This Ferrari 857 Sport (s/n 0588M) is the final example of four such four-cylinder Scaglietti-bodied cars built. It is the only 857 with a tail fin and, because of its prominent owners and provenance over the past 57 years, it is arguably the best known of the “Monza Spyders.”
My father, team owner John Edgar, bought s/n 0588 from the Ferrari factory in February 1956. While the 857 was described to him as new, it was widely believed the car had been driven—and crashed—by factory pilot Olivier Gendebien during practice for the RAC TT at Northern Ireland’s Dundrod circuit in September 1955. Whatever the case, my father quickly put the Ferrari into the hands of his drivers, Jack McAfee and Carroll Shelby, and they road-raced it all around the United States throughout the ’56 season.
I wrote about the Ferrari and its history, which after my father’s ownership included a few Corvette V8 engines, drag racing and a repaint with Andy Warhol, in issue #54’s “Sexy Beast.” Beyond that story, I hadn’t thought too much about the car in recent years—at least until my phone rang in December 2010. It wasn’t a call I was expecting, but it was one I was thrilled to get.
The British gentleman on the other end of the line introduced himself as Jeremy Cottingham, son of David Cottingham, whose DK Engineering in Hertfordshire, England had just purchased and was ready to restore s/n 0588. Jeremy told me he’d seen a photograph of the car “racing past pine trees at Pebble Beach” in the hands of Jack McAfee, and that DK’s goal was to restore the car to its condition at that time. Thus, the Cottingham clan—father David and adult sons Jeremy, James and Justin—wanted all the detailed pictures and information they could muster. “It’s got to look right, and it’s got to be right,” said Jeremy. I couldn’t have agreed more.
I soon began emailing Jeremy photographs of s/n 0588 that had been shot by my father, a wary man, as references in case he had needed to repair the car. These photos were exactly what the Cottinghams hoped they would be: crisp blow-ups from 35mm, and some from 4×5 sheet film so detailed that the smallest wrench nicks on nuts and bolts could be seen, while weld beads billowed to reveal how they were laid. The images had remained in my archives for decades, and a deal was made to put them to good use.
DK ENGINEERING WAS FOUNDED IN 1977 by then 35-year-old David Cottingham and his wife Kate. “I liked Ferraris and I could see an opening when there was only one guy in England, David Clark, who was good doing work on old Ferraris,” he told me. Impressively, Cottingham, who had honed his skills on Austin 7s and Jaguars, had done his first Ferrari restoration just four years earlier, restoring in his home garage a 365 GTC he’d managed to afford while working by day at Kodak’s vast research lab in Harrow and at night studying for his Physics qualifications.
But, as they say, some things were meant to be. Today, DK has 28 employees, and has over the years restored a staggering variety and volume of everything Ferrari from Barchetta to BB/LM. And I was fascinated to discover that David Cottingham’s connection to s/n 0588 began a couple of decades before his son called me.