Chassis #: 0246 AL
Engine #: 0246AL
Registration #: 57498
Speciale and Ferrari go together like Romeo and Juliet. However, there was no greater pairing that spoke of exclusivity and affluence than Ferrari and its 342 America designed by Pinin Farina. Although the series lasted just a couple of years, the Speciale would define the class.
Many years Enzo Ferrari worked at Alfa Romeo building it into one of the premier automobile manufacturers of the time. However, when Ferrari went his own direction he soon found himself having to overcome the very company he had helped to build. To be able to overcome Alfa Romeo, Ferrari had to be strategic in his approach. Of course, the first place Ferrari went on the attack would be on the track. And by the 1950s, Ferrari was as big a threat as Alfa Romeo on the grand prix circuits of Europe.
Ferrari was still locked in a battle with Alfa Romeo and needed something that would cause his company to lay hold of the top. Unfortunately, what was really needed was a change in mindset.
When Ferrari started making his push towards the top tier in grand prix racing he would turn to a fellow former Alfa Romeo employee Gioachino Colombo. Unfortunately, Colombo would merely bring his approach from Alfa Romeo over to Ferrari. Granted, it had worked for Alfa as their 158 ‘Alfetta' was still one of the dominant grand prix cars of the time. But, it would not help Ferrari to become the memorable mark Ferrari was wanting. Therefore, instead of drawing upon an engineer with automotive experience Ferrari would look to some used to designing machines meant for the upper levels of the atmosphere, which is where Ferrari wanted to take his company. Therefore, he would turn to an engineer that had previously worked in the aeronautic field before going to work for Fiat. His name was Aurelio Lampredi.
Ferrari knew that the engine was the heart and soul of a car and that its performance was a direct result of building a car around the heart and soul that perfectly matched the 'attitude', the personality, the engine possessed. And Lampredi knew exactly what 'personality' for which Ferrari was looking.
Instead of worrying about 'blown' engines with massive heavy superchargers, Lampredi would decide to make up power by making bigger engines. Lampredi was used to this drawing from his aeronautical background. The first attempts would be at making a V-12 engine powerful enough to battle with the Alfa Romeo and their blown engines. The first couple of designs would be powerful, but not powerful enough to unseat Alfa. The other problem the engines had were their torrid fuel economy.
But Lampredi would not give up. He would continue to work and would go on to create a 'long-block' V-12 engine that was 4.5-liters and produced 340 horsepower. Around this engine would be designed what became known as the 375 Formula One single-seater and it would be the first car to break Alfa Romeo's dominance in the newly formed Formula One World Championship. In fact, in 1951, the car would go on to score three-straight victories and would come close to earning Alberto Ascari the World Drivers' Championship. Ferrari had its engine around which to build its empire. He only had one main concern—being able to pay for it.
Success on the racetrack was rather uncertain. And to be able to enjoy success on the circuit requires a consistent stream of capital in order to invest in new technologies and testing in order to stay at the pinnacle. Ferrari knew that continued success required everyday citizens purchasing regular street vehicles so to fund interests in racing. However, Ferrari focused on grand prix racing and sports cars. These weren't everyday cars. And then Ferrari realized that is exactly what made them Speciale.
Ferrari was producing its large 4.5-liter V-12 on a much larger scale since it would be used throughout the World Championship. However, the company had a problem after 1951. The World Championship had problems. A lack of competition, because of extremely high costs, was threatening to end the fledgling series. As a result, the decision would be made to conduct the World Championship according to Formula 2 regulations for 1952 and 1953. This left Ferrari with a lot of soon-to-be outlawed V-12s with nowhere to put them.
Ferrari seized his opportunity. The engines could be made a little less ferocious and could be placed inside of some sleek bodies for sale to the public. At the time, America, with the help of Hollywood, as well as, the nation's investment in new technologies, was one of the most affluent nations on the planet. Ferrari recognized the need to tap into this market to help ensure his company's ability to stay at the top. He would, therefore, pushed forward with an idea for a bigger, more luxurious sports car design that fit perfectly the affluence and appetite of his intended audience. Thus would be born the 'America' series.
The America series had already been born in body, but not in spirit and soul. The first example would be the 330 America. It shared a similar chassis to the 250 GTE. However, it certainly did not share the Lampredi V-12, and therefore, lacked the soul, the personality that would make Ferrari famous.
Then came the Ferrari 340 America. Ferrari recognized the advantages the new engine offered and would not miss the opportunity to use it to enter the sports car ranks. He would, therefore, have a sports car designed around the engine in order to go and take part in such races as the Mille Miglia and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Knowing full well that success on the race track would turn into success in car production, the new sports cars would be called the America and would be specifically for the most grueling of sports car races. The performance of the 340 America would attract attention and the most exclusive and luxuriant of Ferrari sports cars would be born.
The 340 America, and its derivatives the 340 Mexico and Mille Miglia, were specialty sports cars that were manufactured for racing, but could also be ordered with much more plush interiors and amenities. And while the performance of the car and its engine was certainly in an elite class unto itself, the car itself was deemed not to be. Therefore, the road-going 342 America would be created. And it would set the bar for sports car luxury, as well as, the America series of specials on a whole.
The car was to fill two roles. It was to be a sports car first and foremost. But, it was also to be a grand touring automobile that would fit the comfortable and luxuriant lifestyle of the affluent American client. Interestingly, when the design was finished and production of the extremely exclusive car began it would be King Leopold of Belgium and Enzo Ferrari himself that would end up purchasing the first two copies. And who could blame them. However, this would end up leaving just four examples that would be made over a two year period. This was just how exclusive the 342 America would be.
Lampredi's V-12 ‘long block' already required a decent amount of space. However, to fill the roll of grand touring sports car capable of seating occupants and baggage in luxuriant comfort required an even longer wheelbase of 2,650mm.
In addition to the lengthened chassis, it would also be made wider by just under two inches. The rear suspension would consist of a transverse leaf spring with hydraulic lever shock absorbers with a live rear axle. The gearbox would be a synchronized 4-speed. All four wheels would feature hydraulic brakes.
The V-12 engine came in a couple of different configurations to suit the owner's taste. While a factory-tuned, 300 horsepower engine was a possible option, the 342 would come standard with some 200 brake horsepower and a lower compression ratio that helped save a little gas.
Vignale would go on to produce a cabriolet version of the 342 America. Pinin Farina would then make two cabriolets and just three coupes before the line would come to an end and the 375 America came into production.
As stated, the first couple of models of the 342 America would be ordered by King Leopold of Belgium and Enzo Ferrari. One of the coupes to follow would end up being the 1953 Geneva Motor Show car. That car would be chassis number 0246 AL and it would be up for auction at this year's RM Auctions in Arizona.
And although the car had not been produced for the circuit it would be bestowed with an even chassis number, which was a practice adhered to only for racing cars. Such was the heritage of the 342 America. And such was the opportunity presented at the RM Auction in January.
After sitting on display at the Geneva Motor Show in March of 1953, the car would be sold by Scuderia Ferrari to James Gerald Murray from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The car, however, would not make it to Pittsburgh as Murray was temporarily in Modena caring for the Automobile Club of Italy. The car would be sold just a little later that year and would be driven by Franco Fassio of Genoa in the Rallye Soleil-Cannes in France. Before the year ended the car would be returned to Pinin Farina to have its rear window replaced. The wraparound window would be taken out in favor of rectangular glass.
In 1954, the car would make its way to the United States and would be sold to Steve Briggs of Lake Forest, Illinois. While under his ownership, the car would take part in the Wilmot Hills Concours event and would place first in the Sports Car Class. The car would then be sold to William Peters and would remain under his ownership for over 30 years before being sold to Brad Hallock of San Francisco.
Hallock would only own the car for a period of about a year, but, during that time it would be refurbished by Tom Valerio. After being refurbished the car would go on to be sold once again. Wilfried De Buck would come to own the car and would take it back to Europe showing the car in numerous Belgian events.
The new millennium would bring yet another owner and a return to the United States where it has remained. In 2004, the car won the Judges' Choice and Best Vintage Ferrari Awards and had been displayed at Concorso Italiano in Monterey and the Winter Park Concours event in Florida.
After an engine overhaul the car would be displayed at the 2007 Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance. Most recently, under its then owner Armando Ivan Flores, the car was displayed at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. After that showing, the car would be sold yet again and would immediately be taken to have some extensive detailing and other work done to the car. Almost no cost was spared. When it was finished, the car would go on to complete the arduous Colorado Grand in 2011.
Being just one of five Pinin Farina 342 America Speciale, almost every single aspect of this care is exclusive and rare. Despite its obvious grand touring purpose its racing heritage, from its egg-crate grille similar to that of the Ferrari 375 Formula One car to the elegant flow and design of the nose similar to the 340 Mille Miglia, Mexico and America, is more than obvious. Complete with its 4.1-liter Lampredi V-12, this car's owner certainly owns more than just a car. It is that ultra-thin and rarified connection between brawn and luxury, race-inspired performance and utter lavish indulgence.
At the 2012 Scottsdale, Az. Auction presented by RM Auctions, the 1952 Ferrari 342 America Coupe Speciale by Pinin Farina was expected to sell for between $800,000 and $1,000,000. Sources:
'Feature Lots: Lot No. 249: 1952 Ferrari 342 America Coupe Speciale by Pinin Farina', (http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ12&CarID=r237&fc=0). RM Auctions. http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=AZ12&CarID=r237&fc=0. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
'Ferrari: 1952 Ferrari 342 America', (http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z1320/Ferrari-342-America.aspx). Conceptcarz.com: From Concept to Production. http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z1320/Ferrari-342-America.aspx. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
'Sports Cars: Ferrari: Ferrari 340 America', (http://auto.howstuffworks.com/ferrari-340-america.htm). HowStuffWorks: Serious About Making you Smarter. http://auto.howstuffworks.com/ferrari-340-america.htm. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
'Ferrari 342 America (1952-1957)', (http://www.histomobile.com/dvd_histomobile/usa/13/1952_Ferrari_342_America.htm). Histomobile.com. http://www.histomobile.com/dvd_histomobile/usa/13/1952_Ferrari_342_America.htm. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Ferrari America', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 22 September 2011, 12:14 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ferrari_America&oldid=451836016 accessed 4 January 2012
'Ferrari 340 America Vignale Spyder', (http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/car/3114/Ferrari-340-America-Vignale-Spyder.html). Ultimatecarpage.com: Powered by Knowledge, Driven by Passion. http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/car/3114/Ferrari-340-America-Vignale-Spyder.html. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
'Ferrari 342 America Pinin Farina Coupe', (http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/car/721/Ferrari-342-America-Pinin-Farina-Coupe.html). Ultimatecarpage.com: Powered by Knowledge, Driven by Passion. http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/car/721/Ferrari-342-America-Pinin-Farina-Coupe.html. Retrieved 4 January 2012.By Jeremy McMullen