Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Ferrari 212 Export Berlinetta Vignale

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

The Ferrari 212 Inter series of 1950-53 wore a huge number of body designs, thanks to having been built by a broad pallette of styling houses. This elegant three-box, for example, is one of 26 Berlinettas crafted by Vignale, although if you run a quick online search you'll spot that this isn't a typical 212; indeed, there isn't really such a thing as a typical 212. The enduring constant throughout the series, of course, is what's beneath the skin - Ferrari's exemplary tubular steel chassis with the jewel-like Colombo V12 nestled within.
This car, a 1951 model, was delivered to Franco Cornaccia at Scuderia Guastalla for entry in the formidable Carrera Panamericana. The owner wouldn't be in the driving seat, however; that would be taken care of by two legendary Italian helmsmen of the age, Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi.
It entered alongside a mechanically identical sister car, driven by Piero Taruffi and Luigi Chinetti and, in a formation finish that could have been scripted in Hollywood, the Taruffi/Chinetti car took the win at the end of a gruelling and hard-fought race, with this car hard on its heels in second place.

After its shimmering success in South America - made more impressive by the fact that just 35 of the 97 entrants finished the 1951 Carrera Panamericana - the 212 remained in Mexico, being bought by businessman Santiago Ontanon for extensive and relentless motorsport purposes. After many years of competition, a restoration began in 1990 by Ontanon's nephew, who then sold it to a collector in California - the restoration was continued to concours standards, and it became a Pebble Beach winner. A just reward for a retired racer of such fortitude.
The Taruffi/Chinetti car is MIA, which makes this survivor all the more special. And while this 212 has worn many liveries over its illustrious career, it seems only fitting that this final restoration sees it returned to those glorious 1951 colours. Particularly with the mad dinosaurs.

Spotted at the London Classic Car Show - more pics here.

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