The high performance luxury gran turismo was a new automotive idiom in the prosperous years following World War II. Moving into the 1960s, these fast, luxurious cars continued to be the car of choice for the rich and famous. Most combined powerful engines with a highly competent chassis, were clothed in unique or limited production coachwork from inspired designers, and were equipped to the highest standards and trimmed in the finest materials.
Production of luxury Ferrari GTs began in 1953 with the introduction of the 342 America, which was based on the 340 America and featured an extended chassis to provide additional interior space. Then came the 375 America (built until May 1954), of which only 12 examples were built for Ferraris wealthiest clientele, selling for prices which sent chills up the spines of even Rolls-Royce owners. It could achieve a top speed of 150 mph while accelerating from zero to sixty in less than seven seconds " very impressive indeed for its day! Carrozzeria Pinin Farina of Turin was tasked with designing and building the bodywork which shared an outward similarity to 250 Europa, but their interiors, wings, bumpers and detailing were all unique.
The following year, Enzo Ferrari displayed the polished chassis #0423 SA at the Paris Salon. The completed version of the 410 Superamerica, also crafted by Pinin Farina, was on view at Brussels in January 1956. The 410 SA was given a larger engine and bigger brakes. Coil spring suspensions were used in the front. As was Ferrari practice, many variations of this model were built by several coachbuilders, including Boano, Ghia and Scaglietti.
In 1959, Ferrari ceased production of the Lampredi engine. Instead, an enlarged version of the Colombo-designed âshort blockÂ V12 engine would provide the power for the next iteration of Ferrari Luxury GTs, beginning with the 400 Superamerica, the outstanding successor to the 410SA.
The 400 Superamerica was introduced at Brussels in 1960 when chassis 1611 SA, a two place cabriolet, was first exhibited. It is considered one of Pininfarinas great designs " an artful expression of Ferrari performance with stylistic elegance, minimizing the cars apparent size while conveying its aggressive potential. Befitting their stature as the âtop-of-the-rangeÂ and also the most powerful road going Ferraris of the time, the 400 SAs were superbly finished with the finest materials and, often with distinction, to the owners specification. Once again, their dizzying price tags ensured that the client base would be restricted to princes, potentates, captains of industry and the stars of Hollywood and Romes Cinecitta. The first series 400 SAs were built on a 2,420 mm short wheelbase (SWB) chassis, after which a second series was produced with an extended wheelbase of 2,600 mm (LWB). More common to both series are the Coupe Aerodynamica versions, while a smaller number of cabriolets were produced. With their elegant lines and notably more aggressive stance, the SWB cabriolets are considered the most desirable of all the 400 SAs.
The extraordinary example offered here, s/n 3309 SA, is the last created of only six SWB 400 SA cabriolets bodied by Pininfarina (as the company was now known). As such, it was built as Ferraris star car for the Geneva Salon and New York Auto Show of 1962 and included many special features. For example, it is the only one of the six which displays the covered headlights so coveted on California Spyders. Extra brightwork is also abundant, including an attractive wide stainless steel panel along the sills, a chrome trim line across the side of the car, and chromed wheel arch and bonnet scoop accents completing the show detailing. There is further brightwork noticeable in the door openings and under the bonnet.
3309 SA is also equipped with its optional factory hardtop. An extravagant yet handsome design, it ensures the car remains as attractive in coupe form as it is with its top down. (Plus, the permanently installed soft top is neatly folded behind the seats.)
3309 SA was sold to Phoenix, Arizona Ferrari dealer J.A. Stallings off the show stand in New York by Luigi Chinetti Motors. Wasting no time before enjoying its sparkling performance, Mr. Stallings used the car for hillclimbs before taking it to the Bonneville Speed Trials in 1962, where he was officially recorded reaching speeds over 145 mph, as featured in the November 1962 issue of Road & Track documenting the event. (An album with numerous photographic prints from Bonneville, along with copies of the original timing sheets, is included with the sale.)
In 1964, 3309 SA was acquired by well known GT racer Bob Grossman (a colour photocopy of a print of him with the car, believed to be from Virginia International Raceway, is included in the file), after which he traded it back to Chinetti in 1967. It was subsequently sold to well known Ferrariste Norman Silver of High Point, North Carolina. Mr. Silver kept the car until 1973, whereupon it was sold with the assistance of Tom Meade to Charles Robert of Nogent-sur-Marne and Paris, France.
Following his acquisition, and with further assistance from Mr. Meade, Mr. Robert had the car restored by Carrozzeria Fantuzzi in Modena. It was repainted a more stately maroon and fitted with a tan interior, altering the original colour scheme of Rosso Metallizzato Speciale (metallic red) with Avorio (ivory) upholstery.
Mr. Robert owned the car for the next 30 years, during which he showed the car occasionally at Ferrari club events and at a special Ferrari exhibit at Retromobile 2000, in Paris.
In 2005, the Ferrari returned to the U.S., whereupon its current keeper embarked on a meticulously researched, no-expense-spared total concours restoration by marque specialists. Patrick Ottis of Berkeley, California managed the project and restored all the mechanicals, including digging deeply into his trove of NOS parts for this favoured client. The striking and flawless body, black paint and trim were lovingly attended to by Brian Hoyt of Perfect Reflections. Finally, the luscious red leather interior was done by Ken Nemanic. Each of these restorers is an award-winning artisan of his respective craft.
In its first show outing at the XVIII Cavallino Classic in 2009, 3309 SA was awarded Platinum Status by Ferrari Club of America judges and featured in the April/May 2009 issue of Cavallino magazine.
Later, in August, 2009 " after further preparation by the restoration team " the Ferrari was shown at the Pebble Beach Concours dElegance, where it earned a respectable Third in Class and was awarded 98 points. (Four half-points were deducted for minor issues, three of which have subsequently been addressed. The fourth " for exhibiting âtoo shiny paintÂ " has been left as shown!) The car was then again featured in Cavallino, October/November 2009.
Fresh, correct and superb, 3309 SA includes its full complement of books, complete tool roll, jack and restoration documents including dyno testing results. Although it is presented both cosmetically and mechanically in as new condition, its road miles have been limited mostly to the 50-mile Pebble Beach Road Tour, where it performed flawlessly.
More powerful and much more exclusive than the vaunted 250 GT California Spyder SWB, this 400 Superamerica Cabriolet Pininfarina SWB represents the connoisseurs choice for a top-shelf open Ferrari. With its remarkable show car origins, notable racing exploits, bulletproof ownership history, extraordinary restoration and stunning presence, it has to be considered a worthy value in todays market in addition to its unmatched desirability.