$2.8M Ferrari Chassis Found

0202 A Chassis

Editor’s note: It may not look like much, but this chassis once sat under a very rare competition Ferrari. You may have heard the tale of how Tom Shaughnessy purchased it on eBay in 2006 for a fraction of the restored value, but even if you have, it is worth another read. This story originally appeared in Tom Cotter’s The Hemi in the Barn and was written by Paul Duchene. Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list, if you haven’t already, for a chance to win a copy of this book and also send in your own barn find stories because one is going to make it into Tom’s upcoming book. Now back to the story, enjoy!

If a desirable barn find is the closest a car buff gets to God, as Peter Egan said, then Tom Shaughnessy must be the Almighty’s riding mechanic right now. California collector Shaughnessy scored a genuine 1952 Ferrari 340 America Spider chassis this summer (2006) in a Frankfort, Illinois, garage sale. The sale was on eBay and Shaughnessy bought it for $26,912—less than one percent of the car’s estimated restored value.

Devin Body rear

In a story full of twists, both he and seller Mike Sanfilippo are delighted with the outcome of the auction and the seller plans to be on hand when the restored car is presented to the world. Shaughnessy hopes to have a running, driving chassis as soon as next summer. A correct body will follow.

“I got tired of pushing it around my shop and built a wooden shelf to get it out of the way,” said the cheery Sanfilippo, a retired drag racer who used to run a blown, injected 1960s front-engine car. “I almost cut up the chassis to make a hot wheels dragster out of the Devin body. Good thing that goofy project never happened!”

Devin Body side

Sanfilippo replied to condolences (presumably from underbidders) on the Ferrari chat page with breezy cheer. He embraces the profound idea that no one owns historic artifacts; instead they simply become chapters in the provenance.

“What’s with you guys?” he wrote. “I’m getting more condolences than congratulations. I paid two hundred dollars over fifteen years ago and have no idea of how to restore it properly. That’s a thirteen thousand five hundred percent return on my investment in fifteen years. Not bad in my book!”

You can make the case that this might be the best barn find to date. It’s certainly up there with the Figoni and Falaschi–bodied Delahaye 135M that was dragged out of Czechoslovakia and restored to win the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Devin Body

Shaughnessy’s bargain is a case of the smart bird getting the worm, as thousands of collectors had the same opportunity to identify the chassis. It carried a Devin fiberglass body for the last forty-six years, leading to confusion over its origins. Sanfilippo thought it might be a prototype Devin SS and said he was really trying to sell the Devin body and just giving the frame away.

“Lots of guys were going to come and see it, but only one did,” said Sanfilippo, who dismantled the car for a thorough series of photographs and answered numerous e-mail queries from the United States and Europe.

chassis-number-0202-A

Early Ferrari expert Hilary Rabb examined the car closely once Shaughnessy had bought it, and made a surprising discovery. The chassis revealed the number 0202 A, making Shaughnessy’s buy even sweeter, and he doubled his tipster’s finder’s fee to $20,000.

Because it is an even-number chassis, this is a factory competition car, one of 475 made between 1948 and 1974, almost all of which are accounted for. (In case you want to check your own barn, the numbers range from 0002–0896 and 1002–1050).

Shaughnessy was prepared to go as high as $264,000 if somebody else recognized 0202 A, but when the auction closed June 20, he had won the car for one percent of its restored value, Swiss Ferrari expert Marcel Massini estimated.

Ferrari emblem on hood

The chassis is one of twenty-five 340 Americas built. Nine were bodied by Touring, eleven by Vignale (this is one), and five by Ghia. Sister cars to this are 0196 A and 0204 A. A full restoration is planned in cooperation with the Ferrari factory in Maranello, which has just formed a Classiche Division to authenticate vintage Ferraris.

“While we were bidding, we deduced the car had to be between number 150 and number 260, based on the steering box and spring and shock locations,” Shaughnessy said. “We knew it wasn’t a Farina car; we knew it had to be Vignale or Touring. The vented brakes should have told us. Marcel hit the nail on the head.”

1952 Ferrari 340 America Spider at Le Mans

Massini has tracked the history of 0202 A, and it makes for exciting reading. The car raced at the 1952 Le Mans with Maurice Trintignant and Louis Rosier, but did not finish.

Racing at Le Mans

The factory then loaned it to Piero Scotti, who ran several significant races and won three important hill climbs. Other racers borrowed it until U.S. importer Luigi Chinetti bought it in 1953 and reportedly sold it to Ernie McAfee in Los Angeles. He owned it until 1958, then sold 0202 A to Paul Owens in Houston, who installed a Chevrolet V-8.

Devin body installed

Worse was to follow. After a crash in which the passenger was killed, a Devin fiberglass body was fitted and the resulting combination advertised in Sports Car magazine for $4,250. The car’s next stop was Utah in 1963; it later made its way to the Chicago area and Sanfilippo bought it in about 1990.

“I heard about it and the guy wanted two hundred dollars. His kid had abandoned it in his garage. I took my trailer and picked it up. I bought it for the cool body,” he recalled. “I thought, how cool would it be to have a big-block, blown Ferrari drag car?”

Chassis rear

Of course Shaughnessy’s purchase price is just a down payment on what it will cost to restore 0202 A. The front part of the chassis is intact, though the front spring is missing. The center section and rear have been modified with the rear leaf spring mounts cut off. But the brakes are complete and the axles and wheels are correct.

Shaughnessy reckons a neophyte who dropped off the chassis at a professional restoration shop could end up writing a check for seven figures—still acceptable, considering the completed value.

Shaughnessy thinks a capable restorer who knows what he is doing will still have to spend between $500,000 and $600,000. “A 340 motor will cost $200,000, transmission $25,000, differential $20,000, chassis preparation and repair $100,000, and a new body about $200,000,” he said.

And here’s where Shaughnessy has the edge. “This car went to the best guy in the world to have it,” he said. “I already have a running engine, rear end, transmission, pedal box, radiator, and oil cooler. I have half the car.” He even thinks he knows where the original V-12 engine is and hopes he can persuade the present owner to trade for his motor, which is close to the same number.

Unloading the Devin

“I’m pleased as punch,” he said. “There are four pages on the Ferrari chat online and that enthusiasm is part of car culture. I’ll have to put a sticker on the back, ‘I bought it on eBay.’”

In the way that everything happens at once, Shaughnessy had just bought a Ferrari 375 and scrambled to cover the cost (however modest) of his latest project. “I wholesaled a Porsche and drove across town to put a check in the bank,” he said.

Shaughnessy was worried how Sanfilippo would react to inevitable comments that he should have held out for more money, but Sanfilippo wrote to Shaughnessy to reassure him.

Arrival

“Tom was concerned about my response, but I’m good with this,” Sanfilippo said. “I told him I don’t have the knowledge, the resources, or the contacts to restore the car properly. I’m totally excited it went to the right person. This car’s been missing for forty-three years. Let’s just be happy it’s back.”

 

 

the-hemi-in-the-barn-cover

By Paul Duchene, Managing Editor, Sports Car Market
This story originally appeared in Tom Cotter’s The Hemi in the Barn.

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Comments

  1. NOSLEEPATALL

    I know the Ferrari purists will disagree but I could see a Bugatti chassis getting a price like that with a history. Just not this one?

  2. DavidC

    I do know this story and I’m very interested to see the eventual completetion. Great story.

  3. Rick Prokopchuk

    Mike Sanfilippo is a saint amongst the ferraroscenti. (A corruption of Cognoscenti if I may). It’s refreshing to see a man like him in these days. My own question concerns the body. Where’s it from, etc. I’m just awake and am not quite sharp yet, so forgive if the article says. It’s a good looking body, with what appears to be many colors of paint on it.

    Like 1
  4. TomRoberts

    How about a case of beer or good wine to the seller?

    Like 2
  5. scot

    ~ tragedy narrowly averted!
    “I almost cut up the chassis to make a hot wheels dragster out of the Devin body. Good thing that goofy project never happened!”
    thanks for another great read, Mr Cotter.

    Like 2
  6. jim

    and that is why we keep looking. great story. thanks

  7. Dolphin Member

    I think Mike Sanfilippo had the right attitude about the sale of his Ferrari chassis—take your profit and let the car go to the right guy to do a proper restoration.

    A properly restored early competition Ferrari like this 340 America, with a known history of being raced internationally in period, should have a value at a top international auction of $6 – $10 million, depending on the details and who is in the room or on the phone at the time. That’s below the value of a 250 GTO or TR with comparable history, but this car has a good history that’s been documented by one of the most respected Ferrari historians, so the car should attract a lot of attention at any auction.

    The problem is, to get it to that point from its condition in 2006 would require megadollar$ because the car needed almost everything, and then you would need to have the work done by one of the few top restoration shops on the planet who could do the work properly—that is, perfectly, with absolutely no short cuts. You need that top shop not only to do the work, but to persuade the people with the rare parts this car needs to sell those parts. And you can bet that the prices that Shaughnessy quoted for those crucial components years ago have gone up significantly.

    So unless you’re Rob Myers and you can have your own top resto shop do the work, it’s better to sell the chassis and move on. Good for Mike Sanfilippo.

    Like 1
  8. geomechs geomechs Member

    Sometimes a person doesn’t realize exactly what he’s got hidden away until someone tells him. And sometimes that’s way too late. I’m glad to see this headed to a proper restoration, and not cut up for something else.

    Like 1
  9. rancho bella

    Knowing nothing about Ferrari’s (or anything else for that matter) it amazes me how much some springs, a rear end and some welded pipes can sell for…………..

  10. george

    What will happen to the Devin Body, I wonder?

  11. Ron Bunting

    It’s a parralel tale to the oe Surrounding the Morrari In New Zealand. A hot rodder/circuit racer ,Garth Souness got hold of a Ferrari Chassis and dropped a Corvette SBC into it. He needed a body so a Lolight Morris minor shell was dropped on top. Many years later as people began to get interested in Early race cars it was rediscovered and the Super squalo Chassis rescued and restored. The morris body ended up on a dirt track racer i drove for a short while..ha ha https://www.facebook.com/classicautonews/posts/the-morrarihere-is-a-story-on-this-car-i-wrote-for-classic-driver-magazine-earli/816068235218376/

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