Ferrari was still very new to the world of building road cars in the early ’50s. Enzo had been involved in racing and the design and building of race cars for decades, but translating that into something for regular people (albeit wealthy regular people) to buy was still being figured out. It was the 250 that would change things for Ferrari, but in the early days of the model line, Ferrari was still figuring things out. It was an era when coach-built luxury cars were starting to disappear, but Ferrari was determined to keep using them for the 250 line, first launched in 1953. Most 250s were built by Pininfarina, including early examples like the Europa, but a handful were built by Vignale.

These early 250s differ from the later models, particularly those of the ’60s, in a number of ways, but it is most notable that at first there were only two versions of the car, the Europa and the Export, obviously intended for different markets. Many more varieties of the 250 would come later, but in 1953, the only way to get something different from the other 250s was to get a coach-built one.

Continue reading to learn more about the 1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe by Vignale.

  • 1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe by Vignale
  • Year:
    1953
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V12
  • Transmission:
    four-speed manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    200
  • Displacement:
    2963 L
  • 0-60 time:
    6 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    135 mph
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe by Vignale High Resolution Exterior
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1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe by Vignale High Resolution Exterior
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1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe by Vignale High Resolution Exterior
- image 650329

The car here no doubt looks different from other 250s you might have seen. This is partly because most of the more famous versions of the car date from as much as a decade after this one, and styling trends changed a lot in the intervening period. But there is also the very important fact that Vignale didn’t build all that many Ferraris at all, and only 4 examples of the 250 Europa, all of which are one-off bodies. This specific car was the second 250 Europa to be built by Vignale, and it is absolutely beautiful.

This specific car was the second 250 Europa to be built by Vignale

The look is much more modern than the “standard” Pininfarina bodies of the car, and it’s very obvious from any angle. The grille is more or less the same, but the rest of the front fascia is vastly different. The fenders don’t protrude so much, and the headlights sit lower down, allowing for the turn indicators to be moved up above the headlights. There is still a seam running down the middle of the hood, but it is more pronounced here. The rear end has a very different “boat tail” look to it, complete with an unusual shape to the rear window, something that would be repeated many years later in the first generation Plymouth Barracuda and the third generation Buick Riviera. Pininfarina had a chrome strip running down the bottoms of the sides of the car, in line with the chrome bumpers. Vignale kept the strip, but moved it up to midway up the side of the car, also adding more chrome to several other parts of the car.

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase 2,800 MM (110.2 Inches)
Length 2,800 MM (110.2 Inches)
Width 1,325 MM (52.2 Inches)
Height 1,320 MM (52.0 Inches)
Front track 1,325 MM (52.2 Inches)
Rear track 1,320MM (52.0 Inches)

Interior

1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe by Vignale High Resolution Interior
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1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe by Vignale High Resolution Interior
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1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe by Vignale High Resolution Interior
- image 650341

The 250 in all of its forms was derived from a number of Ferrari race cars, and several models would every bit as track focused as their racing ancestors. But it is obvious at first glance that this interpretation of the 250 was made to be luxurious. The interior has a different look to it than that of the later “Lusso” luxury 250 models, it is one that almost has more in common with prewar luxury cars than it does with most of the rest of the 250 line. This isn’t entirely unique to the Vignale cars, but it is interesting how much an interior can change from one model to the next withing the same line.

Drivetrain

1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe by Vignale High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 650326
The 200 horsepower that the Lampredi engines made was still a more than respectable amount for 1953

This is one area where early 250s differ from the rest. All 250s use a 3.0-liter V-12 engine, as this is where the 250 in the name comes from (250cc of displacement for each of the 12 cylinders). But while nearly all of the cars use a version of the Ferrari Colombo V-12, early Europa and Export models use a version of the Lampredi engine, originally developed for use in Formula 1. The Colombo engines would be more powerful, but the 200 horsepower that the Lampredi engines made was still a more than respectable amount for 1953.

Despite its Europa name, this particular has spent most of its existence in the U.S. At some point in the ’60s, the engine block was damaged irreparably, and the third owner replaced the engine with a supercharged Chevy V-8. This probably sounds like blasphemy, but spare part would have been hard enough to find in Europe at the time, and were downright impossible to find in the U.S. So the owner had a choice between swapping it out or leaving the car as a rolling paperweight. It wasn’t until several decades later that Ferrari Classiche cast a new block for the car, and had all of the other correct parts replaced.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine V12
Valvetrain SOHC 2 Valves / Cylinder
Displacement 2,963 cc
Power 200 HP @ 6300 RPM
Top speed 135.5 MPH
0 - 60 mph 6 seconds

Prices

1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe by Vignale High Resolution Exterior
- image 650328

One-off cars like this are very difficult to price, even if it is based on an existing model. It also isn’t helped by the fact that 250 prices in general vary by tens of millions of dollars. RM Auctions, who will be auctioning off this car soon, hasn’t even published an estimate of the price. What we do know is that the car was last sold in 2013 for $2.8 million. But just a few months ago a one-off 250 GT SWB Berlinetta with coachwork by Bertone went at auction for $16.5 million. So it is entirely possible that the value of this car has increased a bit since it was last auctioned.

Competition

Mercedes-Benz 300SL

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Alloy Gullwing High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 478514

Much like the 250, the 300SL was a luxurious and very fast road car derived from a racing model. It was also a much more technologically advanced car than basically anything else at the time, and is widely regarded as the first ever supercar. But it’s nowhere near as rare as many versions of the 250, and generally doesn’t sell for nearly as much either.

Read more about the Mercedes 300SL here.

Bentley R-Type Continental

1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe by Vignale
- image 650681

The R-Type Continental dates back to the same period as the Europa here. And like the Europa, the Continental was primarily built using only one body from one coachbuilder, but a few examples from other builders exist, and these are what you should seek out if you want the status that comes with something like the Vignale Europa. There’s even one made by Pininfarina, if you must have an Italian body.

Conclusion

1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe by Vignale High Resolution Exterior
- image 650325

There were several different one-off editions of the 250 made over its relatively long life span, and seemingly every Italian styling house took a crack at the chassis at one point or another. But that doesn’t make any of them any less special. This one is especially interesting because it’s such an early example, and there wasn’t yet any kind of a notion about what a 250 should look like. It’s an incredible car, and it serves as proof that it’s not just the ’60s 250s that are beautiful.

  • Leave it
    • * Not a numbers-matching car
    • * Technically a one-off, but also one of four one-offs
    • * Weirdly indeterminate value

Source: RM Sothebys

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