There are cars that are rare, but then there are cars that are really rare. The word gets thrown around sometimes to describe a production run of a thousand, or to say it’s the only car in that colour built on the third Tuesday in May. But some cars are exceedingly rare. This one happens to also be exceedingly elegant. And it is coming up for auction next month.
The car is a Ferrari 375 America. It’s the first of Ferrari’s now long history of building special bespoke and ultra-luxurious cars, even more powerful than standard, for the automaker’s most dedicated and wealthy clients.
Ferrari built just a dozen 375 Americas. They were built on the chassis of the 250 GT, and shared that car’s suspension, though they were set up more for grand touring than as an all-out sports car. In the place of the 250 GT’s 3.0L V12 was a monster 4.5L 12-cylinder engine. The car was capable of 400 hp, which it sent to the rear wheels through a four-speed gearbox.
At the time, the 375 America was one of the fastest road cars in the world. To make it even more exclusive, all 12 were fitted with custom bodywork.
This car was one of two built to Alfredo Vignale’s finish, rather than being tailored to the purchaser. That’s because this one was built to be shown. It was on display at the New York World Motorsports Show, then the Geneva Motor Show, before delivery to its first owner.
After the show circuit, the car was delivered to Robert C. Wilke. Wilke was president of Leader Cards, a printing company. He sponsored a successful Indianapolis race team, winning the Indy 500 multiple times. He eventually owned six Ferraris. Wilke had the car repainted in red with a black roof, and later in all metallic blue. This one roamed the streets of Milwaukee and no-doubt looked like a spaceship doing it.
When he passed in 1970, the car was sold. It passed through multiple owners and collections and saw yet more paint colours applied.
In 2011, the car was restored. The finish was changed again, and the car was repainted in the stunning burgundy and silver grey it wears today. The correct taillights were also replaced. More surprisingly, the car still sports its original engine.
The first 375 America offered for public sale in the last seven years, this is a very significant car. And one that’s wonderful to look at. It’s going up for sale at RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction at the end of August.
Follow Wheels.ca on