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Bargain alert: this $1.6m Ferrari just needs a light bit of restoration

500 Mondial Spider heads up for auction. Just needs a lick of paint and it should be good to go

Published: 25 Jul 2023

What do you mean you can’t tell that’s a Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider that was originally clothed by Pinin Farina and later rebodied by Scaglietti? Call yourself a petrolhead?

Okay, fair enough, the poor four-cylinder Ferrari you see above has led a hard life, but now it’s heading up for sale and the estimate certainly doesn’t reflect the condition. In fact, it’s expected to fetch between $1.2m and $1.6m (£950,000 - £1.25m) at RM Sotheby’s Monterey Auction next month. Of course.

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So, a little bit of background on the car. The 500 Mondial came off the back of Alberto Ascari’s world championship victories in 1952 and 1953. That was a short period in which Formula Two – rather than Formula One – races counted towards the world drivers’ championship thanks to a lack of competition in the latter. 

During those years, Ferrari was running Aurelio Lampredi’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine in its cars, which used 65 per cent fewer moving parts and weighed over 40kg less than the old V12. Oh, and with 170bhp on tap it was more powerful.    

After Ascari’s successes Ferrari decided to put the engine into sports cars, and the 500 Mondial was born. This particular car – chassis 0406 MD – was just the second one to be built and ended up as one of 13 Spiders put together by Pinin Farina. It was completed in March 1954 and was originally painted in Rosso Corsa with a beige interior. Perfection.

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As previously alluded to though, 0406 has been through some tough times. In its early years it was raced across Italy by former Ferrari factory driver Franco Cortese. After a fourth in class finish at the Mille Miglia in 1954, the car was rebodied by Scaglietti.

By the time it appeared at the Imola Grand Prix in June 1955, the car had been repainted in white with a racing stripe on the bonnet, but that was nothing compared to what would happen to it when it headed to the USA.

Having raced in the States for a couple of years and gone through various owners, the car was sold to Stanley Surridge, who promptly ripped out the Yoo-ro-pean four-cylinder and fitted an all-American V8. RM Sotheby’s says that at some point during the following two years, the Mondial was crashed and burnt to the state you see it in now. Ouch.

The auction lot apparently includes a rear axle and a gearbox with matching numbers to the chassis, but that Ferrari engine is a larger 3.0-litre Lampredi four-cylinder from a 750 Monza.

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“There is no denying that 0406 MD will require a comprehensive restoration to return the car to the condition of its glory days,” says the Sotheby’s auction listing in what might be the understatement of the century. “But for the future caretaker with the proper vision and resources, the journey to renewal promises to be a very rewarding process.”

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