<b>1951 Ferrari 340 America Coupe Speciale</b><br />Chassis no. 0132A<br />Engine no. 0132A

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The ex-Johnny Ysmael and William Doheny
1951 Ferrari 340 America Coupe Speciale
Coachwork by Vignale

Sold for US$ 3,635,000 inc. premium, Quail Lodge Auction 2019

Refer to department
The ex-Johnny Ysmael and William Doheny
1951 Ferrari 340 America Coupe Speciale
Coachwork by Vignale

Chassis no. 0132A
Engine no. 0132A

4,101cc Tipo 340/A SOHC V12 Engine
Triple Weber Carburetors
Approx. 220bhp at 6,600rpm
5-Speed Manual Transmission
Front Independent Suspension – Live Rear Axle
4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes

*Stunningly unique and collectible example of Ferrari history
*Documented history by marque authority Marcel Massini and factory build sheets
*Cost a staggering $25,000 when new
*Retains matching numbers engine and original Vignale bodywork
*Eligible for the most prominent motoring events around the globe


The early history of Ferrari is overwhelmingly characterized by the evolution of one classic engine, the Giacchino Colombo-designed motor that is often referred to as the short-block V12. Colombo had been a principle engineer for the Scuderia Ferrari prior to World War II, and his postwar 1.5-liter engine soon became the backbone of early Ferrari models like the 125S, 166MM, and the 212 series. Once the motor's displacement was enlarged to three liters in 1954, the Colombo V12 became the unifying component of Maranello's road car development for the following fifteen years.

Considering the short-block V12's longevity and significance to Ferrari's evolution, Colombo, himself, actually exited the company rather early, joining Alfa Romeo in 1950. His defection was ultimately prompted by some of the limitations in his engine's design, and the rise of one of his pupils, one Aurelio Lampredi. While Colombo's V12 thrived in the aforementioned sports car models and their respective racing endeavors, the engine was considerably less successful in the all-important Grand Prix competition format.

Somewhat ironically, Alfa Romeo's Grand Prix cars dominated the immediate postwar period with a supercharged version of the motor that Colombo had designed for them before the war on the Scuderia's behalf. This engine championed the prevalent notion of the prewar period that Grand Prix success was reliant upon blown motors of relatively small displacement. While this approach had no doubt resulted in winning cars, such engines required extreme degrees of tuning, maintenance, and parts replacement, as the high-revving motors were particularly susceptible to wear. Along these lines, Colombo had attempted to supercharge his postwar V12 for Ferrari's Grand Prix entries, but the short-block engine could not hold pace with the highly developed Alfa unit.

Junior Ferrari designer Aurelio Lampredi envisioned a different approach. As a considerably larger un-supercharged engine was allowed under the formula, Colombo's apprentice proposed a naturally aspirated 4.5-liter motor, which Ferrari approved for development by 1949. Lampredi's creation differed from his mentor's not only with a bigger displacement, it featured a wholly taller and longer architecture, thus prompting the "long-block" nickname (and the retroactive "short-block" designation for Colombo's unit). The engine also featured single intake porting versus the Colombo V12's siamesed arrangement, and twin ignition per cylinder for increased power.

First utilized in the Scuderia's 1950 grand prix cars, and soon after in the corresponding sports cars, the Lampredi engine offered unprecedented power capabilities at a fraction of the required maintenance during endurance events. The immediate success of the powerplant prompted Ferrari to temporarily abandon further development of the short-block V12, and Colombo accordingly soon made his exit. At the ripe age of 30, Aurelio Lampredi was promoted to chief engineer of Ferrari.

While Lampredi's long-block engine initially displaced 3.3 liters in Grand Prix configuration, versions of 3, 4.1, 4.5, and 5 liters were eventually developed. These motors became the grist of Ferrari's sports car racing campaigns over the following five years, powering superlative models like the 340MM, 375MM, and the Le Mans-winning 375 Plus.

The displacement limitations in FIA formulas that followed the disastrous accident at Le Mans in 1955 spelled the end of the long-block's remarkable run, allowing Colombo's original short-block design to re-enter the picture. In addition to the evolving road cars, the short block would figure prominently in racecars like the 250 Testa Rossa and Tour de France Berlinetta. But the achievements and overall dominance of the more potent Lampredi motor during the early 1950s will always be fondly celebrated as a uniquely important chapter in Ferrari's sports car racing history, and the major force behind their World Sportscar Championships of 1953 and 1954.


In April 1950, the 3.3-liter Grand Prix motor designed by Lampredi was dropped into chassis no. 0030 MT, a Touring-bodied Barchetta that was dubbed a 275 S. Two such cars were entered at the 1950 Mille Miglia, one driven by Luigi Villoresi and the other by Alberto Ascari, but both suffered transmission failures during one of the final stages, the Appenine section between Pescara and Rome (despite leading the eventual winner, Giannino Marzotto's 195 S Touring Berlinetta). The result would be markedly different a year later.

Given the dominance of Allard's Cadillac and Chrysler-powered cars in SCCA circuits in the United States, Enzo Ferrari reasoned he could effectively market a large-bore sports car specifically for the American market. In August 1950, the company announced plans for a 4.1-liter Lampredi engined car, and 0030 MT was shown at the Paris Motor Show in September 1950, reconfigured with the new larger engine and now called the 340 America.

Production began with chassis no. 0082A, a Vignale-bodied Berlinetta that made its debut in April 1951 at the Mille Miglia. Villoresi and Piero Cassani drove this 340 America to first-place overall, demonstrating the tremendous promise of the platform. This car marked the first of 22 purpose-built 340 America examples, all assigned even-numbered chassis designations and thus theoretically intended for competition use like the concurrent 212 Exports. Despite this chassis numbering, cars could still be individually ordered to preference by coachbuilder or bodystyle, and eight of the 22 cars were actually trimmed as well-appointed roadgoing examples.

Available in open and closed coachwork from both Touring and Vignale, the 340 America was also clothed as a Coupe by Ghia. The model constituted the first premium supercar that Ferrari marketed specifically to the United States, and the precursor to the 410 Superamerica, which would eventually employ the ultimate 4.9-liter configuration of the Lampredi design for roadcar use.


Bonhams is honored to be offering this truly unique and bespoke, one-off Ferrari, from single family ownership for more than 50 years. 1951 Ferrari 340 America chassis number 0132A began construction during the Summer of 1951, and as documented by the clear copies of the factory build sheets on file, the chassis received all the very best components available as it was the very best chassis Ferrari offered in the day. Just five of these type 340A chassis were made to be clothed by a Coupe Vignale body, and the car offered here featured many unique features. Carrozzeria Vignale handbuild 0132A during the fall of 1951, and the long list of bespoke coachwork features included slotted tail lights recessed into the fenders, front fender slots, two air intakes on the bonnet and unique front and rear bumpers. Furthermore, an abundance of chrome trim was fitted on the 340 America, as well as unique interior features including an oversized, three level cigarette holder, placed right atop the dashboard. No less than six tail pipes were fitted, making sure to let the missive 4.1-liter V12 engine let go of its exhaust fumes. Lastly, the Coupe Speciale was finished by a two-tone exterior paintjob.

0132A received the factory test drive at Ferrari in November of 1951 and was then in 1952 delivered to the official Ferrari agency of Rome, Ponti & Mambretti. In February 1952, the unique Ferrari 340 was featured in the American car magazine Road & Track and had by this point been purchased by millionaire playboy, Mr. Johnny Ysmael. As Esquire magazine puts it, 'Johnny Ysmael had the World'. A Lebanese immigrant to the Philippines, Ysmael and his family had made a fortune buying up land in Manila and Batangas. The family also owned Ysmael Steel, once a leading manufacturer of steel and home electrical appliances, later on, importers of FIAT automobiles. Bon Vivant Johnny lived fast, and unfortunately died at only 32.

It is reported, that Johnny Ysmael paid a hefty $25,000 for 0132A, a sum that would have bought you several houses in 1952, and a small fleet of more pedestrian automobiles. Ysmael would keep the car in Los Angeles, and lovely archival photos on file show him in the bespoke Vignale Coupe Speciale, fitted with Italian customs license plates. In 1953, Johnny Ysmael sold 0132A to another prominent Los Angeles resident, Mr. William Doheny, owner of the Union Oil Company (Union 76). Mr. Doheny would later sell the car on to legendary sports car dealer Ernie McAfee, who would campaign the car around the Southern California landscape. 0132A was photographed during this time at the Willow Springs Raceway, and it is very possible the father of the consignor Mr. James Walter, saw the car while shown around by McAfee. Mr. Walter purchased the spectacular one-off Ferrari in the late 1950s, and it has remained in his family ever since, now being offered by his daughter.

Mr. Walter would keep the car on the road up through the 1960s, but then lay the important Ferrari up, and preserved its authenticity. A restoration was started, but not finished. At some point a Chevrolet engine was fitted, but the original, matching numbers engine was kept and is now refitted. The Ferrari is accompanied by a deep file of documentation including dozens of exceptional black and white photos of 0132A during the ownership of Ysmael, Doheny and while handled by McAfee, as well as copies of the factory build sheets and Marcel Massini's history file.

0132A is now offered for sale for the first time in more than 50 years and is a unique opportunity for a collector of the finest motorcars to bring the car back to its former and very glamorous glory. A rewarding project indeed, this car is worth the full restoration needed, or simply assembled and brought to running and driving condition.

Eligible for every conceivable event in the automotive niche, from world class concours like the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance or Villa d'Este Concorso d'Eleganza to premium vintage rallies like the Mille Miglia Storico or Le Mans Classic, this sensational early bespoke coachbuild Ferrari checks all the proverbial boxes. 0132A boasts rarity and legitimate provenance, and it would make a crowning acquisition for the dedicated Ferrari collector. This exceptional piece of Ferrari history is as perfect synthesis of the finest qualities of 1950s Italian custom coachbuilt sports cars.
Auction information

This auction has not been published. Catalogs are usually available four weeks before the auction. If you are interested in consigning property, the last consignment date for this auction is 13 Jun 2020