“Brilliant Italian Race Car Manufacturer Pays Tribute to Dependable Champion Spark Plugs
‘The victory /of Alberto Ascari in one of our Ferrari cars in the 22nd Grand Prix of Italy at 115.547 miles per hour average, established new all-time records for the Monza track, and also established the highest speed attained in European circuits. This 4½ litre 12-cylinder Grand Prix Ferrari was equipped with 24 Champion Spark Plugs which withstood perfectly the uninterrupted strain of instantaneous acceleration and equally instaneous deceleration demanded by European type of racing tracks. At Monza, as on most European race courses, sharp turns and severe braking alternate with straight stretches where flat out speed is possible. We attribute a great deal of the merit of our success in the Grand Prix of England, Grand Prix of Germany, Grand Prix of Italy and the Monza Pan-American Race to the magnificent performance and unfailing dependability of Champion Spark Plugs.’
Follow the Experts
Demand Dependable Champions for your Car.”
Hard to imagine Enzo actually saying any of these things.
This video could have stopped at the handheld footage of the corners from an airplane passing slowly overhead and it still would have been worth sharing. But then the tours of the pits with some of the most beautiful cars ever made, including a whole suite of various Ferrari 250s and their shirtless pilots. Then they prepared for the LeMans start… and I’m hooked—all before the action even starts. Somehow even though I have such a deep love for vintage racing, the atmosphere of the pits and spectators in these old films draws me in just as much.
“Chassis number 5899 GT was the ninth example of Ferrari’s vaunted 250 LM, and according to Ferrari historian Marcel Massini, it was completed by the factory on June 3, 1964. As was the case with the vast majority of 250 LMs, it was finished in Rossa Cina and fitted with Panno Blu seats. Six weeks later, it was sold by the factory, destined for Switzerland’s most storied racing team, Scuderia Filipinetti.”
With a birth story like that, it would be enough. But unfortunately 5899’s career with Scuderia Filipinetti was short lived with Ludovico Scarfiotti and Nino Vaccarella each taking victories in her only two events with the team, the 1964 Sierre-Montana Crans Hill Climb and the XV Coppa Inter-Europa at Monza. The car went on to further victories with Ecurie Basilisk.
Following a crash, the car entered a dark period and was modified heavily. In what must rank up there in the history of cobbled together racers, her chassis was chopped and shortened to fit a Porsche 906(!) body. Yet, somehow this unholy union between rivals suited 5899 as it went on to become a successful hillclimber.
A restoration began in 1977 and somehow her current state is gorgeous. Would you believe this machine was once a Porsche bodied FrankenFerrari?
This beautiful 250 LM will cross the block at RM Auctions Arizona auction next Friday. While her past may be colorful, it seems to be well documented, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she achieves the $9,500,000 – $12,500,000 estimate.
More information on RM Auction’s lot detail page. There’s a photo there of 5899 wearing the 906 fiberglass there.. and while I truly admire the mechanics that kept her alive and running in those years, I just didn’t have it in me to display it here.
Update: Sold on the low end of the estimate for $9,625,000
I’ve been trying to find out the origin of this remarkable image of a disassembled and lovingly presented Ferrari 250 GTO. I did find a poster of the image, with associated labeling of the various magical pieces. But I prefer to imagine that this is a catalog page and, if I could only find the phone number, I’d be able to order up these aluminum seats and an Colombo Type 125 engine.
What I’m sure of is this: every time I’ve taken on a vintage project, most of the effort is in keeping the rusty pieces and kinky wires organized. I end up months later holding a small piece of metal in my hand, marked baggie label rubbed away, consulting my disassembly photos trying to figure out where it came from. It’s stressful and frustrating.
When I see an image like this, with everything neatly laid out and ready to put together in a clean and orderly package, it makes me want to dive right in. That’s it’s a GTO only reinforces that longing.
Update! Dan Radowicz wrote in with the story behind the poster:
“It was a poster we released as a PR tool to promote our restoration shop – The Griswold Company, located in Berkeley, CA. We were also the local Alfa, Ferrari, and Aston Martin dealers. The GTO was one of our projects.”
Thanks for clearing that up Dan! But I think I’ll just going to go right on pretending I can phone in a catalog order anyway. 🙂
This Ferrari 250 SWB and Maserati A6G 2000 are only a fraction of a 60 car strong barn find that will all cross the Artcurial auction block in February at Retromobile in Paris.
Just when I think there’s never going to be another big barn find, up pops another. Surely this must be the last generation of forgotten barns full of vintage sportscars. Once the entire world is internet literate, anyone will realize what an amazingly valuable pile of steel is in the shed, right? I hope I’m wrong about this. I’m not going to discover a new tomb of ancient relics, or an unknown comet in a corner of the universe, but I might stumble on an old racecar forgotten in a neighbor’s warehouse.
This one was one hell of a find from a very discerning collector:
Amilcar C6 berline
Auto Union cabriolet
Avions Voisin C15
Avions Voisin limousine C15
Avions Voisin C7 par Gallé
Ballot 8 Cyl limousine
Berliet coupé chauffeur
Berliet Type VIGB 10HP Taxi Landaulet
Bugatti 57 Ventoux
Delage D8 coach
Delahaye 135 cabriolet Faget Varnet
Delahaye 135 coach Chapron
Delahaye 235 coach Chapron
Delahaye 235 coach Chapron
Delahaye 235 coupé Chapron
Delahaye Type 43 coupé chauffeur
Delahaye GFA 148 L
Delahaye Type 43 camionnette
Delaunay Belleville limousine VL8
Facel Vega Excellence
Ferrari 250 GT California SWB
Ferrari 308 GTS i
Ferrari Mondial 3.2L cabriolet
Hispano Suiza H6B cabriolet Millon-Guiet
Innocenti S cabriolet
Jaguar type S 3.4 L
La Buire 12 A
Lagonda LG45 cabriolet
Lancia Thema 8.32
Lorraine Dietrich B3/6 plateau
Lorraine Dietrich B3/6 torpédo par Grumman
Maserati A6G 2000 berlinetta Grand Sport Frua
Packard cabriolet Super Eight
Panhard-Levassor Dynamic berline X77
Panhard-Levassor Dynamic coupé X76
Panhard-Levassor limousine X72
Porsche 356 SC ex-Sonauto
Renault AX torpédo
Renault Vivastella cabriolet
Sandford cyclecar 3 roues
Talbot Lago 11/6 cabriolet
Talbot Lago Baby cabriolet
Talbot Lago Baby cabriolet
Talbot Lago Cadette 11
Talbot Lago coach
Talbot Lago T26 coach
Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport coupé Saoutchik
Talbot Lago T26 Record coupé Saoutchik
Talbot Lago T26 cabriolet Saoutchik ex-Roi Farouk
Excellent footage here from the Andrews Air Force Base Sports Car Races. The segment from the (almost) all-MG race—including the LeMans start—at the 8 minutes, 30 seconds mark is particularly great. What a thrill to see such an evenly matched grid competing at full clip.
That looks like Fred Wacker’s Allard at 10:24, two years after his crash at Watkins Glen that killed a 7-year-old spectator, virtually putting an end to American road racing overnight. I thought that Fred gave up the sport after the incident, but this clip and the racing program seem to indicate otherwise.
Once the main event gets underway there are some magnificent shots of the pits, and the gorgeous Scuderia Kimberly transporter even makes an appearance. Perhaps even more than the races themselves, it’s wonderful to see some footage of the environment trackside. While the cars and the race action documentation are rare, the imagery of the press box or the judges and timekeepers booth are even less frequently seen. It looks like we can even see the handoff of the purse at the end of the film. Amazing.
Great to see more film from the East Coast popping up on YouTube. The California road racing scene was so well documented that it’s easy to forget that there were vibrant, passionate communities of road racers from coast to coast.
The Monday after Monterrey weekend, you’ll be bombarded by these photos and the accompanying headlines from the media regarding how much this Ferrari 250 GTO will sell for at Bonham’s Quail Auction. For just a minute, lets ignore the investment grade of this hotly desired piece of kinetic sculpture. Lets ignore the sound business rationale that might drive this purchase—and will certainly drive the journalists that write about it post-sale. Let’s simply pause for a moment before that frenzy begins and just appreciate this gorgeous GTO for what it is: an incredible example of a beautiful racing car.
Let’s just cross our fingers and hope her new caretaker gets her out of the vault and onto the track occasionally.
The F40 is iconic for a lot of reasons. It was the last Ferrari to be created under Enzo Ferrari’s direct supervision. It was a perfect moment at the height of the old fashioned—some say purer—supercar (old fashioned in that it was without much in the way of onboard computerized driver aids). It isn’t bad to look at either.
When the Japanese magazine Car Graphic was asked to make this promotional video for the Ferrari F40 in 1987, they may have produced something just as unique as the F40 itself… Something we’re unlikely to ever see again. I’d bet that this is as close as we’ll ever get to a Ferrari television ad.
You know… as good as it looks, the view pales in comparison to the sound.