On Ferrari Friday’s, William Ross from the Exotic Car Marketplace will be discussing all things Ferrari and interviewing people that live and breath the Ferrari brand. Topics range from road cars to racing; drivers to owners, as well as auctions, private sales and trends in the collector market.
William brings on Jon Summers – The Motoring Historian & Crew Chief Eric from Break/Fix podcast, to explore the history of the Mille Miglia and the its influence on Enzo Ferrari’s early vehicles. This episode covers 1927-1953; with part two coming next week!
Winning Ferraris mentioned on this Episode
- 1948 – Ferrari 166S-Chassis 003S driven by Clemente Biondetti & Guisseppe Navone; Biondetti wins at 75.343 mph – 15hrs 5’44”
- 1949 – Ferrai 166MM-Chassis 0034M – Open Roadster driven by Clemente Biondetti & Guiseppe Navone; Biondetti wins at 81.683mph – 12hrs 7’05”
- 1950 – Ferrari 195S-Chassis 0026M (technically a 166 Touring Barchetta but engine was replaced to create 195S) driven by Giannino Marzotto & Martino Severi-Only “Private” Ferrari to win the Mille Miligia. Unbeknownst to Marzotto, Ferrari replaced his motor with a brand new 2.3 litre Type 195.
- 1951 – Ferrari 340 America-Chassis 0082A driven by Gigi Villoresi & Pasquale Cassani; Villoresi wins at 76mph
- 1952 – Ferrari 250S-Chassis 0156ET driven by Giovanni Bracco &; Alfonso Rolfo; Bracco wins at 80mph
- 1953 – Ferrari 340MM-Chassis 0280AM driven by Gianno Marzotto & Marco Crosara; Gianno Marzotto wins at 89mph
Hello everyone, welcome back to another episode of the Ferrari Marketplace. This week we have crew chief Eric joining us again as our moderator and participant, but we also have the motoring historian Jonathan Summers participating in this episode and you will hear him on some more episodes consequently down the road as well.
This man has a wealth of knowledge and he’s got his own podcast as well that you will find on the Motoring [00:01:00] Podcast Network MPN, motoringpodcast. net is the website, so check it out. We got a lot more stuff coming on the site, so so pay attention. So. This episode, this week for Ferrari Friday, we are going to talk about the Mille Miglia.
Now, obviously, with the release of the Ferrari movie, everyone’s eyes kind of got, you know, glued to this time period and, you know, what was going on in that era. But we’re going to kind of go through the post war stuff, starting in about 47. John’s going to talk a little bit about the pre stuff and that kind of give the basis for everything because It happened, you know, they were racing before the war, then it had the jump in the gap we started after.
So John’s going to kind of cover a lot of that stuff. He’s going to get into a lot of the finer details of the Mille Miglia itself, the race, the route, the drivers. I’m here to discuss the cars and Crew Chief Eric is here just to kind of jump in and ask the questions that I’m sure a lot of you will want to know answers to.
The first question is, John, how good is your Estelle Getty? [00:02:00] Impersonation. Picture it, Russia, 1933. Oh, yeah. This is a really interesting place that you started, Eric, because this is part of the story of the Mille it’s a very Italian story. And when we look at film and photographs of the Mille Miglia now, it’s always in towns and there’s always crowds of people, and it almost doesn’t look like a motor race.
It almost looks more like a fete or a festival or You know, we’re going to talk about the cars and the motor racing, but, but really the mille miglia exists in this, in this shadow of the way that government was in Italy in the early 20th century. And as an Englishman, it’s always quite amusing to me that the attitude of the British journalists that went there was that the really this showed that the Italians, you know, they, they could organize themselves.
You know, it’s quite impressive really that these Italian fellows could actually organize themselves. I’ll take that as a compliment. Because that is what’s going on here. And this is really where I want it to begin is we’re going to talk a [00:03:00] lot about the Mille Miglia in the post war period, but really as an event, the Mille Miglia looks and feels like those really early city to city.
races. So in, in the early days, you know, the very first motor race was the Paris Rouen of 1895. It’s considered the first motor race because the newspaper, a newspaper was like, we’ve got this newfangled technology. Let’s try and tell some stories about it. Let’s have all these peculiar vehicles. Some of them are steam powered.
Some of them are yeah. Buses, some of them are motorcycles, but let’s have them go from one town to another and let’s write a story about it. It was meant to just be like a demonstration, an exposition. What the newspapers wrote about was who finished first, and that gave birth to motor racing. And what they would do, certainly at the turn of the century, would be like, We’re in Paris!
First man to Bordeaux’s the winner! And they would just get in the cars and go, and it was really madcap. And the Mille Miglia was [00:04:00] born out of this kind of city to city road race, so even in the post war period, even when the cars could do 180 miles an hour, you still just closed the public roads and you got the soldiers and the policemen out to keep the farmers off the road, and you had this route which changed every year, but was approximately a figure of eight, which always began in Brescia and would run down one coast and then come across the country to Rome, and then it would turn north again and come back north and end in Brescia.
Always in the spring, so often bad weather, changeable weather, often beginning in the small hours, so the cars are going to be flagged away from the start in the small hours, because they’re going to be racing all day because this is a Thousand miles. So although the route changed, it always was a thousand miles.
Probably should have done my [00:05:00] research and be able to tell you why. That’s what I’m here for is to translate all the Italian that’s in the documentation, right? So for those that don’t know the name of the race, the Mille Miglia actually translates literally to 1000 miles. Why a thousand miles in a country of kilometers?
I only just thought of that. What’s up with these Italians? You know, we can’t make up our minds. The French may have invented motorsport, but we invented NASCAR. Think about I Circo Maximo in Rome, which you’re familiar with, John. Isn’t the chariot racing just NASCAR? At the end of the day, Eric, I even cut my teeth as a tour guide and I would show people around the forum and the Coliseum like the other guides would, but I had a good shtick for the Americans because I would position the Circus Maximus as NASCAR.
It really was like NASCAR. The attitudes of the fans and the whole razzmatazz of it. Those of you who’ve not been to Rome and haven’t studied. The chariot racing, the pod racing of [00:06:00] the Star Wars universe is basically a pretty straight ripoff. If you watch the pod racing scene and thought, hasn’t George Lucas recently watched Ben Hur?
Yes, he had. The scene in Ben Hur, in Ben Hur where you’ve got the dolphins. There were these giant silver dolphins, and slaves would knock the dolphins for each lap that was done. Caligula, the Roman emperor, would bet a lot. He was big into betting on it. If you think of Nazca with betting now. We’ve digressed somewhat there, haven’t we?
In this sort of initial period, as we talk about the Mille Miglia, I really wanted to draw a distinction between the event as it was up to 1957 and the event as it is now. So the event as it is now is a really awesome open road race event. For many years it’s been organized by a chap called Mark Gessler and I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mark on various different projects not to do with the Mille Miglia.
But the notion of the modern event is Where you, [00:07:00] we take cars that participated in the event years ago and we drive from town to town often with a police escort. It’s in Italy. So that police escort might be motorcycles. We might be able to do more than 100 miles an hour on a piece of Italian autostrada or not on a piece of Italian autostrada.
This modern event is. Not a procession, but nor is it the full on pedal to the metal cannonball that the original event was. The original event was non stop, this event you overnight in a nice five star hotel, and it’s a wonderful way to commemorate. The original event, but the modern event has nothing to do with the original event in Intel.
And the original event was around in the world sports car championship for three or four years of its existence. The modern one now too, I mean, it’s actually route book to hold nine yards, time sections and everything. They kind of, I want to say, want to try and hold [00:08:00] people back in regards to Excessive speed, but you know, you’re going to have your outliers out there.
They’re just, you know, they’re not in it. They don’t care. They’re just having fun. You know, it’s kind of a different animal in regards to what it is back. What it was back then as compared to now. And they get, geez, I think they get like 300, 250 to 300 entrance, like right now, something like that. I know they get a large amount of participants.
My understanding is he’s a bit of a spool to get car. That you’re going to be invited to enter with because on the face of it, we think about, you know, Maserati 450s or Ferrari 290mm, you know, these are the cars that, that we think about as Mille Miglia cars, but you look, I mean, there’s lots of film on YouTube of the original events and you can see there, it’s all like little Fiat 1100s and much smaller cars in period.
A few people could afford the Ferraris and there were lots of Fiat 1100s. Of course, nowadays, the people that want to participate in the event are the Ferrari and Maserati guys. So what [00:09:00] they try and do is they try and have some of that, but they also try and allow, you’ll see Bentleys in the event now, because Bentleys were eligible for the event in period, although no Englishman entered, no Englishman entered, nobody brought a Bentley.
And my understanding is, and I don’t know much about, I’m not like, I would never claim to be an expert on the Mille Miglia pre war. My understanding is that there are very, very few foreign entrants. Like I think there were no British entrants and one or two German entrants. So what you’re looking at is really an event, which has the feel of the Isle of Man TT, that yes, this is an international motoring event, but it’s something which the locals seem to excel at.
And I think that’s partly because you really need to have the local knowledge there. So in the case of the Mille Miglia, the Italians knew the road, so they could race better than the Brits or the Germans who, who went and tried to. Yeah, I think it was like 90, 95 percent of all, it’s like. Pre-war were, it was all Italian.
Yeah. You had your German here, couple French here. I mean, extremely minimal, but [00:10:00] the majority, 99% were just all Italian and Ferrari. In that pre-war period, it was Eria, Ferrari, Alfredo’s that were really the yeah. Winners for bulk of the 1930s at least. If, if we look at the thirties, not the twenties, and it’s that classic alpha.
1750 with the Zagato body, you know, when you picture the classic 30s, Alfa Romeo, that’s, that’s the car. And I always feel like it was Victory at Le Mans and Targa and the Mille Miglia that built Alfa Romeo’s reputation and built Ferrari’s reputation pre war. So before we go too far down into the 1930s, between the two wars, right, as the Mille Miglia is ramping up and there’s the iconic turn and kind of renaissance of the Mille Miglia in 1940, and we’ll get to that.
I want to take us just a step back to something you said earlier, John, and hopefully you can clarify it for the audience. You know, you talked about how motorsport started in the 1890s, you know, with the French and things like that. And then we joked about the Romans, but the first road race is [00:11:00] credited to the Vanderbilt cup.
I wonder is the Mille Miglia as we jokingly refer to it as the cannonball of Europe. Is it the first road rally? Is there a rally that precedes it? The Targa Florio dates from 1902. So the Targa Florio, which is, it’s on Sicily, it was set up by an Italian nobleman. They used different routes, you know, they’d been all around the island.
The classic route is I think 44 miles, eight miles along the coast, the rest of the time winding around the coast road. But it was always that, it was always on Sicily and they always had a uniquely Sicilian character. The Mille Miglia doesn’t come along until 1927. And the Mille Miglia is this notion that it will be all Italy.
So the Mille Miglia is this, very much this creature of the fascist age after Le Mans, because Grand Prix racing, the early era of the city to city races, and then from 1906, 1906 was the first. French Grand Prix, the first Grand Prix, and this introduced this notion of circuit race. But then the feeling was [00:12:00] that certainly amongst the French, certainly when they were being beaten by the Italians and the Germans, the feeling was that perhaps we needed to get back to basics, and we needed to get away from these prototype racing machines.
And we needed to create a challenge, which replicated real motoring. So the thought was we’ll race for 24 hours and we’ll race with touring car. And thus Le Mans was born. And my sense is that the four guys that created the Mille Miglia created something that was for similar cars as might race at Le Mans.
This was not for prototypes. This was for what we would know today as sports car. Were the previous point to point races timed like the Mille Miglia was? Are they time distance rallies? Yes. You leave Paris, the Paris control, and then the key thing was to get your time card stamped at Bordeaux. And because the innovation that the Mille Miglia introduced, at least in the post war period and in the top classes, was the number tells you exactly the time that the car leaves.
So if the car’s [00:13:00] carrying five, three, one. That means it left Brescia So if car 5. 31 comes by, and then car 5. 27 comes by, you know that not only is 5. 31 past 5. 27 on the road, but he’s five minutes ahead in the race. And you know that from the side of the road, just by watching the cars come by. No complicated lights like they have at Le Mans, and certainly none of the, Who was that?
And who’s leaving? Confusion. Was motorsport years ago? No, you it’s on the side of the car. It’s interesting that magnificent shell movie on YouTube There’s that AI enhanced version of it. Now, you can illustrate it illustrates exactly the point that I was trying to make Dan, although I We’ll just have to search for it on YouTube, that’s all Let’s jump back into this.
The Mille Miglia kicks off 1927, and then there’s a major milestone in its history right around 1933. And then again in 1940, and we’ll continue to move forward. So John, take us [00:14:00] on that journey. You kind of set the stage. We’ve compared and contrast some other famous races that started within that decade.
You talked about Le Mans, the Vanderbilt Cup. We talked about all these other races. Where does the Mille Miglia go in its first five years? Let’s see it through Ferrari’s eyes. Ferrari himself is born in Modena, which is on the route of the Mille Miglia, and the Via Emilia passes by not far from Ferrari’s front door.
So he sees motor racing on the Via Emilia. He sees the early Mille Miglia is very close to his home and for Ferrari, you know, late in life. He didn’t want to leave that whole area of Northern Italy. He’s often will make reference to he himself wasn’t a great craftsman or artisan. He was an agitator of men, agitator of men line.
We see over and over in this and the agitator of men. He has this success because of the craftsman. of Modena. So you have this sense in these early years that this burgeoning motorsport industry and [00:15:00] this race which is centered around Brescia and Bologna and Modena and this auto strata connecting these cities together.
Long before the German autobahn or freeways or motorways, the Italians had thought about connecting the race is natural, right? The Romans built these kind of roads and just linked to that Roman history there. The checkpoint for many years, the Rome checkpoint was at the Milvian Bridge, which is on the Northern bit of Rome where the Appian Way crosses over.
But the Milvian Bridge was where Constantius defeated, I can’t remember the name of the Roman Emperor that he defeated, but where Constantius defeats the last pagan Roman Emperor and makes Rome Christian in the year 312. You know, this is where you get your paper stamped before you race on. So always in Italy, right, we’re steeped with this history.
It would be fair to say early on, we have events that really are races of attrition and that benefit cars that are built like Bentley. So, you know, [00:16:00] famously, the first foreign winner is Caracciola in the Mercedes SSK. People always, I think I would say overlook in regards to, you know, the pre war time. And so John was stating, you know, Enzo’s enthusiasm for motor racing.
And I think a lot of people overlook or forget, I mean, he wasn’t world champion or that, but he was a decent wheel, man, when he was racing for Alfa Romeo, he did rather well. And so getting into that area and I know he batted around a bit in his youth and trying to find his way. But, you know, he did pretty well with alpha and helping them grow into, you know, I say being the dominant force twenties into the early mid thirties until they decide to pull out, you know, he had a big role in regards to creating.
I guess you would say, you know, this dominating format in regards to teams are singular team, you know, and I, and he, obviously he carried that throughout his life, ups and downs, but obviously [00:17:00] when he broke out onto his own post war, he was allowed to, you know, due to contract obligations, cause he wasn’t allowed to for a set amount of time from alpha, but able to create his own, build his own cars and start racing.
It did not take him long to become dominant in the racing arena. And as everyone knows, I mean, that was his thing, you know, he had one, nothing to do with road cars or anything that he wanted to build race cars for business aspects. You know, he had to get into building road cars for rich people because it helps fund his racing endeavors.
You’ll see, as we talk in this episode, getting 1953. You’ll see, I guess you would say the gestation, the growth of the cars themselves is not real like big monumental leaps, you know, yeah. Maybe the body shape and this way the engines built and, you know, some of the parameters and characteristics of the motors and everything like that, how they’re made, you know, internal wise and just bore stroke, all that kind of stuff.
There isn’t this massive, like, jump that you’ll see 54 and on, say, into 57. It evolved pretty slowly, and obviously the war [00:18:00] had a big effect on progression in regards to these cars kind of jumping quickly. War’s over, and you’ll have all these engineers and whatnot starting to come back into play. But, It’s pretty interesting to look at the cars themselves pre war and then after the war when they started getting, you know, started to race back up again.
It’s a leap from when they stopped to when they started again, but not like monumental regards to horsepower and speed. It all hovered around 150, 200 some horsepower and going and maybe top speeds of 120. 130, nothing crazy, because you think about that today, like, well, that’s nothing, but you know, you got to look at what the cars were back then, you know, that was pretty sketchy in regards to what these cars were going at that rapid rate.
But then it’s interesting to see what that jump that happens post war in regards to how these cars just all of a sudden go, phew! Just kind of took off horsepower and everything. Correct me if I’m wrong, but there’s also something here that William touched on that we can unpack for just a second. Enzo was a driver.
He was part of Alfa Romeo’s racing team, [00:19:00] the early days of Formula One, right? Obviously huge influences there, not only from Alfa Romeo, but Maserati. When you look at some of the early Ferraris, They’re modeled after those cars that he was familiar with, but he was also one of the four horsemen of the famed Quadrifoglio, right?
These shamrock that you see on the side of the Alfa Romeos, those four leaves are for the four drivers. One of those being Enzo, another one Tazio Nuvolari and so on down the line. There are some interesting stories and characters and big name drivers during this period of the early days of the Mille Miglia.
Let’s unpack that for a moment as we get closer and closer to the 1940s and the war. You know, the two big names, you know, the non Italian winner, they’ve only ever been driving Mercedes and one with Caracciola. So, so we should credit Caracciola really. And if there had been a Formula One World Championship in the 1930s, Caracciola would have won it more than anybody else.
So there seems little doubt that he was the complete driver of the 30s. I feel like the [00:20:00] historians of Ferrari himself. Nuvolari really stood out as a guy who in the book Ferrari wrote about drivers. He has a line about how the first time he ever sat next to Nuvolari, the first corner they got to, he thought he wasn’t going to make it around because Nuvolari’s whole cornering style was not to lift off the throttle.
You just turn the car into a slide and skidded the car around the corner. In other words, you know, he was very much from the Ari Vatanen. Beau Duke school of cornering. The first newspaper mention, this is from Count Johnny Lurani’s Polka Biography of Nuvolari. The first mention of Nuvolari anywhere in literature is a newspaper that describes him as an audacious young man.
So huge, huge cojones. And look, along with Ferrari, right? There’s this deep tragedy around Nuvolari. When we talk about the post war, Millet Millius, we’ll see that the guy drove out of his skin, [00:21:00] arguably the greatest drives ever, you know, of anybody in any motor race ever kind of thing. I think you could make a case for Nuvolari in the 47 and 48 Millet Millius, but he had two sons and lost them during the war.
So this post war Nuvolari is a Nuvolari who does not want to die in bed. He wants to die on the road. He wants to send it. How do you race that guy? How do you race somebody who is publicly sta And this is not This is not some crazy Andrew Tate guy. This is a middle aged guy who will look the interviewer straight in the eye and say, I’ll race your car, Ferrari, and I really hope I die on the road.
I will race so hard. I mean, it is Just maybe he was Sigmund Freud’s inspiration for the whole death wish study, right? And he was all around talks. You know, we’ll, we’ll talk about the 1952 winner Giovanni Bracco later. And I read that Bracco’s phrase was either it goes or [00:22:00] I’ll crash it. That’s so Italian.
This is not some Anthony Gobert, like crazy teenage motorcycle rider. This is a middle aged man. And so I feel like this is being a part of the, a product of the fascist era. So, so Novelari’s great foil at Scuderia Ferrari in the Mille Miglia is Achille Vazzi. And Vazzi has a very different manner where, you know, Novelari has this kind of.
Bodo handling, cornering style, Achille Vazzi, very precise and very together and very structured. Both come from motorcycles and at this point, almost everybody we’re going to talk about began their career racing motorcycles before turning to cars. The really famous post war story of Nuvolari and Vazzi is towards the end of One Mille Miglia, I think.
33 or 34. Nuvolari spots Vazi ahead and in order to pass him he switches his lights off and comes up behind him [00:23:00] and then passes suddenly and unexpectedly so Vazi can’t see him coming and is is defeated again. Yeah, I mean that’s pitch dark. You’re not talking like, now you got streetlights, and like, lit up, and like, no, I mean, you’re, you’re talking pitch dark, and a road that’s maybe, what, eight feet wide, ten feet at best?
Yeah. I mean, that’s some cojones. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And, and what we’re talking about here is, this was, the only, the only person who saw that was Vazi, right? Vazi, there’s only the four of them, the two co drivers, and the drivers out there, and there is the sense of epic gladiators. Battling here.
If you look at the pictures of them, uh, uh, images of them, n is so sort of small and, and wiry, sort of prune like man. And, and TSI has this very sort of fascist slicked over hair and usually has a, has a cigarette on, had an affair with another driver’s wife whilst he was at Auto Union. She introduced him to heroin.[00:24:00]
Oh, and over ended the car at 180 miles an hour. Now he did come out of that. whole process again. But I visited his hometown. It’s just north of Turin. There’s a wonderful museum there. You need to like talk to a librarian and so on and get in there. But the way that the Alfa Romeo Formula One team got themselves ready for Vazzi post war was absolutely incredible.
He was all set. To be the formula one world champion and then rolled the car in burn and knocked himself on the head and was, and was gone. And that was really interesting. In a lot of photographs, the team took on Fangio, poor lad from South America. He’s come from South America and now he’s this prodigy.
In a lot of the photographs of the car, he even looks like Vazi. You can only tell the difference because Varzi always had the cigarette and Fangio doesn’t. So you’ve this sort of sense that when Varzi went, the family and the team in, in, I can’t remember the name of the town in Italy that he was from, but they’ve sort of [00:25:00] adopted him.
And the museum, it’s hard to tell when the driver that we follow was Varzi. And when it was, he did transportation stuff in the war, Varzi, he was much wealthier. The Novelari could always buy a better car sooner. And this is important for Ferrari and the sports cars, because with Ferrari, we very much get this sense that he has to take the money from the customers, from the noblemen who are buying the cars, to keep the lights switched on, even though what he really wants to do is give the car to people like Novelari, who he knows are going to drive the Begisus out of it and potentially win the race with it.
On that point, you know, in regards to selling the cars to noblemen, You know, you look at post war, we get to that point, we get there, but you’ll see there’s a large contingent of Ferraris. I mean, you have 20, there’s 20 plus Ferraris in it, but there’s only maybe two or three, maybe four max factory cars that, you know, are, are, you know, being now these gentlemen drivers and whatnot, you’ll have some factories for whatnot, but there’s really not like.[00:26:00]
Normally you kind of have the opposite where you have like this big factory team, four or five factory guys, and you got like two or three private. It was, you know, complete opposite. And I mean, they had a massive contingent of privately entered Ferraris in the race year in year out, which is really interesting because we have come.
Full circle on that paradigm in sports car and endurance racing. There is no Ferrari factory team. There is no Corvette factory team. There is no Porsche factory team. They’re all privateers under license from the factory. So we’ve come a hundred years later, full circle on all that. So that’s really, really interesting.
As we speak about these drivers, you know, the ones that win and participated. I always find very interesting, I don’t know, have to do with maturity or what have you, but again, also the mentality, because as you know, you get older, you get more cautious, you think more in regards to what can happen. You put that in your head.
A lot of these guys were in their late thirties, forties, even some of these guys, you know, 50 plus that were racing in these events and just going balls out. You would think you’d get that age. You’re kind of like, [00:27:00] I’m gonna be a little hesitant because I know what could happen. You know, if I hit this these guys were not young.
There’s a couple of instances here and there, but I don’t know if it was back then, you know, you know, as you age, you know, maturity, what have you. And they kind of looked down on these youngsters, you know, that all, they don’t have the maturity. You don’t have, you know, they looked at them differently, but you know, I always found it interesting.
It’s like the age of these people, these gentlemen erased. You know, they were up there, you know, they were no spring chickens and like, you know, speaking about varsity smoking These guys smoke trade. It’s not like it’s to this day and age where you got these working out every day You got nutritionists and all this stuff in regards to you watching every ounce and everything like that A lot of these guys were rather portly or you got banjo who’s chewing on coca leaves the whole time, right?
Yeah, just to keep them up there. What’s also happening in this period, the race starts in 1927. We’ve been talking a little bit about 1933 and in the early 30s. So we got that six year jump there. And then we’re creeping closer to the 40s, creeping closer to World War II. The technology advancements that are [00:28:00] occurring from the mid 20s to the mid 30s to the early 40s are huge.
It’s like a space race compared to today where we’re not searching for seconds anymore. We’re searching for hundredths and thousandths of a second, which is a lot of technology for very little return. But in those days, all sorts of invention, ingenuity and things were going on. So John, talk to us about that and how that influences the birth.
Of the first Ferraris, certainly the, the key technology of, I think for the twenties is supercharging Mercedes, that the one, the Mille Miglia was a, was supercharged and this created this sort of dichotomy in motor sport period where the unlimited cars would make plenty of power and be supercharged. And then there was a whole class of unsupercharged cars that were similar to the ones that everyday people could use.
So there was always this contrast within the, the Mille Miglia. I suppose the other thing that we should say about it is that, you know, yes, a [00:29:00] definite class of car. emerges that is good at this kind of event. We might even call it the Grand Touring car, the Grand Touring motorsports car. What we’re saying is that, you know, a Bentley could win Le Mans, but it wasn’t really the ideal shape for it.
Mercedes SSK could win Le Mans, but it was not really the ideal shape for it. An Alfa 1750 with a Zagato body on it. Now that Was much more of what we might understand to be the first and indeed you can make that position that those alphas that won the melee in the 30s very much count as, you know, the first sports cars before we move on from this post war period, let’s just cover off the weirdness of the end of the melee miller in the post war period.
There was a really bad accident in 1938, a car hit, I went over a level crossing into the crowd and that was the end of the event. The event was stopped. There was no event in 1939, even though war hadn’t broken out in that part of Europe. Yeah, there [00:30:00] was even an event in 1940. The event in 1940 was, um, I, from my reading about it, it feels as if the Italians tried to do an event just for them, but then unexpectedly, the Germans like showed up.
With these hot rod BMWs driven by Hushka von Hanstein, who became the, uh, you know, the face of Porsche Motorsport in the post war period. I guess the course was no longer the sort of crazy open roads. It was a triangle of closed roads and, and this is, this is very much in keeping. With racing on the public roads in continental Europe and Ireland, you know, in, in Ireland, there’s still motorcycle racing, the same kind of thing as you see at the Isle of Man TT, but, you know, less money, club stuff, it’s three towns joined together in a triangle, Reims, Reims, the circuit in northern France is this three And, you know, Towns joined together.
This is a, this is a classic kind of layout. So the 1940 used that kind of [00:31:00] format. It was won by, as I said, Hanstein in this, in this BMW, quite famously. The photo of him on the podium, he has his SS on his overalls. There, there were British people there. War had been declared. I think it must’ve been a very, very.
Peculiar event, you know, I always feel like it warrants further research in my mind. It doesn’t count as a melee melee or it stands aside. There’s like post war period, the pre war period. And then there’s this funny 1940 anomaly for our purposes. I think it’s really worth talking about because this is the first time a car that Ferrari built himself.
So this is the period where he’s had the falling out with Alfromeo. We should go back to the fact that his relationship with Alfromeo is really odd, that they don’t have a works racing team. They just have him doing it for them. And it seems from some of the reading that you do, a lot of this is predicated around Ferrari’s personal relationship with Gabbato, the boss of Alfa Romeo, but [00:32:00] then there comes this sort of falling out with this character, Wilfrid Reichardt.
He has this estrangement, Ferrari has this estrangement from Alfa Romeo. Whilst he’s estranged, he can’t build his own cars, this is the understanding. So he doesn’t build a car under his own name, a Ferrari, he builds this probably know better than me. William Auto Avioni. My Italian, I can’t, it’s not good, but Auto Avio Construzione 815.
You know, but it feels like a Ferrari, right? Eight cylinders and 1500 cc’s. The nomenclature is there right from the start. From memory, not such an impressive showing on the event, but he was there in that pre war Mille Miglia in a car that wasn’t. And alpha with a Ferrari shield on the side of it, which is all he’d done up to then.
So that’s really where Ferrari begins at the Mille Miglia. And yeah, he had two cars entered. Yeah, they both retired. But you know, the main thing is, is if memory serves me, you know, when he created the name and put under, [00:33:00] it was, he was trying very hard to hide the fact that it was him just because. You know, with what happened with Alfa Romeo and, you know, them saying, Hey, you can’t go out and build your own cars and everything like that.
But, you know, that desire and that need to do it was just so strong. Then the cars, you know, they kind of took on a look of a lot of other vehicles of that day. Kind of looked a lot like a. The BMW and stuff like that. You know, it’s, I want to say, I say copying, but it had a very similar look to a lot of other cars back in that day, you know, I don’t know.
At that point, you know, you still had that very strong presence of these coach builders in that area and sending them out, obviously money had been extremely tight for him in regards to, you know, getting these things put together, you know, how much Testing input and everything that, you know, gone into these cars and it, nothing like what’s, you know, it kind of is today.
But the key thing is, is this is where, you know, he basically starts creating his aura in work, so to speak, in regards to getting into being, you know, builder that he became. So it got him going, obviously, unfortunately, we know [00:34:00] what happens later, you know, in the coming months in that region and a certain gentleman up in Germany getting some crazy ideas.
So it kind of distracts from that. You know, and he goes into his tool making business and, you know, keeps everything going and, you know, he did well, you know, at that point in time too. So, I mean, he was setting himself up for post war, kept himself very neutral, you know, people kind of say, oh, he joined the fascist prior to that.
But, yeah, he did, he didn’t participate in a lot of stuff. It was more just to kind of not say much gain favor, you know, to get the government contracts and kind of just, you know. Working the system, doing the politics and everything like that. But he really wasn’t a face of it or anything like that. He did what he had to do in regards to what needed to be done to survive the war.
That 8 1 5 A a c or a CC or whatever it was, Otto Evian constructs, the only that thing that was eight cylinders. Yet post-war. He’s doing 12 cylinders, but still in this very. small capacity. Why, why was he doing 12? Why didn’t he just do [00:35:00] a four cylinder? That’s what Fiat was doing. Now, I believe with the eight cylinder when he did that, it had a lot to do with what he had available to him in regards to build the car.
So he couldn’t go out and build his own, you know, cast his own block and do everything like that. He took a lot of pieces of parts from everywhere and built these cars. So hence that first one was an eight cylinder. You hit. The nail on the head. William Ferrari was resourceful, especially starting out, right?
He had to beg, borrow and steal from wherever he could. Obviously he was on the rocks without for a male in some ways, right? Undercover trying to develop his own car, all this kind of stuff. Who’s he going to go. Two for an engine at that point, right? It’s not going to get it from Fiat. Fiat’s not building the eight V until the 1950s.
He’s not going to get it from Alfa Romeo. He doesn’t have his own engine. Like you said, he’s not building his own. He’s going to turn to Maserati and borrow from the 1939 Maserati race car, which had a V8 engine. So it makes sense to get ahold of one [00:36:00] of those, jam it in your own chassis, make some modifications.
Stamp the head, call it a Ferrari and go on with life. The Americans were ahead of the game. Cadillac had a V8 in the early 19 teens, along with a couple other brands. And then you’ve got Packard with what they called the twin six, which is the V12 as we know it. He’s looking beyond. His boundaries to say, what can I do to build a better mousetrap?
Because remember Ferrari in the early days, he’s quoted as saying this. I could care less about the car. It’s all about the engine, right? Build a bigger engine, build a bigger power plant. There was nothing in Italy bigger than the Maserati V8 at that time. Because the V8. that came came later pre war period the reason that there weren’t very many v engines lancet did that before but really nobody did successful vng you know the va pre war wasn’t really that well i guess the flathead va was successful wasn’t it certainly mercedes benz their pre war racing cars were straight motors weren’t [00:37:00] they because you just it was just easier To do a strong, you only needed to do one casting.
You didn’t need to do the two castings in, in the V. And, you know, until Lancia do a V6 to race with, you know, in our period here, you know, nobody had done V6s at all. So it’s an interesting point, isn’t it? Because you do wonder, and I feel like I need to do more research now. You know, right there, if you imagine Ferrari trying to build that AAC, okay, I need to, like, cast an engine.
How do I go about and do that? You can’t just, like, call up a machine tool manufacturer, can you? So, there must have been, he must have had access. You know, so it’s Modena, it is that relationship with Alpha, because I know there was the falling out, but he remains on good terms with Gabbato personally. I’ve got to believe that there were He never wanted to let them know what he was up to, right, with the racing program, so the logical conclusion is he went to Maserati for an engine.
That’s interesting. Yeah. Ready. Interesting. Where are we in the [00:38:00] timeline now? We’re like 1940s issue talked about the meal Amelia that wasn’t the meal Amelia. And I will add a footnote here that our friend Paul Baxa from the society of automotive historians has a whole presentation that we are airing on break fix as part of our history of motorsports series.
That’s going to come out a little bit later. So you actually be able to dive into the 1940 meal Amelia very, very deeply on that. So I want to give him a shout out that we’ve got that coming. So 1941, 42, we’re talking about the beginning of the war is the mille mille put on hold or does it continue through the war or does it restart post war?
Where are we at? It restarts post war in 1947. Remember it had sort of stopped in 1938 and then it had restarted in this circuit format down in 47. It’s like 1938 never happened. And we’re going back to this crazy open road race around the country. You know, I lived in Italy for a year and, and, uh, I lived with a really weird German guy who was very into Italian cinema.[00:39:00]
And I went to a number of fifties Italian movies with him. And I remember after the third one saying to him, are all fifties Italian movies about some poor widow who like has to work in the fields. Or be a prostitute, but she chooses to nobly work in the fields. Is that what it’s all about? And he was like, yes.
And then we get into this big diatribe about how it’s the land, and it’s that she personifies Italy. And this is why Sophia Loren and all of When we think about the Mille Miglia coming back, we have to see it in this context of Italy rebuilding itself, of remembering a good time, of remembering As we said before, a festival.
The early route maps, the route maps from the 40s and the 50s, they would list, you know, Serafini driving Ferrari, but they would also list, you know, Siena. And here’s a photograph of the cathedral in Siena kind of thing, because this is the route that we’re [00:40:00] taking. So we have this feeling of Italian festival, which brings the events back.
And as William alluded to earlier in those events in. 47, 48, cars weren’t really, they were what had survived the war pulled out and dusted off. And the drivers were very much the same kind of, you know, pulling themselves out of the cupboard and dusting themselves off a little bit. So, you know, that 1947 winner Alfa Romeo 2900B.
I mean, that’s a beautiful car and even a fast car by modern standards, but it’s a completely pre war design. You know, you had a lot of the drivers participating, basically just, hey, just starting back up. They participated pre war, now they’re doing a post war. I mean, you have a lot of guys that won pre war that win post war.
You know, and you got to look at it, basically 10 years in regards to that gap, and these guys weren’t young, so to speak, when they It says a lot there in regards to, I guess you’d say the [00:41:00] desire, you know, and there’s that passion to race, you know, and getting back to, I would say down to the roots, but, you know, just getting back to it and going for it.
Car factory. As we note the birth of Ferrari 1947, what did the rest of the field look like? You know, we talked about Bentley pre war. We obviously talked about Alfa Romeo, a couple of BMWs in there, a Mercedes. What does the 1947, 48, 49 entry list for the Mille Miglia look like? Who’s allowed to race?
Anybody, as I read somewhere, Eddie, Tom, Dick, or Luigi is allowed to enter. You talked earlier about the classing system where it was sort of like 300 horsepower and above with your forced induction or These regular pedestrian cars, you know, the Cinquecentos and all those things of the world that existed back then, did that dichotomy still exist or was there a proper classing system in 47?
[00:42:00] Had they figured it out in the 10 years that had gone by, or were they still running sort of fast and loose and developing the race as they were going along? The bulk of the entry is always small capacity Fiat, Fiat 11. Many of those were sedans. Then you had guys like Zagato and Abarth, who made a career for themselves, putting these beautiful aerodynamic bodies on Fiat 1100s, because if you think of it You know, those Adriatic Straits, I’ve read, I don’t know if this was true, that Jaguar needed a higher back axle ratio for the Mille Miglia than they used at Le Mans.
Le Mans has got a three mile straight, and it was for those Adriatic Straits. So if you could imagine how wrung out Fiat 1100 would have been on those kind of straights, any extra little bit of horsepower, any improved aero you can find. So, you know, we, we look at. The second generation Prius and we see that little indent on the [00:43:00] roof.
Well, that bubble was a Zagato, you know, styling trade, but it’s literally about making the frontal area that little bit less so it can cut through the air a little bit faster. And the crucible that these guys were testing themselves in was the Mille Miglia. That was the Indianapolis 500 of, uh, you know, events.
So most of the entry list is standard. Little Fiat’s a lot of the entry list is these hot rodded little Fiat’s then you also have larger Touring cars so four door Alfa Romeo this kind of thing you see a lot of that stuff being entered any French entrance some But no, not very many, because remember in, in the post war period, there’s no motor racing in 45 or 46.
And then in 47, there’s, you know, the first British event was in Jersey in 1947. And there is this sense of some recovery in 1947. But really, the French weren’t [00:44:00] in a position to do much. Much motor racing at that time in my, uh, in my experience. So 1948, there’s a plethora of Fiat’s and then the Ferraris begin their dominance.
And I know dominance in motorsport. We don’t think about that back then. Like we do today when you talk about, you know, Schumacher and Hamilton, and now they’re stopping and things like that in the formula one. And some of the other disciplines, but Ferrari was becoming dominant and they set dominance for almost a decade in that period, the year after they officially opened their doors as a company.
So educate the audience on the significance of 48 up through 57 and where that takes the rest of the conversation about the Mille Miglia. For 47, you know, with that entry. The car that they raced at actually had won their prior race in the Grand Prix Rome. So I mean he already was going in as a race winning car constructor, I guess you could say.
Was that a 1 6 [00:45:00] 6 that first year, Willie? No, the uh, 1, 2, 5 in 47. It has that, you know, we are looking front end. You wanna see that Grill’s almost like an olive Aston Martin DB two three. You know that weird look to it. But that, you know, that’s the one thing right out of the gate. First race, retire. Second race, they win.
And so then they go to the Mille Emilia and it retires in that race. But, you know, he came out of the gate pretty hot, I guess you could say, in regards to winning. The Grand Prix of Rome obviously wasn’t the Mille Emilia, and obviously length, endurance of what that road is. So, you know, you have a lot of brutality.
In regards to what a car has to take, potholes, everything like that. Just, you know, it’s getting beat the hell by the road itself. It’s pretty impressive what they come up with. And obviously we get into 48, that’s when they really, you know, make that leap in regards to You know, having several cars in it say dominating, you know, there’s that line that I’ve used in some of my other presentations that Ferrari uses in a documentary that, you know, when he was [00:46:00] working in the first world war, he was worked in the Packard factory and he fell in love with the V 12 engine.
These Packard aero engine. I fell in love with the V 12 and I have never got divorced. That was the quote. Yeah, yeah. Anyone listening, you know, if they read, obviously, you know, you have a couple of big novels in regards to Enzo’s history. But the one thing you know and understand about Enzo Ferrari is he knew how to work, I guess you would say, the story, narrate to make it in his favor.
I always look at it when you hear a lot of these stories, you know, kind of going back, we just talked before in regards to how about Lamborghini with the tractor or the clutch, what have you know, you know, you’re going to hear all these little nuanced stories. There’s always little tweaks to it. And My understanding was that he went with the 12 cylinder because of the Packard.
But when he was able to build everything himself, it’s one thing, okay, you build a frame, it’s just tubing. Back then, those frames were pretty straightforward. Two tubes, some cross members, what have you, start building it up, you know, and beating the metal, you [00:47:00] know, using the English wheel and using hammers, dollies and wooden bucks and everything like that.
Casting your own blocks. I mean, you’re talking molten metal in regards to building this stuff and sand casting, all this stuff. It’s incredible. The infrastructure get put into place to build those cars. So you’re basically building everything yourself from scratch. It wasn’t like you were, Hey, I’m gonna order this from over here.
I’m going to order this from this manufacturer or whatnot. I mean, a majority of the, they’ve made a manufacturer themselves, but the electronics, I think if memory serves, they were using Lucas electronics and stuff from the UK. There’s certain things that are bringing in, but your major components, you know, they were manufacturing themselves, but getting on the 12 cylinder, my understanding is because just, he loved that Packard and just the sound of it and the power, the delivery and how smooth it was, and it was about how effortlessly it ran and with the Vanderbilt cup, that kind of played a little bit of role into how well Packard did and that kind of stuff back then as well, played a big role in it, which is kind of surprising because you wouldn’t [00:48:00] think.
An American car is going to have influence on this Italian automaker, but it played a big role. To me, it all makes sense when you look back over what was available at the time. So who’s he going to turn to with the biggest, baddest engine on the block? The Packard Twin 6. Yeah, you look at the displacement of the difference between the two.
Those 12s, V12s in the beginning, you know, they weren’t very big displacement wise. In your mind, you think V12, you’re thinking this big monstrous engine, everything’s like, Oh, it’s 12 cylinders. That’s like a two liter 12 cylinder, but that’s when you’re borrowing jugs from a Fiat and you’re trying to put it all together.
Right? You know, I thought there was a rational reason for the V12 around the fact that they can usually rev high. And even the Packard Boater, the reason they call it twin six is it’s two straight sixes together. It’s not a actual casted V. So even then it’s sort of, we’re working towards what the V12 becomes, you know, the classic V12s from Ferrari and Jaguar and so down the line.
So, [00:49:00] you know, it’s a little nuanced thing. And, and I refer to the Packards as a twin six for that specific reason, because it is two straight sixes together on one crank. All right, so here we are, we’re jumping back into the beginning of the Dolce Vita period. We’re talking about the reconstruction of Italy, the renaissance of the Mila Milia.
So we’re fast forwarding 1947 into 48, 49, 50 and so on down the line. So do we want to talk about. Some of the notable cars from this period, specifically the Ferraris. William, where do we want to take the conversation now that we’re in this sweet spot of the meal Amelia’s rebirth? I guess you’d say being sports tours and what have you is a majority of these cars were all closed coops.
You might’ve had the rare one here and there. It’s not till you start getting more subsequent years till he’s made. No, it needs to be an open top. Barketta. A lot of it kind of, and you go back, and I’m sure John can, you know, hit on these points, is some of the drivers preferred the coupe to the Barchetta just because sound, noise, comfort, what have you.
And not to mention, a [00:50:00] majority of these guys were driving wearing double breasted suits. So they don’t want to get their clothes dirty. So it’s not so much in the, some of the early years, or I’d say, you know, of the Ferrari cars, but as you get into subsequent years, you could have three, four different models makes a Ferraris in the race.
Now they obviously had different size classes and what have you, you know, so you compete, I think it was a 2000 CC was like something like that. So there’s obviously those little subsequent subclasses, you know, you can race the one as well, but. You know, you always had a mixture of cars in there. The one, obviously, the one was the 166S.
The chassis, 0 0 3 S, the one with, I always, I’m terrible at pronouncing this, Biondetti and the Volt. Is it, uh, John, how do you pronounce his last name? He asked the non Italian how to pronounce an Italian name. Can you believe this? We can’t get this far through without mentioning Clemente Biondetti, can we?
Because the bloke won four times, which is twice as much [00:51:00] as anybody else won. He raced within a few months of dying of cancer as well. I mean, the bloke was from Sardinia and my understanding is, is that the others were kind of snobbish with him. He’s a southerner. Come on now. I think it was a social class thing.
Yeah. And, uh, there was even a thing between like the Piedmontese and the guys from, from the East. And I think, you know, the peasant from the Agricultural Island. I think that bloke really well, the other gentleman that William was referring to is Giuseppe Navone. Thank you. My Italian is not good. John mentioned all about, you know, going in the car, you can go in and start getting an adapt a lot of these, but you know, in 48, you know, there was obviously with the winning car, it’s impressive for what they were able to do.
Cause these cars took a beating in regards to what that race was. 94 miles an hour. So you’re not talking anything crazy fast. I mean, you’re talking drum breaks. You’re not talking to something that’s going to be stopping a [00:52:00] dime or everything like that. And you know, and you know, you had a lot of long straights and whatnot, but you had a lot of mountainous portion of this where you’re on the, you know, using your brakes quite a bit, how John had mentioned about how new Volaris driving style regards to throwing the car around.
I think, you know, a lot of these guys, you know, they started looking at, okay, how do I save this or whatnot? Because the car had to make it. You know, as that as is, you know, to finish first, first, you got to finish. These cars are fragile. Ferrari’s biggest Achilles heel throughout all the subsequent years was the transmissions.
And the rear end and the axon that just because banging on the ground and just, you know, it took out Pierrot to roofie, you know, five times, I think it was something like that, that he retired. Either. He’s always the same thing. His rear end is very actual. I roofies like the Lloyd Ruby of the guy who was always well placed and then fell out in the most absurd unlucky kind of, yeah, up front or leading or whatnot.
And that happens. And that’s a common [00:53:00] occurrence. You know, these cars were fragile. And the other aspect is, it’s not so much again, as we talk going from like about here from 47 to 53, you’re not talking major leaps and bounds in regards to torque, horsepower, speed, but again, just very fragile cars. You know, these things were all hand built and you’re not talking precision getting out your micrometers and all this stuff and regarding your tolerances and gaps in that.
You know, these guys are drinking at noon for lunch and having wine and everything like that, you know, and smoking. It was just, I was not saying attention to detail wasn’t there. You’re not talking about obviously what it is today. It’s just nowhere near it. You have one car built and it’s not like you’re building five a day.
It goes, Hey, you got one car. A week, potentially. It’s a very slow process, but these cars are very, very fragile. So do we know how many of these 47, 48, 49 early, early Ferrari race cars that were in the Mille Miglia still exist today? Not a lot. I mean, as you get into the, you know, later years, when you start [00:54:00] getting into 54, 5, 6 going on, there’s more of those around that participated because there was numerous ones.
Cause you start getting towards the end of it. No, you have 20 plus four hours in the race. So you’re going to have quite a few that are roaming around. They can say they’ve got million million history. Now, obviously you’re only going to have that one that has a winning history and your winning car.
There’s not that many in regards to production numbers, but no, you’re going to have subsequent ones that line, but he was not building. Hundreds and hundreds of cars. You had 20 of this, 10 of that, five of this, you know? So when you sit and think, Oh, it’s still running around now. I mean, all those cars were basically race cars.
Yeah. I mean, couple of, Hey, you’ll drive down the street now, but these were meant to last that wasn’t their intent when they got built, it was, Hey, I’m going to race this car for a couple of years, you know, and then it’s just basically. Say junk, but basically that’s kind of what it was. And you look back at these old ads, you know, especially like people always pull up like for, I’m two 50 GTOs.
Oh, he can buy this thing for, you know, it was [00:55:00] 500 back in the early seventies, right? It’s like, Oh my God, you know, now it’s 50, million. I get, they were just old beat up race cars. He had a few that were scrapped, you know, very common back then, you’ll motor blew up, get rid of it, pitch it, you know, put a different motor in it.
A lot of these cars that came over to the U. S., you know, they dumped in, you know, a Chevy or a Ford motor. It’s kind of tough to really trace some of these. I would say there’s not an abundance, but yeah, there’s, you know, there’s a decent amount running around. And what’s interesting about this and John, you might remember, there’s a presentation from year before last from Trevor Lister and Don Capps from the society of automotive historians, where they actually talk about the provenance of a lot of these cars, especially the Maseratis you’re hitting the nail right on the head, William, where they talk about, well, the engine blew up, so we took it out and we put in a different one.
And then we called it the model one 67. Instead of the one 66 and it’s the same chassis number, but the engine code doesn’t match. And so there’s all this sort of who cares because it was racing. And, you know, you listen to the [00:56:00] presentation and how they dissect it all down and try to figure out the lineage of some of these cars and what is the provenance of these early race cars.
And basically at the end of it, you realize it’s an extremely difficult, challenging task to nail down where some of them ended up or suddenly there’s a new model of Ferrari. Well, it’s really the old car with a different motor. This has been changed and they scratched out the bin number and put a new one on, right?
So if you’re interested in diving deep off the diving board onto that side of the pool, we’re going to reissue that episode later, but it’s really interesting that you bring that up because it is. systemic, especially in Italy, all the manufacturers as a result of these races, trying to evolve and perfect their cars.
At its root, what my understanding of what Trevor List is saying is that Italian cars are often like motorcycles. So a motorcycle has a frame identity and it also has an engine number and typically it’s the engine number which we know the motorcycle. Trevor’s contention is, is that in most countries around the world, we [00:57:00] know a car by its chassis number.
However, the Italians and Ferrari and Maserati and so on, they would identify a car by its engine. So let’s say I buy car number one with engine number one. I go out, I race it, I blow up the motor. I send my car back to the factory and I say, Ferrari, give me your latest greatest engine. Ferrari says, okay, he takes the engine number one out.
He puts engine number two in. I drive the car away. According to Ferrari, I’m driving engine number two. But according to the British government, I’m driving engine number one. I might be really happy with that confusion. If this was car number two, because it’s got engine number two, I would have to pay a whole new load more purchase tax.
Whereas if I just say that this is just a part, even if maybe I balled the car up completely, and you know, the only part left is my St. Christopher on the dashboard, it might suit me for tax reasons. To say that actually I, this is a different part of the same car. So there’s not so what Trevor list has tried to do is [00:58:00] partly unpick that, but mostly he thinks that a lot of the confusion can be unpicked if you follow engine numbers, rather than chassis numbers for the 48 winning car scrapped.
They took the motor out of it, but the car, it got, you know, they raced a couple of times, but that car got scrapped and they put the motor into something else, whatnot. And it’s actually kind of jumping back to the 125S from 47. It went to all the different races and whatnot, but in 06, or well, early 2000s, I forget the gentleman’s name, you know, but they tried to, I guess you would say they recreated it, so to speak.
But then there was also this argument that they were trying to say, no, it’s that one, but showed it at Pebble Beach, but he didn’t enter it. And it was a, I guess, a big sigh of relief from all the judges and everybody else in the concourse because there was going to be a huge uproar in regards to legitimacy and history and everything in this car and trying to actually prove what it was.
Ferrari was good, you know, documentation and there’s so many historians out there, you know, so many people that follow Ferrari and kind of go back and everything like that. As you get more [00:59:00] into, you know, the fifties, especially, and on mid fifties and on, it’s pretty, I want to say easy. You can go through and find history and whatnot series of cars are, but your late forties and early fifties, it sometimes can be a little difficult just because of what these cars went through and what they did with it.
The reason why it’s so complicated and difficult. is there are many, many generations of auctioneers and classic car brokers who’ve spent a career out of saying, my Maserati 250 F is worth 5 million because it was driven by Sterling Moss, whereas yours is only worth three because he wasn’t well, if suddenly mine might’ve been driven by Sterling Moss or yours might’ve been, or actually who the bloody hell knows who was driven by what.
Which is kind of what Trevor Lister says, introducing that level of confusion doesn’t help anybody. And I’m reminded of a student who’s worked for Stanford University. And for a while, REVS had a program running at Stanford that I was, was part of. And I remember a student coming and looking for funding for a startup that he was going to [01:00:00] do, that was going to test.
paint depth and integrity, but he was a chemical major to a much higher standard that is currently done. And it took a couple of the old car guys to come to him and say, look, there’s no upside to any of this. I don’t need to know that my car has been repainted if I think it’s original. And if you’re buying the car off me.
Just believe that it’s original. I think that it’s original. You think it’s original. Let’s all believe that it’s original. Believe the emperor has new clothes. Let’s not just cast into doubt whether or not he may or may not be wearing any clothes because then everybody’s going to lose. There’s no upside to finding out that the cars had a new fender painted on it.
That was the point that was, was made.
is out there. William, to your point about cars falling apart, I mentioned my involvement with Stanford. I did some work with a chap whose official title is the Omar and Anthea Hoskins Professor [01:01:00] of Classical History. This is a dude who made a career out of looking at shards of Greek pottery and comparing them with other.
Shards of Greek pottery coming up with a whole fresh way of understanding the way life developed on the Greek Peloponnesian peninsula. So it sounds boring, but it has this kind of really, like, profound point that we understand a lot more about ancient Greece than we did before. Now, he loves The story of the, the Milli Milia in 1948 with Naval, with the Ferrari’s given.
Ferrari has four entries. He sold one car to an Italian prince, but Naval comes to him and says, look, Ferrari, I can’t dine my bed. Give me a car to race. So Ferrari’s like, alright, I’ll give you this car that I sold to this Russian. Noble, but I’ll give you that car and you can race in it. And the story is that the car falls apart under Nuvolari.
The bonnet comes off and Nuvolari says, No problem. It’s lighter now. We’ll race better. The seat comes adrift. And this [01:02:00] is the part that Michael Shanks, my academic colleague, likes. So, so Nuvolari now. races on on a bag of oranges and lemon and we now have to think about this Sophia Loren and you know the personification of Italy here so eventually the car expires at the side of the road and Nuvolari is like at the side of the road and a priest finds him and says can I help you great Tazio and Nuvolari says yes and sleeps in his bed.
The priest gives him his bed to sleep in and Nuvolari, exhausted, sleeps in the bed and Ferrari weeps because he’s not able to build a car which is strong enough for the passion that Nuvolari can bring to it. Obviously, me and Daddy winning the race, you know, you would think I say accolades and whatnot but everyone was so focused on Nuvolari and he was kind of getting all the attention.
And I know Nouvelire is kind of like trying to push it back, but everyone was so focused on Nouvelire because he didn’t win and everything that happened and stuff like that. So Biandetti’s win kind of was, I want to say understated, [01:03:00] but you know, everyone was kind of more focused on Nouvelire than they were on the actual winner of the race day.
Yeah. And Biandetti has this quote, doesn’t he, that in the melee melee, you have to have the courage to drive slowly. You get the impression that contemporaries were. Cynical about him because, you know, he was always the guy who you couldn’t drive steadily and still win the Mille Miglia, but he certainly didn’t like, put it out there in the way the Novolari did.
The previous year, he’d raced the Stusitalia, been leading and it had got wet right towards the end and he’d like, had to change a spark plug. And the story I read in the Lurani biography is. Back at home in, in Manchuria, he says to his old mechanic who’d refused to come with him, if you’d come with me, we’d have won.
We’d have changed the spot because it took me five minutes to change the spot. Like if you’d have come, we’d have done it in less time and we’d have won the race. So that’s 48. Biondetti wins at an average speed of 75 miles an hour. Biondetti again, 48. 75. And 49, [01:04:00] 82 on dirty winning three years in a row.
Look at the times to is that’s kind of a big leap because 48 at roughly a little over 75 miles an hour airspeed, 15 hours, five minutes, 44 seconds. But then in 49, not that different of a car, but it was, it was a barketta, everything like that. You know, it changed up quite a bit, but it drops by three hours.
It’s huge. That’s a lot. Yeah. I wonder if the weather was better. I wonder if it was a weather thing that plays into it. And you know, rain, it was very prominent. In that race, you’re in, you’re out. Obviously, as you get into the subsequent years when the cars start getting bigger and faster, 48, you know, there was a weather issue.
And you gotta remember the tires that they were using back then. You’re not talking specialized rain tires or anything like that. I mean, they were terrible tires. But that’s a big leap, and obviously it would have been completely dry or whatnot. You know, you go from 48 to 49, but again, the two gentlemen, they, they win it again.
And that just goes to tell you, he knew how to win that race. I would say he was a specialized guy for it, but [01:05:00] two years in a row, winning for a Ferrari, it says a lot for Biendetti and Devoni. The whole business of whether you raced with a Barchetta, Or whether you race with a closed car. The open car, of course, has got less air resistance.
So fundamentally, it’s going to be a faster car for the same amount of horsepower, less weight. The closed car, because it keeps the weather off, and you’re just that much more civilized, the argument is the closed car can be So in 47, the Alfa that Biondetti wins with is closed. In 48, it was That was a coupe.
It was another 166 in 49. Because when you go from that, from 166 S to a 16 MM with MM, obviously stand for Mille Miglia, because now, you know, he’s on this run. They basically took the 166 S, shortened it just a bit. Obviously, they made it a Barchetta, you know, and a few other little tweaks here and there, you know, and created that car.
Enzo’s thought always was that you win this race in an open car. He thinks a race car [01:06:00] is open. It’s not a coupe. I don’t know how much difference, but obviously I think going from that coupe to that barketta and for what they changed on it, really, I want to say drastic, a max speed only goes up by maybe 15 miles an hour.
You know, so you’re not talking some massive jump where you’re talking like 50 miles an hour faster. I think that’s significant though, isn’t it? Over the 10, 11 hours the race would take. Something that could do 135 versus something that can do 120. Yeah. When you step away from 1949 1950 and you jump from the 166MM to the 195S, you’re kind of going back to that squarish, garish, boxy look.
That was the early Ferraris, like the 125 and things like that. So I’m seeing this design language flip flop happening here as he’s finding his way. Probably whoever was going to do the cheapest bodywork. There was a sale on square grills that week. No, but if you think about that, if I’m one of those little Carrozzeria, and they were little, they were half a dozen guys at most.[01:07:00]
If a car with my body wins just its class in the millimetre, let alone winning the whole event, that’s terrific advertising for somebody to come to my girl’s rear for their nice Alfa Romeo or touring Fiat or whatever. So I feel like Ferrari wasn’t exaggerating when he said that the body is like a dress on a beautiful woman.
This is what it was, right? It was, and you know, we know that he just concentrated on the engine. And was never that interested in, you know, making the brakes better or making the chassis better or anything like that. He just focused on making the engine better. And then you’ve got these coach builders who are competing with each other.
These yes, aerodynamic bodies on, but also good looking bodies because they want their car to be on the. photograph of tomorrow’s Sunday sports newspaper as the Mille Miglia winner. Well, you mentioned 1950. So here we are, right. And I was already alluding to that with the change in design from the one six, six to the one nine five S.
So what’s significant about the 1950 Mille Miglia? Well, it’s the first time the Marzotto brothers [01:08:00] make a real impact on the event. So this is a family of textile magnets, and there’s four brothers, all of whom are super enthusiastic buyers and racers. And Giannino wins twice. And as William alluded to earlier, because the family were textile magnets, he would race.
wearing a double breasted shirt and tie, even in an open car. You know, you’re advertising your, your wares. There’s an expression that Noblesse obliged this notion that the wealthy and the, the nobleman should share what he has with the peasantry somewhat. So in other words, I can afford these fine clothes and this Ferrari.
I’m not going to hide them under a bushel. In my, I’m not going to live in a compound. I’m not going to buy a Hawaiian Island. No, I’m going to race the Mille Miglia wearing these fine clothes and driving this fine Ferrari. Yeah. All right. So for me, there’s, there’s that element going on, right? The Marzotto brothers feel to me less like.
Uh, motor races and [01:09:00] more like, I won’t say playboys because that implies that they were womanizing, and I don’t know that they were, and it implies that they weren’t doing it seriously, and they were doing it seriously, but, you know, the Marzotto brothers were never gonna come to Dundrod and race in the rain of Northern Ireland, you know, Nuvolari wanted to do that, they weren’t in that kind of realm.
And I think the big story that year is this absurdness where Marzotto struggles, where Giannino struggles to get a car and then gets a car and wins the race. And then after the race, Ferrari says to him, Oh, by the way, I changed the motor. So you owe me half the prize money because he fitted this bigger motor without Marzotto knowing.
And this is another one of these Ferrari stories where one wonders how true it really is. That’s what I need to about that car. You go for 1. 6 mm and you go up just 195s. Obviously that 195s that he won with. Cherokee 0026M. When you look it [01:10:00] up history wise, it actually referred to as 166 because that’s what he bought.
And as John mentioned, unbeknownst to him at the factory, they dumped in that bigger motor. He didn’t know it. And obviously more power, everything like that. So it’s called the 1 9 5 s ’cause of the motor and kind of going back to think, hey, it’s designated, hey, it’s by what the engine is. Not so much the chassis, but that chassis was a 1, 6 6 that he had bought for that and then they just dumped in this bigger motor.
So it’s back and forth in regards to what was saying, but bumping it up. Now you had 160 horsepower, got a top speed of just a hair under 137 miles an hour. So I mean, you’re creeping up there in regards to power. You’re still thinking that doesn’t sound like a lot, but again, you’re still talking about a car that’s pretty basic in regards to stopping and everything like that, it gets going, but I always found that interesting in regards to how that car is looked at and viewed up until 1950, you mentioned it earlier.
William, there were a couple of Ferraris here, a couple of Ferraris there. They were only building a handful of cars. And in 1950, the [01:11:00] number of Ferraris entered in the Miele, Miele jumps. About 5X compared to the previous year where you have 16 Ferraris entered in the race. And that is pretty significant for a company in its third official year that is hand building cars.
Earlier in our conversation, John was speaking about Rome and the Romans and the chariot races, but then also getting into like the Vanderbilt Cup and everything like that. You know, and you mentioned NASCAR, you know, always had adages. I would say that big adage is, you know, We’ll win on Sunday, sell on Monday.
That basically started way back when, when cars are doing it. Cause that was it. The car that was winning was the car that people wanted. Ferrari was winning. So these people that had the money, I want a Ferrari because that’s what’s winning. It started way back when, so it wasn’t kind of started, you know, this NASCAR kind of marketing campaign.
Went on Sunday, sell Monday. It was basically, it started from the dawn of the car in essence, when they started racing because people wanted the car that wanted that’s kind of how these races also kind of came about in the beginning. It was an [01:12:00] endurance race to test these cars, these manufacturers and these manufacturers to prove I have the best, strongest, fastest car, and that’s what people wanted.
1950 into 51, we introduced the Ferrari 340 America. For me, this is when the horsepower figures and the top speed starts becoming interesting, and I think it’s my own perception of what a fast car is, because I’m sure for my son, his generation, a car that can’t do 150 miles an hour is not that fast. But for me, If a car can do 150 miles an hour and has more than 250 horsepower, it qualifies as a, as a fast car, especially when the tires are as narrow and the brakes are as bad and the drivers and the event is generally as lunatic as the Mille Miglia.
I feel this is the stage now where it starts. It’s to move into something where it’s quite hard to believe that it was allowed to go ahead. 50 to 51, you know, if you go from 160 horsepower to [01:13:00] 220 top speed, it said, you know, just a hair under 137 in 1950 to just a bit under 150. in 51. That’s a significant jump, especially on the horsepower scale in regards to what these engines are doing.
I think that has to do with design and the engine and was it Lampretti that was coming into play, creating these motors? Yeah, when we, when I, when you or I might think about 120 or 150 miles an hour, we imagine, well, that’s like, you know, on a track day or on a Notionally imaginative, you know, allegedly a quiet piece of freeway or autostrada, you might see those speeds.
The important thing to understand about the Mille Miglia is this is taking place through town, across bridges. The V12, that’s an important thing to talk about, isn’t it? We talked about Ferrari and this agitator of men. Throughout the period, two V12 engines produced in Multiple different capacities when he’s friends with Columbo, the Columbo engine gets developed.
When he falls out with Columbo, he hires Lampready. Lampready [01:14:00] designs his own engine and this engine grows in capacity. And then when he falls out with Lampready, he rehires Columbo and develops the Columbo engine again. I’m told. By Alain Decadene. Let’s name drop there. I did an event years ago called the Mille Miglia North America with him.
We had Buono 250 that was chassis number 0625. I know that car’s still out there. It was not in great condition when Decadene and I drove it and he was looking under the hood of that car that he said to me it’s a Columbo. You can tell by the spark plug position. One has the plugs high, the other has the plugs low.
Um, I yeah, but but yes, absolutely. We’ve got that. And it seems to me the increased horsepower came simply from being able to do bigger displacement. And I feel like there must have been things like we were getting better grade fuel. So you could do higher. Compression ratios, because my understanding was, even if you could make the machine tools to do like high compression, the fuel was so bad that [01:15:00] you couldn’t really do it.
You know, there was no point in trying to do high compression. Everything, everything was like an American car in the 1970s, rather than American cars in the late 60s, you know, it was always pretty low compression sub due to the poor grade of fuel. Didn’t they bring in special race fuel? Did the organizers arrange that?
I know like the post war, like the first couple, because of rationing and whatnot, you know, getting allotments had to really go to the government, but didn’t they, because of the, you know, obviously compression and that stuff, didn’t they have to get special, bring in good fuel? I read a story about somebody who missed the refueling rig.
Like a Ferrari team member who’d missed the refueling stop, stopped for normal gas, like gassed up at a normal gas station. That normal fuel, the Ferrari couldn’t run on that normal fuel. Yeah. What I am aware of is that you were allowed what the British teams would call jungle juice. In Formula 1 up until either 57 or 58.
You know, the issue [01:16:00] was, was that if I’ve mixed up special fuel, you have to go to the lengths of mixing up special fuel in order to be competitive with me. And then each of us are rushing around spending loads of time trying to get hold of all these special fuels because this is the easiest way for us to make horsepower.
And none of this really has anything to do with motor racing. So that’s why those special fuels were banned in Formula 1. I imagine. There were standard fueling in the immediate post war period. There were fewer shortages. So the fuel had to be especially allocated tires and fuel. The stories of people, Italians entering early milly milliers, getting their fuel and tires, and then just driving home because you only did it to get the free tires and fuel.
As a side note, in case anyone listening is curious, actually the 50 and 51 car are currently owned by the same person, and I probably, can I pronounce the last name is right? It’s, it’s Crowell, C R O U L. Jack and Kingsley, they own both those cars. Oh. [01:17:00] Well, who knew? William did. Yeah, because now you’re getting the car, you know, that raced and one participated and its current day still have its correct, you know, matching numbers, everything, engine, gearbox, everything.
This is when you start getting to values of a car that kind of, I guess you get obscene because it plays a huge role in regards to. Race history and value of a car. And especially if you have a winning car, especially of a stature of the Mille Emilia Targa Florio Le Mans, that really takes the value of the car exponentially higher.
Just because of the exposure and the profile of it. So how much does it add? I mean, you know, again, something’s only worth what someone’s willing to pay, but it really adds value to that car. If it has it on its CV in regards to winning a very high profile race like that. Value wise, you’d have to go back and kind of look, but you know, it’s not like these things pop [01:18:00] up every year or every auction, like say F forties and stuff like that, where you kind of can gauge the market based on that these pop up, you know, every maybe 5, 6, 7 years and markets change so much at a consistent basis, it’s kind of hard to pinpoint what something’s worth getting your experts out there and they can start putting a number on it or throw a number at it.
You don’t know until a, it goes through an auction and either it sells or it doesn’t sell. It doesn’t hit reserve. So you kind of see what the market’s saying, or you kind of know through the grapevine that a, it was sold privately at this price. So that’s when you start getting these values in regards to, you know, not hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You’re talking seven, eight, nine, 10, 20 million, you know, going up. I wouldn’t say, you know, getting into these. With these one nine fives and that stuff, you know, you’re not getting into 15 million. So, I mean, you’re going to be in that five to 10 million range. I think it starts getting into, I would say use, especially this day and age [01:19:00] and what you can do with these cars and going to events.
You’re starting to see a lot more. It’s not just, Hey, they’re just sitting on the lawn. Hey, they’re driving them and participate in the middle of me or participate in the Colorado grand or the California mill. Getting out there and you like these cars and they’re still very, I don’t want to say archaic.
But you know, the technology it’s getting there, you’ll want to drive these things and use them on a regular basis gets very, very touchy because something breaks. You can’t just go and find a new NOS part on these things. You know, it depends on the owner as well. You know, you can have some guys, I don’t care.
They got so much money. They just, I’m going to go enjoy it, which is great because then more people get to see it. Where then you got other people, they own these cars, they stick them in their collection and no one ever gets to see them but them and their family. And people always ask, well, how is that worth this?
John, me and you have had this conversation. You know, Eric, we’ve had this conversation on previous episodes and stuff like that about values and stuff. It’s the story though, isn’t it? If you’re buying a Honda Accord, You know, in the used car trade in [01:20:00] Britain, people will say, Oh, it’s got no stories, mate.
That means, you know, it definitely, you know, it hasn’t been robbed and, you know, joined Britain and then it’s tarted up and is now being sold to you. You know, it’s been owned by the cliched one lady owner, hasn’t it? So the no story where you’re buying your Honda Accord, you definitely want a car with no stories when you’re buying your Ferrari F40.
Do you want the one that was owned new by the cocaine dealer who drove it into a swimming pool? Yes. Do you want the one that was owned by, you know, the Chinese millionaire who put it in a hermetically sealed container? Now the market would tell you the hermetically sealed car that has absolutely no stories about it at all.
That’s the one you want. Now the irony with these kind of Ferrari is the car that has no story has less value than the one that has. All the stories associated with it and, you know, we’re also in a place where the worse the [01:21:00] condition, it’s got a new leather seat in it. Well, so what? It’s got a new leather seat in it like every other vintage Ferrari.
It’s got the old leather seat. You mean Tazio Nuvolari? farted on that seat. Well, you know, I’m gonna, at this point, how many other leather seats can you buy that Tassio Nuvolari actually farted on that are attached to a racing car that you can show to your friends? So at this point, suddenly it doesn’t matter to me whether it costs 12 million or 15 million.
I told my friend I was going to have the seat that Nuvolari farted in. And by Jimny, I’m gonna have it. And that does drive values of them. And it’s, it’s funny, you know, we’re, we’re talking about 51, we’re talking about the car that Villaresi won in 1951 with. For many years at Pebble Beach, I’ve done a slightly, I won’t say sneaky thing, because it’s not really sneaky, because anybody can do it, but I’m not wealthy enough to be in the quail ticket lottery, but that is the best.
Show to go to a pebble, you know, the pebble beach itself is [01:22:00] great But really the quail if you especially if you prefer post war cars as I tend to the quail is is probably even better So what I’ll usually do is wait to the Friday afternoon until it’s closing up and when they’re loading all the cars up I’ll just walk across the field most of the cars have gone, but you still see a few lying around one day I’ve spent a good 15 minutes With Villaresi’s 1951 Mille Miglia winner because, uh, you know, they were moving the cars around, but it was just there sitting on the lawn.
on its owner had a really nice, um, few moments with it. So the bottom line there is, is that it’s great that owners. Feel the need to bring them out and it’s great that they’ve survived because I had a total like you’re not meant to touch these things are you but I did rest my hand on the door handle and think to myself Villa Razi stood here the morning, you know when he got in the car before he won the race, you know, so I did I did allow myself that and I should just say A lot of my knowledge of the Mille Miglia comes from [01:23:00] a series of books, publishers Brooklyn’s books, and they’ve done a series on great motor races on the Mille Miglia, on Carrera Panamericana, on the Targa Florio, but the cover of the edition that covers the 1951 Mille Miglia is Villaresi’s Ferrari.
With a bunch of front end damage on it. And it’s obvious he’s gone off the road, not seriously, but just a little bit. And that to me really speaks of what the Mille Miglia is all about. Because, you know, the winning car went off the road and suffered damage. It’s not like Formula One, where if you put a wheel wrong, it’s over.
This is an event where there’s bumps and bruises on the, on the winning car. Like a NASCAR. Yeah, exactly. Mentioning like the hermetically sealed F40. Yeah, that’s the one that people want to go after. But what’s unfortunate is like, you can’t drive it then. That’s the problem is you’re going to buy it. It’s just, it’s something to look at because it loses its value.
You start putting the miles on. And this is a mechanical being entity. It’s meant to be started, driven and going. I mean, it needs to be lubricated, [01:24:00] everything. So it’s in that car. God knows what would tell you. Oh yeah. I commissioned it to get it back onto the road itself. You don’t have to replace everything because you couldn’t drive it.
There’s only got say 500 miles since 1988. You really can’t drive. You know, it’s going to take a lot of money to get that thing up to be able to do it, but you wouldn’t want to because it loses value. So what I’ve learned from this is confirmation of two previous break fix episodes. One is, the first question I need to ask when buying a Ferrari of this period is, A, what does it smell like?
And B, Going back to our Italian car episode. I definitely want the one with the crack pipe in the glove box. Right? William. Exactly. That’s got the story. I guess that can be seen as like, you know, to quote John says, I did new Valerie fart who farted in this car. See, what does it smell like? That’s what it smells like.
Who farted in this car? All old Volkswagen smell like melting crayons. That’s all I know. So that brings us to 19. 52. And I think we’re going to [01:25:00] close out the thought with 52 and 53, their significance before we pick up for the second half of the millimelia coverage on the Ferrari marketplace, you know, more power, higher top end speed, but the interesting fact is now what you start getting into is, you know, obviously pre war, but then post war too, is You always had usually a mechanic riding with you.
There was always someone next to you in the passenger seat. But as you start getting into these years, you start seeing not so much 52, but I know when 53 guys started, as you start seeing guys start racing by themselves, the winning car. Again, 250 at 230 horsepower, so we’ve got a 10 horsepower jump. It starts going up more, it’s almost at 156.
So, it’s jumping up there. 0 1 5 6 18 is the winning chassis number of 1952. I think it’s fascinating that he gave Tarufi, like, uh, open four and a half liter. And he gives Braco, who wins, a closed three liter. Yeah. There’s [01:26:00] no even sense that, you know, I’m going to build the same engine, but, you know, do some open cars and some closed cars.
There’s no sense of that whatsoever. We’re just going to do whatever. I feel like Braco doesn’t feature in much other motor racing history. He wasn’t part of the team that Alpha. Formula One team or anything like that. And one source I read refers to him as a, as a hill climb specialist. The other story that I’d read that was particularly, uh, amusing, uh, about him was, he’s known as a hill climb specialist.
And of course on the Mille Miglia, you’ve those two passes, the Futa and the Raticosa, where it was often felt that, you know, here was a, a section where you, the driver could make a real difference. If you attacked over those passes, that was a way that you could maybe make a difference in a way that the flat out flat straits around Cremona and Manchu and all those bits between the middle of the country and back up [01:27:00] north, all those bits wouldn’t allow you to make the same kind of difference.
So the, the story is that, that in, in 52, Barco was behind cling as they do this northern phase and as they leave Florence was they approach, Barco says to his co-driver. I will lead by, by Florence or, you know, I’ll lead by then, or as long as you keep plying me with this brandy that you’re, you’re buying me with.
Yeah. Braco had that reputation of being the kind of hitting the sauce quite a bit. And, and the story that I’d read was that when he beat Kling, Kling was never the same again because he was like beaten. The pictures of Braco. You know, he’s often in an ill fitting sports jacket. And he’s like Vazzi in that he always seems to have a cigarette on.
Unlike Bonetto. Bonetto’s the one that’s always got the pipe on. It’s quite peculiar to think about people in middle age, in the way that Braco was, who are able to do this completely kind [01:28:00] of, you know, sports bikers talk about brain out. Let’s see, you say, you know, how was your ride? And they say, Oh, it was brain out, mate.
And what that means is that I took my brain out. I wasn’t thinking. I just instinctively. So, you know, did you split between cars at 120 miles an hour? Yeah. And I feel like fascist. philosophy that was with Italy right the way from the early 20s right the way through the mid 40s. That fascist philosophy believed that a state of war was natural, believed that a level of attrition was natural.
So guys like Nuvolari and Bracco grew up with this motto, either it goes Or I’ll crash it, you know, it was win or crash, absolutely a win or crash philosophy and, and that must have been very hard to compete with. And certainly the Brits, I mean, Donald Healy went and competed in an early mille millia and he describes it as a lunatic race.
[01:29:00] And I feel that Braco probably personifies that lunacy even more than Biondetti or even more than the names like Ascari or Castellotti that we’ve heard as Formula 1 stars. This guy who was a hill climb guy who didn’t really do much, you know, kind of retired, but was persuaded back. I don’t think he was even going to race.
I think Villaresi was meant to race and I think he took Villaresi’s. seat in this Hillclimb special car. So yeah, amazing personality. That’s the year that Mercedes came and basically started, I want to say a big push or onslaught. They showed up like a month early for the race. Cat, all their guys camped out and just.
Repeatedly, repeatedly doing the whole course, learning it, learning it, learning it, could that have played into Cling’s little thing? And, you know, Neubauer had his, his strategy in regards to his three guys. Hey, you’re the tortoise, you’re the hare. You’re, you know, this guy’s chasing you and going, they tried to really hammer it and Rocco still wins.
And Cling was leading [01:30:00] for a long time, but then they got to the hills. And he went past them, I think that really just chafed Kling’s ass. And he was like, how the hell is this guy doing it? Because those SLs, they were, you could probably say they were superior to that Ferrari, technologically, everything.
But it comes down to just knowing the course and technique and what have you, but Braco triumphed in the end. Sterling Wallace was racing a Jag and I think he only made it a few miles or something like that. I know he didn’t finish, but yeah, he didn’t have much success. Well, that’s really a point worth making, isn’t it?
That we’re talking about how dominant Ferrari was. We talked about Mercedes winning a couple of times. We’re not talking about Maserati winning at all. No, we’re not talking about Porsche winning at all. Now, albeit they were really just starting, but Jaguar were pretty dominant at Le Mans in this period, five wins at Le Mans, nothing at the melee.
Was it because they didn’t try? Hmm. One year, Biondetti had a Jaguar. Yeah. Was it because the cars weren’t tough enough where they could [01:31:00] win Le Mans? Was it because they weren’t able to cope with the rough roads, the changing surface, all of that? Was it because the people driving them? didn’t have the local knowledge.
It tended to be, you know, we tended to put Brits in them and it took us a while to figure out that it was probably a better idea to give them to people like Fangio and Biondetti to do the job in. It’s a blend of the cars that Ferrari was building and the drivers who he was putting in them. Yeah, it’s impressive that you can call on somebody of the caliber of Braco.
I mean, something that I’m really struck by is clearly to win, you have to drive in a way personal safety was of a secondary. consideration. And there’s this sense, I love Giuseppe Farina, but Farina, it was in the Virgin’s hand. You know, whether or not I crash or wreck has nothing to do with me. I’m in the hand of fate.
I’m in the hands of the Virgin. If you ally that with this sort of fascist philosophy, my word, it’s, it is, it’s frightening. It’s, it’s like that sort of teenage boy [01:32:00] intensity. But it’s been refined through a world war. And now what Ferrari’s given us the equipment to go out and do this. We’ll talk later about Ferrari’s brush with the papacy around the Mille Miglia, but morally there’s something a little, he’s drinking his brandy and driving flat out over the Raticosa pass and then speeding through crowds of people.
I mean, it’s hard to believe that it’s just so Italian. I mean, if you think about it in an alliterative sort of way, it’s. Passion and power equals perfection, and that’s sort of Ferrari in a nutshell. When you think about it, right? It takes that exuberant teenage passion. Like you’re talking about the extra power of these big engines that they’re again, they’re throwing caution to the wind, saying the body’s the body, whatever.
We’re going to build a bigger, better mousetrap, bigger engine. And then it’s putting those two, the crazy. With this big engine and that gives you the win. And when you think about, yes, the Mercedes is a better car or the Porsche was better engineered or the Jag had this advantage [01:33:00] or whatever, but it never panned out because the variables didn’t align correctly.
You know, the superiority of the Benz with a sterile, very utilitarian driver. It’s not going to happen. You can do all the practicing and calculations you want and perfectly apex every turn on a thousand mile route. But it doesn’t work if you’re not adaptable and you don’t drive, like you said, with your brain out and you stop thinking.
And this translates to all sorts of disciplines of motorsport. When you think about Formula One and you talk about just we’ll pick three names from the same era, Senna, Prost and Mansell, all champions in their own right. It’s completely different drivers, excellent machinery, but who’s the better driver, right?
And if you take the unruly boyish nature of Senna and his car, it’s sort of like Brandini and Marzotto and all the rest of these guys that are just driving with everything in the wind and they’re having fun doing it. So maybe that’s part of the equation, right? Is [01:34:00] that reckless abandon lets you push to 11 tenths.
Where everybody else is not. I certainly think that’s part of the Ferrari magic. 100 percent! 100 percent. Oh yeah! Everyone wants Ferrari apparel, right? The reason you want a Ferrari logo on your shoe is that you want to have some of that. It’s like when you put the Brute 33 on, you feel like Barry Sheen, you know?
It’s that kind of thing. Yeah. That was one thing too. And again, go back to like how we said about, you know, cars, I say, get into participation, you know, and, you know, having a Ferrari that’s in there. But in that race, there was 27 Ferraris entered out of the 501 that started 501 cars start. I mean, and just think about that number, 501 cars.
Started that event because you always see a lot of these things where they start on that ramp, 52 was actually the first year that they started on that ramp, they didn’t have it before. And the reason being is because they wanted people to be able to see. The spectators. So when the guys, they pulled up onto the ramp, they could see who was driving or that instead of, [01:35:00] you know, being on the ground, you know, we had all these crowds, it was tough to see.
So, Hey, let’s build a starting ramp. They roll up and go, but 52 is the first year they had that. Which is interesting because the only other discipline of motorsport that still does that to this day is rally. Yep. I found that interesting too, because I was like, Oh, wow. It’s like you’re thinking of mine.
You see, you think that just, Oh, they always did that. 52 is the first day they started doing that. And it was just those spectators. Could see their heroes, these people that we’re driving on. That’s what it boils down to because, you know, these people are so adored, especially in Italy. You know what I’m struck by?
We’ve talked about how crazy the driving was. When you look to the film of them, they’re always driving slowly. Yeah. I was watching some film with my son. like nine and I was thinking that thinking like he’s not seeing that they’re gonna like skidding around the corner they’re like driving and I’m like oh yeah he’s just like come into the town that we’re in he’s been doing like 180 out of the town he’s now like tested the brakes and slowed down yeah it’s like the TT all of the film when you see the Isle of Man TT the films them you know jumping [01:36:00] over that little humpback bridge that’s the only part of the course where they’re doing less than 30 miles an hour But that’s the part of the course where the camera is, because you can actually see them and catch all of that.
So that shell film and a lot of films, although they’re awesome representations of the event, I like the shell film, but it’s only when you’re out on the road and you can see the other cars coming past the camera car, that you really get a sense of the speed. The Kalmanski was, I don’t think it was him and Collins were running together yet.
Cause you know, in subsequent years, Kalmanski did phenomenal photos and take a video and. There’s a few other instances of some participants basically just starting a race and then just bailing because they were doing a film or something like that, but I saw the number of cars starting and what you see, there was actually 607 cars entered.
But only 501 started. So, I mean, you had over a hundred cars that didn’t even start to vent itself for whatever reason. Think about that. And then how your number is, what time you start, there always was, the premise was [01:37:00] the slower cars started first. Now you would think, no, let’s start the fast cars first.
But it’s like, no, the slowest cars started first. The fast ones started last. So you always had that drama of them come flying by these slower cars and had to pass. So not only dealing with these roads, dealing with the crowds, because obviously when you watch this stuff, there’s no barriers. There’s no anything like that.
I can’t, I don’t know if it was in 52. I know there’s, there’s one in there that cars were crashing at a certain point on the, on the course. They eventually from them crashing. They took out the guardrail. I don’t know if it was 53, it might have been 53. But, so the guardrail’s gone, the cars are there, so the person that’s coming through, and I want to say it was the winner, he crashes into that car, because as the guardrail’s gone, he only kind of goes off when he hits one of the person’s cars, and so the damage isn’t significant, so he keeps going, and goes on.
The person that he hit, then they went after him to pay for it to fix his car, because he hit it. It kind of just shows you what they were dealing with. Here’s where we’re going to go. We’re going to go into 1953. And what we’re going to [01:38:00] do is after they get done, we’re going to pause. And what we’re going to do is we’re going to have a second part to this discussion that we will put that out next week, just make everyone know that we still got a subsequent other half to go, because what we’re going to get into in that other half too, we start talking is obviously the increase in horsepower, the cars, but we’re also going to get into, because of 1957 being the last race, but also.
With the new Ferrari movie that came out, kind of have a little discussion with that and how it all ties in. But we’re going to jump into 1953. There’s a lot of interesting things with 1953. You go from 1952 with 230 horsepower from the winning car to 300 horsepower for the winning car. You go into a 340 mm, a hair under 168 miles an hour.
So it’s actually not too much faster top speed, but your horsepower is increased immensely. You know, the winner, Giano Marzotto, winning the race, but what’s interesting about the fact is he didn’t have a car when that race was supposed to start. He was [01:39:00] actually supposed to race, I believe it was, he was supposed to race one of the Alfa Romeo.
One of those Disco Volantes. He was promised a car. He went on, I guess it was a family, whatever, getaway to, uh, Lebanon for where his one part of his family was from. But when he returned, he did not have a car. They said, nope, sorry. They assigned it to someone else. He went then and tried to make some calls.
He called Lance. Yeah, they didn’t have a car. Now you would think, no brainer. Well, why doesn’t he just get a Ferrari? Well, he had a bit of a dust up. with Enzo, because he had built and designed a car affectionately called the egg. And if you look it up, you’ll see why they called it the egg. He started, I guess, say dabbling and looking at and understanding aerodynamics of a car, you know, how it affects it, top speed, everything and where it’s worked.
Now, obviously, it’s very crude in regards to doing it, you know, not kind of anywhere near what’s today, but it started entering the picture, which is rather impressive. For 1953. And you take a look at the car, you can see where they’re coming from. [01:40:00] Now the interesting fact was Enzo wasn’t too happy, but Marzotto family and the brothers were such good customers, you know, he kind of, uh, gritted his teeth and kind of dealt with it.
Now, the one problem they had, though, with the egg was the radiator that was supplied to them by Ferrari was the wrong one, because the weight was supposed to rest in there, and so what their problem was, they had front end lift, which was creating, you know, obviously, very light in your steering in certain aspects, especially when you’re going down straight.
So, when he got back, his mindset was, well, I don’t have a car. He was all prepared and he started to dust that off and he was going to bring that car back. And that was a couple year old car itself. Well, his co driver, how would you say Corsera? I’d say Corsara. He played mediator between Enzo and Marzotto and it was interesting how he played it off because you tell Enzo, Oh yeah, he’s sorry.
Oh, yeah. And then he was going to Marzotto and saying, Oh Enzo. Oh yeah. He wants it back. So it was kind of played on Twitter. So they kissed and made up the car. They gave him actually was from a [01:41:00] previous race. It was sitting in the corner. It was beat up. Didn’t have a clutch. You know, it needed some stuff done to, it needed some work.
So he says, I can give you this. You know, and Enzo’s not thinking, oh, he’s going to win this race. I think it’s because it was beat up from this previous race. Well, they get it up running and there you have it. He wins the race in this car, you know, basically getting it last minute from Enzo. I mean, literally, like, I think a week or two before the race.
So, I mean, it was very, very rushed in getting it. But, you know, hey, he took it and won. So what else in 1953, the wonderful shell film was made, and that gives a more effective document of the race visual document of the race than any melee Melia, there may be more stuff out there in Italian archives but certainly on if you surf around on YouTube this 53 film, which as it says this AI enhanced version of it that’s available on YouTube so sure you’re coming from the perspective of shell right that they want.
You know, they’re advertising their [01:42:00] product somewhat, but for the first time, you know, this helicopter coverage of the race and the race itself is, is a good one. The, the alpha males are fast Fangio’s back from an injury feels like he has a lot to prove. He’s. Leading at Rome over the Futa or Raticosa, he develops steering issues and Marzotto passes him and wins.
Or at least, you know, Marzotto overtakes him and wins in that final stage. And again, you know, Marzotto’s win is worth talking about for me. The thing really worth talking about is Fangio finishing second. In a car that only steered on one wheel, you know, as a friend of mine said, well, at least he didn’t have to drive it over any dangerous mountain passes.
And at least he wasn’t driving it more than, you know, 130 miles an hour. The drum brakes were as big as wheels anyway, so it was okay, you know. 26 Ferraris entered and 12 had retired, I think before Rome. Yeah. That [01:43:00] gives you the attrition rate. And the other thing, and the Brooklyn’s books will give you the impression of like a, you know, will give you the, the, the race by race.
But what I’m struck by is how often the leader is leading and crashes out . He doesn’t like suffer a problem, he just straight ahead crashes out. Sna, he’s leading, he’s in a wall. out ski. There’s no like, you know, you don’t just change the tire and carry this isn’t Gran Turismo where you just respawn further down the track.
No, you’re just, you’re out and if you’re eating hospital food, you’re lucky. My own particular guy from the period, Giuseppe Farina, I mean, Farina seems never to have even made it as far as Pescara. You know, which is where they come from Brescia down the right hands down the Adriatic coast and then turn right across to Rome and then right again up to, he never even made it that far because, and Ferrari says about him in, in, uh, in his book about racing drivers, that he was like a high strung race horse.
And you get this sense that he just couldn’t like contain. himself to do an event that required a bit of endurance, [01:44:00] like, you know, a bit of caring for the car, like the Mille Miglia or, or Le Mans. It takes that certain, I guess you would say, um, holding yourself back. You want to go 10 tenths. These guys, I think that you’re winning to your point, like the number you said, you know, you had 26 start, but only 12 finished.
I think the year before it was 27 started, I think only nine finished. So I’m about to go back and look at the exact numbers, but you know, the attrition rate was so high crash him or the car breaking down, it happened quite a bit, so they just kind of use it as a reference, you know, that’s how Lamar was to for the longest period of time for it comes just flat out sprints.
It is now. You had to feel that car and understand it and take care of the car and get yourself there to the finish line, but you also had to go at a rapid enough rate that you’re going to win. My understanding is one year, Mike Hawthorne was so unhappy at the prospect of race 57, the year he’ll won.
Like he’ll prove himself. It was going to be rainy and miserable. So Hawthorne deliberately wrecked the clutch early in the race. So they didn’t have to race in, in the rain. I mean, [01:45:00] I’ve not seen that written down, just reading between the lines and knowing what I know about Mike Hawthorne. It feels to me that that would have been the case.
So a 25 year span. In our 1st part here covering the meal Amelia, what are the 3 big takeaways? What did we learn from looking at the early days of the meal Amelia? What do we leave our audience with in part 1 looking at it pre war and what everyone was trying to achieve? But even post war up to.
Including 53 now, 53, obviously, as we discussed, you know, there was that big jump from 52, 53 and cardiac horsepower. And I agree with John is, you know, you’re starting to see, you know, I want to say it’s almost, these are becoming true race cars. The stuff he was building. Yeah, you know, it coops whatnot.
Yeah. I mean, they were he had them in his mind Hey, they’re race cars, but you could drive them on the street and drive them, you know, very delicately obviously racing clutches whatnot But this is what you know, it’s starting to transition to the full blown race cars for this race So all your [01:46:00] stuff up until this point You can see that relationship and see, you know, hey, between a street car and a race car.
It’s like, wow, you know, I mean, identical. I mean, you’re not talking anything radically different. You know, you’re not talking massive horsepower. You’re not talking, you know, massive top speed. Now, you’re talking these gentlemen drivers, you know, these guys racing in double breasted suits, you know, no helmets.
I would guarantee, you know, majority of these cars didn’t have seatbelts. You know, that adds back into the, you know, F1 race stuff like that in the open wheel single seater, you know, they want to be thrown from the car, but you’re talking, you know, these closed coupes, you know, you’d think you’d want to be kind of locked down, but a lot of them probably didn’t have seatbelts in, let alone, you know, safety harness, you know, you’re not talking roll cages or anything like that.
These were elegant cars, you know, leather interiors just laid out. I mean, beautiful cars. The technology and what was, how these cars were built, there wasn’t a massive job, you know, pre war is building up, it’s getting there, but then also in the war derails everything in regards to progress and technology advancement.
Then all of a sudden, you know, the war ends and you’re [01:47:00] basically dealing with. technology from pre war, mid late 30s. There wasn’t any vast because everything went to the war. So I mean, all of a sudden you’re back into going race that, but you’re actually working with and racing with technology and that from the 30s.
It’s playing catch up and then obviously it takes those few years to get those. Advancements going and start trying new things and kind of really, you know, getting those engineering down, you gradually see it, but then all of a sudden you can see in those five, six years when they started going back again from 47 to 53, okay, now that five, six years, so everything’s.
Caught up. Now we’ve tried these things. Hey, we could do this whatnot. Hey, we’re taking this technology from, you know, airplanes or this and that we’re gonna dump it into here and do these things. So you start getting to that point where you’re going to see that big jump from 53 to 54, you know, and not only seeing the fact that it’s an Italian basically only race in the beginning here, but now you’re starting to see these other manufacturers from different countries starting to participate.
You know, so you got your, you know, Jaguar company, you got Porsche, you [01:48:00] got Mercedes, you know, you got these guys starting to show up with these cars. That, you know, Hey, they’re new to the scene, but now you’re starting to see the expansion. You know, you still have these hundreds and hundreds of cars starting, but you know, you’re not seeing 95 percent of them in Italian built cars.
You’re starting to see them from outside it. It’s kind of interesting how these things are progressing in regards to just advancement. and technology and what they were working with. Pretty impressive. And just the shape of the cars, you know, you look at the pre war stuff. The look of those cars, you know, when you think pre war, you’re thinking Bentleys and stuff like that.
And that’s what a lot of these look like. Look at the SSK, how those things were, you know, almost they say cycle fendered cars and that stuff. And how it was, it wasn’t these closed full bodied cars. They had these certain looks to them, but then all of a sudden, bam, you come back post war, they’re completely different animals.
My sort of takeaways is that this is an event which sits right in the middle. of automobility. It’s like the very beginning of automobility in that it’s a city to city, flat out, run over the dogs, F everybody road [01:49:00] race. But there’s no doubt that Ferrari is the single maker who’s most associated with this race.
Sure, Fiat, well far more Fiat’s entered, but what a Ferrari is. What a grand touring luxury automobile is, that was a vehicle that could win the Mille Miglia. You know, what Ferrari is, was forged in the crucible of the Mille Miglia. So when we look at a late 20th century Ferrari like an F40, that car owes absolutely its DNA is the Mille Miglia.
And the Mille Miglia’s DNA is this beginning of motoring. So that would be my take. All right, guys, like I said before, we’re going to have a second part to this series on the Mille Miglia. We’ll get that out to you. Hopefully we should have it out next Friday for Ferrari Friday. I appreciate everyone listening and remember the motoring podcast network, motoringpodcast.
net. And don’t [01:50:00] forget to check out John’s the motor historian. We got a lot more stuff coming, so I appreciate everybody listening, but great stuff coming guys. Appreciate it. Back to you soon.
1953 Mille Miglia Complete News Reel/Documentary – AI Upscaled
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