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1951 Ferrari 340 America Touring Barchetta

Girardo & Co. Ltd

1951 Ferrari 340 America Touring Barchetta
Girardo & Co. Ltd
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SH ID

24-0205011

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FEATURED BY SPEEDHOLICS

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In Stock

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United Kingdom

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Dealer

Engine number 0118 A

 

Entrant in the 1951 24 Hours of Le Mans, raced by William ‘Bill’ Spear and Johnny Claes

 

Owned and raced by the multiple Le Mans class winner William ‘Bill’ Spears, finished in his striking signature blue and white livery

 

Retaining its factory matching-numbers chassis and engine

 

Fresh from an exhaustive two-year photo-documented restoration undertaken by the renowned specialists Patrick Ottis & Motion Products, Inc. in Wisconsin at a cost of over 1.3m US dollars

 

One of only three Ferraris to have raced in the inaugural 12 Hours of Sebring in 1952, a race which quickly established itself as one of the ‘Big Three’ in the USA

 

The very first ‘big-banger’ Ferrari 340 to compete in the United States of America, with according period photography published in a plethora of books and publications through the decades

 

Boasting a clear and comprehensive history, as verified by the leading Ferrari historian Marcel Massini in his accompanying report

 

One of six Ferrari 340 Americas born with Touring Superleggera’s stunning open Barchetta coachwork

 

Accompanied by copies of its original Ferrari factory build sheets

 

Formerly owned by Fabrizio Violati and exhibited as part of his famous Maranello Rosso Collection in San Marino

 

Offered from one of the world’s most significant collections of Ferraris

 

An open large-capacity V12-powered flagship 1950s Ferrari, eligible for the world’s most prestigious concours competitions and historic motorsport events

Description

“The America is undoubtedly the fastest sports car ever placed on the world’s markets, giving a performance usually associated with near-Grand Prix vehicles. It is indeed a tribute to the enterprise of Enzo Ferrari, the genius of designer Lampredi, and the foresight of Luigi Chinetti.” That’s how Autosport gushingly summarised its road test of the ‘very fast’ Ferrari 340 America Barchetta Touring back in 1951. As its nomenclature suggests, the flagship Ferrari model was conceived for the then-untapped American market. Potentially hugely lucrative, the United States and its broad scope for business had been extolled to Enzo Ferrari by Luigi Chinetti, the Italo-American triple Le Mans winner. A shrewd businessman, Chinetti recognised the commercial appeal of Ferrari’s exquisite motor cars to America’s burgeoning motorsport scene. Il Commendatore listened, introducing the 340 America not only as a technological muscle flex, but also as a means of establishing whether Chinetti could walk the walk, as well as talk the talk. The 340 America was the first production Ferrari fitted with ingegnere Aurelio Lampredi’s 4.1-litre all-alloy long-stroke single-overhead-cam V12, the engine whose roots can be traced to the race-winning 375 Formula 1 monoposto. Well-heeled customers could opt for road- or competition-biased open or closed coachwork from Touring Superleggera, Vignale or Ghia. “The America is indeed a tribute to the enterprise of Enzo Ferrari, the genius of designer Lampredi, and the foresight of Luigi Chinetti.” Autosport Magazine It’s Touring’s Barchetta that, in our humble opinion, is the most beautiful – a masterpiece of simple and efficient style. Six 340 Americas were built as such, of which the car we’re privileged to be offering – chassis number 0118 A – was the third. Chassis no. 0118 A At almost 250lbs and standing well above six feet, William ‘Bill’ Spear by no means resembled the archetypal 1950s racing driver. But, contrary to his appearance, the wealthy Connecticut privateer was rather a dab hand behind the wheel. In fact, during his five-year foray into the world of international motorsport, Spears scored podium finishes in both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring, in addition to winning the 1953 SCCA National Sportscar Championship. Five thousand miles away in Modena, Il Commendatore did not care for the stature or weight of Mr. Spear. What he valued was a loyal customer and an excellent ambassador for his brand – especially in the burgeoning North American market. Spear acquired his first Ferrari, a 166 MM Touring Barchetta, from the triple Le Mans winner Luigi Chinetti in December of 1950. Chinetti had only just begun working as a North American agent for his old pal Enzo. And we imagine Enzo must have been thrilled when Spear promptly placed his order for his 340 America Barchetta Touring, the 4.1-litre V12-powered flagship Ferrari of the day. As its Ferrari factory build sheets confirm, chassis number 0118 A was completed on 20 May 1951 and underwent its factory test drive less than a month later. Connecticut might have been its final destination but, having been well and truly infected with the motorsport bug, Spear decided instead to travel to Europe and enter the most famous motor race of them all: the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Because why not? Finished not in red, but rather in Spear’s striking signature blue and white livery, chassis number 0118 A – complete with additional front spotlights – was one of four new Ferrari 340 Americas entered. And expectations for the model, with its socking-great all-alloy 4.1-litre Lampredi V12, were very high indeed. Rumours were even swirling about a 150mph-plus top speed on Les Hunaudières. Partnered with the Belgian jazz trumpeter-turned-racing driver Johnny Claes, Spear demonstrated deft skill and mature race-craft on his maiden outing at La Sarthe. Alas, the blue number-17 Ferrari was smitten with clutch failure in the 16th hour – a trivial mechanical issue, of which many plagued the Prancing Horses in attendance. Shortly after Le Mans, chassis number 0118 A became the very first 340 America to make the trip across the Atlantic, where Spear continued to race it over the course of the next 18 months. And with considerable success. In addition to contesting the fiercely competitive SCCA National Sportscar Championship, this car was one of only three Ferraris to enter the inaugural 12 Hours of Sebring in 1952, a race which would soon establish itself as one of the United States’ ‘classic’ endurance motor races. Spear employed the American entrepreneur and sportsman Briggs Cunningham to partner him at Sebring, marking the beginning of a close and, motorsport-speaking, bountiful relationship between the two wealthy American playboys. Spear parted with this 340 America in October of 1952, though he continued to compete with a string of subsequent Ferraris, much to Chinetti’s delight. The car’s second owner, one Charles E. Brown from Los Angeles, picked up right where Spear left off, returning to a number of SCCA National Sportscar meetings throughout 1953. And it’s this extensive North American competition history which, today, lends chassis 0118 A one of the sweetest strings to its bow: the abundance of wonderful black-and-white and colour period photography, published in a raft of great automotive books and publications over the years. This Ferrari 340 America remained on the America’s West Coast, passing through the stables of a handful of owners until 1988, when it was acquired by the avid Italian Ferrari collector Fabrizio Violati. Heir to a prominent Italian mineral-water and wine empire, Violati kindled his Ferrari collection in 1965, buying of all models a 250 GTO – unbeknownst to his family, who disapproved of his insatiable obsession with motorsport! Over the decades, he assembled a stunning collection of over 40 significant Prancing Horses (and many more Abarths!), displaying them in the specially-built Maranello Rosso Collection museum in San Marino. Chassis 0118 A remained in the Maranello Rosso Collection for almost a decade, making four outings in the Mille Miglia Storico. Upon leaving the Maranello Rosso Collection, this Ferrari returned to the United States and has enjoyed only two owners since, the latter of whom took the decision to commission a comprehensive restoration. The exhaustive two-year 11-phase project was undertaken by Patrick Ottis and Motion Products Inc., the award-winning Wisconsin-based Italian classic automotive restoration specialist. The brief from the outset was clear: to return chassis number 0118 A to the exact specification and livery in which Bill Spear owned and raced it in the 1951 24 Hours of Le Mans. And as the hundreds of photos documenting the process illustrate, no stone was left unturned. The result is, as one would expect, astonishing. From the dainty bucket seats upholstered in blue leather and the hand-painted ‘Superleggera 51 Le Mans Special’ signage on the wings to the additional spotlights and the ornate Jaeger dials, every last detail is nothing short of beguiling. Upon completion of its restoration, chassis number 0118 A made its first – and, to this date, only – public appearance at the 2023 Cavallino Classic in Palm Beach. Retaining its matching-numbers chassis and engine, this Ferrari 340 America is accompanied by copies of its original Ferrari factory build sheets and a report by the renowned Ferrari historian Marcel Massini, confirming the car’s clear and comprehensive history. “A scintillating and ultra-rare open ‘big-banger’ 12-cylinder Ferrari with excellent period competition provenance, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, chassis number 0118 A is a truly remarkable proposition.” A scintillating and ultra-rare open ‘big-banger’ 12-cylinder Ferrari with excellent period competition provenance, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, chassis number 0118 A is a truly remarkable proposition. Fresh from a zero-compromise restoration and having only been fleetingly seen in public, this Ferrari is a ticket to the world’s greatest historic motoring events. From prestigious beauty pageants such as the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este and Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance to dynamic events such as the Mille Miglia Storico and, of course, the Le Mans Classic. Returning chassis number 0118 A to the Circuit de la Sarthe, 74 years after Bill Spear contested the 24 Hours proper. Now isn’t that a tantalizing proposition?