Ferrari 400 Super America: Awarded and Appreciated
Ferrari 400 Super America chassis number 3747 looked pretty good on arrival. The last short wheelbase 400 in the miniscule production run of similar cars, 3747 sported a white-over-silver two-tone paint scheme with a comfortably worn red interior.
It was a perfect "20 footer." Closer inspection, however, revealed numerous areas needing attention. 3747 was to join a particular collection of superb, award-winning Ferraris & the standard of restoration expected was simple, excellence!
Step 1, disassembly, saw car come entirely to bits with the objective to bring it back to the condition it once enjoyed on the fateful day it left its original home, the Ferrari factory. Documentation & research commenced to define the car’s pedigree.
Though acquired prior to our restoration in Europe, this car was originally imported by Luigi Chinetti for sale in the United States. Chinetti told a story about Super America 3747. Soon after importation he had the buyer coming, and wanted to be sure the car was ready. He assigned one of his mechanics to drive the car down to a nearby filling station for a splash of pre-delivery gas. The trip seemed to take a good bit longer than it should and we can only imagine the tension in the air as the mechanic pulled back into the dealership. It always happens when there is not a mark on a car and it had happened again; this top of the line shiny new Ferrari had magnetically attracted some unlucky…dare we say unaware, taxicab driver’s hack, which was carelessly drawn to the beauty of 3747’s left rear fender.
Approximately 4 decades later, with the layers of paint removed, we were pleased to see the dent still there, a little less dramatic & filled with plastic, but clearly as described. Though repainted & repaired as needed 3747, had never been restored.
Interior out, chrome & trim off and to the platers, mechanical components all to pieces, and soon 3747 was but a shell of its former self. Corrosion repair followed a thorough media blasting, then the shell & hinged panels found themselves in the Automotive Restorations Paint Shop. The correct color, Connolly hide, was located (a challenge with the then recent Connolly Bros. bankruptcy), as engine, transmission & numerous other mechanical components reached completion. Research, research & more research accompanied to be sure. 3747 had the credentials for the exacting, judged exhibits & competitions to which it was bound.
November 2002, and just the right shade of dark blue now adorns the body as various small but needed bits of “unobtainia” arrive weekly. The assembly process starts in earnest. Item by item, layer by layer, the finished product starts to peek out from the beehive of activity that surrounds it. By June, it is ready for serious testing.
This car has to perform exactly as it should. Yes, the owner will both show & drive this car. The big things are easy and soon accomplished, but each switch, latch, control or other bit of Ferrari lure must feel & function exactly as it should. A delight to undertake, but it all takes valuable time in the ramp up to Ferrari 400 Super America 3747’s debut at the 2003 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It’s always a photo finish. We cannot tell you why. Nerves intertwine with reality & expectation with apprehension. The process focuses all resources on the objective such that this thoroughbred is done, tested, preened, polished then on a truck bound for the Monterey Peninsula in late July.
We all “head West” shortly thereafter. Once looking out over the Pacific, a measure of pre-event tweaking is undertaken.
Final fussing finished and 3747 completes the 50-mile pre-event tour in fine style with nary an incident of skittish thoroughbred behavior. Sunday morning finds our entry among a field of absolutely incredible Ferraris on a lawn bathed in the best of the best. It is nearly impossible to find fault with any of the cars in our class. At day’s end, we are rewarded with a second-place finish. First has been awarded to a very special “on-off” example built specifically for one of Ferrari’s patrons of the era. We are all delighted as we load 3747 for the trip home.
Exhibit at Pebble Beach was followed by showing at Cavallino Classic in January, where the car garnered first in class, The Honorary Judges Cup and Best Restoration. 3747 was again exhibited at the 2004 Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, where it not only won its class, but was awarded best of show among a very distinguished group of Ferraris and other automobiles.
We also would like to thank David Carte for all his unselfishly offered advice & assistance. David is an extremely accomplished restorer and helped this project through several “road blocks.”
Finally, results like this depend on the focus & energy of the individual craftspeople involved. Charlie Webb, Craig Cronin, Mike Pollock, Anthony Blankley, & Jim Kinsella should all take a bow. Many thanks to one and all for a job well done.