A masterpiece of automotive conservation, and a true artifact of racing history, chassis no. 0424 MD pictured here, is perhaps the most original 500 Mondial in existence. Offered as part of RM Sotheby’s creatively-styled Driven by Disruption sale, December 10 in New York City, this Italian racer survived a period in motorsport competition that many cars don’t, and would make an ideal preservation class and historic racing entrant for its next enthusiastic caretaker.
Until only recently, enthusiasts of vintage automobiles have placed a premium upon exquisitely restored vehicles. As fully restored examples began to heavily outnumber those left in their original condition, collectors developed a newfound appreciation for automotive patina. Much like examining the rings on an old tree, each mark, blemish, and crease tells a story and illustrates the effects of time, something that cannot be purposefully duplicated.
These “preservation class” automobiles are often road-going vehicles that spent much of their time hidden away, seldom seeing the light of day. It is virtually impossible that a car born into motorsport would survive intact for the duration of its first season of racing, let alone another 60 years.
However, such is the case with the 1955 Ferrari 500 Mondial that will be presented at RM Sotheby’s mouth-watering Driven by Disruption sale in New York next month. This particular Ferrari, chassis no. 0424 MD, emerged unscathed from its competition career and is offered in highly original and unrestored condition. Not only does it retain its original major mechanical components, including its chassis, engine, gearbox, and coachwork, but it also wears its original French Blu colors.
CHASSIS NUMBER 0424 MD (0564 MD)
Sold to its first owner, Yves Dupont, of France, this second-series 500 Mondial, bodied by Scaglietti and fitted with a Tipo 111 engine, was to be designated as chassis 0564 MD. However, to avoid tax and import duties into France, the car was stamped 0424 MD by the factory (“Variata matricola in 0424/MD” is noted on the build sheet). The car also took the registration number MO 33757, the same number first used for François Picard’s 500 Mondial PF (also chassis 0424 MD).
Shortly thereafter, the Mondial was delivered to Dupont finished in the French national racing colors, and successfully campaigned in period. It made its racing debut at the 12 Hours of Hyères with Birac, wearing race number #8, and later entered the famous and demanding Liège-Rome-Liège, this time as number #11.
Following the end of the 1955 season, the 500 Mondial was returned to the Factory to be refurbished, though Dupont would never pick it up. As a result, the car was retained by Ferrari, where it remained for the next 19 years and was put on display at the museum at the Autodromo di Monza. Prior to its display, Ferrari re-sprayed over the blue livery with a more traditional red, yet no other restorative work was undertaken.
THE PRESERVATION OF HISTORY
The Mondial remained in Ferrari’s ownership until December 1975, when it was finally sold and returned to France with Jean-François Dumontant of Rempnat. It then passed through a small chain of European owners, each of whom entered it into some of the world’s most renowned vintage events, including the Mille Miglia and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, before the car landed with Polish collector Pierre Mellinger in the late 2000s.
Looking to further bolster its originality, Mellinger arranged for a Padova-based body shop to delicately remove the layer of red paint applied by the factory to reveal the Mondial’s original coat of French Blu. The project took nearly three months to complete. Yet, the Ferrari was not to remain a museum piece, and would participate in the Mille Miglia with Mellinger in 2009 and 2011.
In 2012, the Ferrari was acquired by its current owner, a London-based collector. Shown at the Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance in 2013, it continues to be well maintained and well preserved, and comes to market following a fresh engine rebuild by marque specialists Hall & Hall, leaving it in mechanically superb condition. Furthermore, 0424 MD has been granted Ferrari Classiche certification, further attesting to the car’s mechanical authenticity and originality.
Estimated to bring between $5,000,000 and $6,500,000 when the gavel falls next month, the beauty of this racer rests in its unrivaled level of factory originality, down to the smallest details.
The fascinating 500 Mondial is one of 31 pioneering motor cars set for RM Sotheby’s Driven by Disruption auction, December 10 at Sotheby’s New York City headquarters. Each auction vehicle showcases the extremes of motoring history and the molds that were broken by engineers and designers in pushing the automotive envelope. As a prelude to the auction, an exclusive six-day exhibition will open over the weekend of December 5 in Sotheby’s 10th floor galleries.
To view the complete digital catalogue showcasing all lots for the sale, along with complete event details, please visit www.rmsothebys.com.