Prince of patina: unbelievably original Ferrari bound for New York

| 16 Nov 2015

Every now and then a car comes along that makes you sit up and take notice. Usually, it's due to a car's immaculate condition and rarity – such as RM Sotheby's Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato – but this week, a 1955 Ferrari 500 Mondial has grabbed our attention for a very different reason: it's incredible originality. 

That a competition car from the mid-1950s could make it to the end of its racing career in one piece is notable enough, but to survive in its original state for 60 years is almost unheard of. In part, the car's survival is down to Ferrari itself, which held onto the car until 1975 after its first owner, Yves Dupont, took it to Maranello for a full overhaul and failed to pay the bill. 

The Ferrari had only competed in two events by the time it was taken into the factory's care, the 12 Hours of Hyeres and the 1955 Liege-Rome-Liege, blowing its engine at the first meeting. After 10 years Ferrari displayed the car at the Autodromo di Monza museum, where its French Blu paintwork was blown over with a more visitor friendly red, though no further mechanical work was undertaken.

The Mondial was eventually sold in 1975 and was returned to France, where it attended Club Ferrari France meetings at Mas du Clos in 1984 and 1993, as well as a Bugatti-Ferrari meeting in Divonne-les-Bains. 

Fast forward to 2007 – via British, German and Dutch ownership plus trips to the Mille Miglia and Pebble Beach – and the Ferrari was bought by Pierre Mellinger, a well-known collector who appreciated the car's incredible originality. What followed was a painstaking three-month project to remove the Scaglietti body's red top coat to reveal the original blue paint beneath. A clear coat was added to protect the fragile paintwork before the car once again made the trip to Italy for the Mille Miglia Storica in 2009 and 2011. 

Following Mellinger's stewardship, the 500 passed to it's current UK-based owner, who commissioned a full engine rebuilt by specialist Hall & Hall prior to Classiche certification being awarded by Maranello. 

Four-cylinder Ferraris don't come more special than this. It's expected to fetch between $5-6,500,000 at RM Sotheby's 10 December event in New York.

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Photo credit: Remi Dargegan courtesy of RM Sotheby's