My Car Quest

September 23, 2018

A Ferrari Mystery – Is It The Ferrari 412S Or The Ferrari 412MI?

by Mike –

After reading The Ferrari 412S story Dennis Gray, a photographer who regularly publishes in Sports Car Digest and a regular reader of My Car Quest sent this note below,

Phil Hill identified the car to me as a 412MI not a 412S. The 412MI at the time was also in the Ferrari team red or what I would call almost a brown. Shiny to be sure but not the fire engine red the car is today. I also have images of the 412MI running the Monterey Historic races some years back.

Ferrari 412S

Photo by Dennis Gray

I had the Ferrari 412MI in my LA studio for five or six weeks in the mid eighties. I have a studio shot of the car signed by Phil Hill. I donated a bunch of prints to the Danville Concours and Phil was kind enough to sign one for me. He also spent time telling me about the car.

This video was put together out of images shot one day after a TV commercial shoot. At the time the car belonged to Jerry Evans who also owned a Ferrari P4.

A Ferrari Mystery

Well, now I had a dilemma on my hands. John Abruzzo who provided the information for the Ferrari 412S Post and the nephew of George Tilp, the one time owner of this Ferrari race car, clearly said this was the Ferrari 412S. Yet, I had an experienced car photographer tell me that Phil Hill told him that this is the Ferrari 412MI and Phil Hill raced this car!

The only thing that I could think to do was to ask the Ferrari Chat readers what they thought. After some discussion where some were convinced this was the 412MI someone posted this link to the Ferrari web site where everything was explained by Ferrari and is quoted below.

412 S

The only 412 S was built on chassis no. 0744 (ex-312 S – chassis design type 524). It sported the Tipo 141 engine with twin overhead cams used aboard the 412 MI single-seater in the Monzo 500 Miles on June 29th 1958. Also known erroneously as the 412 MI, it was sold to John Von Neumann’s Ferrari of California on September 1958. The car competed mostly in California. Its regular drivers were Phil Hill and Richie Ginther but Von Neumann also drove it himself on occasion.

Ferrari 412S Engine

Ferrari 412S Engine

More Confusion

To add more confusion a great article about this car was published in Forza (The Beast). Throughout this article by William Edgar this race car is referred to as the Ferrari 412MI.

No wonder there is confusion about if this Ferrari is the 412S or 412MI with people who were there like Phil Hill and William Edgar calling it the 412MI and John Abruzzo, the nephew of George Tilp calling it the 412S.

This race car and the engine both have complicated histories and this likely explains the confusion over the name. Back in the day it is possible that everyone, including Ferrari, called this car the 412MI. However, it is clear that Ferrari now labels this race car the 412S.

The decider is Ferrari – it is the 412S.

What do you think? Let us know in the Comments

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A Ferrari Mystery - Is It The Ferrari 412S Or The Ferrari 412MI?
Article Name
A Ferrari Mystery - Is It The Ferrari 412S Or The Ferrari 412MI?
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A Ferrari mystery - is this famous race car the Ferrari 412S or Ferrari 412MI?
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Comments

  1. I am not now nor have I ever been a Ferrari historian or even an arm chair expert. But (always a ‘but’ in these web discussions) I did do some research before I titled the Danville Concours prints. The last thing I wanted was to have Phil Hill correct my titles. According to this research the 412Mi first race was the 1958 Spa GP for sports cars and the car was titled as a 312S with the chassis number 0744MI driven by Oliver Gendebien for team Equip National Belge. Any one have a picture of this car from this event?
    September 1958 Sold to Jon von Neumann as a 412MI. First race under von Nuemann’s ownership was a DNF, USAC International Formula Libre GP, Watkins Glen driven by Phil Hill. The car was #2 painted silver with a red stripe.
    Next up and perhaps the 412MI best known race was the October 1958 LA Times GP where Phil Hill was up against the Scarab team. Again a DNF.
    After von Nuemann Fred Knoop owned the 412MI from 1961 till 1965. Charles ‘Pinky’ Pinkham till 1974. Steve Earle was partners with Pinky’s widow Mille running the 412MI during the first Monterey Historics in 1974.
    Other owners have included Chris Cord, Carle Conway, Jarold Evans, Bill Bauce, Rob Walton, and Chris Cox. As far as I know each and every one of these owners referred to the car as a 412MI.
    The engine is stamped 0646 on the block
    I had the privilege of discussing this car three times with Phil Hill during two different Danville Concours. Each time he referred to the car as a Ferrari 412MI. As a note of interest we also talked about his Laguna Seca drive for Chaparral and the time he attempted to qualify Rod Carveth’s 250TR number 0666 for the 1960 Examiner GP again at laguna Seca. A real gentleman who had no problem sharing his memories.
    Now 56 years later if Ferrari wants to rename the 412MI as a 412S so be it but those of us who were there or as in my case read about Phil and Richie Ginther racing the Scarabs it is and always will be a 412MI.

    • The 410S was applied to four 4.9 Lampredi V12 SOHC cars built in 1955. Too confusing to then call this one off car the 410S, and I think Monza Indianapolis, or MI is a better moniker. The story of the engine is that it was initially installed in the car 0646 which killed Portago in the last Mille Miglia, then became the engine of a monoposto for Indy and the Race of Two Worlds at Monza before finally powering the special spyder for Phil Hill. Forf some reason that car has only half a windscreen and a squared off headrest, as well as no air outlets alongside the engine. In my Facebook blog, Looking Back Racing, I show this car alongside a reversed image of Phil driving another odd spyder, a Left hand drive one which shares some similarities with this car but is not the four cam car described here. Other folks have knowledge of those two serial numbers but I do not.

      • This car does not appear to corner as well as the Pontoon fendered cars, likely because its suspension is too soft. That is my observation from seeing it at Monterey. It was the only available face off to the Chuck Daigh Scarab ant the first pro race on the West Coast, put on by the LA paper at Riverside. Phil had to concede to Daigh when vapor lock laid it low.

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