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1955 Ferrari 121 LM Spider by Scaglietti

RM Sotheby's

1955 Ferrari 121 LM Spider by Scaglietti
RM Sotheby's
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SH ID

23-0527001

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FEATURED BY SPEEDHOLICS

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Sold

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France

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Description

TO BE OFFERED FOR AUCTION IN LE MANS, FRANCE ON 9 JUNE 2023

TEXT & IMAGES COURTESY OF RMSOTHEBY'S


Chassis No. 0546 LM

Engine No. 0546 LM

Gearbox No. 52 SN

Documents US Title

To be offered on Friday, 9 June 2023

Scuderia Ferrari Works car driven at the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans and 1955 Mille Miglia

 

Rival to the era’s most successful performers; witness to two of the most seismic moments in motorsport history

 

Raced by Ferrari Works drivers Maurice Trintignant, Harry Schell, and Piero Taruffi

 

One of only four surviving Ferrari 121 LMs built

 

Complete nut-and-bolt restoration to 1955 Le Mans specification carried out by Ferrari Classiche between 2018 and 2023

 

Ferrari Classiche certified; confirmed to retain its full matching numbers drivetrain

Addendum: Please note this lot has entered the EU on a temporary import bond, which must be cancelled either by exporting the lot outside of the EU on an approved Bill of Lading with supporting customs documentation or by paying the applicable VAT and import duties to have the lot remain in the EU. Please also note this car will be taken to Ferrari Maranello following the sale. The successful buyer will need to organise onward transport from Maranello accordingly. Veuillez noter que ce lot a été introduit dans l'UE avec un cautionnement d'importation temporaire, qui devra être soldé par réexportation hors de l'UE avec un connaissement (bon de chargement) accompagné de ses documents douaniers, ou par paiement de la TVA et des droits de douane applicables s'il doit demeurer dans l'UE. Veuillez noter que cette voiture sera transportée après la vente chez Ferrari, à Maranello. L'adjudicataire devra par conséquent organiser le transport de la voiture depuis Maranello. By 1955, Mercedes-Benz’s 300 SLR presented a challenge that could not be met by Ferrari’s V-12 racers, nor the nimble four-cylinder 750 Monza, prompting Il Commendatore to commission Aurelio Lampredi to create a more powerful straight-six powerplant. The advanced 3,747-cc engine found a home in the 118 LM—a sportscar designed to take on the Three-Pointed Star at the 1955 Mille Miglia. Chassis 0546 LM was one of four Works cars built for the event, taking to the start line in Brescia wearing #728, with Ferrari Works driver Piero Taruffi at the wheel. The Scuderia’s 118 LMs were the cars most feared by history makers Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson, but none more so than chassis 0546 LM and ‘the most dangerous rival of them all, that master tactician, Taruffi’, recalled “Jenks” in the June 1955 issue of Motor Sport. Setting off five minutes after the famous Silver Arrow, the Italian set a blistering pace, leading the 300 SLR for much of the race and smashing all records on the charge to Pescara. Devastatingly for Taruffi, his Ferrari suffered an oil pump failure after five hours of flat-out racing, forcing him to retire halfway to the finish. Following disappointment at the Mille Miglia, chassis 0546 LM returned to Maranello, where it was converted to full 121 LM specification. Enlarged to 4,412 cc and fitted with three side-draught Weber carburettors, the uprated straight-six now produced a tyre-shredding 360 brake horsepower. The Ferrari’s greatest test came at Le Mans, where the Scuderia fielded a trio of 121 LMs. Chassis 0546 LM was driven by French ace Maurice Trintignant and American Harry Schell, but it was Eugenio Castellotti in its sister car, chassis 0532 LM, who fired the first warning shots in practice; the Italian clocked the fastest lap, tearing through the Mulsanne speed trap at a dizzying 291 km/h. “Castellotti just left us both standing,” recalled Mike Hawthorn, “laying incredible long tracks of molten rubber on the road as he roared away.” Ferrari’s battle with Jaguar and Mercedes saw the lap record smashed no fewer than 10 times, but the 121 LMs were not able to endure the pace for a full 24 hours. After 52 laps, Castellotti pulled up in defeat, followed a few hours later by Phil Hill and Umberto Maglioli. That left chassis 0546 LM—along with reigning champion Maurice Trintignant—to defend Ferrari’s honour. They did so with aplomb, taking the fight to eventual winner Hawthorn until the 10th hour, when the Lampredi powerplant could take no more; spent, both car and driver were forced to retire after 107 laps. The heroic effort at Le Mans marked the end of chassis 0546 LM’s Works career, and it was sold at the close of the season. It would go on to race with success in North America, before its second lease of life ended tragically in April 1956 when on lap 33 of the Del Monte Trophy race at Pebble Beach, Ernie McAfee lost control of the 121 LM and suffered a fatal accident following a front end impact. Later restored, the Ferrari appeared at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1974, 1975, and 1976. Since leaving the factory, this 121 LM has had just four private owners over the ensuing almost 70 years. In 2018, chassis 0546 LM was sent to Maranello, where it was the subject of a no-expense-spared five-year restoration that was completed in 2023. The car’s Scaglietti coachwork was painstakingly returned to its correct 1955 Le Mans configuration, including reinstatement of period features such as the central fuel filler, brake cooling ducts, and reprofiled doors. The mechanical components were overhauled—including a gearbox rebuild—while the chassis was straightened and repaired; the chassis stamp, which was lost during the previous restoration, was reinstated. Chassis 0546 LM was further awarded Ferrari Classiche certification, and is accompanied by its “Red Book” detailing its matching-numbers chassis, engine, and gearbox. A witness to motorsport’s most profound and indelible moments and veteran of the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans and 1955 Mille Miglia, this truly remarkable and ferociously quick sportscar is a rare survivor from one of the most glittering periods of Ferrari history.