1951 Ferrari 212: Truly a one-off
Search Driven for Ferrari for sale
From the glory days of Italian coachbuilding, this 1951 Ferrari Inter Cabriolet by Vignale is truly a one-off
Alfredo Vignale considered himself a sculptor. But rather than making art that stood still to be pondered, he created pieces with a serious turn of speed.
Having gained a little bit of attention in post-war Italy by putting sophisticated new bodies on some decidedly un-sophisticated Fiats, Vignale founded his own coachbuilding company in 1948 and very soon caught the eye of the high priest of Italian motoring, Enzo Ferrari.
The Ferrari 212 was made in 1951 -1952 and was designed as both a road and a racing car. It enjoyed immediate competition success and, powered by the latest evolution of Ferrari’s wonderful V12 engine, on the road it was about as quick as cars got at the beginning of the Fifties.
Ferrari was responsible for making everything under the skin – the parts that people who spend too much time thinking about cars insist on calling “the oily bits”. But the bodywork was outsourced to specialist coachbuilders, as was the common practice at the time.
That is why typing “Ferrari 212” into your favourite search engine will produce a bewildering array of different looking cars.
Not many more than 80 Ferrari 212s were made, but there appear to be almost that many different versions, many bodied by the other big names from the glory days of Italian coachbuilding, such as Carrozzeria Touring and Pinin Farina.
The one common thread linking all 212s is that every one of them is gorgeous. If you wanted a showcase of some of the finest coachbuilding from the middle of the 20th century – or of any era for that matter – you could do a lot worse than simply studying the different clothes worn by this single model of Ferrari.
The example here is one of just a handful of 212s made by Vignale, some hard-topped, some in cabriolet form like this. It has been fully restored in Switzerland and garlanded by the judges at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance – not a place where sloppiness is tolerated.
"This Ferrari 212 is incredibly beautiful, with a history known from new,” according to Jakob Greisen, head of the Bonhams US motoring department. “The car was with collectors pretty much from the start, including the renowned Swiss collector Charles Renaud for over three decades.”
Vignale is believed to have made just four cabriolet versions of the 212. And no two are exactly alike – just what you would expect from a sculptor, who put different flourishes into every car he built. If any car deserves to be classed as a work of art, surely this is it.
The 1951 Ferrari 212 Inter Cabriolet with coachwork by Vignale is lot 65 at the Bonhams Quail Lodge auction on August 14, estimate $2.4 million – 2.8 million (c.NZ$3.6m to NZ$4.3m).