1952 Ferrari 212 Inter Vignale CoupeSOLD

RM Auctions - Monterey Sports & Classic Car Auction - August 16-18

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Estimate: $475,000-$625,000 US

AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of $495,000

165hp 2563cc V12, triple Weber carburetors. Ovoid tube chassis. Front suspension comprised of unequal length wishbones with an anti-roll bar and transverse springs. At the rear, semi-elliptic springs support a solid rear axle, located by upper and lower pairs of radius arms. 12 inch, hydraulically operated aluminum drum brakes with steel liners. Wheelbase: 2600mm.

By 1951 Ferrari was sufficiently established to concentrate part of his production directly towards customers who would pay handsomely for an exclusive road going car. He realized that with the prestige his Colombo V12- engined racing cars had achieved, he could sell very elite road cars, which would hopefully help to underwrite Scuderia Ferrari ’ s racing activities.

The 212 Inter was the newest road model in the continual evolution of the marque at the time. Contemporary performance tests of the 212 Inter gave 0-60mph times at some nine seconds with 0-100mph times at 22.5 seconds. Several 212 Inter and Export models proved successful in international competition, particularly in 1953 when Ferrari won the Tour of Sicily, the Coppa Inter Europa at Monza, the Tourist Trophy, the Tour de France and the Carrera PanAmericana in Mexico.

By this time Ferrari ’ s most prolific supplier of bodies was Carrozzeria Vignale. In 1953 Ferrari introduced a stunning new design on the 212 Inter chassis by the brilliant Turinese coachbuilder, which came to be known as the ‘ Geneva coupe. ’ This shape was both superbly proportioned and startling in its originality. Jet-age styling elements such as a low, rakish roof line and elegant fins were featured. Most distinctive of all perhaps were the quarter bumpers, set unconventionally high at all four corners, adding yet more visual drama. Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of this car is its close similarity in the design to the famous PanAmericana 340 Mexico Coupes.

Many contemporary coachbuilders came to believe that creating bodies for Ferrari would represent the pinnacle opportunity to practice and gain recognition for their craft. The result was a dazzling profusion of Ferrari body styles built for both road and track. Within the space of the five years during which they were closely associated, Vignale was to make a remarkable and enduring contribution to the rich history of Ferrari design.

By the time Alfredo Vignale turned 17, in 1930, he had become a full-time assistant panelbeater at the Farina metalworks in Turin ’ s CorsoTrapani. By 1939, after Alfredo had worked his way up to ‘ capo reparto ’ (foreman), he had decided to open his own coachbuilding works and had chosen a site. The outbreak of WWII delayed but did not vanquish the dream as the demand for private cars dwindled and civilian automotive production ground to a virtual halt.

In late 1946 however, the 33-year-old Vignale dusted off his plans and Carrozzeria Vignale was duly established. The new company got off to a smashing start as Cisitalia placed a large order, including three special aerodynamic coupes. These cars were fitted with V-shaped windscreens, striking tailfins and two portholes on the side of each front fender. (Harley Earl, styling chief for General Motors, was quick to adapt this feature for their 1949 Buick.)

In 1947, the year in which Enzo Ferrari built the first car to bear his name, Carrozzeria Vignale won the second prize in a design competition held in conjunction with the Turin Auto Show and was soon receiving direct commissions from both Fiat and Lancia.

Enzo Ferrari and Alfredo Vignale shared a consuming passion for their work, each insisting upon final approval of even the most seemingly insignificant details. Although most early Ferrari road cars where bodied by Touring of Milan, by 1953 Vignale had essentially replaced them as the carrozzeria of choice. The precise reasons remain unproven but many observers believe that Touring designs had become safe and predictable, no longer able to win prizes at the high profile international auto shows. Enter Vignale and its star young designer Giovanni Michelotti. A master stylist, Michelotti later came to be regarded as the father of the trademark ovoid ‘ egg crate ’ - type Ferrari grille.

Alfredo Vignale turned out to be just the man to transform Michelotti ’ s inspired concepts into concrete designs. Together they gave Ferrari a more aggressive and distinctive look than either Touring or Ghia had.

Alfredo Vignale liked to describe himself as an artist in metal. For him, each new Ferrari chassis was analogous to the sculptor ’ s block of marble, a new challenge to his ability to give concrete form to his flights of fancy, which he brought to life with a subtle blend of metal, glass and chrome. As such there were no two Vignale Ferraris styled exactly alike and the six Geneva coupes were no exception.

The Ferrari Geneva coupe offered here is the earliest chassis of six known examples built in this style. It was displayed in 1954 at the Concours d ’ Elegance of San Remo, Italy then shipped to the US and delivered by Chinetti Motors to its first owner Robert C. Wilke of Milwaukee, WI. Mr. Wilke was a legendary auto enthusiast, founder of the very successful Leader Card Indianapolis racing team and owner of many coachbuilt Ferraris. During Mr. Wilke ’ s ownership, the original engine block developed a crack and was replaced by Chinetti with a correct-type new block (stamped 1499, overstamped ‘ II0 M ’ ).

In 1963 Mr. Wilke sold the car to Pierre-Paul Jalbert of Beverly Hills, CA. The next owner was John E. Plantinga of Westport, CT who bought the car in 1970 from the Vintage Car Store in Nyack, NY. Things came full circle in 1978 when Chinetti Motors repurchased the car and displayed it at the 7th Annual Greater New York Automobile Show at the NY Coliseum, still in its original livery of black with green top. In 1979 0257EU was sold by Christie ’ s in New York to Ennio Giannaroli of Flemalle, Belgium.

Mr. Giannaroli owned the car for the next 27 years. He had the car repainted, altering its original paint scheme slightly by making the entire top section of the car green as opposed to merely the top and fins. In 2006 the car was purchased by an American from a Dutch dealer who had it on display at Techno Classica in Essen, Germany. The current owner reports that 0257EU is a smooth running car that should be a pleasure for the next owner to drive.

This very interesting car remains in largely original condition, in its original colors inside and out. With so many Ferraris repainted in red nowadays, it is refreshing to find one in period livery, attesting to the great variety of approaches from this classic era when the early years of Ferrari intersected with the glory days of the Italian coachbuilder ’ s art. As such it stands as a rare and glamorous example of a ‘ concept car for the road. ’

Reference Number 10146

as of 6/1/2007

Car 1952 Ferrari 212 Inter Vignale Coupe
VIN 0257EU 
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