It didn’t take me long behind the wheel of this truly historic car to replace a look of steely determination with one of sheer enjoyment. Twenty minutes is all it takes to erase memories of a leisurely drive up in a super-sophisticated Maserati GranTurismo, with the leafy Suffolk lanes soon transformed into the unforgiving early fifties Autódromo de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires.
They talk about the ‘driving experience’ of classic cars. Until you’ve covered some miles in a car such as this it’s impossible to really understand the allure of an older car bereft of any modern convenience - and one not necessarily equipped with a 400bhp motor.
The blue car you see here – a machine that defines the word ‘patina’ – was delivered to Count Cerano in April 1950. Ferrari had shown the 2-litre 166 Inter Coupé at the 1948 Turin Motor Show, just a year after the Type 125 had won at the Turin Grand Prix, the company’s very first victory. Bodied by Giovanni Michelotto, working with Alfredo Vignale, the short and light coupé carries a foretaste of the company’s late-fifties 250 GT series. No bad thing, and when Cerano returned the car to Ferrari in September 1951 for an engine upgrade to 195 specifications, it now sported a 2340cc motor, complete with triple Weber 32DCSF carburettors. A distinctly sporting set-up.
Changing hands via Edoardo Lualdi, the car found itself in March 1952 in Argentina. Driven by regular Formula 1 driver Carlos Charlie Menditeguy, the car DNF’d a couple of times before finishing third overall in the Premio Lealtad at Buenos Aires later that year. In period, chassis 0071S has raced extensively in Italy and Argentina and latterly the car has been a regular competitor at the Le Mans Classic and the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique – its destination for the weekend directly before the Maranello auction.
I was able to drive the car just before it was loaded onto the truck for Monaco. Starting is by inserting the key, then pushing it further in, until the fuel pumps settle down to ‘idle’ from their initial fast chatter. Press the rubber starter button and the motor just starts - as simple as that - and immediately settles down to a surprisingly basso beat.
A few words now on the amazing condition of the car. Whatever happens on the 18th, I hope the buyer preserves the extraordinary state of this Ferrari. It can only be described as ‘lived-in’, and although on first impressions the steering wheel seems large and close, and the seat unsupporting, when on the move it all comes together beautifully with the pedals and gearlever ‘just right’.
It’s powerful, too. Don’t be fooled by the ostensibly meagre 160bhp - this car will go, and it’s the torque that impresses most. The four-speed transmission (worked by the wonderful bakelite-topped ‘wand’ of a gearlever) takes a little getting used to but it will do the job, as will the drum brakes.
I loved this little blue Ferrari. This car says everything about the romance of Ferrari, of the passion that comes with old cars and the events they ran in in period, as well as explaining the popularity of historic meetings such as the Mille Miglia, Goodwood Revival and Le Mans Classic.
Buy this car and you should have an entry to just about anything - just leave the red paint pot in the garage, please...
The car carries an estimate of 425,000 - 475,000 euros. You can see further details HERE and read our preview of the 2008 Maranello Sale HERE.
To see all motor car entries in the Classic Driver car database please CLICK HERE.
Editor's Note: With grateful thanks to the publishers of Ferrari Argentina - Sports Cars for their kind permission to reprint the rare photograph of this car racing in period, in Argentina. You can read our review of this must-have book for all Ferrari enthusiasts elsewhere on Classic Driver.
Preliminary auction schedule
May 18, 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
(viewing starts at 9:00 AM)
May 16, 2008 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
May 17, 2008 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
May 18, 2008 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Dates and times are subject to change.
May 17, 2008 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM (by invitation only
Circuito di Fiorano
41042 Fiorano, Maranello, Italia
Text: Steve Wakefield
Photos: Classic Driver/www.whitefly.cc
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