Ferrari 500 Mondial Restored for Pebble Concours 2015

1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider Pinin Farina, chassis 0438MD
1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider Pinin Farina, chassis 0438MD

The Ferrari Classiche Department in Maranello, Italy recently completed the restoration of the 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider Pinin Farina, chassis 0438MD, originally owned by Dominican gentleman driver Porfirio Rubirosa. Known as a ladies’ man, Rubirosa also dallied with some of the world’s most beautiful women, not least Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Veronica Lake, Kim Novak, Eva Peron and Zsa Zsa Gabor who posed with him in the car.

Rubirosa drove 0438MD in just a single international race at Santa Barbara in September 1954. Sporting the number 235, the 500 Mondial finished eighth overall and second in its category but, by the end of the year, had been sold to American John Von Neumann from Hollywood. One of the car’s fans was none other than James Dean who stopped to admire it before a race and wanted to get behind its wheel.

The finest racing years for the 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider PF came courtesy of Von Neumann who won two races in it at Santa Barbara in 1955 and then at Pomona before triumphing once again at Santa Barbara in 1956. Van Neumann did not always drive the car himself but entered it in competitions in the hands of other drivers. These included Richie Ginther who won at Glendale and Sacramento three years before making his Formula 1 debut with the Scuderia Ferrari. Phil Hill, who went on to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice and was F1 World Champion in 1961 with the Scuderia Ferrari, failed to complete the Torrey Pines race in the car in 1956 as a result of an engine failure. In 1957, the car was sold to Lew Yates who took victory in a race at Hourglass Field but retired it from competition at the end of the following season.

After its retirement, the car changed hands several times. Its present owner, Tom Peck from California, sent it to the Ferrari Classiche Department for a full restoration that included the installation of a new version of its original engine to comply with its construction specifications and be issued a Certificate of Authenticity. His ultimate goal, however, was to compete in the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California.

[Source: Ferrari Classiche]

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  1. I think all of the racing results listed here were not overall wins, but wins in class. In at least one of the wins might be when driven by Louis van Dyke, an employee of International Motors in Hollywood and a member of the Simca group of three cars, the most notable of which was the one driven by Roger Barlow. Yes, I was there to see it driven by Rubirosa and Van Dyke, both of which were at Santa Barbara, if fading memory serves.

  2. I stand corrected. Accurate memory returns, it just takes a while when you are older. The International Motors/ Simca teammate was really Bill Pringle, not Louis Vandyke. Again, if memory serves, Pringle was the best driver of the Simca Team crew and probably gave the Mondial the best ride of it’s existence with the possible exception of Richie Ginther.