1955 Ferrari 375 MM Coupé Speciale by Ghia
The 1955 Ferrari 375 MM Coupé Speciale is a one-off version of the iconic 375 MM bodied by Italian coach builder Ghia. The Ferrari 375 MM was built from 1953 until 1955. It was developed as a race car, but some were converted to road use. One of only nine road-going coupés built on the 375 MM chassis, the Coupé Speciale is also the only 375 design by Ghia and the last Ferrari built by the company. The car was showcased at the 1955 Torino Motor Show and was then shipped to Robert Wilke, owner of the Leader Card Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
A racing fan, Wilke, who sponsored an IndyCar team from the 1930s until his death in 1970, was also a personal friend of Enzo Ferrari. The 375 MM Coupé Speciale was one of seven unique vehicles that Ferrari built for the businessman, but it’s the most historically significant vehicle owned by him. Also one of the most documented Ferraris in existence, the Coupé Speciale changed hands several times since the 1970s. Come 2019 and it’s going under the hammer to find a new owner at RM Sotheby’s car sale in Monterey on August 15-17.
Nowadays, when you associate Ferrari and motorsport, your mind immediately skips to Formula 1 – the only championship where the Scuderia runs officially. Little over six decades ago, when Ferrari was still a low-volume manufacturer, the Modena-based team would consistently run in both open-wheel and closed bodywork formulas, and their works drivers split between the chores. One such success story away from the dazzling world of F1 is the Ferrari 375 Plus which built on the lessons learned by the factory during the 1953 race season, hence the Plus in the name.
The car, in spite of its short lease of life in works-supported competition, proved to be a force to be reckoned with, even in the company of the newly-launched Jaguar D-Type that went on to become a true legend while history has been far more harsh on the 375 Plus which wasn’t much less of a car. The facts back this statement, as a Le Mans and Carerra Panamericana-winner cannot be considered a bad contender.
Designed during the big-engine era of the World Sports Car Championship, the 375 Plus proved a bit hefty when compared to its direct competition from Jaguar, Maserati and Lancia. The car was routinely out-handled by Lancia’s D24 as well as the D-Type which was famously equipped with disc brakes. But, the brute from Modena never gave up without a proper fight, bringing to the table its gargantuan amounts of power from the meaty 4.9-liter V12 engine.
Continue reading to learn more about the 1954 Ferrari 375 Plus.
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?
Click past the jump to find out.