One-off Ferrari 212/225 Vignale Available in Germany
Usually I try to space out my posts about cars for sale. The Chicane’s focus has always been about the larger world of classic motorsport, and car collecting and sales are only one small part of the sport. Furthermore, I always try to extend the time between posts about a particular make for sale and it was only 2 days ago that we featured a lovely Ferrari 500 TRC. Although I know I tend to prattle on about vintage Porsches, we really do try to represent many different makes and models of racing cars. It is, after all, the variety of cars that makes vintage racing so interesting. But when Jan Lühn contacted me about this one-off, Vignale designed, 212/225 Ferrari that just arrived in his showroom how could I not share it with you?
I’m a sucker for the European interpretation of the tailfin, which has become the hallmark of American automotive design of the late 1950s. It’s been made as big and as aircraft-inspired and rocket taillight adorned as possible stateside on businessman’s chariots and weekend cruisers. The european take on it though, has always appealed to me more—looking as functional and necessary as on this 212 as the solo tailfin of a D-Type.
Often the Ferrari coupes of the era are a little too much like a miniature luxury car to me. They look like lovely little cars, but lack the exotic good looks and racy stance of the spiders. Not so with this 212. The huge headlamps inset into the grille opening, the sloping roofline, and the great big competition fuel cap put this car’s appearance firmly in the utilitarian racer camp. The silhouette brings to mind the Ferrari effort at the 1952 Carrera Panamericana and the 340 Mexico, but this car predates them by almost a year, and—to my eye—looks like a more lithesome, subtle machine; simpler and more precise.
Ferrari 0179 EL was originally built early in the lifecycle of the 212 engine. The V12 was still a bit persnickety and after cylinder failure very shortly after she was built, the engine was swapped at the factory with the 225 before it was ever delivered to her first purchaser. After changing hands in Italy several times, Luigi Chinetti imported the car to the States and delivered her to a sports writer in Texas, Loren McMullen. These bits of automotive history always get under my skin. I know more than a few journalists, some of them have been quite successful. I don’t know any that drive Ferraris. This guy McMullen wasn’t the owner of a printing group or the city paper’s publisher or even the editor in chief—he was on the sports desk and imported a Ferrari.
Naturally, McMullen raced the car a bit in Texas. In one race meeting in 1961, he raced against one of Jim Hall’s Chaparrals, one of which crashed out of the race. McMullen negotiated the purchase of the car’s big V8 and it was somehow shoehorned into the 212. The power of the American V8 was such that some modifications were required. An air scoop added to feed the huge volume of air needed, and a new rear windscreen—reportedly necessary after the acceleration force of the new engine caused air to push the rear window out!
Some time later the car was imported to Holland and restored—apparently immaculately—by Piet Roelofs. Today, the car looks absolutely majestic. Everything from the paint to the interior to the engine bay looks ready for a weekend drive up the coast or the next Concours. There’s no information on Jan Lühn’s site on the car yet, but I’m sure details will be arriving on their inventory page.