Escaped the Hammer: Ermini 357 Sport Barchetta
Cliff from Etceterini contacted me about this lovely little barchetta while I was travelling so I figured I wouldn’t have time to post about it before it fell under the auction hammer at today’s Les Grandes Marques à Monaco. It looks, however, like this magnificent little red machine failed to meet reserve and, while there’s always the chance that a deal will still be struck before the auction ends, I couldn’t resist posting up these pics.
I’m not terribly familiar with the Ermini name, but readers of Etceterini will no doubt know that Pasquino Ermini spent the 20s and 30s throwing Bugattis and Talbots around Italian racetracks before finally taking up the wrench to build a number of Fiat based specials. Ultimately he started building complete cars under his own nameplate in ’49. Like so many of the small Italian manufacturers, the Ermini competition machines are based on a Fiat chassis. Interestingly, though, Ermini’s early cars used a Dual Overhead Cam 1100 engine of his own design. The engine proved quite successful. Wrapped in a lovely coachbuilt body, she was even more impressive. Bill Devin used an 357 Ermini as the mold for a line of his successful sportscar fiberflass rebodies.
This example, chassis 1855 has quite a lovely history. She competed in the 1956 and 1957 Mille Miglia and still houses her original Ermini 1,431cc 4-banger.
The hammer fell on this afternoon’s auction without the 357 reaching reserve—which means you still have a chance. Just phone up your banker (if you haven’t already murdered him) and secure the €330,000 – 370,000 this remarkably beautiful little barchetta was estimated to bring in.
Any chance I could learn what the wheelbase of the 357 might be? I have a taxonomy that numbers its thousand distinct sports and race cars by wheelbase, and I have tentatively inserted it into the 87 inch cubbyhole. If wrong I would hope to correct it. Anyway, I too recall one of this lovely cars being raced with a substitute Alfa engine in the SVRA group around Road Atlanta.