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Ferrari 375 America Vignale

Spontaneity of the lines

«America», it is quite clear where Ferrari was aiming. The first “America” had been the 340 America from 1951, followed by the 342 America in 1952 – and then the 375 America in 1953. The 250 Europa GT served as the basis (i.e.: box frame, double wishbones at the front, rigid axle at the rear, drum brakes), whose wheelbase was stretched to 2.8 metres. And then, of course, there was the big engine, not the legendary 3-litre V12 from Colombo, but the much bigger version from Lampredi. The 375 had a displacement of 4.5 litres, three Weber twin carburettors (40DCF) and a compression ratio of 8:1, producing 300 hp. Eleven examples of the Ferrari 375 America were – probably – produced, seven (or eight) were dressed by Pinin Farina, one (or none) by Ghia, leaving two coupes and a convertible by Vignale. We want to present both a coupé and the cabriolet here.

Alfredo Vignale, ah – among the great coachbuilders he was certainly a very great artist. First he drew the project 1:1, then the car was created in his and his talented colleagues’ hands directly on the chassis without any further templates. Stan Nowak called this form of creation “spontaneity of lines”, Vignale had no exact plan, improvised, had the eye for the right solution. In the early 50s he was certainly also strongly inspired by the American “Dream Cars”, but he always found very independent, special solutions (which today sometimes seem very unusual). The Ferrari 375 America Coupé presented here with the chassis number 0327 AL is one of two models that are very similar (the other one was 0337 AL); this example in the two-colour paintwork so typical for Vignale (Amaranto/Grey Metallic) was made on order of the American Robert C. Wilke.

Wilke always wore a cowboy hat, owned his own racing stable – and always had a Ferrari parked in the paddock (he owned seven in total). He was known for liking to drive fast and also a lot, which he did with his 375 America until 1970. The car was sold several times after Wilke’s death, was also already in the Blackhawk Collection, then came to Europe (among others to the Kroymans collection – until the Kroymans family went bankrupt in 2009), and then was sold again to the USA. On 22 January 2021, this Ferrari 375 America went under the hammer at RM Sotheby’s in Arizona, the estimate was a hefty 2.4 to 3.4 million dollars, and 0327 AL was knocked down for 2,557,000 dollars.

Then there is also the Vignale convertible, chassis number 0353 AL, a one-off. The vehicle (with a hardtop) was delivered to Bianca Colizzi, daughter of the once well-known Italian director Giuseppe Colizzi. The car was black/black, bore the registration number “Roma 215282” – and the young lady did not seem to have liked it very much, because shortly after the sale it was parked in the garage of a doctor in Rome and was no longer needed. There, Luigi Musso, later a factory pilot at Ferrari, saw it and made contact with Harry Chambers, who represented the American airline TWA in Milan (and would later become NASA director). Chambers bought the car, travelled extensively in Europe with it, then sold it to Joseph Fitch, who had it painted first metallic grey, then dark blue. There were only three more owners, and since 1998 the vehicle has been in the same hands. And will be auctioned by RM Sotheby’s in Monterey on 18-20 August 2022, there is no estimated price yet.

This story also belongs in our collection of “Ferrari and Vignale”. You can find more beauties in our archives.

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