Ferrari 500 Mondial Series II 1955
Offered from 58 Years of Continuous Ownership
1st in Class at the 1955 Grand Prix of Venezuela
Coachwork by Scaglietti
Designed by Dino Ferrari
Chassis: 0556 (0446) MD
1,985 CC Tipo 111 DOHC Inline 4-Cylinder Engine
Twin Weber 40 DCOA/3 Carburetors
173.5 BHP at 7,000 RPM
5-Speed Non-Synchromesh Manual Transaxle with Limited-Slip Differential
4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes
Front Independent Coil-Spring Suspension with Houdaille Shock Absorbers
Rear De Dion Axle with Transverse Leaf Spring and Houdaille Shock Absorbers
Rare Series II 500 Mondial; Campaigned by Scuderia Ferrari in 1955.
Illustrious Competition Record Includes Class Wins at Caracas and Sebring.
Raced in Period by Famous Drivers Including Munaron, Schell, Castellotti, and Rubirosa.
Exacting 100-Point Restoration; Presented in 1955 Grand Prix of Venezuela Livery.
Concours Awards Include First in Class at Pebble Beach and Best of Show at Cavallino.
Offered Directly from Rear Admiral Robert Phillips, Owner for the Past 58 Years.
In 1953, Ferrari unveiled its first four-cylinder production sports car – the 500 Mondial, named in honor of Alberto Ascari’s two Grand Prix World Driving Championships.
The 500 Mondial featured a two-liter, twin-cam, four-cylinder engine designed by Chief Engineer Aurelio Lampredi. This engine, the Tipo 110, was a direct development from the inline four used by Ferrari’s champion 500 F2 Grand Prix cars. It featured gear-driven camshafts, dry sump lubrication, hemispherical combustion chambers, and screw-in cylinder liners. Each cylinder displaced just under 500 cc, hence the “500” in the model name.
In total, 21 examples of the original 500 Mondial were built. Most wore Pinin Farina bodies, although several featured Scaglietti coachwork designed by Dino Ferrari. The 500 Mondial was successful from the outset, with class wins at Barcelona, Casablanca, Imola, and the Mille Miglia.
For the 1955 season, Ferrari unveiled a significantly improved Series II Mondial, which incorporated myriad mechanical and aesthetic revisions.
Whereas Series I Mondials were built on the Tipo 501 chassis, Series II cars utilized the Tipo 510 chassis shared with the three-liter 750 Monza. This robust chassis featured oval rather than straight-section round tubing, a new five-speed transaxle, and a larger 150-liter fuel tank. While the Series II Mondial featured the same De Dion rear axle as its predecessor, a modern coil-spring front suspension replaced the earlier car’s transverse leaf-spring arrangement. All Series II Mondials were fashioned with open coachwork by Scaglietti, though changes had been made to the original design, including a faired-in windscreen and revised dashboard.
A new, improved engine, developed from the 553 F2 car, powered the Series II Mondial. Internally designated as Tipo 111, this engine featured a wide-angle cylinder head (85° versus 58°), revised stud pattern, and simplified dual-coil ignition. The Tipo 111 produced about 170 bhp at 7,000 rpm, a gain of 10–15 bhp over its predecessor.
The 500 Mondial Series II presented here is surely the finest example of this rare breed of sports racing Ferrari, of which just eight were produced. The history of this magnificent car can be traced to early 1955, when it was built for its first owner, François Picard.
A gentleman driver from Nice, France, Picard already owned one of the first experimental four-cylinder Ferrari sports cars – a 735 Sport, numbered 0446 MD. Presumably in an effort to avoid having the 500 Mondial characterized as a new car by the government, Picard asked Ferrari to re-use the 735 Sport’s serial number when constructing his new car.
Keen to please a loyal client, Ferrari obliged and stamped 0446 MD into the Mondial’s frame, rather than 0556 MD as it would have done in the normal manufacturing sequence. The riveted data tag recorded both engine and chassis numbers as 0446 MD. Ever since, this car has been identified by Ferrari historians as 0556 (0446) MD to reflect its identity in sequence of manufacture, as well as its original stamping by the factory.
Completed in May 1955, the 500 Mondial Series II was painted light blue, the traditional national racing color of France, with contrasting red vinyl upholstery. Ferrari test driver Sergio Sighinolfi road-tested the car before it was turned over to Picard, and the Mondial was registered in Modena as “MO 33744” – the same number that had been used on the 735 Sport.
On May 15, 1955, Picard and his friend Paul Maret entered the 500 Mondial in its first competitive outing, the 24 Heures Grand Prix de Paris – Bol d’Or at Montlhéry. Two weeks later, Maret entered the car at the 12 Hours d’Hyères, where Italian ace Gino Munaron drove it. In the ninth hour, the Mondial’s engine, like several of its brethren, broke a connecting rod, damaging the crankcase.
As a result, the car returned to the factory, where a replacement motor had been built using a new, spare crankcase paired with the cylinder head from the prototype Tipo 111 engine. This engine was then stamped 0446 MD and installed in time for Munaron to participate in the Imola Shell Cup, in which he finished 6th Overall.
From there, Munaron entered the Mondial in two hill climbs – Caserta and Reggio Calabria – finishing 5th and 4th, respectively. His final race in the Ferrari took place at the Treponti-Castelnuovo Hillclimb on October 2, 1955, where he came in 6th Overall.
Later that fall, the Mondial was traded back to Ferrari toward a new 500 TR. This took place just in time for the Mondial to join the Scuderia Ferrari team at the inaugural Grand Prix of Venezuela, held on November 6, 1955, at the new Próceres Circuit in Caracas. Scuderia Ferrari entered three cars – an 857 Sport for Eugenio Castellotti, a 121 LM for Umberto Maglioli, and this Mondial for Harry Schell. This marked the only occasion that a blue Series II 500 Mondial was campaigned by the Scuderia Ferrari factory team.
About halfway through the race, Schell was called into the pits and replaced by Castellotti, whose 857 S had retired early. Ferrari’s star driver demonstrated his prowess behind the wheel of the Mondial, working his way through the field to finish 1st in Class and 5th Overall. In doing so, he set the fastest lap time for the two-liter class, which was only two seconds off the fastest lap of the race recorded by Juan Manuel Fangio in his winning three-liter Maserati.
Within one month of its win at Venezuela, the Mondial was sold to Porfirio Rubirosa, the legendary Dominican diplomat, playboy, and racing driver. That December, Rubirosa debuted the Mondial at the Bahamas Speed Week in Nassau, the car still sporting its Scuderia shields from Caracas. He placed 1st in Class in the Governor’s Trophy and 2nd in Class in the Ferrari Classic race, but he left early to play polo in Miami for his team. For the final race, the Nassau Trophy, Rubirosa loaned the Mondial to Cincinnati racer Ebby Lunken, who captured yet another 1st in Class.
Following Nassau, Rubirosa sent the Ferrari to Luigi Chinetti, who repainted it dark blue. In this form, 0556 (0446) MD was entered in the 12 Hours of Sebring in March 1956, marking the first appearance of a Series II Mondial at a US race. For this important endurance contest in Florida, Rubirosa enlisted Jim Pauley to serve as his co-driver, and the pair went on to an impressive 1st in Class and 10th Overall finish.
Having raced at Nassau and Sebring, Rubirosa sold the Mondial to Charles Hassan, a successful amateur racer and foreign car dealer in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hassan proceeded to race the Ferrari at several SCCA events, including Elkhart Lake, Akron, and Smartt Field, with good results.
After repainting the car red, Hassan shipped it to Nassau, where it once again took part in the Bahamas Speed Week. While racing in the Governor’s Trophy, Hassan was struck in the right rear quarter by an Arnolt Bristol, driven by none other than Stanley H. “Wacky” Arnolt, an eccentric American automobile enthusiast and businessman who imported foreign cars. Despite the body damage, Hassan raced the Ferrari in two more events, finishing last in the all-Ferrari race and 5th in Class in the Nassau Trophy. After a final outing in the US, Hassan advertised the Ferrari for sale, displaying it on the showroom floor of his dealership in Cincinnati, Raymond Motors.
In spring 1959, the Mondial was sold to Robert Ready Davis from Connersville, Indiana. Davis, a traveling salesman who raced in USAC events, repaired the rear bodywork and refinished the car in bright blue. That summer, Davis raced the Ferrari in several sports car events throughout the Midwest such as Louisville, Lawrenceville, Stout Field, and Meadowdale in suburban Chicago. His last outing in the Mondial took place at the Road America 500 at Elkhart Lake in September 1959, where the differential seized, forcing an early retirement.
Over the winter of 1959–60, Davis’ employer transferred him from Ohio to Northern California, so he loaded up the Ferrari and headed west. Once he arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area, he arranged to have the Ferrari stored in the service department of a local Rambler dealership.
It was in this unlikely locale that Robert Phillips, a young sports car enthusiast and junior officer assigned to the Naval Air Station in Oakland, first encountered the Mondial. Thrilled by his discovery and determined to rescue the forlorn Ferrari, Phillips managed to track down the car’s owner, negotiate a purchase, and secure a loan from his bank – for nearly two-thirds of his yearly salary.
He initially wrote to Ferrari in search of a parts book or workshop manual for guidance while repairing the car. When Ferrari replied, explaining that no such literature existed, he took the company’s advice and drove to Hollywood to get a repair quote from the authorized distributor. Dismayed that the given quote far exceeded his purchase price of the car, he drove home determined to undertake the work himself.
Upon his return to Oakland, Phillips convinced the skeptical manager of the Naval Air Station auto hobby shop to set aside a corner for his Ferrari project. Over the next nine months, he managed to repair the Ferrari’s engine, transaxle, and bodywork, a process that consumed his almost every available moment and dollar.
The Mondial, now in running order and refinished in gleaming red lacquer, was immediately put to good use. Phillips drove it to the necessary RDC Driving Schools, obtained his novice racing driver’s permit, and entered the car in the Georgetown Hillclimb on March 26, 1961. In his first competitive outing with the Ferrari, he placed 1st in Class and 10th Overall. It was a remarkable achievement.
Phillips participated in a few other local events, but his increasingly busy naval career left limited opportunities to enjoy the Mondial. When he was transferred to Bayonne, New Jersey, in the mid-1960s, Phillips drove the decade-old Ferrari sports racing car cross-country and continued to race the car on the East Coast, schedule permitting. After participating in the Bryar Motorsport Park SCCA Driver School in 1968, the Ferrari was retired from active competition.
The Navy sent Phillips around the world over the next two decades. He eventually settled in Washington, D.C., where he was promoted to Rear Admiral, with duties as the paymaster general of the Navy.
Only after retirement from the Navy in 1988 did Admiral Phillips, along with his wife and son, begin to seriously research the early history of his Mondial. Over time, they uncovered its fascinating provenance, its successful racing record, and connection to famous drivers like Rubirosa, Munaron, Schell, and Castellotti. It became abundantly clear that the Admiral was the custodian of a beautiful, historic piece of machinery; he felt a responsibility to restore this car to its original glory, so that future generations would have the opportunity to appreciate a four-cylinder sports racing Ferrari in its period guise.
Starting in 2000, Admiral Phillips began an eight-year restoration. He rebuilt all the powertrain components himself, and he enlisted the help of respected Ferrari specialist David Carte to restore the bodywork and ancillary systems. Throughout the restoration, every effort was made to preserve original detail wherever possible, leaving certain components with a well-earned patina, rather than restoring them to as-new condition. Significantly, the Mondial still remained in excellent original order, retaining the chassis, engine, transaxle, and most of the Scaglietti bodywork supplied by Ferrari in 1955.
Along the way, the decision was made to return the Mondial to the livery it wore during the Grand Prix of Venezuela, where it scored a class win for Scuderia Ferrari. The elegant light blue finish was matched to an undisturbed section of original paint discovered on the dash panel, and the interior was re-trimmed in red vinyl, as Scaglietti had done.
The Mondial’s post-restoration debut took place at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® in August 2008. Exhibited in the Ferrari Competition class, the Mondial’s exceptional history and dedicated restoration effort earned it both First in Class and the Enzo Ferrari Trophy, a special award given to the best Ferrari on the field as determined by Piero Ferrari and Jean Todt.
Since its victory at Pebble Beach a decade ago, the Mondial has achieved universal acclaim on the show field. Its most important honors include the Scuderia Ferrari Cup and La Coppa Per Quattro Cilindri at the 2009 Cavallino Classic, as well as Best of Show and Best Competition Ferrari at both the 2009 Reading Ferrari Concours and the 2010 FCA National Meet. Beyond these achievements, the Mondial has collected other significant trophies including FCA Platinum Awards, the HVA Automotive Heritage Award, and numerous Best of Show, First in Class, and People’s Choice honors.
Part of the car’s success on the show field is due to the exhaustive file of documentation that Admiral Phillips compiled during the course of restoration. In researching this car’s history, he carefully studied the production of Mondials, and he has become recognized as one of the foremost experts in four-cylinder Ferrari sports cars.
The meticulously organized file that accompanies 0556 (0446) MD contains copies of the factory build sheets; Automobile Club d’Italia registration records; a letter from Ferrari to Phillips (dated 11/17/60); a Ferrari Classiche Heritage Certificate (certificate no. 002001, dated 11/07/03); research and restoration files; and a collection of period photographs that document virtually every race the Mondial participated in. To say this car is well documented is a profound understatement.
Without question, the 500 Mondial is among the great competition Ferraris of the 1950s, a model that successfully combined the firm’s unrivaled expertise in the manufacture of exotic sports racing and Grand Prix machines.
The car presented here is arguably the finest surviving example of the extremely rare and greatly improved Series II Mondial. During its first five years, this Ferrari was driven in more than two dozen races, on three continents, on courses ranging from the most venerable European circuits to converted airport runways in the American Midwest. During its active racing career, this car generally placed well in the overall standings and captured significant class wins at the Grand Prix of Venezuela, Nassau, and Sebring. While other 500 Mondials may lay claim to an illustrious race record or rich provenance, none has had a more loyal and devoted caretaker than this beautiful French Racing Blue Scaglietti Spider.
Gooding & Company is truly honored to present this magnificent Mondial at our Pebble Beach Auctions on behalf of Admiral Phillips, a gentleman whose 58 years with this car will likely remain a record for the longest continuous ownership of a competition Ferrari. The fortunate new owner will have the opportunity to add a new chapter to this car’s rich history.
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