Ferrari’s 70th “party” goes with a bang!

What a fantastic party! Last weekend’s celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of Ferrari attracted about 900 cars sporting the prancing horse logo. Many had been driven to the event in Maranello from some of the most beautiful European capitals, in a sort of pilgrimage. The program included a dedicated car show, in which 115 cars were judged according to the ICJAG (International Chief Judge Advisory Group) rules, a format that allows preserved and restored cars to be judged on an equal footing. Two Best in Show awards were assigned, one for GTs and the other for racing cars (excluding single seaters). This was a logical choice, given how hugely important both the production of supercars and the company’s prowess on the race track have been in the history of what is undoubtedly the world’s most famous car manufacturer.

At the firm’s Fiorano race track, which served as the concours venue, the stage used by RM Sotheby’s for its special auction of Ferraris became, later in the day on the Saturday, the stage for a wonderful show celebrating the history of the company and the vision and dreams of Enzo Ferrari. The show featured some important personages and cars, and its most touching and memorable moments included the appearance of a very young “Enzo”, racing in pedal cars and dreaming of becoming a racing driver, and the arrival, on stage, of a real, contemporary Formula 1 for a “nocturnal” pit-stop. The longest applause came when #keepfightingmichael was flashed up on the screen at the end of a brief but intense film recalling the successes of the German ace. Surprisingly, there was no reference at all to Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, the former chairman of Ferrari who succeeded in relaunching the brand with cars like the F50, Enzo and LaFerrari, and who must be acknowledged as the guiding hand behind the Schumacher years of success in Formula 1.

Ferrari 70 Concorso d’Eleganza

One of the highlights of the weekend was the Concorso d’Eleganza, open only to Ferrari Classiche-certified cars. Thus, as well as gathering together, on the Fiorano race track, some of the most interesting models ever built by the firm, the show also allowed visitors to see for themselves the results of some of the work done over the years by Ferrari Classiche, the division of the firm created to carry out high-level restorations. There were nineteen classes in all, which gave the 30 judges, plus the 10 honorary judges, an enormous task as they sought to pick out the most elegant, original and perfect Ferraris — a task that also carried the added responsibility of knowing that the selected cars would henceforth be considered the symbols of the company’s first 70 years. The chief judge, leading the large team of judges, was Mr Adolfo Orsi, one of the most renowned classic car historians. The two Best in Show winners were something of a surprise to many, although there could be no arguing with the cars selected as the winners of their respective classes.

The two Best in Show winners

The Best in Show among the competition cars was awarded to a 1953 340 MM Vignale (chassis #0280) owned by Italian collector Umberto Camellini, of Modena. His car is the third of the only four 340 MM Vignale Spiders built, which are among the ten 340 MMs manufactured in total. Originally a works car, it raced in, and won, the 1953 Giro di Sicilia (April 12), with Luigi Villoresi and Piero Cassani at the wheel, followed by the Mille Miglia (April 25-26), in which, driven by Count Giannino Marzotto and team mate Marco Crosara, it achieved a record average speed of 142 kilometers/hour. In September 1953, it was sold to a privateer in Florence and entered in the Tour de France (DNF). Thereafter, under a further three different owners, it remained in Tuscany until 1964, when it was bought by Mario Camellini, a family friend of Enzo Ferrari and the first person to be made an official Ferrari distributor. Ever since 1964, this 340 MM has been with the same family, with Umberto Camellini, son of Mario, taking charge of the car in 1987.

A completely different, but equally impressive, heritage led the judges to choose a 1986 Ferrari Testarossa Pininfarina Spider (chassis #ZFFTA30B00006289762897) as the Best in Show among the GTs. This car is a one-off that was built by Carrozzeria Pininfarina, partnered by Ferrari, to mark Gianni Agnelli’s first 20 years as president of FIAT. Even though it looks like a “normal” chopped Testarossa, it boasts numerous wonderful features that illustrate the manufacturer’s extreme attention to detail. The windshield is several degrees more inclined than usual, making it necessary to use a different cover for the side mirror attachments, while the famous “cheese grater” side air intakes have a slightly different shape, the rear hood has a completely different shape, and the two trademark rear pillars are missing. There is a Valeo clutch, introduced to allow Mr Agnelli, who had a problem with his left leg, to use the car easily, and a different internal configuration, with dedicated pouches. The car remained in Gianni Agnelli’s possession for about five years before being given to a family friend, who kept it until 2006, when it was sold to its current British owner, Ronald Stern.

Today, with 19,723 kilometers on the clock, it remains in original condition, still painted in its original silver, decorated with a couple of blue stripes (something Mr Agnelli always liked on his cars), over a light blue interior. Although it may seem surprising that a “humble” Testarossa should win a concours like this, this particular car’s success is explained by its immaculate condition, paired with its history, which features three of the most important names of the period (Ferrari, Pininfarina, Agnelli). Honorary judge Lorenzo Ramaciotti, chief stylist at Pininfarina when the car was manufactured, smiled on learning the result, declaring: “Today I feel a little older; this is the first time a car I helped to make has taken Best in Show in a classic car concours”.

Oscar Scaglietti

Oscar Scaglietti spent his entire working life in the coachbuilding shop founded by his father Sergio in 1951. Carrozzeria Scaglietti soon established itself as a leading bodyshop where many of the bodies of the racing Ferraris, and subsequently of some of the company’s GTs, were manufactured. And Oscar was on the spot all the time, learning, working hard and, in later years, as head of the research division, studying the application of new materials. Oscar was one of the honorary judges in Maranello last weekend and, seated in the crowd, he looked over the cars that had been placed third to first in each of the different classes. It was a rare privilege to sit alongside him and listen to him as he unveiled the secrets behind the manufacturing of many of the cars — he gave us a sort of “master class” in coachbuilding! His favorites included a 1955 735 LM (chassis #0558), one of the only four built, equipped with a 6-cylinder, type 121, 4.4-liter engine. It was used in the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans by Umberto Maglioli and Phil Hill. Thanks to Oscar’s insights, we now know that lowering engine hood entailed considerable modification of the radiator, and that it was his father, Sergio, who decided how low the front should be. To achieve this, they had to weld four alloy panels (the curves were too pronounced to allow it to be manufactured as a single piece), and they also had to create a dedicated frame to shape it.

One owner from new

One of the only twelve 375 Americas manufactured in all, this 1954 375 America (chassis 0317) is the fourth of the only eight cars dressed with this Coupé body designed by Pinin Farina. It was delivered new, through Belgian dealer “Garage Francorchamps” to the grandfather of the current owner, Belgian Alexander Mencik, and came third in its class at the Ferrari 70th anniversary concours. It is the only 375 America ever used to race: it was entered (in 1954) at Zandvoort and Nürburgring, and finished 2nd in the Geneva Rally driven by Jacques Swaters himself. It has never crashed or been transformed, only restored over the years. It was passed from the grandfather to the father of the present custodian, and, from what we saw at the Maranello event, a new generation will likely soon be asking for the keys!

Dino

The Dino models, which featured a rear-mounted 6-cylinder engine, had a difficult start in life. Enzo Ferrari was not convinced that his customers would appreciate a car with so few cylinders, but he needed a racing engine that complied with the new F2 and F1 rules. To play safe, he decided to name the car Dino, after his beloved late son, without using the brand name Ferrari. The market loved it from day one, not only because of its wonderful-looking body, but also because it was, and still is, a fantastic car to drive.

The winner of the Dino class at Ferrari´s 70th Anniversary Concours, a 1969 Dino 206 GT (chassis #00306), has an unusual history, having been very first Dino used to race. It was Luigi Chinetti, the American importer and founder of N.A.R.T (North American racing Team), who prepared the car for its racing debut in the 12 Hours of Sebring in March 1969, to be driven by Sam Posey and Bob Dini. Very few modifications were made: a chromed roll-bar was installed, headlights covers mounted, additional headlights attached, a safety belt replaced, and a kill switch installed. Goodyear 5.50/9.20 racing tires were mounted in standard rims and to save weight, and the bumpers were removed. The car, painted Blu Notte and decorated with longitudinal white and red stripes, performed very well, finishing the race 9th in its class and 36th overall. Just two weeks later it was exhibited at the New York auto show and sold to a private customer, as a second hand racing car. In 1974, the car was converted to the style of a Dino 206 S by its then American owner and, soon afterwards, was parked in a barn and forgotten. Considered lost for many years, it was discovered by its current owner, German Matthias Bartz, when it was offered on E-bay by an Ohio (USA) dealer in 2011. The subsequent restoration work took almost four years and was carried out, fully respecting every single original detail, by the leading specialists.

412 P

One of the most impressive cars at the event, and by far the loudest, was a 1967 412 P (chassis #0850) fresh from its Ferrari Classiche restoration, completed just few days before it was shown at the 2017 Pebble Beach concours, where it took 2nd in Class. At the Maranello 70th anniversary concours, it finished third in its class, but it was the car that attracted the most admirers during the show: with its 12 cylinders, 4 liters and 24 plugs, it is a pure racing sports car, from the greatest era of racing prototypes. Only four pieces were built, and this one was sold to Ecurie Francorchamps, hence its yellow color, to be raced. In 1967, it competed in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 1000 kilometers of Spa, driven by Mairesse and Beurlys, and also in the 1000 kilometers of Paris at Montlhéry, driven by Beurlys and Bianchi (in this last race it finished 2nd overall, the car’s best result in international competitions). It was then successfully raced, in more local events, during the 1968 season. In early 1970 it was sold in the USA, to Dean “Dino” Martin Jr, the son of actor and singer Dean Martin, who transformed it for road use, and drove it on the roads of Beverly Hills. Listening to the car’s voice, we can only imagine the effect it had on those who saw it passing by… or the joy of Martin’s neighbors on hearing him coming home late at night! The car still wears its original spare wheels, a nice touch of originality.

All photos courtesy and © by the author.

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