The ex-Franco Cornacchia, 1953 Coppa Intereuropa-winning,1952 Ferrari 212/225 Inter Berlinetta  Chassis no. 0237EU Engine no. 0269EU

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Lot 204
The ex-Franco Cornacchia, 1953 Coppa Intereuropa-winning, 1952 Ferrari 212/225 Inter Berlinetta
Chassis no. 0237EU Engine no. 0269EU

Sold for CHF 502,973 (US$ 513,094) inc. premium
The ex-Franco Cornacchia, 1953 Coppa Intereuropa-winning
1952 Ferrari 212/225 Inter Berlinetta
Coachwork by Vignale

Chassis no. 0237EU
Engine no. 0269EU


  • It is unlikely that any single model was more important to the commercial success of Ferrari than the 212.
    Produced in multiple variations between 1951 and 1952, the 212 achieved significant racing successes but more importantly it put some 110 individual chassis in the hands of clients. The 212 was bodied in a bewildering array of styles from lightweight spyders, coupés and berlinettas to stylish and luxurious cabriolets. Carrozzeria Alfredo Vignale contributed most of the 212’s coachwork but the 212 also provided the basis for the first Ferrari by Pinin Farina and important designs by both Touring and Ghia.
    Ferrari’s original V12 designed by Gioacchino Colombo was only 1.5 litres, just 125cc per cylinder. Its displacement was first expanded to 1995cc in the Ferrari 166, then to 2,341cc in the 195. A further increase in the cylinder bore from 65mm to 68mm brought the individual cylinders to 212cc and the engine’s displacement to 2,562cc. The chassis was Ferrari’s proven design consisting of a double oval tube frame with double wishbones at the front suspended by a transverse leaf spring and a carefully located live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs. The brakes were Ferrari’s large hydraulically actuated drums. The transmission was mounted directly behind the engine and had five forward speeds.
    There were two basic – but frequently intermingled – distinctions. The Export model, intended for racing on tighter circuits, had a wheelbase of only 2,250mm. The Inter version was typically built on a longer 2,600mm wheelbase chassis in both racing and granturismo guise. Engines were tailored to clients’ needs and to the specified coachwork with different tunes and carburation. The engine’s elements were refined steadily including introduction during the 212’s production of cylinder heads with individual intake ports, bringing the rated power when fitted with three 36mm downdraft Weber carburettors to 170 bhp. It was also during the 212’s production that the model designation changed, without notice or comment, to ‘EU’, foreshadowing the 250 Europa that was to follow it.
    While often competing against the large displacement Lampredi-engined 340 Mexico, the 212 earned its keep in racing, including first and second place finishes in the 1951 Carrera Panamericana by Piero Taruffi/ Luigi Chinetti and Alberto Ascari/ Luigi Villoresi. The 212’s competitiveness was further demonstrated by the frequency with which their engines were updated by owners to keep at bay later and larger competitors.
    The 1952 Ferrari 212 Inter offered here, chassis ‘0237 EU’, bears beautiful lightweight closed coachwork by Vignale and there is no question at all that its purpose was competition. Franco Cornacchia, Ferrari’s agent in Milan and proprietor of the Scuderia Guastalla, took delivery in September 1952, about three-quarters of the way through the 212’s production. A copy of the original Italian registration quaintly shows how on 15th of that month ownership passed from one Enzo Ferrari to Franco Cornacchia of 27, Via Piave in Milan, the car gaining the Milan registration ‘MI 211200’ on 1st April 1953. The document also shows an early increase in engine displacement and taxable horsepower (from 34 to 38), which corroborates a known upgrade to the later 225 specification with 2,715cc displacement achieved by an increase in the Colombo V12’s bore to 70mm and bringing the output rated by Ferrari to 210 bhp. Closer scrutiny of this document yields another interesting detail: the certificate of origin was issued on 15th September 1952, but Alfredo Vignale’s coachwork was not sold until 31st March 1953. Could the car have raced in another guise before then?
    Franco Cornacchia was both a successful Ferrari representative and an accomplished competition driver. He followed a similar business plan to that employed by other Ferrari representatives of the time, taking delivery of cars from Ferrari, racing them under the name of his own scuderia with both professional and paying drivers, and then selling them to clients once their performance was demonstrated. ‘0237 EU’s early history with Scuderia Guastalla is unknown before being sold to its first owner, Count Achille Stazzi of Milan, at the end of March 1953 and no record of racing appears until Cornacchia entered it in the opening race for the Italian Grand Prix in September, the fiercely contested Coppa Intereuropa at Monza.

    In their authoritative work, Ferrari 1947-1953, Italian historians Millanta, Orsini and Zagari describe the event: “The efforts of the Milan Automobile Club continue just seven days after successfully running the GP Supercortemaggiore at Merano, where Ferrari abstained leaving the field clear for Lancia and Alfa Romeo. These two proud challengers face each other at Monza with Sanesi’s 1900 Sprint and the red Aurelias of Castellotti, Manzon, Palmieri and Anselmi. But they can do nothing against the Ferrari 212 Export of Cornacchia which wins in record time.”

    A month later Count Stazzi sold ‘0237 EU’ to Ambrogio Arosio of Lissone who enjoyed his race-winning Ferrari 212 only briefly before selling it to Bruno Moroni of Milan in March 1954.
    The Vignale coachwork on ‘0237 EU’ is among the most beautiful and effective designs to come from Vignale’s relationship with designer Giovanni Michelotti. Its semi-fastback design, flowing wing line and balanced treatment of the front and rear wings is, perhaps, the most successful example of the cooperation between Michelotti’s design talents and Alfredo Vignale’s interpretation. Made famous by Giovanni Bracco’s 250 Sport, winner of the 1952 Mille Miglia in an epic drive, there is no excess, no flamboyant embellishment, no extraneous element, just the characteristic Ferrari ovoid eggcrate grille and brilliant implementation of intuitive appreciation for aerodynamics that has stood the test of time and become a classic. ‘0237 EU’s only modest concession to styling are the two oval portholes on the front wings, elements which are complemented by the vertical oval air intakes flanking the grille.
    Franco Cornacchia’s ‘0237 EU’ also was one of the first Ferraris built originally with left-hand drive.
    Exported from Italy like so many sports cars in the late 1950’s, it was acquired by George A. Sturner in the USA. In 1972 Stanley Nowak fitted the engine from another 212 Inter, ‘0269 EU’, we believe installing the original engine from ‘0237 EU’ into chassis ‘0149E’. In 1986 the car was acquired by the present Italian owner, a well-known international financier and long standing car collector, and it has remained in his collection ever since, the object of careful maintenance and preparation for historic events, including participating in the Mille Miglia no less than eight times between 1987 and 1999. A letter to the owner dated 1986 from his old friend Gilberto Cornacchia congratulates him on acquiring his father’s old car and encloses a picture of it winning the Coppa Intereuropa (both are supplied).

    Currently presented to historic competition standards, ‘0237 EU’ is finished in classic Ferrari red with black interior, close to its period livery of dark red with brown upholstery. It rides on outside-laced competition wire wheels and has safety equipment including multi-point competition belts and contains abundant period details which enhance its character. Notably, the interior is fully trimmed, giving it a charming dual capability for high speed competition and open road events as well as being a satisfying and comfortable granturismo. The car comes with US title and FIVA pass, and has been inspected by the Ferrari factory for their certification programme. It is expected this will be issued in time for the sale. Should the car remain in the EU local taxes will be liable, but it may be imported via the UK at the reduced 5% rate for cars of historic importance.

    Its racing history with Franco Cornacchia assures its acceptance to the most enjoyable and important events, making Ferrari 212 Inter Vignale berlinetta ‘0237 EU’ as important and valuable to today’s collectors as the 212 model was to Ferrari’s early success both on the world’s racing circuits and to establishing the marque’s reputation among the most discerning gentleman drivers.

Saleroom notices

  • The factory certification has not yet arrived but will be forwarded to the buyer.
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