Its impeccable provenance following La Carrera and its impressive ownership chain makes it a plum piece for a collector
who appreciates quality over flash

This Ferrari, 0224AT, has had a busy and well-documented life. Assembled in September 1952, it was test-driven just one month later. Official photos were taken, with temporary Italian license plates BO 16722. It was then sold to Franco Cornacchia’s Scuderia Guastalla in Milan and leased to Santiago Ontanon—in Mexico City—for Luigi Chinetti to drive in the 1952 La Carrera Panamericana.

Chinetti ran the La Carrera, placing 3rd overall. Following the race, he purchased the car for his New York showroom. He then prepared the car for the Mille Miglia, where driven by Eugenio Castellotti and Ivo Regosa, it failed to finish.

In 1954, the car passed through San Francisco and was advertised for sale in Road & Track by Kjell Qvale. Robert Rice subsequently bought 0224AT and showed it at the 5th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

0224AT passed through several more hands, and in 1965 Carl Bross purchased the car. Bross, a cornerstone of U.S. Ferrari history, was the owner of Orange Blossom Diamond Ring Company and owned a number of significant Ferraris in the 1950s. The car appeared on the cover of Road & Track in May 1969. In 1971, early hot rodder, Bonneville Salt Flat racer, and automotive historian Dean Batchelor purchased the car.

0224AT’s travels ended in 1979, when Larry Nicklin purchased the car from an adventurer who sold it to finance an around-the-world sailboat cruise. Mr. Nicklin was no stranger to 340 Mexico ownership, having previously purchased Mexico 0226AT after spotting the distinctive fenders of the car poking out of a garage in Detroit.

One of many interesting Nicklin stories occurred when he was pulled over by a state trooper, who clocked him at 85 mph. As his daughter Jennie Anne Nicklin wrote years later for Prancing Horse magazine, “Larry had been on a test-drive with Dave Palmeter, the goal of which was to reach 100 mph.” Fortunately Mr. Nicklin only received a written warning, even though the car was devoid of tags and the necessary documentation wasn’t in the car!

The car has been displayed in the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn, IN. It has also been featured in Cavallino magazine in July, 1989; it was featured in Lee Beck’s book Ferrarissima in 1990; and it was displayed in Ken Behring’s Blackhawk Museum in Danville, California.

As presented, 0224AT is an extraordinary car, carefully preserved and still retaining its original engine. For racing and Ferrari enthusiasts, it has all the desirable requirements—successful period racing history, eligibility for the world’s most desirable events (Mille Miglia included), well-known provenance, rarity and a light, attractive body combined with a Lampredi-designed V12 that is capable of stunning performance.

Perhaps Mr. Nicklin said it best: “It is as much fun as I’ve ever had in the car collecting world.”

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Coupe
Years Produced:1952
Number Produced:4
Original List Price:$21,000
SCM Valuation:2.5m-3.5m
Tune Up Cost:$3,000
Chassis Number Location:Left frame rail at third header
Engine Number Location:Right rear near magneto drive
Club Info:Ferrari Club of America, P.O. Box 720597, Atlanta, GA, 30358

This car, Lot 153, sold for $4,290,000, including buyer’s premium, at RM Auctions’ Amelia Island sale on March 12, 2011.

The early 1950s were formative years for Enzo Ferrari’s car company. In just a few short years from the production of his very first self-named automobile, his cars were competing on the world stage and establishing themselves as serious contenders. The arduous Mexican La Carrera Panamericana race had quickly developed a reputation as the toughest race on the world circuit, and if Ferrari was to prove they could run with the big dogs, winning this race would do it.

Traversing 2,100 miles across Mexico, the La Carrera race celebrated Mexico’s new Panamerica highway. Far from an easy race across a modern highway, La Carrera’s difficult stages ran on primitive and non-existent roads crossing deserts and mountains. It was the ultimate punishment any car or driver could face.

Serious injury was common, and over 20 contestants met their maker in the early years of the race. It was a run-what-you-brung event, with amateurs in hot rods competing with professionals in factory-prepared specials. Competing was the racing equivalent of climbing Everest or running with the bulls. It was guts and luck that separated the winners from the losers.

A fictional depiction of the La Carrera can be found in Burt Levy’s wonderful book, Montezuma’s Ferrari, where an illustration of our subject car, 340 Mexico s/n 0224AT, graces the cover

Stronger and lighter

Ferrari met the challenge of La Carrera by building four 340 Americas, with a stronger—but lighter—chassis and high-horsepower Lampredi long block engines. These were named a type 340 Mexico and given suffix AT. The bodies were styled by Giovanni Michelotti and built by Vignale coachbuilders. It was a dramatic shape, with fins rising from the rear fenders—and front fenders protruding past the front bumpers.

The distinctive Mexico shape was described in Warren Fitzgerald and Richard Merritt’s essential Ferrari history book, Ferrari: The Sports and Gran Turismo Cars as “one of the most dramatically handsome Ferrari bodies ever built.” I propose that line could only have been written very late at night after a few glasses of wine.

Larry Nicklin, who owned the car from 1979 until its 2011 sale at Amelia Island, is one of the fathers of the American Ferrari hobby. His fascination with all things Ferrari led to a lifetime of collecting and sharing cars, memorabilia, and information. With a small group of Ferrari owners, Nicklin helped found the Ferrari Club of America. The club was an essential networking tool for early Ferrari owners and lives on as an informational and social hub for Ferrari enthusiasts throughout America. Nicklin’s ownership of our subject car for 32 years adds a bit more luster to an already sparkling history.

One chance to own automotive history

RM’s $4,290,000 sale of 0224AT will be one of the highlight sales of the year. The car shot past the estimate and joined the rarified air of the most valuable cars on the planet. The Mexico is a distinctive—but rather odd-looking—car with legendary tricky handling. The sale had many experts blowing off the results as a couple of billionaires trying to outdo each other, but that is not the point.

All it takes is a lot of money to buy a 250 GTO or a 250 Testa Rossa, but it takes a true appreciation of automobile history to understand a 340 Mexico. While a Mexico will get invited to the best events, the bidders on 0224AT would already have multiple cars in their garages that get invited to the same events.

Prospective bidders weren’t buying status, beauty, or performance—but rather a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own an important piece of automotive history. The storied history of the La Carrera is unique in the racing world. It’s a Hemingway-like tale of man versus nature—with brutal consequences for the loser.

The fact the 0224AT finished the Carrera is impressive, and finishing third with Luigi Chinetti behind the wheel makes the car Ferrari royalty. Its impeccable provenance following the race and its impressive ownership chain make it a plum piece for a collector who appreciates quality over flash. It is rare that a Mexico is available for purchase and 0224AT is the best of the series. It was a great return for the seller, but the buyer got a trophy more valuable to him than the money spent.

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