The Ex-Brussels Salon/John von Neumann/Phil Hill/ On the Beach movie
1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider Corsa Sports-Racing Two-Seater
Coachwork by Carrozzeria Scaglietti
Chassis no. 0492M
Engine no. 0492M
Simply run your eyes over this gleamingly restored 3-liter 4-cylinder sports-racing Ferrari. Gaze into its invitingly deep cockpit, and study the history etched into so many of its interior panels. You will be drawn towards that classically Ferrari drivers seat, the wrap-round bucket facing that time-worn wood-rimmed steering wheel.
Every hand-made classical Ferrari is in detail, of course, unique. This historic example is no exception, with its steering wheel boss occupied not by the standard Ferrari prancing horse emblem, but by a former owners favored St Christophers medal from the 1950s. The great Barney Oldfield used to advertise his chosen tire brand as My only life insurance here a former owner of 0492 plainly had his own distinctive views on a higher level of cover
Amongst available Ferrari 750 Monza sports-racing cars, this is, of course, a matching numbers example engine and chassis serials being identical. The famous customer-orientated 750 Monza sports-racing design of the mid-1950s is the kind of car which was campaigned energetically against such other supremely valuable contemporary designs as the Mercedes-Benz 300SLRs, D-Type Jaguars and Aston Martin DB3Ss.
This particular cars allure is augmented by the fact that it has not only a long history of high-profile American ownership and use, but it can also boast the very special and rare cachet of having been a competition Ferrari which starred as-new in an International European motor show the Brussels Salon of 1955. Since the late 1980s it has also been in the ownership of one of the best-known and most high-profile of all great European car collections, so the sum of all these factors presents a very special Ferrari here indeed
In its heyday this matching-numbers, customer-destined Ferrari Monza was built originally to the factorys Tipo 510 chassis design, and powered by the then latest-specification Tipo 119 3-liter 4-cylinder twin-overhead camshaft racing engine.
As original, 0492M offered here was delivered by the Maranello factory under delivery invoice number 2162, dated January 11, 1955 to the Belgian importer Jacques Swaters in Brussels, who immediately placed it upon display in the Belgian capitals annual Salon International de lAutomobile exhibition. The car was then returned to the factory, from which it was then sold for export to American east coast concessionaire Luigi Chinetti in New York, destined for his counterpart on the west coast, John von Neumann of Los Angeles, California.
On April 30, 1955, John von Neumann drove 0492M offered here at the Bakersfield circuit, this Ferrari wearing race number 111 and finishing 2nd in the weekends preliminary event. Next day the German-born entrepreneur himself a very effective racing driver when the mood took him (or he had a fine car to sell) repeated the result in the Bakersfield feature race.
On May 30, 1955, Neumann was out again racing 0492M this time under race number 11 at Santa Barbara but this time failing to finish. He and the car were pictured there on page 47 of Road & Track magazines August issue, 1955. One week later John von Neumann scored this Ferraris first race win, securing victory at Santa Rosa, the car wearing race number 107 on that momentous occasion. The big Torrey Pines race meeting followed on July 10, where this time von Neumann co-drove with fast-rising Santa Monica star driver Phil Hill. The car was race-numbered 211 and Road & Track again published a photograph of 0492M in combat, as it hammered home into 2nd place overall the picture this time appearing in the leading American magazines October, 1955, issue.
Ferraris future World Champion Driver Phil Hill then drove this very car solo at Santa Barbara on September 3, finishing 2nd yet again under race number 7. On November 13, the scene shifted to Glendale, where John von Neumann resumed his racing activities with the formidable Monza, wearing race number 111 again and taking the chequered flag in 6th place.
This commendable American racing season of 55 had attracted the interest of fellow SCCA exponent Harrison Evans, and in February 1956 John von Neumann was successful in selling the car to Mr Evans who made his racing debut in it at Palm Springs on February 26, 1956, finishing 4th under race number 130. On March 17, Harrison Evans raced at Santa Barbara and finished 3rd in the preliminary event, under race number 130. A rare color photograph of this car on that occasion appears on page 96 of Forza magazine, issue No. 69 - May 2006, and is illustrated again here.
Mr Evans continued to campaign the car very energetically through the 1956 season, always under the SCCA racing number 130, as follows:
March 18 Santa Barbara, number 130 4th; May 19 Bakersfield 10th; June 23 Pomona preliminary 6th; June 24 Pomono feature event 2nd overall; July 21 San Diego preliminary 2nd; July 22 San Diego feature DNF, bent shift fork; August 18 Paramount Ranch road races preliminary 3rd; August 19 Paramount Ranch road races feature FIRST OVERALL; October 20 Pomona preliminary 4th; October 21 Pomona feature 4th; November 18 Paramount Ranch DFF locking brakes.
After this most effective and successful season, Harrison Evans offered 0492M for sale, and the car was advertised on page 53 of Road & Track magazine, described as being finished in red with grey interior and with an asking price of US $7,000 (aah, happy days
!). The advertisement ran until the magazines April issue, apparently with no success as the car was then re-advertised in the July, 1957, issue page 60 inviting best offer
An unusual buyer then materialized. Nothing less than movie maker Stanley Kramer Productions of Hollywood, California, who either sold or leased the car to the Twentieth Century Fox movie studio who were funding production of Stanley Kramers celebrated feature On the Beach, starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner and Fred Astaire.
On the Beach was based upon the novel by British aeronautical engineer and racing enthusiast Nevil Shute Norway pre-war a member of the design team for the successful R100 airship and later Chief Designer of Airspeed Aircraft. The story of On the Beach employed a post-nuclear holocaust scenario, in which World War 3 had finished with only the inhabitants of Australia and the US submarine Sawfish had escaped destruction and radiation. Captain Dwight Towers (Gregory Peck) took the USS Sawfish on a mission which discovered that an approaching radiation cloud would prove lethal. With days and hours of survival dwindling, each person confronted their fate. The Fred Astaire character realized a lifetime Grand Prix racing ambition involving a suicidal motor race around the Philip Island course, south of Melbourne, Australia. Ferrari Monza 0492M starred in filming for this sequence, as the final chapter of human history was supposedly drawing to its close.
The movie became an acclaimed success upon its release in 1959, while 0492M was returned to Chinetti Motors, New York, in July 1959 and began long storage in their premises. The handsome old car re-emerged in the Californian ownership of Jim Sokalski around 1968, and passed subsequently to Lee Troxel of Pacific Palisades, CA. In 1979 it was advertised for sale by classic car dealer Dan Margulies in London, England. He found a customer in the well-known German enthusiast Peter Groh of Stuttgart, who sold it to Peter Kaus for his superb Rosso Bianco Collection, eventually settling at Aschaffenburg, in 1983. Although having been a museum exhibit for a number of years, the Ferraris engine has been started and is reported as running well.
Highlights of Mr Kauss long ownership of this extremely well presented and attractive sports-racing Ferrari include the cars display during the Wiesbaden Ferrari meeting on May, 1993; at the Auto Becker Ferrari Days event in Dusseldorf, 1994; and at the 30th annual Essen Motor Show, Germany in 1997.
This is a fine example of Ferraris most popular major-class customer sports-racing model of the mid-1950s. Its Scaglietti-made body shape based upon the style originally penciled by Mr Ferraris ill-fated son Dino - is for many enthusiasts the best proportioned and most successful of all the 1950s competition Ferraris. As a drum-braked car it is immediately eligible for the increasingly popular and growing European series of tailored Historic racing events for this class, and it promises a capable new owner an instant entrée into many International events of the highest stature. Its 3-liter 4-cylinder racing engine was designed and built from the outset to be as practicable, easy-to-maintain and useable as possible for private owners. Its 750 Monza body shape always appeals to concours organizers and if all these factors are added to this particular cars rare use not only at an International motor show, but also in a renowned Hollywood movie classic, and 0492M becomes a very attractive proposition indeed. Can we remind would-be buyers of much more
oh yes, it was a race winner at Paramount Ranch and Santa Rosa and of course - it is above all a 1950s Ferrari raced in period by future Ferrari World Champion Driver, Phil Hill