Sold for $7,260,000 at 2014 Bonhams Quail Lodge Auction.
Chassis #: 0312 MM
Engine #: 0312 MM
Featured on the cover of Road & Track
, and a winner in its debut, the 1953 Ferrari 250 MM Berlinetta, chassis 0312 MM, is certainly one of the defining examples of the 250 MM marques.
Completed and rolled out of the Pinin Farina factory in Turin in early July of 1953, chassis 0312 MM was the 17th of just a total of 31 250 MMs ever to be built. Soon afterward the car would make its way to the United States. Through an agent working for Luigi Chinetti, the car would make its way to California and its first owner, Bill Devin.
Making its first appearance at the 1952 Paris Salon de l'Automobile, the Ferrari 250 Mille Miglia would be the marque's great hope in endurance sportscar races during the early 1950s. Powered by a 3-liter V12, the 250 MM was muscular in its performance, and in its look, thanks to body styling by Pinin Farina.
Chassis 0312 MM followed its purposeful design being entered in the 3rd Annual Members' Madera race meeting. The race would be held on the 20th of September and Devin received the Ferrari just a couple of months before. Still, the performance of the 250 MM would be impressive allowing Devin to finish 3rd in the amateur race. Immediately afterward, Devin would hand over the Ferrari to none other than a young up-and-coming racer by the name of Phil Hill. Taking part in the main event, Hill would demonstrate his talent by taking the incredible Ferrari to victory.
Resplendent in an overall white with broad blue stripe travelling the length of the car, chassis 0312 MM would continue to make appearances at SCCA events over the course of the next couple of years. Then, in June of 1954 the car could be found in Road & Track being offered for sale by Devin. Ken Heavlin would jump at the opportunity and would partly trade for the Ferrari.
Coming into Heavlin's possession, 0312 MM would spend time in a showroom in Chicago and at the Henry Ford Museum as part of a special review. A little more than a year later, the car would be featured on the cover of Road & Track. Not long following the feature, the car would be refinished red with a white stripe and would be advertised for sale, again in Road & Track.
The car would change hands between Paul Lohmann and Dr. James W. Myers. Then, in 1961, the car would again be advertised for sale in Road & Track. At that time, William Lester would come to own the car. Lester was an engineer with Convair at the time and already owned a Ferrari Export Ghia Coupe. He would decide to purchase 0312 MM because he wanted a little more punch, a little more thrill. Sadly, this excitement would be met with feelings of aghast at the time the car was unloaded in California. Nearly placed on the ground, the car would slip off the pallet and would strike the ground nose first. Lester would be on hand at the time and his heart would be in his throat as he would go and take a look at the damage. Fearing the worse, his fears would be assuaged by superficial scars. This, and other episodes, would be recounted in another feature article in Road & Track in 1965.
A fair bit of work would be done to the car while in Lester's possession. Intending on using the car for touring and concours events, restoration and re-finish efforts would proceed inside and out.
By 1967, 0312 MM would be on its way to its next owner, Mr. Peter Tennant of Houston, Texas. This would be followed, a year later, with another sale, this time to Jack Reuter of St. Louis. A year later, the car would again be sold to John Carmack, who would turn around and sell to Kirk White of Philadelphia. Mr. White would become famous for his relationship as a sponsor of Roger Penske's Ferrari 512M and numerous other cars that competed in the Indianapolis 500. An enthusiastic collector and dealer, Kirk White would hold onto the Ferrari for a couple of years before he too decided to part with the car. Re-sold to John Carmack in 1973, the car would eventually make its way to John Delamater of North Carolina. In 1983, Delamater would sell the car to none other than John Mecom, the well-known oilman and racing team owner that had earned victories in such races as the Indianapolis 500.
Mecom would enjoy the car for a couple of years before selling it. This time, the car would be headed back across the Atlantic to his native Italy. Count Vittorio Zanon di Valgiurata, a well respected collector and resident of Turin, had purchased the car. The car, however, would not merely sit in his collection. Not long after taking delivery of the car, the count would use it in the Mille Miglia Storica and would do the same the next year.
The Count would no sooner complete the Mille Miglia Storica than he would sell the car through Rudi Pas/Classic Car Associates in Holland to Mr. Shimada, a Japanese collector. However, the car would, instead, return to the United States. At this time, there was a Ferrari enthusiast on the look out for truly special examples of the marquee; this was a man that truly appreciated the Maranello outfit and would provide a lasting home for the truly worthy examples.
Fabrizio Violanti had fallen in love with Ferrari after seeing his first one in a race in 1947. Determined to own one some day, he would, in time, become a very prominent collector of valuable Ferraris and would even be considered, by Enzo himself, a very important face within the global Ferrari family. Given its connection to Phil Hill, Violanti would pursue the 1953 Ferrari 250 Mille Miglia Berlinetta. The result would be that 0312 MM would finally find its longest lasting ownership.
While with Violanti, 0312 MM would take part in the 1989 Mille Miglia and would even take part in Violanti's 40th anniversary Ferrari 250 tour in Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany being driven by none other than Luigi Chinetti. Since 2000, 0312 MM has occupied space as part of the impressive Maranello Rosso Collection and has since been restored to the way it looked upon delivery to Mr. Devin all the way back in 1953.
Once again refinished in its original white with blue stripe, 0312 MM remains one of the iconic 250 MMs. Successful on the track, driven by some truly famous individuals and key people within Ferrari's history and featured in Road & Track more than once, 0312 MM certainly has to be one of the more famous examples of the line.
Victorious on the track and still in a race-ready state, there is no doubting the racing pedigree and the abilities of this MM example. A reminiscent sight in any long distance event, and, associated with such names as Devin, Hill, White, Chinetti and Violanti, it is understandable the allure of 0312 MM. Evocative and filled with legends, 0312 continues to help keep the allure and the intrigue of the Pinin Farina and Ferrari partnership so vivacious and viable within the consciousness of people around the globe.By Jeremy McMullen