The Ex-Brussels Salon/John von Neumann/Phil Hill/ ‘On the Beach’ movie,1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider Corsa Sports-Racing Two-Seater  Chassis no. 0492M Engine no. 0492M

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Lot 525Ω
The Ex-Brussels Salon/John von Neumann/Phil Hill/ ‘On the Beach’ movie, 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider Corsa Sports-Racing Two-Seater
Chassis no. 0492M Engine no. 0492M

Sold for US$ 1,107,000 inc. premium
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 driver’s 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 owner’s favored St Christopher’s 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 car’s 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 factory’s 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 capital’s annual Salon International de l’Automobile 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 weekend’s 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’ magazine’s August issue, 1955. One week later John von Neumann scored this Ferrari’s 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 magazine’s October, 1955, issue.

Ferrari’s 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 magazine’s 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 Kramer’s 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 Ferrari’s engine has been started and is reported as running well.

Highlights of Mr Kaus’s long ownership of this extremely well presented and attractive sports-racing Ferrari include the car’s 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 Ferrari’s 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 Ferrari’s 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 car’s 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…
The Ex-Brussels Salon/John von Neumann/Phil Hill/ ‘On the Beach’ movie,1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider Corsa Sports-Racing Two-Seater  Chassis no. 0492M Engine no. 0492M
The Ex-Brussels Salon/John von Neumann/Phil Hill/ ‘On the Beach’ movie,1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider Corsa Sports-Racing Two-Seater  Chassis no. 0492M Engine no. 0492M
The Ex-Brussels Salon/John von Neumann/Phil Hill/ ‘On the Beach’ movie,1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider Corsa Sports-Racing Two-Seater  Chassis no. 0492M Engine no. 0492M
The Ex-Brussels Salon/John von Neumann/Phil Hill/ ‘On the Beach’ movie,1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider Corsa Sports-Racing Two-Seater  Chassis no. 0492M Engine no. 0492M
The Ex-Brussels Salon/John von Neumann/Phil Hill/ ‘On the Beach’ movie,1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider Corsa Sports-Racing Two-Seater  Chassis no. 0492M Engine no. 0492M
The Ex-Brussels Salon/John von Neumann/Phil Hill/ ‘On the Beach’ movie,1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider Corsa Sports-Racing Two-Seater  Chassis no. 0492M Engine no. 0492M
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