Ferrari entered the 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans with three 340/375 MM race cars . One of these three units was auctioned by RM Auctions at the 2013 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este for a total of €9,856,000 - about 12.7 million at the current exchange rates. Sounds like a good day at the auction for Ferrari, except that it also sold a 288 GTO, a F40, a F50, a Enzo and a 599XX track car. But the the biggest haul still came from the 375 MM, despite RM’s estimates that it would only be sold for the half the price it went for.
Apparently, three wealthy individuals really wanted the car and as everybody knows when there’s a bidding itch among people with deep pockets, the price tends to go up a notch. In the end, the car went to a guy from U.K. who, incidentally, also owns a 250 GTO.
This particular 375 MM has quite an impressive background: it participated at the 24 Hour of Spa, the Carrera Panamericana, and won the 12 Hours of Pescara. The car was driven by three World Champions: Hawthorn, Ascari, and Farina.
Click past the jump to read more about the 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Berlinetta.
In the 1950s, car racing was nowhere near what it has become today. The majority of the cars on road circuits were more about how good the driver was and how well the car was tuned. This meant that the majority of the cars were lightweight and only had between 200 and 250 horsepower. Having said that, there always has to be some sort of exception and the exception here is the 1953 Ferrari 375 MM Spider and RM Auctions has one set to go to auction on May 12th, 2012.
The Ferrari 375 MM Spider managed to completely dominate the World Sports Car Championship between 1954 and 1957, winning a total of 11 races and having seven more podium appearances (top 3 or 4 places). It also won two national championships in Argentina in 1954 and 1955.
In 1957, the car was retired following a crash. Post-retirement someone managed to get a hold of this storied racer, pulled out the Italian V-12 and dropped in a U.S.-built V-8 engine, which really seems pointless to us. After the V-8 muscle went into it, this once famed roadster just disappeared from automotive history.
In 1983, this American-powered Ferrari resurfaced and made its way back to home. In Italy, Count Zanon di Valsiurata repaired the image of this car by reinstalling its Italian power plant and restoring it to an acceptable condition.
How does this one-time powerhouse of the WSC and 1 of 15 Pininfarina examples ever built stand up to 2012 standards?
The Ferrari 375 was introduced at the Paris Salon in 1953. During its production run which lasted until May of 1954, less than 45 examples of the 375 America were produced. The car was constructed for Ferrari’s clientele who had the means to afford one of these beautiful creations. Since they were produced in limited numbers, the production took far longer than volume models.