The 225 S should be on every Ferrarista's shopping list: it has 12 cylinders, a five-speed gearbox, egg-crate grille, and it makes all the right noises

Developed in a period of triumph and passion, Ferrari's big-engine sports racers from the mid-1950s personify the company's racing legend.

Tipo 340 Tuboscocca chassis 0160ED was assembled on January 10, 1952, the only 225 Sport fitted with double parallel springs on the rear axle, probably to handle the 40-gallon fuel tank. It was prepared for the XXII Tour of Sicily with Piero Taruffi and Mario Vandelli as number 443-the number it wears today. After posting fastest time of the day, it DNF'd with a blown head gasket.

It was then sold to Count Bruno Sterzi who raced in the XIV Aosta Gran San Bernardo hill climb, and later tested by Ascari at Imola before being sold to Mrs. Piano in Buenos Aires in late 1952.

The 1952 Ferrari 225 Sport Spider by Vignale spent the next 20 years in Argentina, winning numerous races and changing colors to blue, back to red, then to blue again. Australian Kerry Manolas bought 0160ED in 1982, restored it, and painted it red again. Manolas showed it at Pebble Beach in 1984 and Tony Wang bought it, keeping it until 1989.

Lee Beck, Chris Cox, and Skeets Dunn were the next owners, then in 1995 John Sullivan re-restored 0160ED to win the 1997 Judges Cup at the Cavallino Classic and show it at Meadow Brook Hall. The current owner entered 0160ED in the 2006 Mille Miglia. By all accounts it is the most complete, original, correct, and verifiable 225 Sport Spyder in existence. It is accompanied by exhaustive records and a complete toolset. (Courtesy of Christie's)

SCM Analysis


Years Produced:1952
Number Produced:13 spiders, 5 coupes and 1 barchetta
Original List Price:around $8,000
Distributor Caps:$400
Chassis Number Location:Front left hand frame member and on firewall data plate
Engine Number Location:Right hand side of motor on raised surface at rear
Club Info:Ferrari Club of America, P. O. Box 720597, Atlanta, GA 30358, 800.328.0444
Investment Grade:B

This 1952 Ferrari 225 Sport Spider by Vignale sold for $1,280,000 at Christie’s Monterey Jet Center auction held on August 17, 2006. The buyer was a respected and well-informed West Coast SCMer, while the seller was a former Ferrari racer of the 1960s and ’70s who had acquired the car at RM’s Monterey auction two years earlier for $995,500.

Made for the 1952 season, Ferrari’s 225 Sport descends from the firm’s line of open sports racers that began with the landmark 166 MM. Its immediate predecessor was the 212 Export, and it was succeeded in 1953 by the classic 250 MM and its bigger sister, the intimidating 340 MM.

From this point onward the coachwork that clothed Maranello’s open sports racers became more voluptuous, ranging from pretty 4-cylinder models such as the 500 Mondial / 750 Monza / 500 Testa Rossa and TRC (make sure you look confident, but never remove the hood in public) to “mere-millionaires-need-not-apply” 12-cylinder icons such as the 290 MM and 250 Testa Rossa.

Looking purely at the numbers, the 225 Sport should be on every Ferrarista’s shopping list: it has a 12-cylinder, 2.7-liter lump under the hood mated to a 5-speed gearbox, guaranteeing good performance and all the right crowd-pleasing noises. The wind-in-the-hair open body, with its mandatory egg-grate grille, low Perspex windshield, and trademark oval portholes in the fenders, is suitably racy and bears the signature of one of Italy’s leading carrozzieri of the day: Alfredo Vignale.

With just 13 Sport Spiders clothed in their workshops (no two of them identical, and three are still missing in action or destroyed), plus five Vignale coupes and an anachronistic Touring-bodied barchetta, 225 S owners can relax in the knowledge that they won’t be jostling for the crowd’s attention with 30 identical cars on the Mille Miglia (no offense meant to German 300SL teams). Not to mention the fact that the 225 S is eligible for, as dealers are increasingly fond of saying, “almost every event on the planet,” let alone those held further afield.

Now, to ensure total disclosure, I should mention that our firm has been representing the owner of a sister car to this one for some time now. His car has been offered for sale privately but does not have its original engine or gearbox. It is otherwise correct but has not yet sold, despite numerous enquiries.

The price is slightly below the Christie’s sale figure, but of course their car did have its original engine and gearbox, which will command a premium, especially as a relatively high proportion of 225s seem to have ended up in South America, where “matching numbers” was an unfamiliar idea to most mechanics fixing outdated European racing cars in the 1950s and ’60s. Incidentally, another 225 Sport Spider is currently on offer in the U.K. trade with non-matching engine at $1.5 million.

The Christie’s car also had the obligatory sojourn south of the border, from as early as 1952 until as late as March 1982, but seems to have avoided local would-be specialists. Its Argentine career included well-known races, and its subsequent collector owners all inspire confidence, from Alfa 8C fancier Lucio Bollaert in Buenos Aires to Kerry Manolas in Oz, Tony Wang in Long Island, and Skeets Dunn in California, plus the odd dealer and high profile auction in between (at Christie’s calamitous Monaco event in 1990 it was a no-sale like most of the cars on offer, but its acceptance in such an auction is more positive than negative).

Add to this that the 1952 Ferrari 225 Sport was restored by one of America’s top shops (Bob Smith Coachworks, although the catalog credits Motion Products), and you’re looking at a top-tier example of the model.

So why did it “only” fetch $1,280,000 when during the same weekend a humble 500 TRC, albeit a superb example but with one third as many cylinders, drew almost a million dollars more?

What’s the very first thing that turns on a collector, before more detailed analysis begins? Aesthetics. The 225 S, like many of its non-Ferrari contemporaries, doesn’t have the swoopy lines of the later ’50s racers.

Let me give you a parallel. The previous year at David Gooding’s auction, a sensational, fire-breathing 375 MM berlinetta with great race history and in wonderful condition, from a highly respected collection, failed to reach reserve, which was in line with the value of a 250 SWB Comp car. Come on! Surely the 375 is infinitely rarer and has even more “Wow!” factor?

But the fact is, everyone loves the shape of an SWB and almost anyone can drive one. Try being a hero in an early 1950s Ferrari, whose chassis was built to withstand the potholes of the Mille Miglia and would have made an ox-cart look sophisticated. Unless you have the talents of Ascari, you’ll probably exit through a hedge backwards. Come to think of it, even poor Ascari came unstuck in the end.

Buyers are increasingly focusing on late ’50s, ’60s, and even early ’70s sports racing cars, enamored with their sleeker lines, better chassis, improved handling, and actual brakes (not just retardants) and, in some cases, younger buyers’ greater affinity to the later period in which they were built.

That can make for some shrewd deals like this one if you’re happy to follow your instincts rather than trends, but bear in mind that even in the sometimes fusty collecting world, fashion exists too, and it does not stand still. I’d call it well bought.

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