Ferrari 250 mm
FERRARI 250 MM
The Road & Track cover car of July 1955 turns up again-still in excellent shape, but now bright red, as Ferraris should be.
A DECADE IS normally the full life span of a car: an automotive Alpha and Omega. But for Road & Track's July 1955 cover car, 10 years have had far less effect. The 2.9-liter, V -12 Ferrari with a Farina competition coupe body is still going strong because one man cares.
Aside from the obvious-fresh, current styling (many production cars are only now coming to the bob-tailed, fastback simplicity of this Farina design)-the real story is William Lester's.
The car was built for racing and brought into the U.S. for that purpose in 1953 by Ken Heavlin. It was shipped to Bill Devin in Los Angeles. By the end of the year it was ready to compete and Devin turned it over to a then-stillrising Phil Hill for the Madera (California) race. At the wheel of this coupe, Hill took an early lead over Sterling Edwards and pushed on to victory. A little later, Devin tried his luck at March AFB and finished eighth. Still later, he entered a race at Stead AFB near Reno. The car did not finish.
The car was returned to Heavlin, who kept it in his luxurious garage at Grosse Pointe, Mich. In time it was sold to Paul Lohmann and then J. W. Myers, both of Ann Arbor, Mich. By 1961 there was little interest in a one-time racing Ferrari and the car was advertised in the classified ad section of the February 1961 issue of Road & Track.
It was the R&T ad that brought Lester into the story. Lester, then a propulsion engineer at Convair in San Diego, was shopping for a car. He owned a '52 Ferrari Export Ghia coupe and wanted a car with more competition performance. He bought the car '.sight unseen. It was shipped by air to Burbank, there to be trucked to Lester's home in San Diego.
"I'll never forget its arrival in Burbank," Lester says, "I was on hand to watch them unload. There were signs on every window-'Fragile aluminum body, take special care.' A fork lift gently lowered the car from the plane. Slowly the lift inched the car toward the ground. An inch or two from the asphalt the pallet suddenly shifted. The car rolled off the pallet toward the nearest shipping crate. A sickening crash told me it had hit, nose first."
The car was in acceptable condition when Lester received it: basically the competition machine it had been eight years .before. Bare aluminum seats (the passenger seat was not meant to be used), bare aluminum floor, Spartan interior. The original white and blue U.S. racing colors had been replaced with a metallic red and a white racing stripe. At some time during its consignment sales, the car had been neglected. The undersides of the fenders had been pitted with salt corrosion. But Lester was not concerned. He planned to revamp the car so that it would retain its essential Ferrari
competition qualities, yet would be more suited to conven-. tional driving.
This has been Lester's job since 1961. He has changed positions (he is now manager of the liquid propulsion division at Aerojet) and he has changed towns (he now lives near Sacramento), but his feeling about his Ferrari has not changed.
The dented nose was repaired and repainted with aluminum metallic spray. The roll bar, which prevented use of the passenger seat, was removed. The seats were upholstered in black naugahyde. The body was repainted with GM's Swift Red. The instrument panel was stripped and refinished with black crinkle paint. The salt corrosion was repaired with epoxy. The floor was covered with a rich, red carpeting.
Lester's objective has been to build a competition touring car with concours possibilities. All that remains is refinishing of the engine compartment, a job he hopes to complete within the year. Meanwhile, he drives the car.
Re does not take this car to work, as he did his earlier Ferrari. From his home there is bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way to Aerojet. The last time he took the car to his office he was in second gear all the way. Instead, he drives either a '59 Alfa Guilietta Veloce Spider or a '64 Volvo 122-S wagon.
It is interesting to note that, financially, the 12-year-old Ferrari is still a sound investment. Originally, the car sold for about $13,000. Comparable versions today are priced at $16,000. The current value of -Lester's coupe is somewhere around $4500.
But it is more than money that keeps Lester going. And it is obvious that if his interest continues this Ferrari will be assured of the fate it deserves, a long, good life with a happy owner and plenty of use.
FERRARI 250 MM
Year built. . . . . 1952 Body design. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pininfarina Body
material. . . . . . . .aluminum
Engine type.......... .60deg V-12 sohc
Bore x stroke, mm. . .. . .73 x 58.8
Displacement, cc. . . . .. .2953
Compression ratio. . . ........ .9: I
Carburetion.... .three 36 Webers
Horsepower at rpm... ... .240 @ 7200
Clutch type...... .multiple plate
Transmission type. .. . ....4-speed all-synchro
Front suspension: independent with A-arms, transverse leaf spring, lever shocks.
Rear suspension: live rear axle, semi-elliptical springs,lever shocks.
Brake type. . . .2 leading shoe drum Tire size, front. . . . . . . . ..5.50-16
Rear............... .. . .6.00-16
Curb weight, lb. . . . . . . . . .2080
Wheelbase, in...................... .94.0
Track, front Irear.. . . . . . . .51. I 151.1Fuel tank capacity, gal. .. . . . . . .40