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1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Coupé

1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Coupé

1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Coupé

For the 1952 Carrera Panamericana, Ferrari produced three special coupes called the 340 Mexico. They took on the well-prepared Mercedes-Benz team which used the potent 300SL and pace notes to nearly sweep the podium.

In Mexico, the Ferraris were raced under the Franco Cornacchia’s Scuderia Guastalla banner with expectation that Luigi Chinetti would sell the cars before or after the race.

Described as one of the most dangerous races of all, the Carrera Panamericana included nine stages in five days which totaled 2,100 miles. The terrain was rough, without guardrails and on occasion raced flat-out down the long straights of the new Panamericana Highway.

Of the Ferraris, 0224AT driven by Luigi Chinetti and Jean Lucas placed 3rd overall. They nearly missed the podium because John Fitch and the other Mercedes actually finished before the Ferraris, but Fitch was disqualified due to a technicality. The other two Ferraris were owned by Allen Guiberson and succumbed to the treacherous conditions.

See full 1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Coupé Gallery here

1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Coupé

Ferrari’s Carrera Panamericana contender was a combination of their 340 America racer with an unusually elegant coupe body from Vignale. This meant the car had the Lampredi long-block, four-liter, V-12 in a ladder-type, steel, tube-frame chassis. For the Mexico series a higher compression was used, with new camshafts which raised power from 220 bhp to 280 bhp. The chassis was also slightly revised with smaller tubes that converted the 340 America design into the “America Tubolare” which explains the AT suffix on the chassis numbers.2.

Vignale’s body was somewhat unconventional, but typical of their protruding fender design which originated with the 212 Inter series on chassis 0179EL and 0197EL. Curiously, Vignale adopted chrome accents on the hood and along the side of the car. They also incorporated small fins into the design on the top edge of the rear fenders. Unique to the Mexico are vertical spoilers on the door which were used to direct air to the rear tire scoops.

After Mexico, 0224AT was used by Luigi Chinetti and unsuccessfully contested the Mille Miglia, 12 Hours of Reims and 12 Hours of Pescara. This car is easily identified by bulges on the inside of the fender used for wheel clearance. It was brought back to America and presented at the 5th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1954. The car traded hands several times before appearing on the cover of Road & Track in 1969 and much later being a permanent fixture at the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg museum.

See full 1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Coupé Gallery here

1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Coupé

0222AT and 0226AT were privately owned by Allen Guiberson. He repainted 0222AT in two-tone tan over red and tried the Carrera Panamericana again in 1953 with Phil Hill but retired. Afterward, it was raced at the season opener in Buenos Aires but again failed with Phil Hill driving. Later it was fitted with a Chevy V8 which it retained until a unit was sourced from 342 America 0242. It was later restored to its 1953 Carrera Panamerica livery.1

The other Guiberson car, 0226AT, was sold to a fellow Texan in after the Panamericana and was raced twice locally. In the 1980s it was restored for Bill Marriott.

Thankfully all three coupes have survived along with a sole Spyder which was sent to the Carrera Panamericana, but never raced.

In Detail

submitted by Richard Owen
type Racing Car
built at Maranello, Italy
body stylist Giovanni Michelotti
coachbuilder Vignale
production 3
price $ $ 14,500
engine V12
position Front Longitudinal
aspiration Natural
valvetrain SOHC, 2 Valves Cyl
fuel feed 40 DCF/3 Carburetors
displacement 4101 cc / 250.3 in³
bore 80 mm / 3.15 in
stroke 68 mm / 2.68 in
compression 8.0:1
power 208.8 kw / 280.0 bhp @ 6600 rpm
specific output 68.28 bhp per litre
bhp/weight 311.11 bhp per tonne
torque 309.1 nm / 228.0 ft lbs @ 4500 rpm
body / frame Aluminum Body over Steel Tube Frame
driven wheels RWD
wheel type Borrani Spoked Wire
front tires 6.00-16
rear tires 6.50-16
front brakes Aluminum Drums
rear brakes Aluminum Drums
front wheels F 40.6 x 15.2 cm / 16.0 x 6.0 in
rear wheels R 40.6 x 16.5 cm / 16.0 x 6.5 in
steering Worm & Wheel
f suspension Double Wishbones w/Transverse Leaf Spring
r suspension Live Axle w/Control Arms, Semi-Elliptic Leaf Springs, Houdaille Shock Absorbers
curb weight 900 kg / 1984 lbs
wheelbase 2600 mm / 102.4 in
front track 1278 mm / 50.3 in
rear track 1250 mm / 49.2 in
length 4201 mm / 165.4 in
width 1504 mm / 59.2 in
height 1334 mm / 52.5 in
transmission 5-Speed Manual
tran clutch Multi Dry Plate
gear ratios 3.157:1, 1.946:1, 1.403:1, 1.000:1, 0.914:1
final drive 4.000:1
top speed ~280 kph / 174.0 mph

Auction Sales History


1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Berlinetta 0226AT – sold for $3,685,000 Third of only three 340 Mexico Berlinettas built, purpose built to contest 1952 Carrera Panamericana. Original, matching-numbers drivetrain. Ex-Alberto Ascari, Carroll Shelby, Jack McAfee. 1988 Ferrari Club of America Best in Show; Best Competition Ferrari. 1989 Best in Class at Pebble Beach Concours. Extensive recent historic racing and 2007 Pebble Beach entry (Exhibition Only). Auction Source: 2011 Monterey Auction by RM

1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Coupé

1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Coupe 0224ATSold for $4,290,000 Third place, 1952 La Carrera Panamericana (Luigi Chinetti/Jean Lucas). The most successful of the 1952 Panamericana Ferrari team cars. Owned by Ferrari enthusiast and FCA co-founder Larry Nicklin. One of only three 340 Mexico Coupes built. Mille Miglia veteran, eligible for world’s greatest events. Known history from new, documented by Ferrari historian Marcel Massini and current owner’s extensive research. Auction Source: 2011 Amelia Island Auction by RM Auctions

Sources & Further Reading.

1.Massini, Marcel. Ferrari by Vignale. Giorgio Nada Editore: 1993.
2. Boe, Alan ‘MEXICO’ Cavallino 51. July 1989.