The brutally fast 375-Plus was Ferrari's ultimate weapon to win the 1954 Sports Car Championship. Just five cars were made, of which this was the first.
Fitted with a 4.9-liter V12 engine developing 330 brake horsepower and clothed in spectacular lightweight Pinin Farina all alloy open bodywork, the 375-Plus was entrusted by the Scuderia Ferrari works racing team only to the bravest and most skilled racing drivers of the day.
Such drivers included Jose Froilan Gonzalez from Argentina – known as 'the Pampas Bull' as much for his courage as his physique – and Umberto Maglioli, the great Italian long distance road racer.
The 375-Plus model was an outright winner at Le Mans and Silverstone, as well as in the astonishing five-day Carrera PanAmericana road race through Mexico, which Umberto Maglioli won at the astounding average speed of 107mph (173km/h). His Ferrari 375-Plus averaged more than 150mph (240km/h) for more than five hours during the final stages of the great road race.
Car 0384 AM being offered by Bonhams was the 1954 works entry driven by Maglioli in the Mille Miglia, then piloted to victory by the great Argentine star, Froilan Gonzalez, at Silverstone. In its last factory team outing it was co-driven by Maglioli and Paolo Marzotto in that year's Le Mans 24-Hour race.
The car then passed to well known amateur racer and Kleenex heir, Jim Kimberly, in the USA, before being sold to Howard Hively, an Ohio Cadillac dealer, in 1955. He campaigned the car enthusiastically at Watkins Glen, Nassau and Sebring, as well as in the 1957 Cuban Grand Prix.
Howard Hively then sold the Ferrari to Ohio resident and nuclear physicist, Karl Kleve. It later passed to noted Belgian Ferrari importer, racer and close friend of Enzo Ferrari, Jacques Swaters, founder of the highly successful Ecurie Francochamps racing team. Jacques Swaters had the car fully restored in Modena.
Long-running title disputes over the car broke out between the Kleve and Swaters families, which Bonhams is glad to have been able to assist in resolving.
Bonhams is proud to have been instructed to offer the car without reserve at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this summer where last year Bonhams sold the ex-Juan Manuel Fangio Mercedes Benz W196 for £20m, the world record price for any car sold at public auction.
The car will be sold with a spare period works block engine and its original body panels, still bearing traces of the 1957 Cuban Grand Prix race colors.
Philip Kantor, Bonhams head of motor cars for mainland Europe, said: "We are honored to have been chosen to sell this wonderful car, which represents a key early stage in the Ferrari racing legend. It is very rare indeed for a Ferrari team works car with continuous history and undisputed identity to come to the market for sale by public auction. We believe it will attract interest from all over the world."
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com