This vintage Ferrari is the ultimate classic car

It starts with a mechanical jingling, like you’ve dropped a cutlery drawer – not the kind of sound you might associate with that ultimate festive gift for the car enthusiast who owns almost everything; UK’s oldest Ferrari, yours for around £ 1.5million. As the starter gear pulls out, the center exhaust pipe makes a crackling sound, as if a group of oily witches are circling around the crankcase of the V12 engine designed by Gioacchino Colombo. The roar and rattle gradually fades as it warms up, but this 2.0-liter unit never feels less than the racing engine it is.

“When I started, against everyone’s advice, I wanted a 12-cylinder engine, writes Enzo Ferrari,“ and this engine, which many expected to put an end to my ambition, is still recognizable by its many sons and grandsons.

As the tachometer does its chronometric and jerky dance, it is worth remembering in what world this car was born in Maranello, south of Modena, in 1949. Italy, ravaged by World War II, was a child three-year-old Democrat. republic and had just joined NATO.

The Andrews Sisters were singing I Can Dream, right? and Enzo certainly did, with victories at the 1949 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Mille Miglia road race and plenty of Formula 2 events, even though Formula 1 success seemed unlikely in the face of the might of his former employer, Alfa Romeo.

It had been two years since Ferrari, stimulated by the windfall of the huge American markets described by Luigi Chinetti, its American importer, had driven the prototype of Ferrari’s first road car, the 125S. His test ride said a lot about what Ferraris were going to be like, avoiding the nearby Apennine mountains and accelerating sharply on the straight, flat roads of Emilia Romagna. In those early Ferraris, power and speed won out over handling and braking.

“Yet the direction has always been good,” says Matthew Honeysett, sales manager for Simon Furlonger Specialist Sports Cars. Furlonger is handling the sale of this beautiful burgundy machine, the ninth Ferrari ever built and the oldest in the UK. The price is a million and a half, although Honeysett says there is room for negotiation.

Honeysett drove me to a transfer point outside Ashford on the old A28 Hastings-Broadstairs road, which winds through the Garden of England. It’s the kind of roads this car was designed for, where you don’t notice the front nodding its head over its cross-suspension double wishbones and hydraulic shocks, or the rattle of the solid-suspension rear axle. with blades. Winding, winding roads; kind of like this car really.

Compared to Furlonger’s more normal fare, this is a subtle distinction. The 575 Maranello, 348, Testarossa and other modern Ferraris look sleeker and flashier, but they almost turn away from the shrill, angry bark of the 166 Inter as it drives into the workshop. A few aficionados are watching a modern Ferrari outside the Furlonger showroom and you can see them scrolling through the calculations of their planned purchase against this extraordinary machine. You get there in a modern supercar; you arrival in something like this …

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