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Lot 465

1958 Ferrari 412 S Sports Racing Car

  • Chassis no. 0744

Sold for $5,610,000

The ex-Scuderia Ferrari, One-Off, Pebble Beach Class Winning Singular Example

Chassis no. 0744 Engine no. 0744


Engine: Type 141, 60 ° V-12, front mounted, longitudinal; bore x stroke: 77 X 72 mm;

Capacity: 4023 cc, valve gear: DOHC per cylinder bank

Carburetion: Six twin choke Weber 42 DCN carburetors

Compression Ratio: 9.9:1

Max. Power: 447 bhp at 8500 rpm

Gearbox: Four-speed and reverse, manual

Clutch: Multi-disc, dry

Chassis: Steel tubes, type 524

Front Suspension: IFS, two A-arms, coil springs, Houdaille lever hydraulic dampers

Rear Suspension: deDion back axle, transverse leaf spring, Houdaille lever hydraulic dampers.

Brakes: Dunlop hydraulic on four discs

Wheels: 16” wire center-lock Borrani

Tires: 6.00 x 16” front; 7.00 x 16” rear Dunlop Racing

Wheelbase: 2350 mm

The ex-Scuderia Ferrari, One-Off, Pebble Beach Class Winning

1958 Ferrari 412 S Sports Racing Car

Chassis no. 0744 Engine no. 0744


Engine: Type 141, 60 ° V-12, front mounted, longitudinal; bore x stroke: 77 X 72 mm;

Capacity: 4023 cc, valve gear: DOHC per cylinder bank

Carburetion: Six twin choke Weber 42 DCN carburetors

Compression Ratio: 9.9:1

Max. Power: 447 bhp at 8500 rpm

Gearbox: Four-speed and reverse, manual

Clutch: Multi-disc, dry

Chassis: Steel tubes, type 524

Front Suspension: IFS, two A-arms, coil springs, Houdaille lever hydraulic dampers

Rear Suspension: deDion back axle, transverse leaf spring, Houdaille lever hydraulic dampers.

Brakes: Dunlop hydraulic on four discs

Wheels: 16” wire center-lock Borrani

Tires: 6.00 x 16” front; 7.00 x 16” rear Dunlop Racing

Wheelbase: 2350 mm

“Mysterious, powerful, beautiful and unquestionably one of the most significant cars in Ferrari’s history.”

Vintage Ferrari Magazine



Today’s vintage racing enthusiasts may find modern motor racing uninspiring at times. Space-pod shaped racing cars that all look the same, except for garish sponsorship liveries, speed across our TV screens as a sort of moving billboard display, their main purpose apparently, being to promote the sale of various consumer goods. Computers that control acceleration, braking, cornering and even a mechanism that eliminates wheel-spin from a standing start are all employed by today’s most exciting race cars. Overtaking for a position during an event – once the raison d’etre of motor racing, is seldom seen, race winners nowadays often being determined by pit stop prowess, the latter having replaced the actual on- track racing as the real “sport” of auto racing.

Much like the past, today’s technology combined with the correct tires and various decisions made by the team’s race engineer are significant influences on the outcome of any given race.

When contrasted with all the other professional sports; stick & ball, track & field, tennis, even golf, where individuals, their skill displayed for all to see, still make the difference between winning and losing, auto racing has been largely transformed into an expensive display of the latest scientific technology. One of the most lacking aspects in today’s racing world are the gentleman drivers and mechanics who, after personally towing their factory or privateer entry to the track, acted as their own pit crews and team managers all at once.

Pre and post war racing, at least until the late 1960s, when the effects of major sponsorship began to erode the ideal, was a grand and glorious International spectacle. Hero drivers with larger then life personalities, Counts and commoners alike, the well-born and the pauper, united solely by their super-human abilities to manhandle an over-powered, ill-handling sports car, often over dangerous public roads, wrote chapters in the history book of motor racing, the likes of which we shall not see again.

With Richie Ginther behind the wheel, the mighty 412 S seemed like an undefeatable beast, its presence both imposing and intimidating whether stagnant in the pits or at speed on the track. In the hands of the right skilled driver such as Ginther, it was only a matter of time before it would claim the checkered flag. Ginther is shown here at the Riverside Grand Prix coming around turn number 7 in October of 1959. Photo Credit: Bob Tronolone

A short list of the titans of the 1950s would certainly include Englishmen Stirling Moss, Mike Hawthorn and Peter Collins, Belgian Olivier Gendebien, Frenchman Jean Behra, Argentine champion Juan Manuel Fangio, Italians Luigi Musso and Eugenio Castellotti, Count Wolfgang von Trips from Germany, Swede Jo Bonnier, Spanish nobleman Alfonso de Portago and Americans Carroll Shelby, Phil Hill and Richie Ginther. (Amazingly, six of these international stars – Hawthorn, Gendebien, Musso, Portago, Hill and Ginther, all drove the star of this year’s Monterey Sports and Classic Car auction, the 1958 Ferrari 412 S, chassis no. 0744 or raced its engine in prior installations – but more on that later.)

If we find the drivers of the era fascinating, the cars are perhaps even more so, being very much expressions of the national personas of their countries of origin. Racing in their national colors – British Racing green, German silver and Italy’s Rosso Corsa, each country seemed to focus on different design aspects in order to achieve a competitive machine.

Jaguar and Aston Martin both won LeMans in the 1950s as a result of superior handling and braking, Jaguar being the first to use disc brakes in international racing. Accentuation of these positives was not only a clever but necessary concept for these Brits, since both were limited to the use of production-car based six-cylinder engines.

For Porsche, Teutonic efficiency applied to its highest level was even more necessary since the German marque had to make do with a little air-cooled flat-four that was basically a hot-rodded VW engine. Minimum weight and aerodynamics became their mantra and Porsche scored many long distance race placings based on making half as many fuel stops as the faster more physically dominant cars.



By 1957, Maserati’s 450 S sports cars were pumping out 400 horsepower from their V8s, while Ferrari equaled this output with a 4.1 liter V-12 with four overhead cams and six dual-choke carburetors.

From the beginning, as early as 1945, Enzo Ferrari had insisted on a V-12 engine. One of his wealthiest drivers, Count Trossi had often talked about his wonderful pre-war V-12 Packards. Ferrari also knew that no other manufacturer was likely to dare a V-12, meaning that he would garner headlines in the sports press which would attract the best drivers and in turn, guarantee racing victories.

So, in effect the Italian sports car consisted of a big powerful multi-cylinder engine stuffed into a strong state-of-the-art chassis and clothed in a breathtakingly beautiful aluminum body. Independent rear suspensions or new fangled disc brakes would not be needed for a few years because Ferrari’s engines and brave drivers more than made up for these deficiencies.

Would you expect less from the land of Verdi, Sophia Loren, Amaroni and a country that closed vast distances of its public roads each year in order to host the legendary Targa Florio and Mille Miglia Road Races? We think not!



Mercedes, aided by drivers like Fangio and Stirling Moss won the 1955 Championship ahead of Ferrari and Jaguar but a corporate edict cancelled further Mercedes Factory racing in response to the tragic 1955 LeMans accident. The years 1956 and 1957 however were particularly good ones for Ferrari as each season ended with a World Constructors’ Championship.

In 1956, Ferrari and Maserati fought a fierce battle with Maserati making the better start by winning the Buenos Aires 1000 km race on January 29th; Stirling Moss sharing the driving with Carlos Menditeguy, won with a Maserati 300 S, ahead of the Ferrari 857 Sport, driven by Olivier Gendebien and Phil Hill. The positions were reversed at the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 24th with a 1 – 2 for the 860 Monza’s of Fangio/Castellotti and Musso/Schell/Gendebien.

At the Mille Miglia on April 28th- 29th, Ferrari triumphed with their new car, the 290 MM, driven in the pouring rain by Eugenio Castellotti. The second 290 MM piloted by the master Juan Manual Fangio finished fourth. Placed between these two were the 860 Monzas driven respectively by Peter Collins, navigated by his friend/photographer Louis Klemantaski (who managed to take some great photos of this epic race) and Luigi Musso.

On May 27th at the 1000 kms of Nürburgring, Piero Taruffi, Harry Schell, Jean Behra and Stirling Moss shared the wheel of the winning Maserati 300 S. The new 290 MM was third. At Le Mans on July 28th and 29th, the Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar D-Type and the Aston Martin DB3S put Ferrari back into third place. The 290 MMs took the first two places with Maurice Trintignant/Phil Hill and Wolfgang von Trips/Peter Collins/Juan Manual Fangio on August 12th at the Swedish GP. Ferrari dominated the season, gaining twice as many points as Maserati to win the World Title. It was an exciting and historic season only to be superseded by the next one.


At Maserati, work continued on the formidable 450 S, which consequently should have been the ultimate weapon for the 1957 season. The horsepower battle however continued throughout the racing season; the eight-cylinder 4.5 liter 400 bhp 450 S had to fight against more and more powerful Ferraris resulting in the birth of some of the most brutally beautiful sports racing cars the world has seen. Aurelio Lampredi had left to join Fiat but a new and brilliant engineering team at Ferrari created such masterpieces as the 290 S, 315 S, 335 S – and the 412 S on offer here.

These wizards, under the supervision of Vittorio Jano and with Luigi Bazzi taking the part of chief-tuner were Alberto Massimino, Vittorio Bellantani and the young Andrea Fraschetti. Massimino was in charge of the chassis department and Bellantani of the engines.

Phil Hill, Eugenio Castellotti and Olivier Gendebien had signed again as drivers. Peter Collins and Wolfgang von Trips were recruited along with Alfonso de Portago and Luigi Musso to complete the driver package. The end of the Lampredi era resulted in a comeback of the V-12. The tipo 130 engine or 290 MM retained some Lampredi features, such as the liners screwed into the heads, but with new bore and stroke dimensions and a new design introducing a shorter block. These tipo 130 engines provided 320 bhp at 7,300 rpm, enough to hold off the Maserati 300 S, but not the 400 bhp of the Maserati 450 S for 1957. The 290 MMs were beautifully skinned by Scaglietti to a peerless Pinin Farina design.

At the season opener in Buenos Aires on January 20th, Maserati brought their new 450 S, while Ferrari countered with a four camshaft version of its 290 MM, the 290 Sport. The 290 MM finished first, after the Maserati 450 S, which was leading by a large margin, failed. One of the new 290 Sports also finished in third place.

The Maserati menace asserted itself again at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Jean Behra and Juan Manuel Fangio in the 450 S finished first ahead of the 300 S piloted by Harry Schell and Stirling Moss. Ferrari fielded his heavy artillery with a 290 MM and two new

315 S’, s/n 0674 and 0646 driven by Peter Collins, Maurice Trintignant, Wolfgang von Trips, Alfonso de Portago, Luigi Musso and Eugenio Castellotti. The 290 MM finished in 4th place and the two 315 S entries were 6th and 7th.

At the May 11th & 12th Mille Miglia, Ferrari won a 1-2-3 victory with a 315 S s/n 0684 driven by Piero Taruffi in first; the Wolfgang von Trips 335 S s/n 0674 in second with a Tour de France Berlinetta chassis s/n 0677 in third, thanks to the faultless driving of Olivier Gendebien. Sadly, however this race will be remembered for Alfonso de Portago’s tragic accident while lying a strong 3rd overall in his 335 S s/n 0646.

In the May 26th 1000 km of the Nürburgring, the Aston Martin DBR1 driven by Tony Brooks came home ahead of the 335 S s/n 0700 and 315 S s/n 0656, driven respectively by Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn. Jaguar won Le Mans on June 22nd & 23rd with 315 S s/n 0684 finishing in a respectable fifth place. At the Swedish GP on August 11th, the victory of Behra and Moss at the wheel of Maserati 450 S ahead of the Phil Hill/Peter Collins’ 335 S s/n 0700 raised Maserati hopes for the Championship Title. However, bad luck and a row of accidents in Venezuela put Maserati out of contention and left the Ferrari 335 S’, s/n 0700 and 0674 to take the first two places, driven by Collins/Hill and Hawthorn/Musso respectively. Ferrari won the World Constructors’ Championship and Maserati retired from racing in spite of Fangio securing the Driver’s World Championship in the Maserati 250 F. The battle had been triumphant and tragic – with both marques entering the finest racing cars that had ever been built.

Because of the new Sports Car Championship three-liter limit for 1958, the European careers of Maserati’s 450 S and the Ferrari 335 S effectively ended in 1957. The glory of big bore machines like these would however continue in North American racing where sports car engines were unlimited. As a result, all of the remaining Ferrari four camshaft factory sports cars went to private USA teams.

1958 FERRARI 412 Sport

Race History

CHASSIS NO. 0744; 1957 – 1964. (ALSO OF 290 S, 315 S, 335 S, 412 MI / ENGINE 0646/0744)

Motor Tipo 141 #3 Race Record

Prior to installation in chassis 0744


Jan. 20, 1957 Buenos Aires 1000 kms. Eugenio Castellotti DNF (ignition)

(mounted in 290 Sport #0646 in 3,490 c.c. form) Wolfgang Von Trips

Luigi Musso

Mike Hawthorn

Mar. 23, 1957 Sebring 12 Hours Alfonso de Portago 7th

(mounted in 315 Sport #0646 in 3,780 c.c. form) Luigi Musso

Eugenio Castellotti

May 11-12, 1957 Mille Miglia Alfonso de Portago DNF (crash)

(mounted in 335 Sport #0646 in 4,023 c.c. form) Edmond Nelson

June 29, 1958 Monza Race of Two Worlds Luigi Musso 3rd

(mounted in 412 MI Grand Prix Mike Hawthorn

chassis in uprated 4,023 c.c. form) Phil Hill

Chassis Tipo 524 #0744 Race Record

312 Sport


May 18, 1958 Spa Grand Prix (fitted with Tipo 142 3-liter engine) Olivier Gendebien DNF

412 Sport


August 1958 Fitted with Tipo 141 4-liter engine #3 and becomes the 412 S

Sept. 28, 1958 Watkins Glen International Formula Libre Phil Hill DNF (suspension)

Oct. 12, 1958 Riverside Times GP Phil Hill DNF (fuel pump)

June 20, 1959 Hourglass Field Richie Ginther 1st

July 19, 1959 Riverside Kiwanis GP Richie Ginther 1st

Oct. 11, 1959 Riverside Times GP Richie Ginther DNF (engine)

Oct-Nov. 1959 Returned to factory for engine rebuild and conversion to disc brakes

Dec. 4, 1959 Nassau Governors Trophy, 5 lap race Richie Ginther 2nd OA

Dec. 4, 1959 Nassau Governors Trophy Richie Ginther DNF (used as test session)

Dec. 4, 1959 Nassau Ladies Race Josie Von Neumann N/A

Dec. 6, 1959 Nassau Nassau Trophy Richie Ginther DNF

Oct. 15, 1960 Riverside Times GP Richie Ginther Practice (breaks own backstretch record at 173 mph)

Oct. 16,1960 Riverside Times GP Richie Ginther DNF (started w/out 2nd gear)

Feb. 28, 1961 Riverside Fred Knoop 3rd OA

Feb. 29, 1961 Riverside Fred Knoop 2nd OA

1961-1964 Various Races Skip Hudson N/A


On May 18, 1958, a unique prototype was entrusted to Olivier Gendebien for the Spa GP in Belgium. This 312 S featured a four-cam three-liter V-12 engine. Ferrari race department documents signed by Carlo Chiti identify this prototype as chassis s/n 0744 powered by a Type 142 engine and constructed on a Type 524 chassis. Late in 1958, the Factory re-engined 0744 to become the 412 S.


In early 1958, Ferrari’s west coast distributor John von Neumann asked the Factory to come up with a sports racing car to beat Lance Reventlow’s Scarabs, the current front runners in American sports car racing. Enzo Ferrari already possessed the very powerful engine from the single seater used at the 1958 Monza Race of Two Worlds. With a Factory rating of 447 bhp, this engine, when combined with the ex-Spa tipo 524 chassis seemed ideal for von Neumann’s project. Accordingly, the 412 S (for 4-liters and 12 cylinders), was dispatched to von Neumann in August of 1958. He paid an enormous price too, reportedly $20,000 – a sum, which then would have landed two 250 Testa Rossas.

Von Neumann put Phil Hill in chassis no. 0744 for the September “Formula Libre” race at Watkins Glen, but he suffered handling problems due to a malfunctioning shock absorber. The 412 S then went to California for the Riverside GP which was highly promoted by the Los Angeles Times newspaper, inviting the spectators to support either the “All American Scarabs” or the “beautiful Ferrari”, the latter again being driven by Phil Hill. Von Neumann was driving his 335 S and had entrusted a 250 TR to Richie Ginther. The Scarabs were driven by Lance Reventlow, Bruce Kessler and Chuck Daigh. Hill and Daigh made a quick start, leaving the field far behind and began a head-to-head duel, lasting over 21 laps, until a vapor lock shut down Hill’s V-12.

Although von Neumann retired from racing after 1958, the 412 S chassis no. 0744 was seen again at Riverside in the Kiwanis GP in July, where Richie Ginther won. Ginther was also the star of the Riverside race in October but did not finish due to engine problems. The car was then returned to the Factory, accompanied by Richie Ginther. There are photos recording the 412 S’ Italian holiday, during which the car was fitted with disc brakes. It was returned to the USA in time to compete in the Nassau Speed Week in December 1959. The 412 S was sold to Jack Nethercutt in California, then to Fred Knoop, a gentleman-driver. It later belonged to Bill Harrah who employed Skip Hudson as a driver. Bought by Charles Pinkham, it then became the property of his widow in partnership with Steve Earle. Steve Earle created the “Monterey Historic Automobile Races”, showcasing the 412 S at the inaugural meeting. Chassis no. 0744 also won its class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Other notable U.S. owners have been Bob Donner, Carle Conway, Jarold Evans, David Livingston and Bill Bauce.


The current owner, a discerning collector and very competitive and skilled historic racing driver acquired this Ferrari in 1994. While it looked quite presentable and was totally complete, after a thorough examination, a decision was made to execute a complete mechanical restoration to vintage racing standards.

This work took eighteen months and is documented in a 3” binder along with all subsequent maintenance records. This data should be required reading for prospective purchasers and is available confidentially for all those interested buyers. A new correct body was fitted during the car’s 1982-1987 restoration for owner Jarold Evans, but the complete original body sections have stayed with the car, still remaining in excellent overall condition and will accompany the Ferrari in its sale.

During the current ownership, the Ferrari has been featured in various vintage races including the Monterey Historics and the Road America/Elkhart Lake vintage races. Concours showings include The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, as well as the Cavallino Classic as late as 2004.

RM Auctions is unquestionably delighted at the opportunity to offer this outstanding example at auction in North America; it represents so many aspects of the highlights of Ferrari’s heritage and when combined with the continuing enthusiasm for vintage sports car racing, it is truly peerless in comparison.

The 412 S is likely the ultimate Ferrari Sports Racing Car: certainly it’s the finest and fastest four-cam racing car to be produced at Maranello, and we are not alone in our enthusiasm for this truly beautiful and untamed beast.



By Phil Hill

For all the stories I’ve related about great Ferrari automobiles, this is the first that is really about one of Maranello’s engines…not a type, but a very specific engine. Naturally, it’s a V-12, and it happens to be one of my favorites, the dual-over-head-cam version that began service in the 290 S in early 1957 and was known loosely in those days as the “Bellentani engine”. The design was developed by Vittorio Bellentani and other engineers at Ferrari as the tipo 136, tipo 140, and then tipo 141, as its displacement and horsepower rose to compete against Maserati’s 450 S. As cars, they were known as the 290 S/315 S/335 S series and they were among the best front-engine cars made by Ferrari.

Its early history is a bit fuzzy, but the engine I am referring to might very well have begun its racing life with the serial number 0646 as a 3.5 liter 290 S engine at the 1000 km race at Buenos Aires and been subsequently upgraded to a 3.8 liter engine to make the car a 315 S for Sebring in 1957. Before the Mille Miglia that year, this V-12 was modified to tipo 141 specifications, with 4.1 liters and 390 hp.

Of the two 335 S and two 315 S models entered in that year’s Mille Miglia, one of the former was fitted with our engine. While Piero Taruffi led a 1-2-3 Ferrari sweep of the Italian open road race, the car in which our V-12 was installed was driven by Alfonso “Fon” de Portago with Eddie Nelson. When this 335 S crashed on a long straight not far from the finish at Brescia, de Portago, Nelson, ten spectators and the Mille Miglia all died.

Ferrari may have a huge racing budget today, but things were financially tight back then, so they salvaged the V-12 from the wrecked de Portago chassis after it was returned from the government’s investigation. They put it back to work, which is when my involvement with this engine began.

At the end of June, 1958, Monza hosted the second “Race of Two Worlds”, in which teams that raced in the Indianapolis 500 – which then counted towards the Formula 1 Drivers World Championship – shipped their cars to Italy to compete against the Europeans. Using Monza’a banking and racing counterclockwise – which is backward and against the natural design of the track – the left-turn-only Indy cars were pitted against specials created by such European automakers as Jaguar, Maserati, Lister and, of course, Ferrari.

Italians loved having the Americans over, equating the Indy circus to their continental visions of cowboys, John Dillinger and our very different way of life. Oddly, some of the American drivers treated Masten Gregory and me somewhat as expatriates. The fact is my love of road racing came from growing up within sight of the famous Santa Monica road-racing course.

“The 412 S is an absolute Time Machine and the Ferrari that inspired the creation of the first Monterey Historic Races in 1974.”

David Love

Cavallino Magazine

The Ferrari Factory had two cars for the race. Mine was essentially a Formula 1 car with the V-6’s displacement enlarged to 3.0 liters. Luigi Musso and Mike Hawthorn were to share a Ferrari special that combined the ex-de Portago V-12 with a 1951-designed, but newly built 375 F1 chassis and was called the 412 MI, which stood for 4-liter, 12 cylinder Monza Indianapolis. (Traditionally the 4023 cc V-12s were referred to as 4.1’s).

By now, the 4.1-liter V-12 had been hot-rodded with things such as altered valve timing, larger carburetors, a higher compression ratio and stubby exhaust pipes to a claimed 440-plus bhp on methanol. Even though this was at the height of the period when certain outside authorities were claiming Ferrari’s horses were little more than well-muscled ponies, it was a good chunk of power for those days.

Without question, the 412 MI was a formidable vehicle, with Musso putting the car on the pole with a lap at 174.6 mph, more than 1 mph faster than 2nd place qualifier Bob Veith in the Bowes Seal Fast Special. I could manage no more than 161 mph with my 3-liter car.

The 500-mile race was run in three segments. Musso and I took the initial start.

Unbeknownst to outsiders, my F1 V-6 had started to seize in the final qualifying session. I caught it, coasted in and Ferrari’s mechanics managed to free it up enough for me to take the start, because the Factory needed the starting money. I was told to drive it easy, drop out at a pre-determined distance with “magneto trouble”, stop the car near the path that led back to the pits and hotfoot it back, which I did.

Monza’s banking was rough and could beat you up. Worse yet, the 412 MI cockpit was so hot that new openings were being cut in it after almost every track session. Musso was wasted after 26 laps. Hawthorn took over and they finished 6th. In heat two, Musso again started, but when he pitted at lap 20, I took over and we ended up finishing 9th. Mike, nearing the end of his brilliant career and fighting for the Drivers World Championship, was in an apprehensive state that year and often had a hard time being enthusiastic. Usually, this all but disappeared with the drop of the flag, but he simply did not like this oval. He started the third heat and drove for 24 laps. Then I took over for the middle portion, expecting to hand the car back to Mike for the finish.

The 412 MI’s suspension was so ill-suited to the banking that we were in the ridiculous and time-wasting position of having to change the left front tire – ironically, the one doing the least work – in the middle of each stint. This meant three extra stops. I wanted team manager Carlo Chiti and the others to limit the “drop” on the left front suspension to stop dragging this useless tire around the banking. They were, of course, horrified at the idea of three-wheeling it at those speeds. At the same time, the track was so rough that we drivers were being thrown around in our cockpits. This was the first time I ever used a seatbelt in an open race car….not for safety, just to stay anchored in the seat. Dan Gurney and I had watched Musso qualifying and could see him being all but tossed out of the car.

When I came in for my last stop, expecting to turn the car over to Mike, he yelled to me. “You seem to be getting along great. Why don’t you keep going?” I readily agreed. He helped tighten my belts up even more while the mechanics did their work. Due to noise, our communications were animated and at very close range. Italian journalists apparently thought we were fighting and the Gazzetta dello Sport reported Mike and I exchanged – translated literally – “little hits and little kicks”. After some good battles in that final leg of the race, I managed to get us up to 3rd. In the final tally that put us 3rd overall, so the Ferrari special proved it was capable of as much as most of the American machines in this unusual race. When that event was over, Ferrari wasn’t finished with this very special V-12 engine.

Even though Ferrari sports cars continued to be successful in most series (having won the European Constructors’ Championship again) they were in some trouble in the U.S. The Chevrolet small-block V-8 had quickly developed into a light, powerful and successful race engine. Installed in cars like Lance Reventlow’s Scarabs, they were regularly beating Ferrari’s best. Not a good situation in an important sales market such as the U.S., so the automaker’s West Coast distributor – and ardent road racer – John von Neumann, asked the Factory to create a sports car to compete against the Scarabs. Ferrari’s answer was the third form of our special V-12.

Like its engine, the 412 S sports car chassis started as something else, likely Gendebien’s 312 S that he raced for the Factory at Spa in early 1958. The one thing that makes this car unique is having a transverse four-speed gearbox in unit with the differential, with the clutch and starter also mounted in back, sticking forward into the cockpit. To start the car, you turned the key on the dash, got the fuel pump clicking, reached back to your left (being a right-hand-drive car) and pushed down on what looks like a parking brake handle. The suspension back there with the transaxle is a classic Ferrari De Dion with its high mounted transverse leaf spring. At the front is an upper and lower A-arm suspension with coil springs, while both ends have Houdaille shock absorbers. As delivered the 412 S was fitted with huge drum brakes, though in November 1959 these were swapped for Dunlop disc brakes at the Factory.

And, of course, there was that highly tuned V-12 – still probably cranking out around 400 bhp on gasoline – with its 9.9:1 compression ratio and a pair of 12-cylinder distributors sprouting out each side, way back against the firewall. An impressive rank of six 42 DCN/3 twin-choke Weber carburetors stood at attention down the length of the big engine, and you could hear the fuel being generously squirted into those 12 throats as you primed the engine. Push down the starting lever, and the 4.1 snapped to life with a throat clearing roar. It was enough to make you jump. Around this went a particularly beautiful Scaglietti race car body and on the engine was stamped its new serial number: 0744.

I took a few laps in the 412 S at Modena even before the body was painted, then left for the U.S, linking up with the car at Watkins Glen in September for its first race. This was a rather strange event, a rare professional Formula Libra road race, sanctioned by USAC and the FIA. I was on the pole, sharing the front row with fellow Californian Dan Gurney who had a North American Racing Team (NART) Ferrari 3.5 liter 290 MM, but it was an odd field, with Jo Bonnier, for example, in 4th spot in a 250 F Maserati Grand Prix car..

No denying the 412 S was quick, and I had no trouble staying with Bonnier and Gurney… when I was on the track. The handling character of my car was diabolical – behaving like the left rear shock was not working properly – and I slid off the track five times before finally retiring the Ferrari.

Owing to little time and bad weather, we had no real opportunity to properly sort out the 412 S for the Glen, but we had it right for the next race, Riverside’s 200-mile U.S. Grand Prix for sports cars. While Americans and Europeans had tried to outlast each other over 12 hours at Sebring since 1953, this was to be the first postwar sprint race shootout. And it would be in California, the west coast hotbed of the sport. “Road & Track’s” race report subhead read: “Sports car racing, at long last, comes of age in the West”.

Organizers – basically the Los Angeles Times – had lured Jean Behra, Jo Bonnier and Roy Salvadori to that new, dusty, hot-in-the-day, frigid-after-sunset circuit 60 miles east of L.A. That entry list is now a roll call of legends: Dan Gurney, Richie Ginther, Masten Gregory, Pete Lovely, Lance Reventlow, Ken Miles, Max Balchowsky, Ak Miller, Sammy Weiss, Jim Rathmann and Carroll Shelby driving cars from Ferrari, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Lotus, Porsche, Scarab, Cooper, Huffaker, Maserati and OSCA.

In the end, however, it came down to two pairings, Chuck Daigh in the Scarab and me in the 412 S. Chuck with the 5.5 liter Chevy-powered Scarab was on the pole for the three across front row. I was in the middle with the 4.1-liter Ferrar

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Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

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Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

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+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more