Bonhams is delighted to announce that it has added a highly important and remarkably rare Ferrari to its roster for Les Grandes Marques du Monde à Monaco sale on 11 May at Villa La Vigie, Monaco Beach.
The ex-works, ex-Mike Hawthorn, ex-Umberto Maglioli, ex-Luis Milan 1953 Ferrari 625 Targa Florio two-seat spider by Carrozzeria Vignale (€4,500,000-6,500,000) is one of only three of the 2.5-litre, 4-cylinder twin-overhead camshaft 625 Targa Florio cars to have been built. For some reason, the car was never favoured by the notoriously selective Enzo, and he never showed enthusiasm for theAutodromo bodywork. The legendary Alfredo Vignale was thus commissioned to rebody the chassis, and a beautiful, ultra-compact spider was duly created.
Its debut was at the final practice session for the Grand Prix dell’Autodromo at Monza, an appearance that was slightly delayed due to the fac that its allotted driver, the legendary Mike Hawthorn, had been held up at the Rouen Grand Prix campaigning a works 625F1 single-seater. Hawthorn, although tired from his outing at Rouen, performed admirably in the car and finished fourth in both the first and second heat.
Following the race, the Vignale spider underwent some remodelling, believed to be the work of none other than Scaglietti. The radiator grille was significantly reduced, a modification that the car’s unmistakable front end retains to this day. In its new guise, the car was entered in the Coppa d’Oro delle Dolomiti, entrusted this time to Umberto Maglioli, a participant in 10 Formula One World Championship Grand Prix and winner of the gruelling Carrera Panamericana in 1954.
Not everyone was happy with Enzo’s choice of Maglioli, as his team-mate Paolo Marzotto recalled: ‘I tried the 4-cylinder and had no doubt that it could be the car to win…it was light, agile and with enormous torque, it was the ideal car. I said to Ferrari that I intended to compete with it, but there was no way of convincing him. He insisted I raced the twelve. I said, ‘As you like…I’ll take the lead, I’ll stop 10 metres from the finish line and I’ll let Taruffi pass me.’
Enzo called Marzotto’s bluff and stood his ground, knowing that no driver could ever really give up a victory out of sheer stubbornness. Marzotto took the victory in the 250MM Vignale spider, Piero Taruffi came in second in his Lancia D20 and Maglioli was third.
Following its Italian racing career, the car passed through 5 South American owners in Brazil and Argentina, where it competed in famously tricky races such as the 1000kms de Buenos Aires (five times)and the 500 Miles of Argentina. In the mid 1960s, the car exchanged in part for a Ferrari 250GT and sent to Italy where it remained, unloved, until 1974 when it was discovered by Franco Lombardi in a scrapyard in Naples.
The car was sent to Modena by its new owner and underwent a complete restoration in preparation for the Mille Miglia, a race that the car successfully entered four times in 1984, 1986, 1989 and 1990. In 2006, it was raced by its current owner at the legendary Monaco Historic Grand Prix having been once again restored, this time by Carrozzeria Nova Rinascente near Padova.
This is a racing car par excellence: ex-works, driven by one of the most celebrated British racing drivers of all time, and fastidiously restored. It is eligible for the most glamorous and exciting motoring events across the globe and, as Maglioli himself claimed, ‘it is suitable for even the most tortuous routes.’