1956 Ferrari 290 MM at RM Sotheby’s

This December, RM Sotheby’s will present more than 40 hand-selected, blue-chip automobiles at its first auction at The Petersen Automotive Museum (8. December, Los Angeles). Estimated to achieve $22 million to $26 million, the sale’s star lot will be a 1956 Ferrari 290 MM with a significant motorsport pedigree.

Campaigned by Scuderia Ferrari for the 1956 and 1957 seasons, the fully matching-numbers, Ferrari Classiche-certified 290 MM was piloted by an amazing assortment of factory team drivers including Juan Manuel Fangio, Phil Hill, Peter Collins, Wolfgang von Trips, Olivier Gendebien, Eugenio Castellotti and later, Sir Stirling Moss, in some of the most prestigious race events in the world.

The 290 MM was developed by Ferrari to contest the 1956 World Sports Car Championship and the Mille Miglia, hence the MM initials, and to reclaim dominance over past and present competitor—Mercedes-Benz—and its great domestic rival, Maserati. For Enzo Ferrari, this was just as important as his efforts to win the Formula One World Championship. Chassis no. 0628, set for RM Sotheby’s Petersen Museum sale, was the fourth and final example ever built. Equipped with an all-new powertrain, composed of the Tipo 130 V-12, 3,490 cc engine, with highly developed cylinder heads, high-lift camshaft, bigger valves, twin spark plugs, 9:1 compression ratio and dry sump, coupled with the Tipo 520 transaxle, the 290 MM was the car to bring the manufacturer title back to Maranello for the third time. Bodied by Scaglietti, the 290 MM is a truly impressive, brutal, and beautiful machine.

In serving for the Scuderia Ferrari team, the racing history of this 290 MM speaks for itself. At its debut in the 1956 Mille Miglia in 860 Monza specifications, chassis no. 0628 finished 2nd overall while wearing number #551, piloted by Peter Collins and Louis Klemantaski. In the same year, Olivier Gendebien and Hans Hermann took the car to 4th at the Targa Florio in Sicily, while Umberto Maglioli finished in 2nd place with the car in the XVIII Aosta-Gran San Bernardo Hillclimb, also in Italy. The legendary Fangio raced the car in the Swedish Grand Prix just months later. Upgraded to 290 MM specifications by the factory in 1957, its remit outside Italy extended as Alfonso de Portago, Wolfgang von Trips and Eugenio Castellotti finished 3rd in the 1000km Buenos Aires, and two months later the car entered the 12 Hours of Sebring with Phil Hill and von Trips at the wheel.

Now under private ownership, Sir Stirling Moss slid behind the wheel at the 1957 Bahamas Speed Weeks and drove the car to victory in both the Memorial Race and the Nassau Trophy Race. The car spent the next five decades in America, first earning multiple podium and first-in-class finishes at a variety of national races between 1958 and 1961, and then spending time in several highly notable private collections. From there, chassis no. 0628 was sold to a collector in England in 2008 and driven in the Tribute to Juan Manuel Fangio Parade during the Goodwood Revival in 2011. Later that year it was passed to its current owner, before undergoing a full, concours-quality restoration by Ferrari Classiche in Italy to its 1957 12 Hours of Sebring configuration, the final race it entered as a Scuderia Ferrari Works car.