How far Ferrari has come!
What started out with a genius 2.0-liter V12 engine that was ultra compact yet also super powerful. The engine roared its way to the top of the racing world by the end of the 1950s, and on to a 5-billion-dollar IPO for just a slim minority of the firm’s shares in 2015?
Now a global luxury juggernaut with brand recognition to rival Coca-Cola, and desirability up there with Apple?
Yes to all. And quite a rare display of modesty and humility from Ferrari.
It is intriguing to see how basic and workmanlike the first few cars really were. This 340 America Barchetta by Touring Superleggera is one of eight to wear bodywork by the famed carrosserie. Yet even with the finest aircraft aluminum and master craftsmen to shape each panel lovingly… the result is clearly functional over beautiful. There is elegance in the rear end panel creases, but far less so up front. Extra rally lights in the lower corners of the vehicle are mounted via underbody metal mounts — prioritizing track night vision over aero, clearly.
The structual brace between the A-pillars in body color is one example of this make-do spirit. Straight-cut, flat glass also speaks to the need to get out on the racetrack ASAP.
An adjustable rake for the windshield can be folded down or up. In its reclined position, the glass is tilted more rearward than its normal upright mount. While in fully folded mode, the glass is hinged at the bottom and makes a nice mini wind-break when folded down to meet the upper hood.
It is the legacy of this 1951 and 1952 24 Hours of Le Mans racecar that gives its every line a rose-tinged, loving hue in retrospect.
When this beauty rumbles across the block in Monaco at RM Sotheby’s May event, it will mark a high point in automotive culture. A handoff from one loving caretaker of racing icons to the next. Treat her well, sir or madam!
1951 Ferrari 340 America Barchetta by Touring (RHD)