Darin Schnabel ©2017, courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
Chassis number 0081S was the first of 25 195 chassis produced, and one of just three bodied by the renowned Milanese coachbuilder Touring. Distinctive features included a lack of the usual Superleggera script on the hood, as well as small Italian lights, similar to those on early barchettas. In April 1951, the car, finished in its original hue of Oro Metallizzato, was shown by Franco Cornacchia’s Societá Agenzia Internazionale Commerciale Auto Ricambi (AICAR) on behalf of Ferrari at the 33rd Turin Motor Show. This lovely, authentic, well-known Turin show car ranks among the most attractive closed early Ferraris, and it would be a superb entrant to either concours field or prestigious rally events around the world.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1950 Ferrari 195 Inter Coupe by Touring
Years Produced:1950–51
Number Produced:25
Original List Price:$5,050
SCM Valuation:$1,288,000
Tune Up Cost:$3,000
Distributor Caps:$200 for a reproduction cap. Two are required
Chassis Number Location:Stamped on the passenger’s side frame rail next to the engine
Engine Number Location:Stamped on a flange on the rear passenger’s side of block
Club Info:Ferrari Club of America
Alternatives:1950 Maserati A6 1500, 1952 Mercedes-Benz 300S Coupe, 1950 Porsche 356 coupe
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 123, sold for $1,085,400, including buyer’s premium, at RM Sotheby’s Leggenda e Passione auction on September 9, 2017, in Maranello, Italy.

This year is the 70th anniversary of the birth of Ferrari as an automobile company. Legend has it that on March 12, 1947, Enzo Ferrari drove the first automobile built under his name — a type 125 S — out the doors of his workshop and through the surrounding neighborhood.

That original 125 S is long gone, but Ferrari has produced a faithful replica to fill in for the original when ceremony requires.

The reproduction 125 S is sometime found at the Museo Enzo Ferrari in Modena, Italy, a complex that also features Mr. Ferrari’s parental home, his father’s workshop and an incredible display of early Italian automobile history. It is a must-see stop for anyone interested in the founding of the brand.

The Museo Enzo Ferrari, along with its sister museum, Museo Ferrari — near the current Ferrari factory in neighboring Maranello — and Ferrari’s famed Fiorano test track were featured in a recent celebration of Ferrari’s 70th Anniversary.

RM Sotheby’s teamed with Ferrari for an auction during the event. The auction was held right on the grounds of the storied Fiorano test track, just steps away from a celebratory concours showcasing a dream field of many of the most important and valuable Ferraris ever produced.

One of 54 lots

195 Inter chassis 0081S was one of just 54 Ferrari-specific lots offered at the very special Leggenda e Passione auction. It was the oldest of the lots, which ranged up to a yet-to-be-built commemorative LaFerrari Aperta. The Aperta, a donation from Ferrari, netted nearly $10 million for a children’s charity.

Enzo Ferrari was already 49 years old when he took the first drive in his 125 S. World War II was just over, the communist threat in Italy had been subdued, and the country was poised for an exciting future.

Ferrari was well established as a capable race driver, racing team manager, and a manufacturer. His Auto Avio Costruzioni Company was producing parts for the automobile and aviation industry. The time was right to build his racing empire.

Ferrari believed the key to a successful race car was the proper engine. A student of engine design, Ferrari enlisted the help of Gioacchino Colombo to design a 1.5-liter, 12-cylinder engine that could be used both in a sports car and in a Formula One race car.

Ferrari’s chiefs, Giuseppe Busso and Luigi Bazzi, turned Colombo’s design and Enzo Ferrari’s vision into reality, birthing the 125 S.

Ferrari and the V12 engine

Ferrari studied the rules for Formula One and decided the 12-cylinder V configuration was technically superior to other designs. The V12 allowed a low center of gravity and superior structural rigidity. It offered smooth torque and low reciprocating weight, which allowed a light flywheel. The lighter flywheel saved weight and provided faster response to throttle input.

Period magazine articles noted the 12-cylinder design allowed lower piston speeds than engines with fewer cylinders. The theory goes that lower piston speed equals less stress and better reliability.

Ferrari historian David Seielstad illustrated the difference in a Prancing Horse magazine article. He noted a 158 Alfetta piston traveled 3,675 feet per minute at 8,000 rpm while the Ferrari piston only traveled 2,584 feet, albeit at a slightly lower 7,500 rpm.

Ferrari specifically chose the 1.5-liter size for his first engine because Formula One rules allowed a supercharged version of that size engine. In the 125 S sports car, the 118-hp, normally aspirated 125 S was winning races just weeks after its introduction, but Ferrari knew they would need more power to keep competitive on an International level.

Improved variations of the 125 S engine came quickly. A second camshaft was added — then more displacement, more carburetors, and anything else that gave more power. The Ferrari Colombo engine became a staple of competition and GT Ferraris, becoming the most famous automobile engine ever produced.

Our subject 195 Inter

Our subject 1950 Ferrari 195 Inter chassis 0081S is a direct descendant of the original 125 S. It was roughly the 40th production Ferrari. It retained much of the mechanical architecture of the 125 S, but it benefited from nearly one liter of additional displacement, an extra camshaft and a more-attractive body.

Chassis 0081S features a coupe body built at Touring Superleggera. The Superleggera designation identifies chassis 0081S as having been built with Touring’s super-light construction technique. The body is quite attractive, featuring a distinctive horizontal body line down its side. This line is similar to the line that gave the Touring Barchettas their “Little Boat” nickname.

Our car’s history

The history of chassis 0081S is well known. It was shown at the Torino Auto Show. It was never raced, and it knocked around Europe a little before coming to the United States with a returning serviceman.

A later owner started a never-completed restoration, which doomed the car to a garage for more than 30 years. Tom Shaughnessy, a Ferrari car and parts dealer, finally rescued the car and famously displayed it in bare metal at the 2007 Cavallino Classic.

More recently, chassis 0081S was well restored, shown a couple times and repainted from gold to red and then to blue.

In 2011 it was sold at auction — for $990,000 — to a collector who put it back on the market for a reported $1,900,000. It showed up at the Barrett-Jackson 2016 Scottsdale auction, where it was a no-sale.

RM Sotheby’s Leggenda e Passione Auction was the right place to sell chassis 0081S. The Maranello audience was full of hard-core Ferrari followers. They were in the holy land, with Ferrari history everywhere they turned. They had eaten the food, been to the museums, and taken their pictures at the factory gate.

Somebody there would love this car.

The auction lived up to its billing, with an enthusiastic audience and an excellent sales rate. Unfortunately, our subject car was not one of the first-round sales. While chassis 0081S is rare, important, and good looking, the market for early Ferrari production cars is quite thin.

It took RM Sotheby’s some after-auction work to put together a sale. The final number was short of the estimate. The buyer got a great car at a good price, but he’ll have to hold it awhile if he wants to profit on his investment. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.)

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