West Coast Warrior – 1954 Ferrari 375 MM

1954 Ferrari 375 MM

The 375 MM effectively combined the race-proven chassis from the 340 with the 4.5-liter 340 horsepower V-12 from Ferrari’s ill-fated Indianapolis car. Most examples had either spider or berlinetta bodywork by Pinin Farina, and they were used to great success on both sides of the Atlantic, even helping to secure enough points in international competition for Ferrari to win the Manufacturer’s Championship in 1953 and 1954. Only around sixteen examples were built and this particular car, even by 1950s race car standards, has led quite a colorful life.

Chassis 0632 was sold new in 1954 to Scuderia Parravano of Tony Parravano, a man who would acquire a group of truly mouth-watering early Ferraris before eventually coming under the hammer of the IRS and ultimately disappearing altogether in 1960. In April of 1954, it did 172 miles per hour at El Mirage dry lake before winning a race at Golden Gate Park in June and another on July 4 in Nebraska. In October, new driver Bob Drake gave 0362 another win at the Palm Springs Road Races. Its next big outing was at Sebring in March of 1955, when driver Jack McAfee used up his fire extinguisher after the car caught fire, then got back in it and drove to the fire truck. It was then repaired and repainted in time to go back to Palm Springs, where it won for the second time. McAfee then rolled it at Bakersfield, and although it was supposed to be rebuilt for the 1956 Carrera Panamericana, that race was cancelled.

When the IRS started coming down on Parravano in 1957, he tried to get some of his cars out of the country, towing his cars from Los Angeles to Mexico. Some of the cars made it. Some of them didn’t. 0362 was one that stayed on this side of the border, and was sold by the IRS at auction. Still not rebuilt, it was bought by another Southern California racer named Frank Arciero, who fitted a Mistral Spyder fiberglass body and entered it in the 1958 Times-Mirror Grand Prix at Riverside. A young Dan Gurney put on a brilliant performance in the Arciero car, finishing the race with only Chuck Daigh’s Scarab in front of him. Arciero continued to campaign the car over the next few years in the SCCA with drivers like Dan Gurney and Bob Bondurant driving, and even fit a 4.2-liter Maserati engine during 1959. By 1965 its competitive racing days were finally behind it, and 0362 was sold to Ron Kellogg. Although heavily modified by this time, it still retained the original front frame section, suspension, steering system, differential, wheels and brakes.

0362 changed hands again in 1968. Its next owners had plans to restore the car and had even tracked down many of the missing parts, but the man in possession refused to sell them. They would have to wait until 1986 to finally snag them, but in reward for their patience they got the original identification plate, the missing frame section, firewall, transmission cover, floor pans, belly pans, passenger’s seat, hood, metal tonneau cover, headlight buckets, windshield frame, gas tank, radiator, oil cooler, shift knob, drive shaft and dash panel. Not a bad haul.

An exhaustive restoration was then undertaken, during which engine 0362 was fitted, and today the car presents as it did when it left the Ferrari factory six decades ago. It has since won Best of Show at the 2013 Carmel Concours on the Avenue, and as a significant piece of West Coast racing history this successful, genuine and rare 375 MM will be a star. Another 375 MM Spider, chassis 0364AM and the 1954 SCCA National Champion, sold for $9,075,000 at RM’s Monterey sale last year, so we can’t wait to see what this car does when it crosses the block next month.

This 1954 Ferrari 375 MM is available at the upcoming Mecum Monterey sale, scheduled for August 14-16, 2014.

Comments

  1. A fine article on one of the great Ferrari iconic models. Hope to see more of them. Thanks and congrats to Andrew Newton.

    Jim Fontana

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