1952 Ferrari 225 Sport Spider
Coachwork by Vignale
"When you climb into the driving seat of the Ferrari 225S Vignale Spider, easing yourself down with your arms, your glove resting on a swell in the rear haunch above the wheel that fits perfectly under the palm of your hand, you are entering another world. When the V12 bursts into life, Enzo Ferrari walks the pit-lane again. It makes your heart ache." Rob Scorah, Classic Cars magazine, January 2007.
This most attractive high performance, open cockpit Ferrari Sport Spider completed its initial factory road test in the Appenine foothills around Maranello on 28th May 1952, before being shipped to its first owner, the Portuguese Ferrari agent Joao A. Gaspar of Oporto. He had the car registered on Portuguese license plates – 'GD -18-48' – and sold it to his fellow countryman and motor sports enthusiast Vasco Sameiro, of Lisbon.
The Ferrari was painted yellow and on 22nd June 1952, it made its motor racing debut – driven by Vasco Sameiro in the Portuguese Grand Prix for sports cars, run around the streets of Oporto. The car ran race number '18' there and is pictured during this event in the 1952 edition of the official Ferrari Yearbook. On 6th July Sameiro reappeared in the car, this time competing on the magnificent and, in part, tortuous city circuit at Vila Real in the Portuguese interior. On the occasion the car wore race number '22' but Sameiro was forced to retire.
On 31st August he raced '0198ET' on the Vila do Conde circuit, where he finished in fifth place. Back at the same venufe on 27th September, Vasco Sameiro and the car both went well – securing their first race victory.
Portugal, of course, has extremely close links with Brazil, and Vasco Sameiro then shipped his bright-yellow Ferrari across the mid-Atlantic to Rio de Janeiro for the local race at Maracana, in April 1953. Sameiro seems to have been seeking an enthusiastic local buyer for the car, and after winning at Maracana he was, indeed, successful, '0198ET' being acquired from him by Mario Valentim of Rio.
This Brazilian enthusiast then spent that northern hemisphere summer in Europe, and on 21st June 1953, he drove this car in its second consecutive Portuguese Grand Prix event, on the Boavista circuit, competing as number '1' and bringing the car home in a most commendable third place.
On 26th June Valentim appeared in the car once again, this time in the Automovil Club Portugues Grand Prix at Monsanto Park, Lisbon, in which he ran race number '28' and the car appeared painted black. Mario Valentim then sold chassis '0198ET' to fellow Brazilian Sergio Bernardes, also from Rio de Janeiro, but the car appears to have remained in Europe and was entered in the Oporto Grand Prix on 27th June 1954, to be driven by Bernardes – race number '14' – although it did not start in that event on race day.
One month later, however, on 25th July, Bernardes did indeed appear in the car in the Portuguese Grand Prix at Monsanto Park, Lisbon – race number '2' – but failed to finish.
Later in the 1950s the car was shipped back to Brazil, where it appeared on the Interlagos circuit at Sao Paulo in February, 1957 – being pictured for the second time in the official Ferrari Yearbook. It then survived little used in Brazil until discovered there by prominent British classic car specialist Colin Crabbe in the late 1960s.
It was fitted with an inside-plug Ferrari 250GT-type V12 engine – serial '1091GT' – and sold in the early 1970s to French enthusiast – and Talbot historian – Alain Spitz of Mulhouse. From him '0198ET' passed to collector/ dealer Jean-François Dumontant of Eymoutiers, France, who kept it in storage at Garage Zuriani.
In 1987 chassis '0198ET' was sold through Alain Moitier to Hiroshi Yamazaki of Tokyo, Japan. It was British registered at that time and into 1988 underwent complete overhaul and restoration by Middlebridge Engineering in England. The pairing of Yamazaki/ Kazuhiko then shared the car in the 1988 Mille Miglia Retro and in May 1994 it was acquired by the current British owner, a private collector and gentleman driver.
Following his purchase, he asked the respected British specialist firm DK Engineering to weave its restoration and preparation magic upon it into 1998, performing a comprehensive rebuild and fitting a correct, built-up Ferrari 225 type V12 engine. The new engine featured a fresh crank and 250 bore – the engine specification is otherwise correct and the original number was carried over to the replacement unit.
In the present ownership '0198ET' has participated in the BRDC Historic Festival at Silverstone, the 1996 Tour of South Africa, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, no less than three Le Mans Retrospectives and three Ecurie Ecosse Tours, not to mention the 1999 Tour Auto in France. At its last Goodwood Revival outing it proved quicker than all the C-Type Jaguars and the Aston Martin DB3Ss.
The car’s other modification from original factory specification is the use of a four-speed 250 gearbox in place of the original five-speed version, and a smaller-than-original alloy fuel tank which was adopted to permit extra luggage to be accommodated making it ideal for participation in modern-day 'social events'. The original steel fuel tank remains available, however, and is included in the sale. Disc brakes have also been fitted for racing but the original drums are supplied, as are FIA papers (not yet updated to show the engine change) and a current UK road registration document.
The Ferrari 225S was a significant interim model in Ferrari’s V12-powered sports car series, the last building block to be set in place before introduction of the full 3-litre V12-engined line which commenced with the 250MM and reached its apogee in the immortal 250GTO. Some 20 of these 225S cars were manufactured – through 1952 only – with 19 of them – 12 Spiders and seven Berlinettas – bodied by Alfredo Vignale. Chassis '0198ET' is one of a handful to survive, and is even rarer in featuring the upgraded, stiffer 'tuboscocca' type chassis for racing. It was test driven by Classic Cars magazine in 2007 who had this to say about it: "By most standards, the car's asking price of around £770,000 is huge, but if you look at the value of other classic open V12 Ferrari sports racers, it almost looks like a bargain. What would you be buying? For a start, a car that could be driven, raced, supplied and supported by almost mere mortals (no Group C heroics needed) and one which qualifies for the best classic events around: the Tour Auto, Goodwood, the Monaco Historic and, of course, the Mille Miglia. 166 or 250 owners might be able to fly (other people's) battle honours more vigorously, but when you're behind the wheel of this car, none of that matters."
The last Ferrari 225 sold at auction achieved $1,280,000 in mid-2006, a price described back then as 'reasonable' by Sports Car Market magazine. Chassis '0198ET' is a genuine V12 Ferrari sports-racing car with well-documented contemporary competition history, European taxes paid, beautifully presented, and ideal for the numerous touring-type classic car events which abound in all parts of the world today. To the well trained collector's eye, it will prove to be a bargain.