This is the only Ferrari 375 America Vignale cabriolet that was ever made. It’s powered by the “big block” Lampredi V12 engine that was used in various states of tune for both Ferrrai’s Formula 1 cars and their higher-end road cars.
The Ferrari America series of cars were among the fastest and most powerful Ferrari road cars of the 1950s. The Ferrari 375 America was capable of 160 mph and had a 0 – 60 mph time of under 7 seconds – both remarkable performance stats by the standards of the era.
Fast Facts – The Ferrari 375 America Vignale Cabriolet
- 12 examples of the Ferrari 375 America series were built, eight were coupes bodied by Pinin Farina (later named Pininfarina), and an additional three coupes wore bodies from Vignale.
- Vignale would also build a single cabriolet, the car shown here, which was personally sold by Enzo Ferrari to Mrs Bianca Colizzi, the daughter of famous Italian film director Giuseppe Colizzi.
- This car is powered by a 4.5 liter Lampredi V12 producing 300 bhp at 6,300 rpm – an astonishing figure for the time.
- The second owner of this car would be Harry Chambers, at the time a TWA executive living in Milan who would later go on to become the GM of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The Ferrari America Series
As the name suggests, the Ferrari America series of high-end grand tourers was developed by the still-young Italian automaker to appeal to the American market. In the 1950s Americans tended to prefer large vehicles with prodigious engines and jet age styling – so that’s what Enzo gave them.
Each Ferrari America 375 was powered by a road-going version of the Lampredi designed “long block” V12 with a displacement of 4522cc. This engine was fitted with a bank of Weber carburetors, a twin coil and distributor ignition, and power was sent to the live axle rear end through an all-synchromesh manual transmission.
Upon ordering their car people could choose from a variety of final drive ratios depending on whether they wanted searing acceleration or more relaxed highway cruising at lower RPMs. As was common with Ferrari naming conventions the 375 was named for the displacement of a single cylinder – though in this case it was rounded down slightly from 376.8cc to 375.
The Ferrari America series would begin with the 340 America released in 1950 and sold until 1952 in very limited numbers. This would be followed by the 342 America in 1952, which was then succeeded by the America 375 in 1953.
The America 375 was one of the high points of the series, along with its successor the 410 Superamerica, which was followed by the 400 Superamerica, the 500 Superfast, and finally, the 365 California.
Lampredi V12s were used in all the cars up until the 400 Superamerica in 1959 at which point the lower displacement Colombo V12 was used. This would be the V12 that would power many of Ferrari’s most important cars through the 1960s and beyond, but there’s no denying the Lampredi engine was the king of the 1950s.
The Ferrari 375 America Vignale Cabriolet Shown Here
The car you see here is the Ferrari 375 America Vignale cabriolet from 1954 and as mentioned further up, it’s both the only 375 cabriolet that was ever made and one of just three big-block cabriolets with 4.5 liter or larger engines built by Ferrari in the 1950s.
Enzo Ferrari sold this car to its first owner, Mrs Bianca Colizzi, the daughter of famous Italian film director Giuseppe Colizzi. For reasons lost to history it was parked up in storage a year later where it was seen by Luigi Musso, the future Scuderia Ferrari factory driver.
Musso mentioned the existence of the car to an American acquaintance named Harry Chambers, a TWA executive who had been sent to Italy to open the airline’s Milan division. Chambers was able to track down the Ferrari and buy it, he enjoyed driving it in Italy for two years, even visiting the Monza circuit on at least one occasion.
Chambers was later knighted by the Italian government, and went on to become the general manager of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
In 1958 he sold the 375 America to his friend and fellow TWA employee Joseph Fitch who imported the car back to California later that same year where he would keep it for many years. In 1974 he sold it on to Ferrari enthusiast Wayne Golomb who commissioned a comprehensive restoration.
In 1995 it was sold to Dennis Machul, then in 1998 it was sold to its current owner who kept it for over 20 years and who has now decided to offer it for sale.
As the only one of its kind the price guide on the alloy-bodied Vignale cabriolet is unsurprisingly in the seven figures, at $6,500,000 – $7,500,000 USD. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here on RM Sotheby’s.
Images courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
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