Cars

<em>Photo: Courtesy of Sotheby's</em>

Rare 500 Mondial Spider is perfection

Amazing Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider by Pinin Farina is one of just five built, and among the finest and most original Ferraris in the world
Words

Richard Aucock

For one lucky owner, this recently revitalised Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider by Pinin Farina will be a dream come true. It is an incredibly original machine that’s ready to race and comes with the Ferrari Classiche seal of approval. In 2020, it could be lining up for the legendary Mille Miglia, or any number of other prestigious historic racing or concours events. It is a car just waiting to restart its short but successful competition career.

Mondial is Italian for global: it celebrated Ascari's racing triumphs  <em>Photo: Courtesy of Sotheby's</em>
Mondial is Italian for global: it celebrated Ascari's racing triumphs Photo: Courtesy of Sotheby's

Wearing bodywork by Pinin Farina, it is one of just 13 Spiders built. Covered headlights mark it out as one of five early-series cars. Certainly rare, then – and definitely one of the best on the planet. Decades of care and attention from only three long-term owners mean this model still has its original engine and gearbox, plus all its bodywork panels. It was reinvigorated by Ferrari Classiche in spring 2019. Attention was focused on creating cosmetic perfection. Chassis number 0448 MD was given new paint, a new interior and some minor details were returned to original specification. Under the skin, brakes, suspension, the fuel tank and radiator were all restored. In every sense of the word, it is ready and raring to go.

The Ferrari 500 Mondial chassis was powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine; 500 was the nominal cubic capacity of each cylinder. The model series first raced in late 1953, making this car, built in October 1954, a machine from the first year of production. It was the last-but-one Spider to be constructed. The Mondial name – Italian for global – celebrated the world titles earned by Alberto Ascari driving a Ferrari. Fittingly, the great man drove it in its first race, held in Casablanca. Carrozzeria Scaglietti built the bodywork for the first 500 Mondial chassis, but Pinin Farina began coachbuilding in 1954.

This Spider style was its most popular coachwork, although it did create a handful of Berlinettas as well. In all, just 29 Ferrari 500 Mondials were assembled. It didn’t take long for this car to find success. After being delivered to California client Tony Parravano, the car raced for the first time at Willow Springs on 13 February 1955, entered as part of the Scuderia Parravano operation. In the hands of racer Bob Drake, it won its class, and finished fourth overall, beating several much more powerful machines.

The car was a fast front-runner at several other events in 1955. Then, a year later at Willow Springs, it went one better and finished third overall. In 1957, shortly after running the car at Palm Springs, Parravano sold it to Javier Valesquez – organiser of the Mexican Grand Prix. An avid collector, Valesquez cosseted 0448 MD, although he did later enter it into the 1962 Carrera Presidential Race in Mexico City. Despite its age, the faithful Ferrari again scored an overall fourth-place finish. It was then retired from period racing, sold to noted collector Robert N. Dusek in 1972, and remained within his collection for the next three decades.

This 500 Mondial Spider - Pinin Farina bodied - was winning races just months after leaving Maranello  <em>Photo: Courtesy of Sotheby's</em>
This 500 Mondial Spider - Pinin Farina bodied - was winning races just months after leaving Maranello Photo: Courtesy of Sotheby's

The car is therefore a virtual time capsule. Consistently fast in its day, this Pinin Farina Spider’s sheer originality means it is ready and waiting to be entered into contemporary events and build its enviable provenance. No damage was ever sustained during its racing career and the Ferrari Classiche ‘red book’ certification details what a pure thoroughbred it is. It will make dreams for someone. A genuine piece of history that’s been bottled and preserved for more than half a century, this 500 Mondial Pinin Farina Spider is raring to roar on its next adventure.

Ferrari