1959 Ferrari 400 Superamerica

1959 Ferrari 400 Superamerica 1959 Ferrari 400 Superamerica 1959 Ferrari 400 Superamerica Coupe
Chassis #: 1517 SA
This 400 Super America was designed by Pininfarina and built specially for Giovanni Agnelli (soon after he became chairman of Fiat). The car was at the Torino show in 1959; after the show it was sent back to the factory for some small modifications to the body (the body is a Pininfarina Coupe with a transparent roof panel built on a short wheel-base chassis). After the work, the car was delivered to Giovanni Agnelli on May 1st of 1960, and used as his personal transport. The present owner purchased the car from Harrah Automobile Foundation on June 27, 1986.
By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2013
1959 Ferrari 400 Superamerica 1959 Ferrari 400 Superamerica 1959 Ferrari 400 Superamerica Coupe
Chassis #: 1517 SA
Among his many talents and gifts, Mr. Gianni Agnelli is remembers as one of the most fashionable men in modern history. He was born in Torino, Italy on March 12th of 1921 and was the heir to a modern Italian dynasty. He was named after his grandfather, who founded Fiat in 1899. Gianni was a leader in both business and culture. He was a noted playboy, even after his marriage in 1953. His mistresses included socialite Pamela Harriman, actress Anita Ekberg, and fashion designer Jackie Rogers. He had several beautifully designed homes, a fine collection of paintings, and enjoyed sailing, skiing, and tobogganing. As would be expected, he also maintained an impressive collection of motorcars and developed a deep respect for the Ferrari marque. Between the late 1940s and early 1960s, he owned a number of Ferraris, including a 166 MM Barchetta, a 212 inter Coupe, a 375 America, and this 400 Superamerica Coupe Speciale.

In 1966, Agnelli became chairman of Fiat. As the head of Fiat, Agnelli managed over 4-percent of Italy's gross domestic product. Under his direction, the firm acquired Alfa Romeo and Lancia, giving them a virtual monopoly in domestic car production. Along with the automobile empire, his family and their various holding companies managed everything from newspapers to football clubs.

Gianni Agnelli was the richest man in modern Italian history.

Chassis number 1517 SA
In 1959, Mr. Agnelli placed an order for a special new Ferrari to be used for his own personal use. The car that he received was the first 400 Superamerica.

The 400 Superamerica was the firm's most expensive road-going offering and aimed at the company's most exclusive clients.

Mr. Agnelli's Ferrari, being the first 400 Superamerica built, is considered something of a prototype and its type 163 engine has been recorded by several sources as an experimental unit with a unique combination of internal components, carburetors, and exhaust.

Chassis number 1517 SA entered the Pinin Farina plant in Torino, Italy on July 30th of 1959. There, it was given a custom-tailored coupe coachwork. Pinin Farina created a variation of Agnelli's first custom-bodied Ferrari, 0355 AL, a 375 America that had been styled by Franco Martinengo. The result was a car that combined contemporary Pinin farina styling with the various 'branded' themes established on Agnelli's previous commissions.

1517 SA has a large square grille, a 'panoramic' wraparound windscreen, forward-leaning A-pillars, and an Aerlux sunroof with sliding shades. Many of these features could also be found on 0355 AL which had been created six years earlier. Perhaps one of the most prominent departure from the previous Agnelli Ferrari was the use of a four-headlight arrangement.

The inside continues the blend of old and new features. It was given a full array of instrumentation, pairing standard Veglia gauges with a Jaeger chronometric clock and Heuer stopwatches. There is a distinctive shift knob and a custom steering wheel which features black trim on the spokes in lieu of the typical filigree.

The car made its public debut at the Pinin Farina stand at the 41st Annual Torino Motor Show held during November of 1959. This was two months before the first production 400 Superamerica (a short-wheelbase Cabriolet) was unveiled at the Brussels Auto Show.

After the Torino Motor Show, 1517 SA returned to Pinin Farina to undergo a number of important changes, presumably at Sig. Agnelli's request. The size and the shape of the grille were softened, the two-piece front bumperettes were replaced by a single one-piece bumper, the hood scoop was repositioned, the seats were re-upholstered, and the flanks - between the front and rear wheel wells - were embellished with brushed stainless steel trim and a distinctive spear, finished in the Agnelli family colors of green and blue.

After the work was completed, the car was shown at the 1960 Geneva Motor Show held between March 10th and 20th. It was delivered to Sig. Agnelli in June of 1960. At the time, it was finished in Argento Luna Savid with black Connolly leather upholstery. The car was registered in Torino as 'TO 333333' and served as Mr. Agnelli's personal transport for over two years before being replaced with a Maserati 5000 GT fitted with a similar Pinin Farina body.

On September 26th of 1962, Agnelli sold his Ferrari to Giuseppe Cornacchia, a resident of Milan. Less than a month later, the car was sold to Swedish actress Anita Ekberg, star of the 1960 movie La Dolce Vita. Some believe that due to the time frame and the rumored affair between Agnelli and Miss Ekberg, that the car may have been a generous gift.

Miss Ekberg used the car between 1962 and 1966. In May of 1966, she sold the Coupe Speciale to Mario Rossi of Torino. In October of 1967 the car had accumulated a total of 35,842 km.

In 1968, Sig. Rossi sold the car to Milan's official Ferrari dealer M.G. Crepaldi S.a.s. The following year, the car was sold to Luigi Chinetti Motors in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Soon after its arrival in the United States, the car was sold to Peter Jacobs through Algar Enterprises, Inc. in Rosemont, PA. From there, the car was sold to Pete Sherman of Maitland, Florida, who damaged the nose in a road accident.

In 1974, Gilbert Ranney of Santa Ana, California, purchased the Ferrari from Mr. Sherman with the intention of someday giving it a restoration. After eight years in his care, the restoration had never commenced and, in November 1982, Mr. Ranney donated the car to the Harrah Automobile Foundation in Reno, Nevada.

Much of the Harrah's Automobile Collection was dispersed in 1986, and 1517 SA was sold at auction to its current caretaker. After a decade in storage, the current owner treated the car to a restoration to the highest possible standards. The work was completed in 2004 and since then has participated in many exclusive automotive gatherings including the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, the Quail Motorsports Gathering, the Concorso d'Elegance Villa d'Este, and the Palm Beach Cavallino Classic. In May of 2013, at the FCA Concours in Pasadena, CA, the car received Best of Show honors.

The car has been apart of several important museum exhibitions. Between April and November 2009, it was a feature display at Galleria Ferrari, the factory's museum in Maranello. Beginning in the fall 2010, the car was part of a six-month exhibition held at Ferrari World on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. In 2012, it was invited to take part in a special exhibit at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles entitled 'Sculpture in Motion: Masterpieces of Italian Design.'


By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2013
The 400 Superamerica was produced between 1959 and 1962 with 25 examples produced. They had varying bodywork styles by Pininfarina and Scaglietti and all rested on a short wheelbase. The first example was put on display at the Torino Motor Show in 1959. The 400 was replaced by the 410.

The 400 Superamerica was Ferrari's first road model to not be named by the volume of a single cylinder. The 400 designation referred to the total engine capacity. The 400 Superamerica (SA) were luxurious machines and one of the most exclusive road-going cars of its era. They commanded a very high price which helped ensure their exclusivity.

Powering the 400 SA was a version of the Colombo short-block V12 engine. The engine had an enlarged four-liter capacity and coupe produce 340 horsepower.


By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2010
Considered to be the lesser-known front-engined 2+2 coupes, the Ferrari 400 and 412 began production in 1976.

First introduced in 1976, the Ferrari 400i lasted until 1984. A total of 507 of the Ferrari 400i were produced and introduced at the Paris Show in 1972.

The body style was coupe and had a 4.8 L FI V12 engine.

At first, the chisel-edged Pininfarina shape was showcased as the 365 GT4 2+2 with a four-cam 4.4-litre V12 with a five-speed manual gearbox only. A short lived variant, the 365 was a 150 mph 4-seater that was replaced in 1976 by the 400GT.

In 1979 the 400i came with Bosch injection to enhance smoothness though it robbed the V12 of 30 bhp. The Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection replaced the carburetors on the 400. The emissions were much improved but the power was down substantially.

1985 introduced the 412 the last of the 400 line and considered to be the best model lasted until 1989. Improved with an increase in displacement to 4943 cc, the newest 400, now came with ABS.

The most civilized Ferrari of its generation, they were the first models to offer automatic transmission. Introduced in 1976 at the Paris Motor Show, the 400 Automatic (or 400A) offered a 3-speed unit from General Motors.

The engine was based on the Daytona, was a 4.8 L (4823 cc) V12 that was capable of producing 340 hp. It carried the traditional GT car layout with driving rear wheels mounted in front.

Only 147 models were five-speed manuals which showed the direction that the market was heading.

By Jessica Donaldson
An ultra-rare, extremely expensive, very fast vehicle, the Superamerica featured a low grille opening and covered headlights. With a long sloping rear deck combine with the double curvature of the windshield and rear window, the car had a taut, muscular look in keeping with its performance capability. Built as if for a king, the inside of the Ferrari 400 Superamerica features a lavish interior with thickly bolstered seats and sumptuous Italian hides.

Introduced in 1959, the Ferrari 400 Superamerica featured a Colombo V12 that displaced 3,967 cc. A first for Ferrari road vehicles, the Superamerica also boasted disc brakes. Only 47 units in two series, short and long wheelbase were ever constructed during the Superamerica's five-year production run.

Built to order, the vehicles featured a very demanding clientele that had the option of a wide choice of finishing details on their cars. The Superamerica was built only according to the specifications of the individual. An entirely European concept, the vehicle was a kind of luxury item that only few could afford. In accordance, no two Ferrari 400 Superamerica vehicles are ever exactly alike. These vehicles have been produced for elite owners such as Aga Khan, Gianni Agnelli, Enzo Ferrari and Nelson Rochefeller.

One of the rarest examples of the Ferrari 400 Superamerica is the 5029 SA, the Series II long-wheelbase, which was delivered new in Italy. Finished in elegant silver gray; Grigio Argento, with an exquisite red leather interior. Sold in 1998 in Switzerland, the 5029 SA was restored fully by some of the most respected European specialists.

Still recovering from World War II during the late 1940s and early 1950's, while Europe struggled with the scarcity of fuel, cash, and raw materials, Enzo Ferrari sensed that there was a market for a high-powered GT. The 340 America was introduced in 1950 as the first attempt to put a powerful Lampredi V12 engine in a Ferrari GT. Trying to associate the name with America's ‘bigger is better' culture, Ferrari also sought to make the Americans aware of this new Italian marque.

Popular hits, the 340, 342 and 375 America's were featured in an assortment of beautiful bodies from Italy's most talented carrozezrias, and powered by Ferrari's legendary Lampredi engines. The Ferrari's 250 series had changed the company from a manufacturer of short runs of rapidly evolving models to a series-production-based manufacturer by the mid 1950's. Feeling that it was time to move up-market, Enzo Ferrari moved on to produce a GT model that would satisfy his most demanding and affluent customers. This new model would share a common drivetrain and chassis, but would allow the customers the discretion in the choice of features, tune and coachwork. A step above the previous ‘America', this new model was aptly called the Superamerica.

The 410 Superamerica debuted in 1956 following the ‘more power is better' theme of the earlier ‘America's, while featuring a near-5-liter Lampredi V12 and offered in tuning levels up to 400 horsepower. Reportedly able to spin the rear wheels in third gear, a total of around 35 examples were produced in vastly different configurations as both cabriolets and coupes.
Following the 410, the 400 Superamerica was an impressive automobile, but unfortunately fell short of the 410. The refined Colombo-designed V12 was a more reliable and less expensive alternative to the Lampredi, and a 4-liter version of the Colombo engine was developed for the 400 Superamerica. Rated at 340 horsepower, the new V12 was sadly 60 less than the very powerful 410 engine.

On the other hand, the coachwork options were more impressive. An impressive array of coupe and cabriolet models in both LWB and SWB variations were commissioned, and four show cars called Superfast I, II, III and IV were produced during the 410/400 Superamerica's production run. Featuring Superamerica mechanicals and are apart of the Superamerica family, they are classified by their Superfast chassis number.

The 500 Superfast was introduced in 1964 as the newest car to the ‘America' series and followed the ultra-premium ‘America' theme, though only offered with one engine and body configuration. A total of 36 500 Superfast models were produced.

By Jessica Donaldson

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