Few anniversaries have been celebrated with more gusto than Ferrari’s 70th. While the marque’s mystique is truly global, even the most fervent tifosi would concede that the US played a unique role in revving up interest in Enzo Ferrari’s nascent car company.
No surprise, then, that the 2017 edition of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance – arguably America’s most prestigious automotive event – should single out the Cavallino Rampante for special treatment.
Ferrari usually stars at Pebble Beach, one way or another, and Jon Shirley’s ex-Roberto Rossellini 375 MM was a rare post-World War II best-in-show in 2014. However, even by those heady standards, this year’s event was significant.
Seventy Ferraris gathered on that famous lawn, divided into four categories: Grand Touring, Competition, Major Race Winners and One-Off Specials.
Ferraris are adored not just for their beauty, but also because there’s generally a good story attached, and there was some formidable provenance to the Pebble Beach contenders this year. Of the competition cars, can you think of a more emotive sight than the last Ferrari to win outright at Le Mans?
That was in 1965, when Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory triumphed in a 250 LM, a car that wore the NART shield and bore the stamp of the indefatigable Luigi Chinetti. So many interweaving narratives in one car.
There were other Le Mans winners, including the TR59/60, which took overall honours in 1960 with Olivier Gendebien and Paul Frère at the wheel, and perhaps the most important of all for the emergent Ferrari, 1949’s winning Touring-bodied 166 MM Barchetta (with the remarkable Chinetti driving).
Amazingly, this particular chassis also won that year’s Mille Miglia. Ferrari’s one-offs and fuoriserie aren’t so much a branch of the family tree as an entire forest in their own right.
In the US, designers like Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell were redefining the automotive aesthetic in line with the jet age, and the Boano-bodied Ferrari 250 GT suggests that the influence may have travelled from Detroit across the Atlantic.
Five 250 GTs were bodied by Zagato, one of the most inspirational of all carrozzeria, and visitors to Pebble Beach were treated to the sight of this incomparable car.
There were rarely seen curios, too. Not that you could call a Ferrari 412 P a curio exactly, but its yellow paint marked it out as something unusual.
In fact, this particular chassis, no.0850, originally raced by the famous Ecurie Francorchamps (hence the colour), was later bought by Dino Martin, son of Rat Pack legend Dean Martin.
He had it extensively and expensively modified for road use, and was often seen driving along Sunset Boulevard behind the wheel.
Here it was, almost 40 years later, 400 miles up the Californian coast. A perfect Pebble vignette.