Lot 625: 1966 Ferrari 500 Superfast Coupé
Introduced in 1964 at the Geneva Salon and produced for just two years, the 500 Superfast, of which approximately 37 were made, was at the same time Ferrari's fastest, most powerful, most expensive and most exclusive road car. Maranello's flagship and the last of the limited edition closed Ferraris, the fabulous 500 Superfast caught the public imagination in a manner not seen since the creation of the Bugatti Royale.
Production proceeded at the leisurely rate of just one per month, allowing each Superfast to be personalised to customer order. A roll-call of the latter includes some of the era’s most celebrated collectors of fine automobiles: Shah Reza Pahlavi, of Iran, Prince Aga Khan, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, German playboy Günther Sachs, Greek shipping magnet Livanos and film star Peter Pellers. The final 500 Superfast - chassis number ‘8897’ - was completed on 1st August 1966 for Colonel Ronnie Hoare, head of UK Ferrari importer Maranello Concessionaires.
The multi-tubular Superfast chassis was constructed along similar lines to that of the contemporary 330GT and initially used the same four-speed/overdrive gearbox. Suspension was independent at the front by wishbones and coil springs and by a leaf-sprung live axle at the rear. To restrain the stupendous performance, superior, servo-assisted Dunlop disc brakes were fitted all round.
With its distinctive flat sides the Pininfarina body, surely one of the maestro’s greatest works, showed influence of the earlier Aerodinamico prototype; the wing line, rising gently from the tail before dipping towards the extended nose, giving the Superfast the appearance of being in motion even when standing still.
Ferrari’s racing heritage manifested itself in the Superfast’s magnificent 5.0-litre, ‘long block’ V12 engine. The work of engineer Aurelio Lampredi, it was descended from the racing version that had enjoyed victory at Le Mans, but used detachable cylinder heads instead of the competition unit’s fixed type. There was a single chain-driven overhead camshaft for each bank of cylinders, while induction came courtesy of a trio of Weber 40DCZ/6 carburettors. The Tipo 208 unit’s maximum output of 400bhp made it one of the most powerful production engines of its day and was sufficient to propel the aerodynamically efficient Superfast to a top speed of 175mph, a staggering achievement 40-odd years ago and a highly respectable maximum even today.
After 25 examples had been built a revised Superfast was introduced in mid-1966, the most significant mechanical change being the adoption of a five-speed all-synchromesh gearbox. A further 12 cars were made, this later batch being outwardly distinguishable by their 3-vent engine bay louvres that replaced the earlier 11-vent style. As each and every Superfast was individually built to order, the common reference to ‘Series I’ and ‘Series II’ versions is somewhat misleading, particularly as some of the former were made with the five-speed gearbox and 3-vent louvres.
This outstanding right-hand drive example, ‘8459 SF’, was ordered by the official UK importer Maranello Concessionaires and entered the Pininfarina factory on 25th November 1965. The 33rd Superfast and the 8th of the 12 Series II cars built, ‘8459’ was completed on 1st March 1966 and delivered via Maranello on 2nd April that year to its first owner, stockbroker Jack Durlacher, later a sponsor of privateer Rob Walker’s Formula 1 team.
Originally registered ‘MPJ 5D’, the car underwent a major restoration during the 1980s and on the death of its owner, Mr J P B Bell, was sold at auction in November 1992 to the current vendor, the recorded mileage at that time being circa 82,000. Immediately after purchase, the engine was rebuilt by Maranello Concessionaires at a cost of more than £19,000, and the current owner has maintained this no-expense-spared approach to care and maintenance ever since, as evidenced by the accompanying substantial history file of invoices (copies of these will be available for inspection, the originals to be forwarded to the purchaser after sale). Only some 2,500-or-so miles have been covered while ‘8459 SF’ has been in the vendor’s care and the car remains in excellent condition.
Finished in blue with tan leather interior, this wonderful example of one of the most iconic of all Ferraris is offered fresh from servicing by Ferrari specialists DK Engineering and comes with MoT to August 2008 and Swansea V5. It should be noted that the cherished registration mark ‘1 BJ’ is being retained by the vendor.
Collectors' Motor Cars and Motorcycles|
Bonhams, Olympia, London,
|Hammer Price (inc premium)||£254500|
|Registration number||to be advised|
|Engine number||8459 SF|
|Engine capacity (cc)|
|Engine - cylinders|
|Number of doors|