If you’ve got an old Ferrari that you want to restore, but you want to be absolutely certain that its done in a way that significantly improves the value, then you’ll be dealing with Ferrari Classiche in one way or another. The classic car division of the Italian automaker will certify third-party restorations as being historically accurate, but you also have the option to simply bring the car directly to the experts themselves. That’s what the owner of this 1954 500 Mondial Spyder PF did, and Ferrari Classiche has just announced that the restoration is complete.

The owner’s goal is to enter the car in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it will compete for status with some of the finest classic cars in the world. The car was first owned by Porfirio Rubirosa, the Dominican diplomat. He was also a racing driver, although Ferrari’s press release seems more concerned with his sex life (to be fair, it’s what most people talk about with him, and he was married five times). It was owned by a couple of other racers before it was retired and even won a few races.

Continue reading to learn more about this story.

Why it matters

1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spyder PF Owned By Porfirio Rubirosa Restored By Ferrari Classiche Department Exterior
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The 500 Mondial is from a very early time in Ferrari’s history, when everyone was still getting used to the idea of making road cars and when the line between road cars and race cars could be a slightly blurry one. The engine comes from the Tipo 500, which was definitely a race car, and which Alberto Ascari used to win two Formula 1 world championships. This is also why the name “Mondial” was used for this road/race version of the Monza. Fittingly, Ascari was the first to drive the Mondial, at the 1953 12 Hours of Casablanca.

This was a period when Ferrari wasn’t using the Colombo V-12 for absolutely every application, and the Monza series cars used four-cylinder engines. As was the practice in those days, the 500 in the name represents the engine’s unitary displacement, indicating a 2.0-liter displacement in total. The engine was detuned to 170 horsepower for the Mondial, but since the car weighed only 1,590 pounds, it could still really move. A different Mondial won the Grand Touring trophy at Pebble Beach in 2012, so this one will certainly be a contender.

Jacob Joseph
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Press Release

The Ferrari Classiche Department has just completed the restoration of the 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spyder PF originally owned by Dominican gentleman driver Porfirio Rubirosa. A great ladies’ man, the latter 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 the car 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.

1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spyder PF Owned By Porfirio Rubirosa Restored By Ferrari Classiche Department Interior
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Victories. The 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spyder PF’s finest racing years 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 F1 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.

Second career. After its retirement, the car became a collector’s item and changed hands several times. Its present owner, California Tom Peck, sent it to the Ferrari Classiche Department for a full restoration that included the installation of a new version of its original engine to ensure it complied with its construction specifications and could thus be issued with a Certificate of Authenticity. His ultimate goal, however, is ambitious: to compete in the Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach in California, in August. That prestige event was won in 2014 by the Ferrari 375 MM Coupé once owned by film director Roberto Rossellini.

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