1951 Ferrari 340 America Coupe

“Prime Motoring Fool” Bob Sutherland took a savage pleasure in driving anything, but said his 340 Mexico was just too awful

{vsig}2008-9_2223{/vsig}

Intended primarily as a competition car for wealthy privateers, the 340 was directed specifically at a new and increasingly profitable market-the United States. Aptly named “America,” the 340 became the first of many subsequent sports racing Ferraris built to meet the demands of the American market, where it proved to be both competitive and profitable.

In the 340 America, the 4.1-liter Lampredi V12 engine developed 220 to 230 horsepower at 6,000 rpm. A 5-speed non-synchromesh gearbox was fitted behind the engine in the typical Ferrari twin-oval, parallel-tube chassis with its unequal length parallel wishbone and transverse leaf front suspension. Rear suspension was by solid axle with semi-elliptic longitudinal leaf springs, parallel trailing arms, and the same Houdaille shock absorbers as in front.

As was commonplace for Ferrari, body construction was handled by independent carrozzeria like Touring, Vignale, and in the case of 0150A, Ghia. Only 23 340 Americas were built, and of these Vignale accounted for eleven, Touring for eight, and Ghia for just four-the rarest of all. The lines and proportions of 0150A are well suited to the chassis. The larger Lampredi engine is reflected in the long hood and comparatively more compact passenger compartment; this is a large car, yet it seats only two.

Although the exact delivery date is unknown, the 1951 340 America Coupe was sold to noted Ferrari patron Antonio “Tony” Parravano. It was the first of many Ferraris he would own and race, and it was delivered much as it looks today. Chassis 0150A’s first appearance on the track was July 20, 1952, at Torrey Pines, with Bill Pollack driving.

Parravano had done well in the first two editions of the Carrera Panamericana, racing Cadillacs in 1950 and 1951, with Jack McAfee driving. As a result, he decided to enter his new Ferrari in the third running of the legendary Carrera Panamericana in November 1952. The Carrera was one of the toughest events of its time, and McAfee’s 5th-place finish was a startling achievement in a field dominated by factory entries.

Thor Thorson

Thor Thorson - SCM Contributing Editor

Thor grew up in northern Iowa. His father bought a red Jag XK 150 in the late 1950s, and that was all it took; he has been in love with sports cars , racing cars and the associated adrenaline rush ever since. He has vintage raced for more than 20 years, the bulk of them spent behind the wheel of a blue Elva 7. When he’s not racing, he is president of Vintage Racing Motors Inc., a collector-car dealer and vintage-racing support company based in Redmond, WA. His knowledge runs the full spectrum of vintage racing, and he has put that expertise to good use for SCM since 2003.

Posted in Ferrari