1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico

Coachwork: Vignale
Chassis Num: 0226 AT
Sold for $3,685,000 at 2011 RM Sothebys.
During Alberto Ascari's short racing career, lasting from 1948 to 1955, he became Formula One World Champion on two occasions, in 1953 and 1953. He won nine consecutive races on his way to the 1952 title. Another accomplishment for Ascari during this time was finishing second in Mexico's La Carrera Panamericana in 1951, teamed with Luigi Villoresi in the second of two factory Ferrari 212 Inter Berlinettas. The eight stage course covered 2,096 miles on perilous roads that, at times, were extremely difficult to traverse. When they crossed the finish line, they were a mere eight minutes behind the winners, Piero Taruffi and Luigi Chinetti. Ferrari had achieved a one-two finish, ahead of 33 American sedans, with varying degrees of factory support.

The 1952 La Carrera Panamericana race had two classes, sports and stock. There were 26 cars entered in the European sports-car category, and four of those were Ferrari's. Mercedes brought two 300 SL Gullwing coupes and a roadster, and there were entries from Jaguar, Gordini, Lancia and Porsche.

The factory Ferrari cars were named 'Mexico' for the event. The design was courtesy of Giovanni Michelotti for Vignale, who gave the cars a 77.5-inch hood (one of the longest ever seen on a Ferrari), and unique fenders that extended beyond the oval grille. They had a small-diameter Tuboscossia chassis, a Lampredi-designed 4.1-liter V12 that offered 280 horsepower, and constructed with as much lightweight material as possible. They had a top speed of 174 mph and could race from zero-to-sixty mph in six seconds.

The drivers selected to pilot the Ferraris included Alberto Ascari/Giuseppi Scotuzzi, Franco Cornacchia/Luigi Villoresi and Luigi Chinetti/Jean Lucas. Giovanni Bracco was given a lighter 250 MM Berlinetta and American Bill Spear was given a 340 Mexico barchetta, which did not start the race.

This example, chassis number 0226 AT, is a matching-numbers original example that was originally sold by Luigi Chinetti to Allen Guibertson of Dallas, Texas for $14,500. Chinetti also arranged for Ferrari team drivers Ascari and Scotuzzi to race the car in the 1952 Carrera Panamericana. Ascari started in 14th place and by the 50-mile mark, had moved into sixth. He continued the race as a very aggressive pace, especially considering this was a very dangerous event, and claimed many lives. His race came to a close when he lost control over loose stones, causing him to collide with a rocky ledge. The car driven by Chinetti/Jean Lucas finished third for Ferrari. From the 92 starters, there were only 39 finishers.

Chassis number 0226 AT was shipped back to Ferrari and Vignale for repairs, then returned to Guibertson in Dallas in the spring of 1953. The car was sold to A.V. Dayton, who entered it in the July 4th SCCA race at Offut Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, driven by Carroll Shelby and Jack McAfee, who finished second. On October 25th, Dayton entered the car in the Sowega SCCA races in Atlanta, Georgia, where it was driven by Mr. Duncan. Unfortunately, it was sidelined due to electrical problems. Dayton sold the car back to Chinetti before the end of the year.

The car would trade hands on several occasions over the rest of the decade. Richard Londergan purchased the car in the late 1950s and put it on display at the 1958 Detroit Auto Show. It was sold a year later to General Motors designer and Ferrari Club of America co-founder Larry Nicklin of Indiana. At the time, Mr. Nicklin also owned the sister car, chassis number 0224 AT. Mr. Nicklin retained 0226 AT for a decade before selling it to Art Jacobs of Mineola, New York in 1969. A year later, the car was sold to Theodore Pratt in New York City. Five years later, it was purchased by David Carroll of Boston, Massachusetts, who kept it for another ten years.

In 1985, the car was sold to J. Willard Marriott Jr. of Chevy Chase, Maryland, who commissioned a ground-up, three-year restoration. It was restored to its correct 1952 Carrera Panamericana specification and livery. Upon complete, the car won the 1988 Ferrari Club of America's Concours at Elk Hart Lake, Wisconsin and also the Phil Hill Award for Best Competition Car. In 1989, it won the Honorary Chairman Award at the Ferrari National Meet at Lake Lanier Island, Georgia. It also won the Peter Helck Award for Best Race Car at the Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance in Michigan. It earned a Best in Class award at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in Monterey, California.

In November of 1997, the car was sold to Carlos Monteverde in London. Mr. Monteverde kept the car for two years, selling it to the current owner in 199. Since then, it has competed in the Colorado Grand in 2001 and 2007 and raced in the Monterey Historic Races in 2002, 2005 and 2006. In 2007, the car was shown at the Pebble beach Concours d'Elegance in the Ferrari Competition class for exhibition only.

In 2011, the car was offered for sale the Monterey, CA auction presented by RM Auctions. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $3,685,000 including buyer's premium.
By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2011
Coachwork: Vignale
Chassis Num: 0224 AT
Engine Num: 0224 AT
Sold for $4,290,000 at 2011 RM Sothebys.
The 1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico is powered by a V-12 engine that displaces 4102cc and produces 280 horsepower. The wheelbase measures 102 inches and the car weighs 2200 pounds. Top speed is in the neighborhood of 163 miles per hour.

This example was built for the sole purpose of bringing victory to the Ferrari team in the Third Carrera Panamerica Road Race. The course stretched over 2000 miles of open road up the length of Mexico and was held in eight legs. Driven by Luigi Chinetti and Jean Lucas, this car took third, edged out by two Mercedes-Benz 300 SL prototypes. The body was designed by Michelotti and fabricated of aluminum by Vignale.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2010
Coachwork: Vignale
Chassis Num: 0222 AT
Ferrari's first foray to the Carrera Panamericana was in 1951 when two Ferrari 212 coupes finished in 1st and 2nd place. The following year, fueled by this success, Ferrari adapted the 4-liter, V12 340 America which had won the 1951 Mille Miglia and prepared three lightweight 340 coupes and one Barchetta, all named 'Mexico,' for the 1952 Carrera Panamericana. This car was driven by Volloresi and Cornacchi but failed to reach the finish although one of the Ferraris finished 3rd. In the 1953 race Phil Hill and Richie Ginther drove this car but sadly they too failed to finish. Although these cars were built for the most grueling road race, the 340 Mexico is still an elegant sports car. It blends racing power with elegant Vignale styling featuring chrome accents on the hood and along the side of the car and small fins on the top edge of the rear fenders. Unique to the Mexico are vertical scoops in the doors, which directed air to the rear brakes. The 340 Mexico participated in a variety of other road races in the early 1950s and it remains as one of the most striking cars ever built by Ferrari.
Coachwork: Vignale
Chassis Num: 0228AT
This Ferrari 340 Mexico Vignale Spyder was built especially for Bill Spear to compete in the Carrera Panamericana race in Mexico, but even though it arrived at the race, along with three Vignale built Mexico coupes, it never started. Instead, its first race was the 6 Hour Collier Memorial race at MacDill Air Force Base, where Spear shared the driving with Phil Hill, finishing second overall and first in class. n April 19 Spear drove this unique Ferrari 340 Mexico Spyder in the Pebble Beach Road Races, placing first in class and second overall in the Del Monte Trophy behind Phil Hill in his Ferrari 250 MM Vignale Spyder.
It was in 1948 when the newly formed Italian automobile company named Ferrari began selling a promising sports car named the 166. The two seater sports car featured a 12-cylinder engine mounted in the front and supplying over 100 horsepower to the rear wheels. The engine was just under two-liters in size and had a unitary displacement of 166 cc, thus, the evolution of the model name. Production would last until 1953 with only 38 examples being produced. Even though production was low, its accomplishments are large, with wins at LeMans, Mille Miglia, and the Targa Florio.

The 166 was a continuation of the 125, introduced a year earlier. The 125's size of 1497 cc was later enlarged to 1902cc, bringing about the Tipo 159. In 1948, it was enlarged to 1995 cc and became the 166.

Engineer Gioachino Colombo had been tasked with creating the engine to power the first Ferrari automobile. Both Enzo and Colombo had a history with working at Alfa Romeo, and were well versed on the rules and regulations of Grand Prix racing. Rules dictated that displacement size was limited to just 1.5-liters in forced induction engines, and 4.5-liters in naturally aspirated units. Colombo opted for the forced induction route, just as he had done while at Alfa Romeo, and designed for Ferrari their first V12 engine, as well as their first chassis. The engine was very different to the units Colombo had created while at Alfa Romeo, though sharing the same displacement size. Before the engine or chassis were ever created, Colombo left. Aurelio Lampredi was brought in to pick-up where Colombo had left off. Lampredi was a former Fiat employee who was a very talented and gifted engineer. He created the Colombo designed supercharged V12 engine, which would quickly grow in size to three liters.

The engine was potent, but still lacking. Lampredi was tasked with creating a new engine, larger in size, and aimed at propelling Ferrari's next generation of Grand Prix racing machines. Lampredi's goal was to create a powerful, yet fuel efficient engine that could keep with the competition. The Alfa Romeo engines were providing serious competition, and Lampredi questioned if the horsepower output could reach the figures Alfa Romeo was producing. Better fuel-efficiency, along with better tire wear, were two ways Lampredi was hoping to best the Alfa's.

The Lampredi designed 3.3-liter engine was ready by early 1950. Due to its size and configuration, it would eventually become known as the 'long-block' engine. It was constructed from a light-alloy metal, two valves per cylinder, single overhead camshaft and drew design inspiration from the prior Colombo engine.

Touring was tasked with creating the first two vehicles to house the Lampredi engines. They were entered in the 1950 Mille Miglia and carried the designation, 275 S, keeping with the traditional Ferrari naming scheme based on unitary displacement. The cars debut were less than stellar, as both were forced to retire prematurely due to tire and gearbox issues. As the year progressed, the issues were resolved and development continued on the engine, ultimately reaching 4.5-liters.

Other than being a very successful race car builder that enjoyed profound racing success, he was also a great business man and able to capitalize on racing success. Many of the road going cars Ferrari produced were derived from their racing program. Using the Lampredi engine, displacing 4.1 liters and producing 220 horsepower, the engine was mounted in a enlarged versions of the 275 S chassis, and the vehicle was named the 340 America. The 340 America's first public debut was at the Paris Auto Show where it was displayed wearing a Touring Barchetta body. a total of 23 examples would eventually be produced, with bodies supplied by Vignale, Touring and Ghia. As is popular with Ferrari automobiles, many of the 340 America's were used by privateers in racing competition.

Though rule changes at the close of the 1951 season left the Lampredi engine obsolete, development continued. A total of six examples of the Ferrari 342 America were created. These were very exclusive machines catered to Ferrari's wealthiest clients. The 340 Mexico cars were true Ferrari racing bred machines. Four examples were specifically created to compete in the 1952 running of the Carrera Panamericana race. They were powered by a 280 horsepower version of the Lampredi engine and given a longer wheelbase to better traverse the rough and changing terrain.

In 1953, Ferrari introduced the 340 MM, which was a replacement for the 340 America. Under the bonnet was a 300 horsepower Lampredi engine.
By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2007
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