My Car Quest

November 19, 2019

The Ferrari 340 America Race Car That Was Practically Given Away

by Wallace Wyss –

Now, in my golden years, I can scarcely remember when I was a “newbie” in the car world, but there was a time there in the Sixties when I met a Chevrolet dealer, a Mr. Bill Markley, who had a stable of exotic cars, including a Miura and a Ferrari 410 Superamerica.

If I’d played my cards right, maybe I could have got a part time jobs as a parts washer, that would have led to a story like this–the Markowski Ferrari 275S.

i_340_america_scaglietti_barchetta_5

That particular Ferrari came along in 1950. Only two 275S Barchettas were made. They would sport bodies fashioned by Milan’s Carrozzeria Touring over the chassis of the new frame powered by the 3.3-liter Lampredi V-12. Most Ferrari engines were designed by Colombo but these were the more complicated Lampredi engines. These two cars were built for racing and went right to the big time for their first race, the Mille Miglia.

Ferrari 340 America

Maybe they bit off more than they could chew, because neither car finished the thousand mile-long race. They went back to the shop and were refitted with the 4.1-liter V-12 rated at 220 bhp, an engine developed for Ferrari’s Formula One cars.

The new name, based on engine displacement, was Ferrari 340 America. One of the two chassis was 0030MT, the first of the two 275S models to carry the Lampredi engine. This time around the famed driver Alberto Ascari was chosen to pilot it in the Mille Miglia. It was also the display car at the 1950 Salon de l’Automobile held at Grand Palais in Paris.

The following year, it was sold by the factory to a racing team, Scuderia Marzotto. But the new 275S Barchettas both DNF’d in the 1950 Mille Miglia. Not that Ferrari was worried, there were other Ferraris in the race and Giannino Marzotto won the event in a Ferrari 195S Berlinetta.

That win solidified his friendship with Enzo Ferrari and he was given a good deal on buying a 275S and bought 0030MT for his team Scuderia Marzotto.

They didn’t have much success, the only notable one being a 2nd place in the Coppa della Toscana in 1951.

Ferrari 340 America

With Fontana Body – 1951

Following the Grand Prix of Bari, in which was piloted by Giovanni Bracco, the Ferrari 340 America began to metamorphose as various owners had it rebodied and changed by Scaglietti, the shop that built most Ferrari race cars.

COMING TO AMERICA

In 1958, an American, Carroll Mills, traded a Maserati and some cash for the Ferrari 340 America and shipped it to the United States.

You have to credit the fact that Vermont is not the state you think of when you think old Ferraris and that’s why it wasn’t immediately bought by Ferrari hunters of the time.

Ferrari 340 America

Instead the car stayed in a Mills’ Vermont garage. And wouldn’t cha know a local kid, 12 years old at the time, took an interest in the car. Mills thought, well, hell, give the kid some work and if he worked long enough, he could buy that ol’ red Ferrari.

Hey, a kid can dream, right? The trade-for-work deal was worked out when Peter Markowski was 15.

After working on a number of the other cars, Peter got around to the Ferrari 340 America, which was not an easy car to work on. One account says it took years to get the car running.

Now trouble was he didn’t have enough money to buy another car so he toodled around it it to the grocery store and even drove it to races, raced it and drove home.

Ferrari 340 America engine

He clocked 110,000 miles in the Ferrari, where most race car owners only drove their cars from the trailer to the track grid.

He became so adept at maintaining it that he opened a shop to service exotic cars. But eventually, with the rise in popularity of old Ferraris coincident with the growth in vintage racing, he sold it in 1999 becoming the property of William Jacobs of Joliet, Illinois.

Only two years later it was sold back to Europe, to Michael Willms of Aachen, Germany. Willms was a real enthusiast. The first thing he did with the car was enter it in the 2005 Mille Miglia.

Ferrari 340 America

With Marzotto body

In fact, he went everywhere with the car: Modena Motorsport Track Days, the Shell Historic Ferrari Maserati Challenge World Finals and events at Spa-Francorchamps, Valencia and, of course, Monza.

It competed at the Mille Miglia in 2006, 2007 and 2010. The Ferrari 340 America also appeared in the 2008 Monaco Historic Grand Prix.
Now came the big hurdle: getting the coveted Ferrari Classiche certification.

You could object to it being so awarded on the grounds it was “not the engine it was built with” or “not the body it was built with” but you had to also acknowledge its pedigree–a mile long competition history and being raced by a significant Scuderia.

It got the Certificate.

Ferrari 340 America at Auction

The car finally came up for sale at the RM Sotheby’s 2015 Monterey auction. Before the auction the RM company said it would sell between $7,500,000 and $10,000,000. It hammered down for $7,975,000, and probably today would sell for more.

But I like the $500 story. A boy learned the value of hard work, and more importantly it led to a career for him. I wished now I had further befriended Mr. Markley…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the author of the Incredible Barn Finds series of books, which can be ordered directly from the publisher at (715) 381 9755

 

Ferrari

Summary
The Ferrari 340 America Race Car That Was Practically Given Away
Article Name
The Ferrari 340 America Race Car That Was Practically Given Away
Description
A valuable Ferrari 340 America could have been had for a song at one time.
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Comments

  1. ~ Wonderful recounting of the story, thank you.

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