American and European sports car racing differed quite a bit in the fifties. Competition in the US would often include one-of specials and European cars stuffed with American V8s. Our feature 412S is one of the few factory built Ferraris to contest this American competition.
At the request of John von Neumann, Ferrari assembled this hot rod for American SCCA racing. Ferrari used chassis #0744, most likely the 312S driven by Gendebien for the Spa GP, and put a very special engine from the single seat 412 Monza Indianapolis (MI) in it.
As used in the sole 412 MI, this engine was a punched out version of then current V12 powering Ferraris sports cars. It was used, with smaller capacities, to power the 290S/315S/335S series of Mille Miglia-winning cars. The culmination these developments ended with the sole 412S. It was the most powerful Ferrari of its time, made to take on the powerful Scarabs and other competition in SCCA racing.
The car’s first outing was at Watkins Glen in 1958. Driven by Phil Hill, the car retired due to mechanical problems. It was then sent back to factory to be one of the first Ferraris fitted with disc brakes. Hill then raced with the car for its second race at Riverside, but failed near the lead with fuel starvation.
In 1959 the car was sold to Jack Nethercut, who quickly ‘flipped’ it to Fred Knoop. It was then entered at the Riverside Times Grand Prix and driven by Richie Ginther. #0744 took first overall, and in doing so, set a track record of 181 mph.
This is where #0744’s major racing history ends, and a long ownership list starts. By 1973, it was owned by Steve Earl who used it to promote the first Monterey Historic Races. After changing hands several more times, Jarold Williams received and restored it to its original 1958 specification.
The car is was auctioned at Sotheby’s Ferrari Factory Sale but failed to sell like many og the other big ticket cars. Being a unique Ferrari, and one of the only made to contest American racing, it reached a high bid of 7.1 million dollars but that was not enough to meet the reserve.
At their upcoming Monterey Sports Car Sale, RM will offer ”one of the Greatest Racing Ferraris in History, Expected to Break $6.5 Million Record at Prestigious Auto Auction”.
Twin A-Arms w/Coil Springs, Houdaille Hydraulic Dampers
DeDion Axle w/Transverse Leaf Springs, Houdaille Hydraulic Dampers
2350 mm / 92.5 in
1296 mm / 51.0 in
1310 mm / 51.6 in
4-Speed Transaxle w/5-Plate Clutch
Auction Sales History
1958 Ferrari 412 S 0744 – sold for $5,610,000 The ex-Scuderia Ferrari, One-Off, Pebble Beach Class Winning Singular Example 1958 Ferrari 412 S Sports Racing Car. Chassis no. 0744 Engine no. 0744. Mysterious, powerful, beautiful and unquestionably one of the most significant cars in Ferrari’s history. The 412 S is an absolute Time Machine and the Ferrari that inspired the creation of the first Monterey Historic Races in 1974. Auction Source: 2006 Monterey Preview
Story by Richard Owen and Research by Dirk de Jager for Supercars.net