Bonhams inaugural classic car auction in the fashionable seaside town of Knokke-Le-Zoute in Belgium on Friday 11th features a 1954 Ferrari previously believed to be a 212/250 with coachwork by Pininfarina. New research by Bonhams specialists together with the factory Classiche department and Ferrari authorities Marcel Massini and Antoine Prunet shows that in fact it is a rarer and more valuable Tipo 250 Europa Prototype, one of only two such cars produced. It is estimated to sell for 750,000 to 950,000.
Philip Kantor, Head of the Mainland European Motoring department, said: "Following the success of our inaugural sale at the Spa Classic in May, we are delighted to be heading to Knokke-Le-Zoute for the second of our two new auctions in Belgium this year. Having this very special Mille Miglia eligible Ferrari that participated in 2010 will doubtless add to the excitement of the sale."
Enzo Ferrari had begun planning his new car during the war and in 1946 commissioned Gioacchino Colombo to design a small-capacity V12 engine for it. By the time of the Paris Salon, in October 1953, the Ferrari range of road-going cars was being fully renewed with two new models announced, the 250 Europa to replace the 212 Inter born in 1951 and a bigger engined model, the 375 America. These two new Ferraris featured a common and longer (2,800mm instead of 2,600mm) chassis and 'long block' Lampredi engines, a 3-litre (2,963cc) known as Tipo 103 for the Europa and a 4.5-litre (4,522cc) Tipo 104 for the America together with a 4-speed gearbox to replace the 5-speed of the 212 Inter.
Two catalogues mentioning the 250 Europa also explain why the two real 'prototypes' 0295EU and 0297EU have confused observers over the years. One factory 10-page brochure common to the 250 Europa, the 500 Mondial and the 750 Monza credits the Europa with the Colombo (2,953cc) engine and the 2,600mm chassis. An 8-page factory catalogue titled '250 Europa - 375 America' gives the correct standard 250 Europa figures of 2,963cc for the Lampredi engine and 2,800mm wheelbase, but includes two pictures of a car and a dashboard that could very well be 0297EU, while the car pictured in the other brochure is definitely of the later Pinin Farina design, actually showing 0321EU at a 1954 Montreux Concours d'élégance.
The 250 Europa offered after the Vignale bodied car 0295EU, chassis 0297EU was clothed by Pinin Farina and destined for American Motorsport Promoter Tom Marchese. Subsequently chassis 0299EU went to film director Roberto Rossellini in Roma. We see these first cars in the series were all assigned to Enzo Ferrari's high profile clients most having influence in the American target market.
The Ferrari 250 Europa we offer at Zoute can only be referred to as one of two factory prototypes. Going to press now it has come as a virtual new discovery in the Ferrari world that 0297EU was for decades misidentified as the last in the 212 series when the documentation and historical back tracking affirms that 0297EU is a very special short chassis prototype and the second 250 Europa produced with a 3,000cc Colombo engine.
In the 1960's, Amerigo Manicardi, director of International Sales at Ferrari, had a hand written ledger compiled of all the Ferrari serial numbers starting with the first cars and their first owners. This list is heavily guarded in the Ferrari world, and rarely mentioned outside of the inner sanctums of Ferrari as it contained the names of Ferrari's elite client base. In this rare ledger 0297EU is shown clearly as one of two production Ferraris with unique characteristics qualifying it as a prototype of the 250 Europa series and noting the 'proprietario' as Tom Marchese -Thiensville USA.
The inaugural Bonhams Zoute Sale will be held in conjunction with the Zoute Grand Prix Rally and Concours d'Elegance, which is held over the weekend of 10 to 13 October. The Rally, which begins and ends at Knokke-Le-Zoute, features 160 cars manufactured between 1920 and 1965, while the wider event will include exhibitions from car manufacturers and the Zoute GP Tour a drive from St-Martens-Latem to Knokke-Le-Zoute reserved for GT cars that are less than 20 years old.
The Concours d'Elegance will take place on Fairway 1 of the prestigious Royal Zoute Golf Club, and will be judged by an internationally-renowned jury.