Ferrari's "815"

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Sir,

I noticed with interest the comments on the type “815” Ferrari in Vintage Postbag. In my files I found the following references:

The “815” cannot be technically called a Ferrari as Ferrari had signed an agreement with Alfa Romeo not to build and race cars under his name for a period of time. The “815” was designed by lng. Alberto Massimino of Modena and constructed by Nardi of Turin. Massimino, when I questioned him on the cars seemed somewhat embarrassed to discuss them, and brushed off the questions with “They were a failure, a waste of time.” The 8-cylinder engine, made up of two Fiat blocks, had a bore and stroke of 63 x 60 mm. and a displacement of 1,490 c.c., with a b.h.p. of 75.

The two cars ran in the 1940 Mille Miglia driven by Ascari-Minozzi and Rangoni-Nardi. Ascari led the 1,500-c.c. class on the first lap but broke a valve on the second, at which point the Marquis Rangoni took the lead, which he held until the last lap. At this point the “815” had a lead of 33 minutes and had set a lap record of 90.77 m.p.h. on lap four, being timed regularly at 108 m.p.h. On the last lap a roller-bearing broke. The Ascari car was returned to Turin, where it underwent a large number of modifications to the point where it was unrecognisable as an “815,” a different engine was fitted, as was a new body, and the car was run in this form as a 2-litre Nardi-Danese.

The Rangoni car remained in Modena, being finally acquired by a junk dealer who drove it round his yard for fun on occasions as it was not registered to run on the roads. I was on the track of this car in Modena with the intention of purchasing it in 1959. The junk dealer was located for me by a former Ferrari mechanic, Lucchi. You can imagine my dismay when the dealer informed me he had had the car for years, eventually asking the equivalent of 30 pounds sterling for it, and, despairing of ever selling it, he had put it under the scrap press a few weeks before I arrived.

This, alas, was the fate of several fine cars that were around in Modena after the war. Another car that met this fate was a magnificent Mercedes used by General Anders as his staff car and several Horchs that the Germans left behind. One of the ex-German staff cars still exists in the cellar of the Hotel Real Fini, having been walled in during the rebuilding of that hotel. No doubt some enterprising individual could get this one free of charge if he cared to pay for its removal.

Hans Tanner – Stamford, U.S.A.