Sports Car – Reare 1954 Ferrari Mondial Spider up for auction – Classic cars

Sports Car – Reare 1954 Ferrari Mondial Spider up for auction – Classic cars

There aren’t many things in the world that would link a star of the big screen, a playboy diplomat and the only US-born F1 champion in history – but that’s the case with this seriously rare Ferrari.

It’s a 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider that captured the glances of none other than James Dean, who was famously photographed in the vehicle a year before his untimely death in 1955.

Bonhams estimate of $5million to $6million means it could become one of the top 100 most expensive cars of all time to sell at auction.

The car was also originally owned by Dominican Republic ambassador Porfirio Rubirosa – who was famously dating Zsa Zsa Gabor at the time – and was raced by Phil Hill, the only American-born driver to take the Formula One crown.

Throw into the celebrity mix that it’s also one of just 12 examples ever built and you might begin to understand why it might sell for an estimated US$5million to US$6million when it goes under the hammer in January.

Bonhams will offer the vibrant blue Ferrari to the highest bidder at the January 17 collectors’ car auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.

It’s expected to set the pulses of classic-car enthusiasts racing, especially being the model immortalised in photographs with an admiring James Dean in the driver’s seat.


But its star-studded history begins with Rubirosa, who is recognised as one of the world’s greatest playboys of all time.

The diplomat, professional bon vivant and rumoured political assassin also had part-time racer as one of the many feathers in his cap.

He took the Mondial Spider to Santa Barbara, accompanied by Hungarian-American actress and socialite Zsa Zsa, where the pair were extensively photographed.

Soon after the vehicle was sold to a more reputable keeper, John von Neumann – the man who introduced Porsche and Volkswagen to California and sold sportscars to the stars through his dealership Competition Motors. 

It was Neumann who returned the Ferrari to Santa Barbara where it caught the attention of an admiring Dean, who had taken his Porsche Speedster to the same event.

It’s on this occasion that the big-screen heartthrob was pictured in the vehicle, captured in a striped t-shirt and sunglasses as he marveled at the rare Italian machine.

Just a year later, the Hollywood actor would meet his end at the wheel of his Porsche Spyder in California while en route to Salinas.

While under Neumann’s ownership, the Ferrari was also raced at Palm Springs and then at Torrey Pines by a young driver by the name of Phil Hill – who went on to become a legend of motorsport by winning the 1961 F1 Driver’s Championship and a hat-trick of victories at each of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and 12 Hours of Sebring sports car races.

Even without the celebrity links, the Mondial is itself an incredibly important car in Ferrari’s glimmering history.

It’s number 11 of the 12 first-series examples (27 were made in total) that features an inline-four-cylinder aluminum engine instead of the then traditional V12 motor.

The ‘500’ in the name denotes the displacement of a single cylinder. 

At the time of competing, it was said to develop 160hp at 6,500rpm and was a dominant competitor in its class.

It remains in incredible condition, still wearing its original Pinin Farina body painted in the same blue colour it originally left the Maranello factory.

A fair bit of cash has been spent on it recently, though.

It was completely restored in 2013 by Ferrari Classiche – the Italian firm’s in-house facility in Modena that’s famous for employing ‘men with golden hands’. 

It not only has the high-quality Classiche Red Book Certification but also a raft of awards in recent years.

This includes first in class at the 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Platinum Award for Best Restored Ferrari from the Ferrari Club of America, and the Phil Hill Trophy for Best Competition Ferrari by the Ferrari Club of America – an extremely prestigious trio of accolades to say the least.

If it does sell above the higher estimate of $6million it will cement its position as one of the 100 most expensive cars to sell at auction of all time.

-Daily Mail




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