An ultra-rare Ferrari 340 America which raced in the 1952 24 Hours of Le Mans by Andre Simon and Lucien Vincent will spearhead a January auction being held by Mecum in Kissimmee in 2021.
1 of only 24 ever built, the Ferrari 340 America in question is chassis no. 0202A with Vignale coachwork and dressed in period-correct French Racing Blue No. 14 livery.
Bizarrely, the Italian rarity was purchased in 2006 for a mere $26,912. If that sounds unbelievable, then reflect on the fact that this beauty brought an almost unbelievably low sum of $200 in 1990.
Ferrari 340 America
The incredible story of the classic Ferrari, originally penned by the Giovanni Michelotti, lead designer for Alfredo Vignale and founder of Carrozzeria Alfredo Vignale & Co. of Torino, has more twists and turns than the intended use for which it was designed – the 1952 24 hours of Le Mans.
Following its racing career, the 340 America was exported to the US via Luigi Chinetti, who is reputed to have sold the car to defence attorney Bill Galvin. Sometime later a certain Paul Owens of Texas purchased the car and installed a Chevrolet V-8 engine.
You may also like:
Mercedes 300SL Gullwing Restored To ‘Anything But Silver’
Subsequent accident damage to the original Vignale coachwork led to the car being fitted with a Devin Spider fibreglass body which although sounds sacrilege, was quite common at a time when collecting Ferraris had not yet become a thing. The Ferrari then disappeared off the automotive radar for decades after the engine was sold to a prospective buyer in Chicago.
The Plot Thickens
The plot thickened when drag racer Mike Sanfilippo bought the 340 America in 1990 for the princely sum of $200. His original strategy for was to cut up the chassis to make a Hot Wheels-type dragster out of the body, Sanfilippo thought better and the car sat mostly undisturbed for several years. He had no idea that beneath the fibreglass body lay the structure of a precious Ferrari.
Fast forward to 2006 and restoration expert Tom Shaughnessy of San Clemente, California, purchases what’s listed on eBay as a vintage Devin sports car for $26,912. It was Shaughnessy’s plan to bring the Devin back to its former state. Close scrutiny by Shaughnessy and Ferrari expert Hilary Rabb gave the unsuspecting pair a major surprise – a genuine competition Ferrari and one of just 475 produced from 1948 to 1974.
The help of an expert, Marcel Massini was then enlisted and Chassis No. 0202A was verified to be one of only 24 examples of the 340 America built. It also has the provenance of racing in Europe, including the world’s most famous sports car race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
It soon became evident to Shaughnessy that he would need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars if the car was to be restored correctly. The renowned restoration experts at Ferrari Classiche we’re given the herculean task of meticulously returning 0202A to its former glory.
An incredible car with a remarkable provenance that’s likely to attract the attention of collectors around the world.
Images courtesy Mecum