1956 Ferrari 290 MM news, pictures, and information
|Chassis Num: 0628|
Engine Num: 0628 M
Ferrari in 1956Ferrari built a profusion of sports-racing cars in 1956, an abundance of performance that challenged explanation.
In 1956, drivers who wanted a Ferrari could have a 500 Mondial 2-liter four-cylinder, a 750 Monza 3-liter four-cylinder, an 860 Monza 3.4-liter four-cylinder, a 500 Testa Rossa 2-liter four-cylinder, a 625 LM 2.5-liter four-cylinder, a 410 Sport 5-liter 12-cylinder or a 290 MM 3.5-liter 12-cylinder. Fortunately, Ferraris were largely the same chassis (aside from their engines and gearboxes); the strong twin oval tube affair that supplied the underpinnings for everything, and Ferrari running gear rarely broke, even when abused by over-enthusiastic or under-talented drivers. The factory team cars mostly employed de Dion rear axles wîth 4-speed transaxles. It was during this period that Ferrari's competitor bodies began to be built by Scaglietti wîth design influence from Pininfarina.
1956 was an excellent year for Ferrari in competition, winning both the Sports Car Constructors' Championship and the F1 Drivers' Championship for Juan Manuel Fangio in the Ferrari-Lancia D50. The array of competition cars built in this single year is one of the most diverse, and they are avidly sought by collectors. They all carry a mystique from the time - the legendary races like LeMans, the Targa Florio and the Mille Miglia, and the equally legendary drivers who stepped into the cars that Ferrari though most effective on any given weekend.
From that profusion of choices, however, the stalwart of Scuderia Ferrari in 1956 were the two 3.5-liter models, the four-cylinder 860 Monza and its 12-cylinder counterpart, the 290 MM.
The 290 MM
The 860 Monza and 290 MM shared chassis layouts wîth the latest coil-spring independent front suspension and de Dion 4-speed transaxles wîth transverse leaf springs. The 290 MM's V-12 needed a bit more under-hood clearance, so their hoods had higher blisters or open-air intakes, and its big V-12 revved higher than the Lampredi-designed four-cylinder 860 Monza.
The 860 Monza represented the largest iteration of the four-cylinder engine that Aurelio Lampredi designed to tap the potential shown by GP cars wîth four-cylinder engines in the late '40s. Lampredi designed two variants and, showing the sperb skills and capabilites of Ferrari's organization, had them running in early 1951, barely six months after being approved. One was intended for the new Formula One, a 2-liter engine that quickly surpassed the power of the earlier, successful, 2-liter Formula Two V-12. The other was a larger engine intended for sports cars and the 2.5-liter Formula One that would take effect in 1954. The flexibility of the Lampredi-designed four-cylinder Ferrari 500 GP cars was demonstrated by the Scuderia's dominance of GP racing in 1952 and 1953, wîth Alberto Ascari winning both World Championships.
Sports cars, however, had bigger engines. The Lampredi 500 was ideal for the under-2-liter class in America but fell far short of competing on an equal footing wîth Maserati, Jaguar, Aston Martin and the ever-present threat from Mercedes-Benz in the Manufacturers' Championship. Ferrari's preferred response was the 290 MM, wîth an updated chassis and the V-12 enlarged to 3,490 cc. Organizationally challenged by the departure of Lampredi, assimilating the Lancia D50 V-8 Grand Prix cars and brining along a new design team, Enzo Ferarri hedged his bet on the 290 MM and had the team of Antonio Bellantani and Andrea Fraschetti - advised by old friend Vittorio Jano who had come to Ferrari wîth the Lancia D50s - inject a massive dose of cubic inches into Lampredi's four-cylinder by machining up a new 105 mm stroke crankshaft. The resulting 3,431 cc engine powered the Ferrari 860 Monza, the largest four-cylinder to be produced by Ferrari's prolific engine shops.
Its counterpart, the 290 MM, was Ferrari's latest implementation of the V-12, which formed the foundation of the company. The 290 MM's Type 130S engine took the best from the original Colombo 'short block' and the later Lampredi 'long block' engines to create a powerplant wîth both reliability and power. A single camshaft on each bank operated inclined valves through rocker arms wîth roller cam followers and hairpin-style springs. The 73 mm cylinder bore left room for bigger valves which the Ferrari designers took full advantage of, increasing the intake valves from 29.1 mm to a generous 35 mm diameter and the exhaust valves from 26 mm to 29 mm. Fraschetti and Bellantani adopted the Lampredi engine's wet cylinder liners that threaded into the heads to create a reliable compression seal. The Type 130S engine in the 290 MM fulfilled its promise wîth 320 horsepower at 7,300 rpm.
The 860 Monza and 290 MM teamed up in 1956 to bring Ferrari a well-deserved Manufacturers' Championship over Maserati. The 860 Monza contributed one win, at Sebring wîth Juan Miguel Fangio and Castellotti, and an important second at the Nurburgring wîth the same driver. The 290 MM won twice, wîth Castellotti taking the Mille Miglia, and Phil Hill and Maurice Trintignant capturing the season-ending Swedish GP to cement Ferrari's 1956 Manufacturers' Championship.
The number of times that a championship is earned by two distinct models represented historically by a single chassis can probably be counted wîth a single digit, but that is the case wîth the 860 Monza and 290 MM. One chassis, the 290 MM s/n 0628 shown here, is both an 860 Monza and a 290 MM.
The 1956 Season 860 Monza
Built in early 1956, just in time for the Mille Miglia, chassis 0628 was completed as an 860 Monza and assigned to Peter Collins wîth photojournalist Louis Klemantaski as navigator. It started next-to-last at 5:51 a.m. in a notorious wet, foggy and dank race. Running steadily in the top five, Collins and Klemantaski moved up to third place when Wolfgang von Trips' 300SL dropped out, then passed Piero Taruffi's 300 Maserati on the road to finish a very impressive second overall and only 12 minutes behind Castellotti's Ferrari 290 MM. The 860 Monza's performance was memorable, but it is Klemantaski's participation - and the dramatic photographs he shot along the way - that has contributed some of the most enduring images of the era's open-road racing, an era that would soon end.
Chassis 0628 next raced for the Scuderia in the 1000 km race over the 14.17-mile Nurburgring Nordschleife driven by Alfonso de Portago and Oliver Gendebien. Únfortunately, de Portago went off-course on the opening lap and was pushed by spectators while regaining the track, resulting in his disqualification. The season's next major race was Le Mans, but it was a non-championship event in 1956 wîth the Ferrari factory sending only two 625 LMs.
Gendebien and Hans Hermann brought 0628 to the Targa Florio only two weeks later and brought it home third even after Gendebien inflicted significant cosmetic damage on the nose on Lap 2. Gendebien and Jacques Wascher finished first in class and second overall at the Coppa d'Oro delle Dolomiti on July 18, while two weeks later Úmberto Maglioli finished third in the Aosta-Gran San Bernardo hill-climb.
The final race of the championship season was the Swedish GP at Kristiansted on August 11 which Ferrari entered wîth only a 10-point lead over Maserati in the Championship. Seeking support in numbers, the factory sent five team cars, two 860 Monas and three 290 MMs, opposed by a like number of Maseratis, all 300S's. Chassis 0628 was assigned to Juan Manuel Fangio and Eugenio Castelloti. Castellotti drove 0628 into the lead after a slow start. The pit stop to change to Fangio dropped them back but Fangio worked his way back to the top. He eventually stretched his advantage to two laps before turning their 860 Monza back over to Castellotti, but the engine quit shortly thereafter wîth only 30 of 153 laps remaining, leaving it to Hill and Trintignant to take the victory and bring the Championship to Ferrari.
The 1957 Season 290 MM
All of the 860 Monzas were sold after the end of the 1956 season, wîth one exception: 0628.
It was converted by Ferrari to a 290 MM wîth a swap to the 290 MM engine number 0628 M, which it still has today. Other changes were required by the 1957 regulations including adding a folding top and a passenger's door (which ultimately was rendered useless by fitting a 7.5-gallon auxiliary fuel tank inside it.) The hood had to be modified for clearance over the V-12's three Weber 46 DCF carburetors, the rear deck was modified by Scaglietti to be closer to the new 315 Sport body style and a forward-mounted oil tank for the dry sump lubrication system was added.
The 1957 season opened wîth the Buenos Aires 1,000 km race on the ultra-fast Constanera circuit. De Portago and von Trips got the newly converted 290 MM 0628 and after much seat-swapping in the brutally hot race, and aided by both Collins and Castellotti, they came home third overall and second in class.
Sebring was next on the schedule, two months later. The Ferrari team backstopped two of the new 315 Sports wîth 290 MM 0628 driven by Phil Hill and von Trips, but their race ended after 103 laps wîth electrical problems.
Following Sebring, 0628 returned to Ferrari in Maranello where it was reconditioned and sold through Jacques Swaters to Jan de Vroom. Swaters and de Vroom entered it in the Swedish GP but de Vroom turned it over on Lap 23, requiring yet another trip back to Maranello where the body damage was repaired wîth a new nose in the Testa Rossa pontoon-fendered-style front end.
The car's next outing, and one of its most unusual, was at Nassau Speed Week in December. De Vroom leased the 290 MM to Temple Buell. When the Aston Martin, to be drive by Stirling Moss in the feature race, was wrecked in the preliminary 'Ladies Race,' Luigi Chinetti quickly seized on the opportunity to put Moss, famously loyal to British marques and equally famously resistant to the politics of driving for Ferrari, in a Ferrari. Chinetti arranged to borrow de Vroom's 290 MM from Buel and offered it to Moss. The potential that driving for Ferrari might have had for Moss was demonstrated when he swept the wins in both Sunday feature races, the Nassau Trophy and the Nassau Memorial, while driving the 290 MM 0628.
Following Nassau, the 290 MM was displayed by Chinetti (but still owned by de Vroom) at the Chicago Auto Show in January 1958 and later raced in the Cuban GP on February 24 by Ed Crawford, who was awarded seventh-place money when the race was red flagged after only six laps. Dan Gurney drove it on September 28, taking second in the ÚSAC pro race at Watkins Glen. Chinetti then took it off de Vroom's hands and kept it until September 5, 1960, when he sold it to George Reed, proprietor of RRR Motors and a Goodyear tire dealer in Homewood, Ill. Reed and Alan Connell drove it in the Road America 500 just a week later on September 11, but did not finish.
Ferrari 290 MM 0628's last racing appearance came a year later, on October 1, 1961, when Owen Coon placed seventh in the SCCA races at Meadowdale. Subsequent owners included John Delamater and Harley Cluxton before it was bought back by Chinetti. Partially restored in the 1980s by Francois Sicard, it was driven the 1988 historic Mille Miglia by Chinetti and his son, and again in 1990 by Chinetti Jr. and Jacque Vaucher. It was acquired from Chinetti Jr. in June 1998 by the present owner who immediately commissioned a complete restoration by Dutch Dennison.
During the restoration, the bodywork was returned to its 1957 Sebring configuration including fabricating a new nose to replace the Testa Rossa pontoon-fender-style nose installed after de Vroom's 1957 accident in the Swedish GP. The engine was rebuilt by Autoffician Sauro in Bologna. Following the restoration it received Best of Show at the 2001 Ferrari Club of America meet in Dallas where it and its owner also earned FCA's most prestigious award, the Coppa GT, signifying a concourse score of 95 or better, a perfect operational test and an on-track driver's proficiency demonstration in the car. It was then displayed at the Pebble Beach Conours d'Elegance, where it scored an impressive first in class in 2001 and participated in the 2004 Monterey Historic Races.
Coming from one of the world's premier collections of Ferraris, Ferrari 290 MM 0628 has received the absolute best in care and professional maintenance and is still in pristine condition, ready for any concours, show, tour or event. For a Ferrari, the list of drivers who have competed in it is absolutely without parallel if only for the simple reason that it includes Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio. No other Ferrari can claim that distinction. Its other drivers are equally prestigious: Castellotti, Collins, Gendebien, Gurney, Hermann, Hill, Maglioli, de Portago and von Trips. And its memorable co-driver in the 1956 Mille Miglia, Louis Klemantaski, has contributed the visual imagery of this end-of-an-era race which illustrates our collective memory.
Absolutely unique, this Ferrari 290 MM isn't, however, one of a kind. It is two of a kind - the 1956-season 860 Monza and 1957-season 290 MM is on fantastic, powerful, responsive, brutally beautiful package.Source - Gooding & Company
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