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Lot 252: Ferrari 400 Superamerica Coupe

Sports & Classics of Monterey, RM Auctions (19 August 2011)

340 hp, 3,967 cc SOHC V-12 engine, three Weber 46 mm DCF carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with double wishbones and coil springs, rear live axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs and trailing arms, four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5"

- Stunning matching-numbers example  one of only 36 400 Superamerica coupes built by Pinin Farina - Covered headlights and short wheelbase - Judge's Choice winner at 1968 Ferrari Club of America meeting - Concours showings at Pebble Beach and Louis Vuitton - Documented by Ferrari expert Marcel Massini

Any discussion of the Ferrari 400 Superamerica must necessarily start with the 410 Superamerica which preceded it. Thirty-seven were built between 1956 and 1959. As Enzo Ferrari hit his stride with the 340, 342 and 375 America sports racers, the echoes of WWII austerity were fading in Europe, and it occurred to him that his wealthiest clients were ready for a superfast road-going GT. The Superamericas were a move towards series cars for the wealthy and discriminating.

The 410 Superamerica took the big four-liter Lampredi V-12 and increased displacement to 4.9 liters, cloaking it in a series of elegant coupe and drophead coupe bodies, built by the finest Italian coachbuilders. Top speed was in the region of 165 mph, and each car featured detail differences from the others. The model was truly a bespoke offering: individually tailored, blisteringly fast yet sophisticated enough to transport a royal.

400 Superamerica  A Car for Ferrari's Best Clients

By 1959, the Lampredi V-12 was aging and Ferrari decided to rationalize the Superamerica by introducing a new model, with a four-liter version of the Colombo V-12 that powered the 250 Series. Five inches shorter and much lighter than the Lampredi unit, the Colombo V-12 traced its origins back to the original 1�-liter engine of 1947, so its provenance was sound, and the design had been significantly refined along the way.

The new 400 featured disc brakes for the first time on a Ferrari street car and was built in two wheelbase lengths. The 400 Superamerica was available with a myriad of detail body and trim variations for discriminating clients. Enzo himself drove one, as did the Aga Khan and Gianni Agnelli, minor European royalty and major Hollywood stars. Performance figures included 0-100 in 18 seconds and a top speed of 160 mph. These numbers are still impressive, even in the age of variable valve timing and sophisticated direct fuel injection.

Car and Driver tested the prototype 400 in April 1963, when a new Superamerica cost $17,800 (a Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz was $6,608). The writer declared it the best example extant of the true GT car, in the traditional, non-Detroit, non-FIA manner, a closed two-seater, slightly hysterical, and designed expressly for long-distance, high-speed travel. The magazine concluded, owning one is, or should be, the goal of every automotive enthusiast anywhere.

Chassis 3559 SA

The car on offer today, s/n 3559 SA, has a highly detailed history that is very well known to marque specialists. It is perhaps the most desirable configuration, with covered headlights and short wheelbase, and was delivered new in Blu Sera Italver, with Blu Connolly interior, to Luigi Chinetti Motors in Greenwich, Connecticut in 1962. The first owner was C.O. Marshall who lived in Toledo, Ohio, and he showed it at the 5th Annual Ferrari Club of America in Greenwich in March 1968, winning the Judge's Choice Award.

Marshall installed a new exhaust system in 1968, then offered s/n 3559 SA for sale with overhauled engine and showing 16,000 miles. In 1972 Michael Kerr of Carrollton, Texas bought the coupe, with maintenance to be managed by FAF Motorcars of Tucker, Georgia. At this time, s/n 3559 SA had a sunroof installed, but this addition was later reversed.

Kerr owned the car until 1989, at which point it was passed through two respected dealers and was acquired by Arnold and Werner Meier of Meilen, Switzerland, on the Lake of Zurich. The Meiers would keep s/n 3559 for a full decade, remedy various items on the car for factory correctness and use it in the manner for which it was intended, driving it and maintaining it properly.

In 1993 s/n 3559 SA was completely restored by Edi Wyss Engineering in Zurich, Switzerland and repainted in its correct Blu Sera, though the white leather interior was retained. The sunroof was removed and the roof restored. Arnold Meier then proceeded to drive and enjoy the car.

In August 1994 s/n 3559 SA was shown at the 32nd Annual Ferrari Club of America meeting at the Hyatt Hotel in Monterey, California. This was followed with an appearance at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in class M3, for Ferrari Grand Touring Coupes up to 1968.

Meier next appeared at the 8th Annual Concours Automobiles Classics & Louis Vuitton at Parc de Bagatelle in Paris in May 1997 and was rewarded with a win in Class VIII (pictured on page 70 in issue #70 of Automobiles Classiques). Encouraged by his success, he drove to the 50th anniversary meeting of Ferrari in Modena and Rome (pictured in 1997 Ferrari Yearbook). In 2002 s/n 3559 SA was shown at the Grand Prix of Montreux.

In April 2003, 3559 SA was acquired by a prominent American Ferrari collector, who kept the car in Switzerland before it was shipped to the US. The current owner acquired the car later in the year and showed it at XIV Cavallino Classic at The Breakers in Florida in 2005.

Since that time, the car has been very well maintained. It has been driven and inspected by an RM Specialist, who was most impressed with his findings:

Simply amazing! This is certainly a beautiful driving Ferrari. It is fully sorted with no stone left unturned. No rattles, squeaks were to be heard and everything operated as new. The car was a real pleasure to drive and is sure to impress the most discerning Ferrari enthusiast.

Indeed, Superamericas and other high-performance, bespoke Ferraris are blue-chip motor cars. The wide-ranging travels of former owner Arnold Meier and a recent enthusiastic report by RM's specialists confirm how well sorted this car is. It sits at the very top of a very short list of ultra-desirable Ferraris, the availability of which is extremely limited. This is certainly one of the finest 400 Superamericas we have ever had the pleasure of offering.

Lot Details
Auction Sports & Classics of Monterey
RM Auctions, Monterey, California
TypeCar
Lot Number252
Estimate$1500000-$1900000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$2090000
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1962
Condition rating0
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number3559 SA
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors