For sale @Tom Hartley Jnr
Moira, Derbyshire. Tel: 01283 761119 www.tomhartleyjnr.com
We’ll never again see those great days of rival coachbuilders competing to offer up wonderful forms on the same running gear, like couturiers vying to clad a beautiful film star. In that era of self-contained chassis it was a simple affair for an artisan with wheel and hammer to construct individual coachwork.
In the early ’50s, when the Ferrari marque was young, it was the perfect clothes-horse for carrozzerie eager to attract commissions from wealthy customers. With striking designs by Giovanni Michelotti, the Vignale shop, formed only in 1948, quickly became a favourite clothier for Italy’s rising star, especially after some high-profile race victories.
In 1953 this chassis arrived in the Turin workshop – a 212 Inter. With the latest 2.6-litre variant of the Colombo V12 and five-speed box the 212 had racing in its DNA but this one was never bound for the track. This is a show-stopper, made to drop 1950s jaws with its letterbox glasshouse, wind-gulping grille and pistachio-green upperworks. Yet it’s practical: “I’ve used it quite a bit – I’ve taken my little girl to school in it several times,” says seller Tom Hartley Jr. “It’s very different to a 275 or a Lusso – it feels heavier, it wants you to double-declutch but like all ’50s Ferraris it has so much character. It’s an important era to Ferrari: it’s when the reputation was made. Without these there would be no SWB, no GTO…”
While the nose boasts cute high-set bumperettes, the tail is less happy with its two-level chrome bumpers; yet this is a dramatic shape which was exhibited at concours d’elegance in the 1950s, and since an intensive restoration has gained awards at the most glamorous recent concours events. Hartley is enthusiastic: “Vignale is the premium coachbuilder of the period; beautiful designs and so intricate. Even the interior trim strips are patterned. You couldn’t find craftsmen to create it today.”
First and most lavish of six in this design, this was delivered with the optional triple carbs which boosted power to 165bhp, and retains all its matching numbered mechanical elements and even has the gleaming toolkit it came with. According to Tom, early Ferraris are an undervalued area just now, “and that’s why I’m not budging on the price. I’ve had several offers, mostly from the US, but I’m happy to keep it for a year, two years, five years…”
“This is an event car,” Hartley continues. “A guaranteed invitation to the top concours, perfect for Villa d’Este.” If it hasn’t been sold, you can expect to see it on the Cartier lawn at Goodwood Festival.
Engine: 2565cc, V12, 165bhp
Transmission: five-speed manual
Suspension: front: double wishbones, rear: live axle, leaf springs
Top speed: 120mph
Number built: 80 approx