1955 Ferrari 500 Mondial
- Chassisnummer0424 MD (0564 MD)
To be offered at auction at RM Sotheby's New York - Driven By Disruption event, December 10, 2015. To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/.
0424 MD (0564 MD)
170 bhp, 1,984 cc DOHC inline four-cylinder engine with two Weber 40 DCOA/3 carburetors, five-speed manual transaxle, tubular steel chassis, independent front suspension with transverse leaf springs, De Dion rear axle with parallel trailing arms and semi-elliptical leaf springs, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 88.6 in.
- A masterpiece of automotive conservation
- Perhaps one of the most original Ferrari Barchettas in existence
- Ideal preservation class candidate and historic racing entrant
- Highly original, including chassis, engine, coachwork, paint, and interior
- Recent engine rebuild by specialists Hall & Hall
- Ferrari Classiche certified
Though Ferrari is best known for its prodigious front-engine V-12 road cars, the manufacturer actually produced several models of four-cylinder sports/racers during the 1950s that are every bit as breathtaking as their more muscular siblings. The fact was that the four-cylinder engines developed peak torque at a much lower rpm band than the 12-cylinder cars, enabling them to maximize their potential in a far shorter distance. By contrast, the high-revving V-12 cars were only developing a fraction of their power when the next set of turns required braking. Aware of this inherent flaw in the V-12 on such winding courses, Ferrari assigned Aurelio Lampredi to develop a four-cylinder motor, which eventually debuted during the 1951 Bari Grand Prix as a 2.5-liter unit that could develop 200 horsepower.
Ferrari's foresight turned out to be quite prudent, as Formula One racing was essentially cancelled during the 1952 and 1953 seasons because Alfa Romeo withdrew from competition, leaving Ferrari as the only remaining entrant of note. Therefore, Formula Two events became the basis of the Driver's Championships during those two years, and the Lampredi engine was ideally poised to dominate. Scuderia driver Alberto Ascari had little trouble in securing consecutive championships in the four-cylinder F2 monoposto, bringing Ferrari the title in 1952 and 1953.
In early 1954, Ferrari finally offered the four-cylinder sports/racer to customers as a two-liter model, with each cylinder displacing almost 500 cubic centimeters. The car was dubbed the 500 Mondial, in recognition of Ascari's back-to-back World Championships.
CHASSIS NUMBER 0424 MD (0564 MD)
Until only recently, enthusiasts of vintage automobiles have placed a premium upon exquisitely restored vehicles. Collectors pined for the best and most pristine examples to display as works of automotive art. As time pressed on, fully restored vehicles began to heavily outnumber those left in their original condition, leaving enthusiasts with a newfound appreciation for automotive patina. Much like examining the rings on an old tree, each mark, blemish, and crease tells its own story and illustrates the effects of time, something that cannot be purposefully duplicated.
These preservation class automobiles are often road-going vehicles that spent a majority of their time hidden away in barns or left covered in garages, seldom seeing the light of day. It is virtually impossible that a car born into motorsport would survive intact for the duration of its first season of racing, let alone another 60 years.
However, such is the case with the 500 Mondial presented here. This particular Ferrari emerged unscathed from its competition career and is offered in highly original and unrestored condition. Not only does it retain its original major mechanical components, including its chassis, engine, gearbox, and coachwork, but it also wears its original French Blu colors.
Sold to its first owner, Yves Dupont, of France, this second-series 500 Mondial, bodied by Scaglietti and fitted with a Tipo 111 engine, was to be designated as chassis 0564 MD. However, to avoid tax and import duties into France, the car was stamped as chassis 0424 MD by the factory (Variata matricola in 0424/MD is noted on the build sheet). It was delivered to Dupont in France finished in the national racing colors. The car also took the registration number MO 33757, the same number first used for François Picard's 500 Mondial PF Spider. Fascinatingly, there is a rare Factory photograph on file of 0424 MD car being refueled prior to its first test drive!
Shortly thereafter, the Mondial was delivered to Dupont, who raced at the 12 Hours of Hyères with Birac, wearing race number #8, though the car did not finish due to an engine failure. Following the race, the Ferrari returned to Maranello, where the engine was overhauled. Its second and final event for the 1955 season would be the Liège-Rome-Liège rally, again with Dupont and Birac, this time as number #11. For that race, the car was also fitted with a full windscreen and a second headrest.
After the second event, the 500 Mondial was returned to the Factory to be refurbished, though Dupont would never pick up the car, most likely for failing to pay his bill. As a result, the car was retained by Ferrari, where it remained for the following 10 years. In1965 the car would then be put on display at the museum at the Autodromo di Monza. Ferrari also painted over the blue livery with a more traditional red, yet no other restorative work was undertaken.
THE PRESERVATION OF HISTORY
The Mondial remained in Ferrari's ownership until December 1975, when it was finally sold (factory invoice number 6355/75) and returned to France with Jean-François Dumontant of Rempnat. Dumontant drove his Ferrari at the Club Ferrari France meetings at Mas du Clos in both 1984 and 1993, as well as the Bugatti-Ferrari meeting in Divonne-les-Bains. During this time, the car remained completely unrestored, though still sporting its red paint. He also entered a VEC event in Morocco, where the car wore trade plates 56 W 87. The Mondial was sold by Dumontant in 1998 after 23 years of ownership and passed to Daniel Sielecki, who kept the car in England. It was driven on the Mille Miglia during his ownership in 2000. The Mondial was then acquired by Victor Müller of the Netherlands in 2001, who showed the car at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance later that year.
Oliver Maierhofer of Düsseldorf, Germany, purchased the Ferrari soon thereafter and would avidly take the car touring, including on the Mille Miglia Storica four times over the course of five years! In 2007, Maierhofer sold the Ferrari to Dr.h.c. Michael Willms, who subsequently sold the car to well-known collector Pierre Mellinger.
Knowing this was a highly original example, Mellinger arranged for a Padova-based body shop (quality cars) to delicately remove the layer of red paint applied by the factory to reveal its original coat of French Blu. The project took nearly three months to complete. To preserve and protect the original paint, the bodywork received a layer of clear coat over the blue finish. Yet, the Ferrari was not to remain a museum piece, and it would participate in the Mille Miglia Storica with Mellinger in 2009 and 2011. Mellinger also showed the car at the Unique Special Ones Concours d'Elegance in 2010, where it was praised for its exceptional originality.
In 2012, the Ferrari was acquired by its current UK-based collector. Shown at the Salon Prive Concours d'Elegance in 2013, the 500 Mondial continues to be well maintained and well preserved. It is offered following a fresh engine rebuild by four-cylinder Ferrari specialists Hall & Hall, leaving it in mechanically superb condition should the next owner wish to take their new Mondial on historic events around the globe. Furthermore, 0424 MD has been granted Ferrari Classiche certification, attesting to the car's mechanical authenticity and originality.
The beauty of this 500 Mondial rests in its unrivaled level of factory originality, down to the smallest details. It is a vehicle to be cherished by future generations as an article of historic significance.
1955 Ferrari 500 Mondial