A featured vehicle at the upcoming 2021 Mecum Kissimmee auction is a 1952 Ferrari 340 America, one of only 24 built and finishing 5th place at the 1952 24 Hours of Le Mans.
This gorgeous 1952 Ferrari 340 America is currently worth millions of dollars, but what is most remarkable is that this rare beauty was sold for only $26,912 in 2006, and in 1990, this incredible barn find was purchased for a mere $200.
Chassis No. 0202A bears a very interesting and incredible story. It was designed originally by the masterful Giovanni Michelotti, who was the lead designer for Alfredo Vignale, the founder of Carrozzeria Alfredo Vignale & Co from Torino, Italy.
The example is finished in period-correct blue matched with No. 14 livery complementing its flowing coachwork. Under the hood is a 4.1L V-12 engine with a 4-speed manual transmission. The design of the example was intentionally done for the purpose of racing the car.
In the 1952 24 Hours of Le Mans, Andre Simon and Lucien Vincent finished fifth in the example, and in the same year, Vincent also used the example to compete at Montlhéry in France.
After retiring from European racing, chassis 0202A was exported to the United States through Luigi Chinetti who is said to have sold the example to defense attorney Bill Galvin. During the late 1950s, it was then sold to Paul Owens of Texas, who then installed a Chevrolet V-8 engine.
It should be noted that the 340 America being a race car was considered to be disposable at the time. For race cars like the example, their goal was simply to make it run fast, even at the expense of it staying true to provenance.
Unfortunately, the original Vignale coachwork was damaged in an accident, so the Ferrari was then given a custom open coachwork that closely resembled the 1956 Bangert Manta Ray. Then due to a transporting accident, the body was damaged again, so it was given a Devin Spider fiberglass body.
Although just the thought makes you shudder, such indignities on those types of cars were not uncommon at the time. There are reports that a Chicago-area resident sold the Ferrari’s original engine. Chassis 0202A was titled in Salt Lake City in 1963 before it eventually fell off the radar and was not heard from for the next decades.
One of the ultimate dreams of automotive enthusiasts is to strike it lucky with the ultimate barn find. Chassis No. 0202A is exactly this.
In 1990, drag racer Mike Sanfilippo bought the 340 America for a mere $200. Originally, he was planning to cut up the chassis to create a Hot Wheels-inspired dragster from the body though decided to sit on it for the next few years. He was completely clueless that underneath the Devin bodywork was a valuable Ferrari.
Fast forward to 2006, the so-called vintage Devin sports car was listed on eBay and automotive restoration expert Tom Shaughnessy of San Clemente, California was able to purchase it for $26,912.
Shaughnessy was initially planning to simply restore the Devin to its former glory, but on closer inspection, the restoration was going to take a dramatic turn. On inspecting the vehicle in detail, Shaughnessy and Ferrari expert Hillary Rabb soon realized that a genuine competition Ferrari was lying underneath the fiberglass Devin bodywork.
From there, the findings just kept getting better. With the assistance of Ferrari expert Marcel Massini, the car was confirmed to be 1 of only 24 Ferrari 340 America that was constructed. It was also revealed that the car was active in racing in Europe including the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1952. After this amazing discovery, the restoration process would need to be more extensive to return the car back to its former glory. Distinguished restoration specialists at Ferrari Classiche took on the project to return 0202A back to its original state.
Under the hood of Chassis No. 0202A now is an accurate 4.1L V-12 engine and 4-speed manual gearbox.
The case of Chassis No. 0202A’s provenance is strong. A book showing the vehicle at the 1952 24 Hours of Le Mans and racing at Montlhéry in France that same year is provided.
The meticulously restored Ferrari 340 America in its French Racing Blue No. 14 racing livery looks absolutely stunning.
Further details of the car can be found at Mecum Auctions.
[Source: Mecum/ Photos Courtesy of Mecum Auctions, Inc.]