The long-disputed history of a legendary Ferrari works racer has been resolved once and for all in order for the multi-million pound car to be sold.
After years of controversy, the ex-Umberto Maglioli Ferrari 375 Plus was unveiled to a specially invited audience of 20 at Bonhams' New Bond Street HQ last night.
The 4.9-litre 375 Plus was Ferrari's most fearsome sports racer in period, with just five cars being built to contend the 1954 World Sports Car Championship.
The lightweight all-alloy 330bhp monsters were piloted by the likes of Gonzalez and Maglioli at Le Mans, where it won, and on the Carrera PanAmericana.
The first of them, chassis 0834 AM, was raced by Maglioli on the Mille Miglia and at Le Mans – with Paolo Marzotto, above – and by Gonzalez at Silverstone (below).
When its works career ended it passed to Kleenex heir Jim Kimberly, then Howard Hively and then Karl Kleve in the United States. From Kleve it moved into the collection of Ecurie Francorchamps legend Jacques Swaters who had the car fully restored.
After that it all turned sour with a bitter title dispute breaking out when the correct engine and parts of the original bodywork emerged in the US.
Now, however, that has been settled by both parties agreeing to sell their claims together. That means that the Swaters family's car will be sold with the correct engine, along with the spare motor, what remains of the original bodywork – still bearing traces of the livery from the 1957 Cuban Grand Prix – and other parts.
Philip Kantor, Bonhams head of motor cars for mainland Europe, said: “We are honoured to have been chosen to sell this wonderful car, which represents a key early stage in the Ferrari racing legend. It is very rare indeed for a Ferrari team works car with continuous history and undisputed identity to come to the market for sale by public auction. We believe it will attract interest from all over the world.”
Ferrari experts were cagey to put a value on the car, but with its history given a clean bill of health a figure of £8-10million was generally accepted to be realistic.