1952 Ferrari that raced at Le Mans and once traded hands for $200 heads to auction

Auction house Mecum has a rare Ferrari coming up for sale. While this isn’t out of the ordinary, the car, which is probably worth millions, traded hands as recently as 1990 for just $200.

The car is a 1952 Ferrari 340 America, of which just 24 were built. This one bears chassis number 0202A and originally featured a body by Italian coachbuilder Vignale. It also raced at the 1952 24 Hours of Le Mans, finishing fifth overall thanks to the efforts of Andre Simon and Lucien Vincent.

1952 Ferrari 340 America chassis no. 0202A - Photo credit: Mecum Auctions

1952 Ferrari 340 America chassis no. 0202A – Photo credit: Mecum Auctions

After it was done racing in Europe, the car made its way to the United States via importer Luigi Chinetti and extensively raced here throughout the 1950s. It eventually ended up with an owner in Texas who by the late ’50s replaced its original 4.1-liter V-12 with a Chevrolet V-8.

Collecting Ferraris hadn’t become a thing yet, so there were more modifications made to this 340 America during its life. Following an accident, the car’s original Vignale body was replaced with a custom body resembling a 1956 Bangert Manta Ray. However, this body ended up being damaged later while the car was in transport, so a fiberglass body borrowed from a Devin Spider was fitted.

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1952 Ferrari 340 America chassis no. 0202A - Photo credit: Mecum Auctions

1952 Ferrari 340 America chassis no. 0202A – Photo credit: Mecum Auctions

In 1963, the car was titled in Salt Lake City after which it fell off the radar for several decades. It resurfaced in 1990 when drag racer Mike Sanfilippo bought it for just $200, not knowing it was actually a rare Ferrari. Sanfilippo had planned to cut up the chassis and turn the car into a custom drag racer, but luckily he never got around to doing so.

In 2006, car restorer Tom Shaughnessy spotted it on eBay and bought it for $26,912, still thinking it was a Devin. After removing the fibreglass body to start restoring the car, Shaughnessy, with help from Ferrari expert Marcel Massini, soon discovered that it was actually a rare Ferrari—one with significant provenance.

1952 Ferrari 340 America chassis no. 0202A - Photo credit: Mecum Auctions

1952 Ferrari 340 America chassis no. 0202A – Photo credit: Mecum Auctions

He then commissioned Ferrari’s own classic car department, Ferrari Classiche, to bring it back to its former glory. This included refitting a 4.1-liter V-12 and 4-speed manual transmission, and crafting a new body matching the original Vignale design and painted in a period-correct French Racing Blue.

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For interested bidders, the car is lot R71 of Mecum’s auction running August 12-14 in Monterey, California. Included in the sale is a book containing period photos, as well as news clippings and the results of various races the car competed in. The book also features detailed photos of the restoration at Ferrari Classiche.

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