The Ferrari 340MM Spider is the premium sports car of your dreams

With its stunning Vignale beauty, powerful Lampredi V12 engine and an impressive track record in road racing, this rare Ferrari 340 MM Spider should rank among the most desirable sports cars of all time. The car is now up for auction with RM Sotheby’s in Monaco.

Here’s a potential question for anyone planning a car trivia test: What do the actor who played Mowgli in the 1942 movie The Jungle Book and a major player in the invention of the personal pager have in common? Answer: They both own the awesome Ferrari pictured here, the last 10 1040mm Vignale Spider competition cars – and one of only four left. Set to hit the hammer at RM Sotheby’s in Monaco on May 14, it marks a key period in Ferrari racing history, because the 340mm engine was among the first to use the early Aurelio Lampredi ‘long block’ V-12 engine and because the overall design The car was so efficient that it enabled the Scuderia to win the 1953 World Sports Car Championship.

As any die-hard enthusiast will tell you, all of Ferrari’s historic competition cars are stamped with even numbers while road cars and GTs hold odds – and only 480 of the first were built, making them a rarity in anyone’s book. The story of this number-matching survivor began in September 1953 when American businessman, aviator, athlete and racing driver Sterling Edwards set off on his honeymoon with his brand-new bride. Apparently he had planned the trip himself, as the pair traveled directly to Italy to collect the 340mm he ordered through American Ferrari importer Luigi Chinetti.

When Edwards and his wife arrived at the factory the car was waiting for, the Vignale’s rear work was elegantly finished in a unique model combination of navy blue and white – a scheme that was said to have been chosen to reflect the new owner’s American roots. With its triangular oval vents on the front wings, triangular cooling vents towards the rear, the ten-slot bonnet and ‘outside’ headlights, the car followed the shape of previous Ferraris – but also benefited from the 300 hp Lampredi V12 produced.

An almost identical sister car already won the grueling Miglia mile that year, so perhaps it’s no surprise that Edwards decided that the honeymoon should center around a slick touring car — and chose a route that closely followed the legendary race. Next, he took the car to his home in San Francisco where he proceeded to drive where it was meant to be driven, kicking off her racing career with a first-time win in the SCCA event held at Stead Air Force Base in Reno.

Further wins followed in 1954, first in Palm Springs in February, then in April, at the fifth annual Pebble Beach Road Races (of which Edwards was the founding chair) where he won the Del Monte Cup straight away and set a lap time record in the process. After more wins and platform installs throughout the year, Edwards sold the car in 1955 to Jim Pauley (who modified the hood bulge by cutting air vents to improve airflow to the heavy-duty engine).

The next owner was celebrity So-Roder’s Ernie McAfee, who in turn passed it on to racer Tom Bamford who repainted it in the predictable ‘Rosso’ and took it to number one in its class at LA Sports Car Road Races shown at Hansen Dam in June 1955. Three years later, the car was bought by the brilliant Indian actor Sabu Dastagir who became an American citizen in 1944 after achieving cinematic fame as a young actor in films such as Elephant Boy, The Drum, The Thief of Baghdad, Mowgli and Arabian Nights. Usually known simply as ‘Sabu’, he joined the US Air Force in the weak tail gun role of the B-24 Liberators, surviving dozens of missions in the Pacific and leaving with the DFC for bravery. Sabo still owned a 340mm in 1963, just two days after a routine medical exam, he fell dead of a heart attack at the age of 39.

The car then remained idle for another six years until it was sold off of his property to a pair of California enthusiasts who ‘halved’, kept it for six years, and then sold it to a former NART driver turned Harley Cloxton dealer from Arizona. Grand Touring cars. Cloxton sold the car to another American owner in 1976, and three years later it was shipped to a buyer in the UK before David Cottingham purchased it from major restoration firm DK Engineering in 1980. Cottingham completely restored it, returning it to its original color scheme and stamping the holes that Pauli had cut. . He continued to race the car on a large scale and was successful until 1984 when it returned across the pond to Sherman Wolf of Amherst, New Hampshire, who made his money as a key figure in the development of the personal pager.

After returning the car to ‘Ferrari red’, Wolff used it for a ride, got it into the Mille Miglia Storica at least five times and completed the Colorado Grande in it on four occasions – before returning it to DK Engineering for another repainting, back to the correct blue and white . Wolf kept the car until his death a decade ago, when it was acquired by its current thirteenth owner who has now sent it to RM Sotheby’s for a pre-sale estimate of €6-8 million. Given their rarity and the models’ place in Ferrari’s history – and lest we forget, it’s been a decade since one of them was auctioned – the estimated price tag for this car can actually be considered a good value. It doesn’t necessarily compare like and like, but keep in mind that there are 36 Ferrari 250 GTOs built and two of them have been all over the block in the last 10 years. So, for their money, the buyer will get one of the most successful early Ferraris to compete in SCCA events, the car that first showed America the power of the glorified Lampredi V12 – and a foolproof ticket to some of the most prestigious and historic cars. events in the world. Enough said.

Photos courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

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