In the spring of 1951 at the Turin show Ferrari unveiled the 342 America. However before it, in 1950 Ferrari unveiled the 340 America, a model built in just a few units and powered by a “long-block” V-12 engine designed by Aurelio Lampredi. For this engine the distance between adjacent cylinders was some 20mm greater than in the Colombo V-12 (this is where the “long-block” name come from).
First used in a grand prix competition, the this 340-hp 4.5-liter engine was detuned to 4.1 liters and placed in the 340 America. The 340 America were fitted with a surprising array of different coachwork, ranging from a development of the classic barchetta body style by Carrozzeria Touring, to quite staid three-box 2+2 coupés from the house of Ghia, with a selection of Vignale interpretations thrown in along the way. A Vignale-bodied 340 America berlinetta won the 1950 Mille Miglia driven by Villoresi/Cassani. Vignale also produced a unique 340 America cabriolet that unfortunately no longer exists in its original form, as its body was cut up and disposed of as part of an attempted insurance fraud a few years ago, which led to the remains of the car being fitted with a body in the style of a Vignale spider.
The 342 America was produced for a relatively short period during late 1952, with only six examples made, one with a Vignale cabriolet body, and the remainder with a fairly homogeneous Pininfarina body in either coupe or cabriolet form. They were built on a 2650 mm wheelbase, tubular steel chassis, as opposed to the 2420 mm wheelbase of the 340 America, and also featured slightly wider front and rear track.
While you would expected to see a new engine (the car gets a new name that refers to the swept volume of a single cylinder), the 342 features the same 4,1 liter as the 340 America. The difference between 340 and 342 was that the last one was featuring a nine inch longer wheelbase and a four-speed now synchronized gearbox.
In the 342 the V12 engine was delivering 200bhp at 5,000rpm. The September 1952 issue of the American magazine ‘Road & Track’ road-tested a 340 America Vignale-bodied competition berlinetta, and recorded a 0-60 mph time of 6.1 seconds, a 0-100 mph time of 15.5 seconds, and a standing start quarter mile time of 15.45 seconds, noting a factory claimed top speed of 151 mph.