I was happy to see that many ARE gleaming and exercised regularly -- even the most exotic like the Jag 220 and the Konig.  

It also seemed that the owner has been the savior for more than a few exotics, old RRs and Bentleys from what you call basements cages - with plans for restoration (personally, if I were going to do a full resto, I don't see a reason to buff out and vacuum seal a car that has been abused, etc beforehand). 

Gotta say, I would rather THIS guy have them and be the caretaker and ultimate restorer given his eye and what he has done for the rest of the collection.  

Can't wait for Believe It or Not 2.0!


I just re-read this story and it made me smile even more.  The writing and photography was even better than I remembered - Thanks for sending me a notification of a new comment so I could!!


This is pretty funny, but I was grabbing some L&B a few days ago and on the way home I recognized the intersection. What a fun treasure hunt this was, I'll be stopping by from time to time hoping the garage door will be open so I can catch a peak.


Except, this garage and collection belonged to "Dirty Ernie" Paniccioli* (you seemed to have misspelled it which is pretty bad journalism actually) and although Roberto Rabanne may have been your host - these cars were left to Dirty Ernie's family after his untimely passing. This isn't actually a "Pannicioli Rabanne" collection, as you called it, and the article is misleading. You didn't even spell the owner's last name correctly. Did you do any research or did you simply take the host's fables as historical recollections?


Jizanthapus : Ahhhh, but if the mother is an excellent cook, then it's the best of both worlds. Great food, great stable... I just hope there is enough love to restore most of these caged beauties.

As a musician (and therefore an artist myself), I also wonder what sort of income enabled these many acquisitions...


Way to bait me with the DeLorean in the title and then never mention it again. Good job with that.