Sep/Oct 2021 edition
Issue #18 AutoMobilia Resource Magazine
Two books by Randy Cook: Bowtie Ferraris: Chevy-Engined Ferraris from the 1950s and 1960s. AND… Blue Oval Ferraris et al: Ford and Other American-Engined Ferraris from the 1950s and 1960s.
The competition Ferraris built between 1947 and 1959 sell for millions of dollars today, based on their provenance. Shouldn’t the fact that many spent years powered by Chevy or Ford V8s be included in their record of provenance? Randy Cook thought so and set the record straight.
Even if you had factory ties in the 1950s, rebuilding Ferrari motors was expensive and time-consuming. U.S. racers could install an American V8 in hours and win SCCA B or C Modified championships.
Such ingenuity intrigued the late Randy Cook, who owned a Chevy-powered 1959 Ferrari 250 PF coupe, SN 1175GT. Cook was an archivist at the Motor Racing Research Center at Watkins Glen, N.Y., with access to books, periodicals and collectors. He was a professional state and federal fraud investigator, able to follow leads
Two books that Cook published in 2014 and 2015 illustrate a forgotten chapter of racing history, when now-priceless collectibles outran the Grim Reaper. Cook identifies 114 Ferrari hot rods by their serial numbers, race records, thrilling period photos and historic classified ads that beg for time travel! For dedicated Tifosi (supporters/fans of Scuderia Ferrari in Formula 1) these are must-reads.
Cook acknowledges 71 experts, including Toly Arutunoff, Mike Sheehan, Marcel Massini, Bruce Meyer, Tom Shaughnessy, Ed Niles, Alan Boe, Oscar Koveleski, Karl Ludvigsen, and many others for his impressive result. Cook also credits dozens of photographers, magazines, books and interviews for their contributions which brought his stories to life.
Most of these Ferraris share common history. Many began as factory racers (especially with even serial numbers) in the hands of Ascari, Biondetti, Castelotti, de Portago, Fangio, Gendebien, Ginther, Gonzales, Gregory, Gurney, Hawthorn, Hill, Maglioli, Marzotto, Nuvolari, Rodriguez, Rosier, Schell, Shelby, Trintignant, Taruffi, Villoresi, and von Trips. (Froilan Gonzales won three South American championships in a Chevy V8 F1 Ferrari from 1957-60!)
Sold to America, these same cars dominated SCCA racing with some of the above stars, and notable U.S. drivers like Chuck Daigh, Jim Hall, Jim Kimberly, Ernie McAfee, Roger Penske, Bill Spear, George Reed, and John von Neumann. When Ferrari engines failed, a new Chevy or Ford V8 cost less than a rebuild. Happily, most Ferrari engines survived. Many were reunited with the cars years later.
Bowtie Ferraris focuses on 71 Ferraris with Chevrolet V8s, dating from 1949 166MM 0024 through 1965 250GT 5397. They include Mille Miglia winners 166MM 0026 (1950) and 340 America 0082 (1951), 1953 375 Plus La Carrera Pan Americana winner 0392, and 1958 Le Mans 24 Hours winner 250 Testa Rossa 0728.
Blue Oval Ferraris adds 13 V8 Ford conversions, four Buick V8s, two Offys, one Maserati, one Mercedes-Benz and one Chrysler V8. Eight more Bowtie Chevrolets are added and a further 35 period photos of 18 cars already described.
Comparing production figures with known survivors suggests that other Ferrari V8 barn finds exist. People who couldn’t afford to rebuild Ferrari engines in the 1960s most certainly couldn’t do so now.
Mike Sheehan has tracked these cars for more than 40 years and has said: “Oh, they’re out there.” And, in keeping with the era, this quote from Toly Arutunoff perfectly sums it up: “A Chevy Engine in a Ferrari? Imagine Dinah Shore’s personality combined with Sophia Loren’s looks!”
To read more great columns like this one from collectible book expert Paul Duchene...
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