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Don’t judge a book by its cover. Especially when it’s an old race car.
A rare Ferrari estimated to be worth millions that’s up for sale this week at the Mecum Auctions event in Indianapolis event was once purchased for $200.
The 1952 340 America was one of 24 built and competed in the 1952 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it finished in fifth place.
After that it was shipped to the United States, where it continued being raced and eventually had its 4.1-liter V12 replaced with a Chevrolet V8.
The Ferrari (14) can be seen in this photo from the start of the 1952 24 Hours of Le Mans
(FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Damage to the original Vignale-designed body led to it being turned into an open-top roadster and later equipped with a fiberglass Devin Spider bodykit.
Devins, like this one (30) are a common site on the vintage racing circuit.
(Michael Cole/Corbis via Getty Images))
According to Mecum, the car disappeared from the public eye around 1963 until it was purchased at a garage sale for $200 by drag racer Mike Sanfilippo, who didn’t know what it was or its history.
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“I heard about it, and the guy wanted $200. His kid had abandoned it in his garage, and he wanted his garage back. I took my trailer and picked it up. I bought it for the cool body,” Sanfilippo told the Chicago Tribune.
1952 Ferrari 340 America
Sanfilippo planned to use it to build a custom hot rod, but never went ahead with the project.
Instead, still not fully aware of what the car was, he listed it on Ebay and sold it to classic car restorer Tom Shaughnessy who intended to restore it as a Devin until he brought in an expert and uncovered its true provenance.
1952 Ferrari 340 America
Even in its condition, the chassis was essentially priceless, so Shaughnessy enlisted the help of the factory Ferrari Classiche restoration department to bring it back to its original glory at a cost surely in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
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The factory-installed V12 engine hasn’t been found, but the French Blue car now features a period-correct replacement along with the same kind of 4-speed manual transmission it used at Le Mans.
The car was valued at nearly $3 million at the time Schaughnessy purchased and a different 340 America sold in 2017 for over $6 million.
The car is being offered through the Mecum Gallery direct sale program, rather than its main auction, and the asking price has not been listed, but interested parties can contact Mecum directly to discuss.
Unlike at the auction event, which this year includes a multimillion-dollar Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda, any price paid for the Ferrari will be private unless the buyer decides to reveal it.