Crossroads

The 250 Europa was Ferrari’s first foray into standardized production—but this one-off Cabriolet marks a fascinating detour.

November 27, 2014
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Prior to the introduction of the 250 GT, Ferrari built touring cars in runs of one to as many as five. These 166s, 195s and 212 Inters wore bodies designed by Ghia, Bertone, Vignale, Touring, Boano and/or Pinin Farina (which became Pininfarina in 1961). While each was a Ferrari, each bore the individual aesthetic of its design house, as well as whatever details were requested by the client. As a result, mechanically identical cars often varied significantly in appearance.

This business model presented several problems. The lead time to build a one-off (or five-off) car was lengthy. The market for such machinery was limited, which kept production numbers, and revenue, low. Once a car had been delivered, there was no other car to exhibit that might entice future buyers. Last but not least, despite the cars’ significance as the product of an already famous racing company, there was little visually that tied them all together as Ferraris.

By the early 1950s, Enzo Ferrari recognized the need for a different kind of road car. He wanted consistent design that established a brand identity for the growing American and European markets. He also wanted to increase production numbers through standardization. In short, he wanted a mass-produced car, and so, at the Paris Auto Show in October 1953, the 250 Europa debuted.

The road to standardization wasn’t seamless, however. Of the 21 Europas built, only 15 were more-or-less identical Pinin Farina-bodied coupes. The other six examples were three Vignale coupes, one Ghia coupe, one Cabriolet by Vignale and our feature car, the sole Pinin Farina 250 Europa Cabriolet (s/n 0311EU).

AFTER PRODUCTION OF THE 212 INTER concluded, Pinin Farina became the exclusive designer of Ferrari touring cars. The firm took on responsibility for the design and construction of the 250 Europa prototype. When the prototype was completed, it was sent to Maranello to be inspected by Enzo Ferrari. Once approved, the job of “mass production” fell to Carrozzeria Scaglietti.

S/n 0311 was delivered new to U.S. Ferrari importer Luigi Chinetti, Sr. and shown, in its original shell grey exterior with green interior, at the ’54 New York Auto Show. Missing roof aside, the Cabriolet looks very much like the 15 Pinin Farina-penned coupes. For example, s/n 0311 retains the closed car’s large, elongated oval grille but trades its full-width front bumper for a pair of wraparound quarter bumpers which cradle the lower corners of the front fenders. The nearly horizontal lower section of the grille sits at the same level as the bumpers, visually continuing the bumper line across the front of the car.

Also from Issue 139

  • 458 Speciale A preview
  • 308 GT4
  • F60 America first look
  • Ferrari's Racing Though the Decades show
  • FORZA Tifosi Challenge: Miami Homestead
  • F1: Things Fall Apart
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