Combining rarity, powerful mechanical specifications, important racing history and ravishing coachwork, 0320AM is one of three 340/375 MM Works race cars that Ferrari entered at the 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans. Piloted by Mike Hawthorn and Nino Farina, 0320AM advanced to 2nd place before being disqualified for violating an obscure and old rule that prohibited the addition of fluids before the 28th lap. 0320AM was built on a late 340 MM chassis and featured a 4.1-liter (340-ci) 12-cylinder motor and a brand-new Pininfarina body derived from the 250 MM design. Following the Le Mans race, 0320AM underwent a number of factory upgrades. The original engine, internal number 70M, was disassembled, and the capacity was increased to 4.5 liters (375 ci). The car also received body modifications during this time. 0320AM went on to have a distinguished career, racing at the 24 Hours of Spa, 12 Hours of Pescara, Circuit of Guadeloupe, and the Carrera Panamericana. At the Carrera Panamericana, 0320AM averaged an unbelievable 138 mph for 223 miles, setting a public-road stage record that has yet to be broken. In 1954, 0320AM was purchased by Luigi Chinetti Motors and brought to the United States. While in the States, it was lightly crashed. During the repairs, the nose was modified and the rear glass was returned to the original wraparound style. In 1974, Berkeley-based Ferrari guru Steve Griswold restored the car. Then, around 1993, renowned Ferrari restorer Wayne Obry restored it again. Under U.S. ownership, 0320AM was campaigned at the 1976 Monterey Historic Races, Watkins Glen, Elkhart Lake, and the 1989 Mille Miglia. It was shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and at several Cavallino Classic meets. In 1999, 0320AM was sold to the U.K. 0320AM was shown at the Louis Vuitton Concours d’Elegance, where it won Best of Show. It has been exhibited at several discerning European events, including press days for the 2008 and 2010 Goodwood Festivals of Speed. Additionally, 0320AM was featured in the December 2000 issue of Classic & Sports Car magazine. In 2006, under the care of Shapecraft Ltd. in England, another restoration was performed. This time the work entailed enlarging the rear-wheelarch intakes and reshaping the nose to its original style with non-recessed headlamps. Currently, 0320AM is finished in 1953 Le Mans-correct livery. This sensational Ferrari offers exceptional racing provenance that is equaled by very few sports cars of its era. It is one of the three original factory competizione cars that ran at the 1953 Le Mans. Most notably, it is the only known Ferrari Works race car to have been driven by three world champions: Alberto Ascari, Nino Farina, and Mike Hawthorn. It would constitute a crowning acquisition for any significant automobile collection.  

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Berlinetta Competizione
Years Produced:1953
Number Produced:Three
Original List Price:N/A
Tune Up Cost:$3,000
Club Info:Ferrari Owners Club, Ferrari Club of America

This car, Lot 130, sold for $12,812,800, including buyer’s premium, at RM’s Villa Erba sale in Cernobbio, Italy, on May 25, 2013.

The first thing you need to know about 0320AM is that it is a man’s car. More precisely, it’s for a young man in good health and strong physical condition. The 375 MM had primitive suspension, with a transverse front spring and a live rear axle. The transmission was pseudo-synchronized, and the drum brakes were barely adequate for their duty. However, it is the engine that really made it a beast.

The 375 MM was designed and built for racing. The engine is a complex, 4.5-liter, 340-hp Lampredi-designed V12 that was specifically tuned for competition use. This engine was more powerful than most other competition powerplants of the era — and it was probably more powerful than the 375 chassis should handle.

For the very best drivers of the day

The 375 MMs are driver’s cars. In the hands of the best pilots they worked magic. In the hands of a weekend warrior the car was wasted. Ferrari must have felt the same way, as they enlisted three world champions, Ascari, Farina and Hawthorn, to drive 0320AM.

I’ve never had an opportunity to drive a 375 MM, so I tracked down someone who has. Ferrari collector and dealer Tom Shaughnessy probably has more miles in a 375 MM than anyone else on earth. Shaughnessy figures he’s logged over 12,000 miles in his 375 MM Spider running in five Colorado Grands and miscellaneous other trips.

Shaughnessy describes the 375 MM as the most powerful car of the time. They were the 427 Cobras of their era. He calls the driving characteristics “nasty.” The huge power and the buckboard ride make it challenging to keep the car pointed in the right direction.

Shaughnessy compares the 375 MM to the Ferrari P cars of the 1960s as cars that look like they can be driven to work — but are really serious competition workhorses. He adds that a smooth clutch and super low-end torque makes it possible to drive the car in local traffic — but only if you want to be beat silly.

For Shaughnessy, it’s on the hard legs of the Colorado Grand where things get hairy — and that’s where the fun is. The transmission takes a bit to learn, and only with practice and concentration is it mastered. The power makes the uphill pulls thrilling, but when pointed downhill, a different definition of thrilling applies. The brakes are just marginal, so caution must replace bravado.

Now for the very rich owners

If driving the car is an over-the-top experience, maintaining the car is equally challenging. There are virtually no spares available, so if anything breaks, you call a fabricator rather than a parts house. Tom’s gearbox wore out, and the repair required new gears. Tom’s shop was up to the job, but even at wholesale, the bill was $40,000. So goes the old saying — how fast you go is directly proportional to how much you spend.

On auction day, the room was filled with the Villa d’Este Concours crowd. The concours is the weekend following the Mille Miglia. While this is not the largest automotive gathering, it may be the most prestigious. The Mille is probably the toughest ticket in vintage motorsport. Money alone can’t get you an entry — only the right car. The entry list reads like the Who’s Who of the sports car collector community. The entrants and the spectators come in from all over the world. They stay over for the concours, with the auction filling a day between.

The pre-sale speculation put the reserve on 0320AM at around $7m. That was a lot more than the price guides pegged as the top value, but in this hot market, $7m was not out of line. The bidding blew past $7m in a whoosh and just kept going. When the music stopped, the bid was over $11,600,000 — which totaled $12,812,800 after commission.

There’s no way to make sense of the price. This was two very rich people raising a poker pot until one of them blinked. The sale transcended what the car was worth to what the money was worth.

Apparently, in one person’s world, paying $5,000,000 above “conventional wisdom” didn’t mean much. There’s no way you can call the car well bought — but history will say it was. The reality of the sale is this is that the new market value for a 375 MM. The next person to offer one for sale will price it a bit more and someone else will pay the price. It’s just another day in the Ferrari world. ?

(Introductory description courtesy of RM.)

Comments are closed.