|Vehicle:||1952 Ferrari 212 Export Barchetta|
|Original List Price:||About $10,200|
|Tune Up Cost:||$3,000|
|Chassis Number Location:||Side frame rail toward the front of the engine|
|Engine Number Location:||Right side of engine near the rear|
|Club Info:||Ferrari Club of America|
|Alternatives:||1965 Alfa Romeo TZ-2, 1953 Jaguar D-type, 1953 Aston Martin DB3S|
This car, Lot 110, sold for $7,526,400, including buyer’s premium, at RM Sotheby’s Villa Erba Auction in Italy on May 23, 2015.
Italian Nobleman Baron Luigi Chiaramonte Bordonaro inherited holdings that could be traced back to the 1300s. He was lord over estates, castles and forests throughout Sicily. Perhaps the crown jewel of the properties was Villa Chiaramonte Bordonaro ai Colli. The 18th century villa was built by King Ferdinand and his wife after an unsuccessful swipe at Napoleon sent them scurrying to exile in Palermo.
The baron preferred to concentrate on motorsports, an activity in which he participated with the same vigor that his ancestors put into accumulating property. He was a prolific competitor, driving in seven Targa Florios, numerous hillclimbs, regional races and the Mille Miglia. He was a serious contender with a top-five win in a Targa Florio. This 5th-place finish was accomplished with the help of a rather potent piece of machinery: his Ferrari 212 Export, chassis number 0158ED.
Light, fast and serious
Ferrari’s line of 212 models was introduced just four years after they introduced their first model in 1947. The 212 line was an update of Ferrari’s 166 series. The 212 had a mechanical configuration similar to the 166. with the main difference being a larger 2.6-liter engine over the 166’s 2-liter engine. The 212s could be ordered in either an Inter or an Export model. The Inter was generally configured as a street version with a long-wheelbase chassis and a single carburetor engine. The Export was generally configured as the competition version. Exports had a shorter chassis — by 14 inches — a competition rear suspension and a more powerful engine.
Like all Ferraris of the era, 212s were built to the owner’s specifications. Misinformation carried over from early publications on the model muddy the exact configurations that were available, but the Exports are generally thought of as having a high-compression engine with three Weber carburetors. It is reported that 0158ED was updated with high-performance features normally found on 225 Sports.
Ferrari built the 212 running gear and sent it to the client’s choice of coachbuilder for dressing. This resulted in a diverse assortment of body styles from the usual Italian carrozzerias — and a few examples from lesser-known builders, such as U.K.-based Abbott.
One of the most popular 212 models is the barchetta built by Touring Superleggera. Touring specialized in a lightweight construction technique in which alloy panels were fixed to a lightweight understructure of metal tubing. The patented technique — called Superleggera or “superlight” — produced a lighter car than the competition and was quite popular in the 1950s. The barchetta was a handsome but minimalist design that was said to resemble a “little boat” in part because of a style line down its side which supposedly would be the water line if the car was floated in water.
The winning combination of the light Superleggera body and Ferrari’s powerful V12 engine was quite successful in period competition and remains successful at sales arenas today.
Bred for battle and stellar history
0158ED is no ordinary early Ferrari. It is as blue chip as they come, and absolutely deserving of a high value. Inter model 212s carried odd — as in even and odd — chassis numbers. This indicated Ferrari considered them Grand Touring models. Export models received even numbers indicating they were competition Ferraris, bred to go to battle against the best the competition could send their way. 0158ED being an even chassis number shows this car is an exclusive competition example. Ferrari also bestowed 0158 the ED suffix, which indicates it is a high-performance Export model.
The ownership history of 0158 is unbroken all the way back to its delivery to Baron Bordonaro as a new car. It was extensively raced under brutal circumstances — yet it astonishingly still wears its original bodywork and is still powered by its original engine. The owner’s log is filled with the names of influential collectors known for only buying the best examples available. In their care 0158 has participated in top events in the United States and Europe.
RM Sotheby’s top estimate was over twice the estimated top market value of the model. That may have seemed like a gutsy move, but anyone looking over the car’s credentials knew the car would chart new territory. Touring-bodied 166 barchettas have sold for near $7 million, so there was precedence for the result.
There’s a vast difference between a sure thing and collecting the check. The seller undoubtedly knew the result would be high, but they must have been elated when the hammer struck sold. The buyer knew he would have to pay up for the car and surely was prepared to meet the price. The underbidder had to be disappointed and must still be regretting not upping his bid. ♦
(Introductory description courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.)