Dammit, dammit, dammit! Auction catalogues are evil, evil things. Or at least they are for me. Like that Merc I mentioned in another post, this 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spyder is a seriously great car in a bunch of different ways.
For one thing, it’s a bit odd for a Ferrari, engine-wise that is. ‘Neath the bonnet you will find, of all things a three liter four banger engine. These Monzas were very light and nimble and frickin’ world-beaters. Think of them as aluminum bodied Miatas with a bored and stroked stock four banger punched out from two to three liters, and you’ll get a pretty good idea what they drive like.
No, I haven’t driven one (sadly). But I have seen them race, and you underestimate these little guys at your own peril. They were sort of like 50s, front engined versions of Chevron B19s. Luckily, for the competitors, Enzo only made 25 of the little beasts, whereas Chevron cranked out the 19s like sausages. Another plus for the 750 Monza over the B19s is that they’re much more streetable. Not that you should, but you could … or I could at any rate.
So, in addition to rarity, pedigree, a great, if unexpected mill, what else does this Monza have going for it that makes RM think it will get between $2,500,000-$3,250,000 US when it roils across the auction block at Monterey?
For starters, I mentioned that it is one of only 35 built, and a matching-numbers example (rare for an ex-racer, where parts get swapped out every weekend). Also, and this is SO cool, this particular 750 had a starring role in On the Beach, starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner and was driven on screen by Fred Astaire. Yeah, THAT Fred Astaire. And, if I might digress here (and I think I will) On The Beach was not only a great movie (the brittleness of Ava Gardner not withstanding (what Sinatra saw in her, I’ll never understand)) but it is also a great, great car movie. Well, part of it is. The part where Fred takes out the Monza (painted white in the film) for one last race with a bunch of other crazy gearheads when the world is literally coming to an end. Talk about literally going out in a blaze of glory, that’s Mr. Astaire’s aim. Sadly, he ends up winning, rather than kicking the bucket … but he remedies that situation later in the film with great flair and aplomb that would make any gearhead worth the grease under their nails and the scars on their knuckles say, “Yeah man, THAT’S the way to go!”
Anyway, in addition to all that Hollywood cool factor, this particular 750 Monza was also the Brussels Motor Show car for Ferrari in 1955, and it also boasts a race-winning history, including John Von Neumann, Phil Hill, Harrison Evans. Yes, that would be America’s first world driving Champion, Phil Hill.
Restored? Hells yeah! It took them two years to get it looking like this. RM says that ” … this Ferrari 750 Monza is one of the finest examples built and, according to Ferrari authority Brooke Betz, the best example he has ever seen, on content alone.” I ain’t bitching with him, I can tell you that right now.
The mechanical deets work out like this: A 260 hp, 2,999 cc DOHC four-cylinder engine featuring double Weber 58 mm DCOA/3 carburetors, dry sump lubrication (natch), five-speed manual transmission (double natch), independent front suspension with unequal-length A-arms and coil springs, de Dion rear axle with transverse leaf springs and trailing arms (scary, sure, but that was pretty much the coin of the realm back then, rear suspension wise), four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. and a short-short wheelbase of 88.6″
This 750 Monza, serial number 0492M, entered 22 West Coast races in 1955-56, and in that time it won twice, scored seven 2nd place finishes, was 3rd twice and 4th four times. That, as they say, is a “significant racing history”.