|Vehicle:||1952 Ferrari 212 Europa Cabriolet|
|Original List Price:||$9,500 for U.S. delivery; $4,800 in Europe|
|Chassis Number Location:||Frame rail toward front of engine|
|Engine Number Location:||Right side near bellhousing|
|Club Info:||Ferrari Club of America|
|Alternatives:||1950–52 Ferrari 195, 1951–54 Jaguar XK 120, 1946–50 Maserati A61500|
This car, Lot 47, sold for $1,600,000, including buyer’s premium, at Gooding & Company’s Amelia Island Auction at Amelia Island, FL, on March 9, 2018.
Some barn finds are the result of meticulous research, while others are just a matter of being at the right place at the right time. Sometimes the car is well known, but the owner is reluctant to part with it. Other times, the find is a discovery of a long-lost treasure.
The discovery of Ferrari 212 cabriolet 0233EU was a case of both latters.
My wife has been registrar of the Ferrari Club of America for more years than we care to compute. She gets the club’s mail, and the club’s 800 number rings in our spare bedroom.
On October 3, 2011, she got a call from a picker in Michigan. He had come across an old Ferrari at an estate sale. He wanted to know if we could help identify it.
A little research determined the car was chassis 0233EU, a 1952 Ferrari 212 cabriolet. The car was a one-off show car by Ghia. A look at some pictures revealed it was far from its former glory.
The body didn’t look too bad. Most of the original glass and trim was still intact, but the rest of the car was downright frightening.
The engine had been replaced with an American V8 and the balance of the drivetrain had been similarly bastardized. Inside, a full complement of hot rod-style gauges was a warning that other mods would be found.
Concurrent to the call to the club, the picker had tracked down Peter Sweeney of Forza Motorsports and offered him the car. Restoring the 212 would be a task of monumental proportion.
Peter wasn’t equipped to take on the challenge, but he knew who was. Ferrari guru Tom Shaughnessy was uniquely qualified to take on the project, and he was interested.
The King of the Toasted Ponies
Tom Shaughnessy is about the most colorful person you’ll ever come across. Many years back he abandoned a career as a real rocket scientist to play with Ferraris. Not just any Ferraris, as his interests ran toward the earliest and most unusual examples.
He soon began dealing in old Ferraris, Ferrari parts, tools, books and wheels. His penchant for burnt and derelict Ferraris earned him the nickname “The King of the Toasted Ponies.”
Shaughnessy built one of the largest collections of vintage Ferrari stuff on the planet. He’s the go-to guy for the most-hard-to-find early Ferrari parts. Along the way, he’s made alliances with major Ferrari shops and enthusiasts.
If anyone could make 0233EU whole again, it was Shaughnessy.
Shaughnessy knew who had the engine for 0233EU, and with this information, he quickly found a buyer for the car. Along with the purchase came an agreement to manage the restoration.
A massive project
Restoring an early Ferrari is not for the faint of heart.
Just over 100 212 GTs were built. Constant evolution of the mechanicals meant there were variations among the few cars.
Several coachbuilders offered a variety of bodies, and few cars look identical. Knobs, door handles and trim were made in small quantities — with few parts left over.
In the 66 years since the last new 212 was put in private hands, many of them were wrecked, run down and abandoned. There are no new parts available — and few used ones.
Enthusiasts have begged, borrowed and stolen parts to keep the cars on the road.
A study of 212s reveals a labyrinth of engine, gearbox and component swaps. Obtaining the parts needed to resurrect 0233EU was nearly insurmountable.
But it happened.
A team of craftsmen familiar with 212s was recruited for the restoration of 0233EU. It would be five years and the retail equivalent of around $1 million before the car would make its first outing.
Now a concours contender
Chassis 0233EU made its debut at the 2017 Pebble Beach concours, where it was entered for exhibition rather than judging.
The next showing was the 2018 Cavallino Classic, where it earned a near-perfect score and an Excellence in Restoration Quality award.
0233EU is one of only two Ghia-bodied 212 cabriolets. It was a coachbuilt show car when new and is a proven concours contender today. It has been returned to its original roadworthy mechanical configuration.
A fast deal
The closing bid at Gooding & Company’s 2018 Amelia Island sale fell short of the estimate — and it was less than the Shaughnessy’s client was willing to accept. Less than a minute later, Gooding put together a post-block sale, and chassis 0233EU had a new owner.
On paper the seller probably showed a reasonable profit, but it came only after a big investment of money and work. The buyer was an enthusiast/dealer who reportedly wanted an early Ferrari to use for vintage rallies. The no-compromise restoration drew him to the car.
Gooding & Company noted that this car had been renumbered from 0191EL to 0233EU. While Ferrari historians believe that is the case, only the number 0233EU was found on the chassis — with no indication of alteration. The story is a little muddy and should have had no influence on the value of the car. ♦
(Introductory description courtesy of Gooding & Company.)