In 1957, if one wanted a truly exclusive sports car, that person might well have to know someone, regardless of how wealthy or well-known that person might be. In the late 1950s, it was possible to obtain a Ferrari in much the same way that it is done now. Specialty importers and dealers would be contacted, paperwork drawn up, and the deal be done.
Of the 34 Superamerica Ferraris built, each is a special rarity. One was hand built by Sergio Scaglietti himself. Another was owned by the Shah of Iran. Only the extremely wealthy and well-connected could commission their one-of-a-kind Superamerica. These were predominantly coachbuilt grand touring cars, and as such, no two are exactly alike. Owners could specify every detail of the car’s construction, from special paint colors to the interior layout.
Among classic cars, the Ferrari 410 Superamerica Coupe is legendary not only for its scarcity, but for its auction prices. Recent auctions have seen notable examples fetch nearly three million dollars. Even the less desirable examples such as those that carried Pinin Farina bodywork are regularly valued at over a million dollars. In 1957, one of these automobiles could be purchased for just $16,800. Of course, this was an astronomical sum at the time, more than twice the price of the Mercedes-Benz 300SL gull wing coupe, and more than three times the average American’s annual salary. Adjusting for inflation, the 410 sold for more than $126,000
The First 1957 410 Superamerica
The 410 Superamerica Coupe was a successor to Ferrari’s 375 America model. It was initially commissioned in 1956 by a gentleman named Dottore Wax, an Italian importer of luxury merchandise. The car was to feature aluminum bodywork, stainless steel trim and a 340-horsepower V-12 engine. The first 410 built would be constructed entirely by Sergio Scaglietti. Unfortunately, this car, which was chassis number 0671SA, would eventually be stolen and stripped of its aluminum bodywork. It was recovered in the late 1980s and purchased by a well-known collector of vintage Ferraris. After obtaining the engine and chassis, the original team who had built the car were reassembled to handle its restoration. Scaglietti rebuilt the original body using renderings that had been used in 1956, and the process took no less than two full years. The car has since won multiple concours events around the world.
These classic cars were released in three series. The first, series I, was 200 mm longer than its successor, the series II. The advantage was that the shorter car had a sportier appearance and slightly improved handling. Series II 1957 410 Superamericas are extraordinarily rare, and a well-preserved example recently sold for nearly three million dollars at auction. The Superamerica III added triple Weber carburetors to the V12 engine, increasing the car’s horsepower to as high as 360, an almost unheard-of power figure at the time.
The Superamerica was designed primarily with road worthy luxury in mind. The interior of the car would feature natural leather upholstery, intricately-stitched carpet and padding, and wood trim. The V-12 engine was nearly exactly the same as those of Ferrari’s most recent formula one cars that had enjoyed such success in the mid-1950s. The roof of coupe models was constructed of stainless steel for light weight and strength.
Being one of the rarest exotic cars in the world, these are difficult automobiles to spot. A few museums around the world have several examples, and occasionally, one is entered into competition at Pebble Beach. While an enthusiast can consider himself lucky to own one, the same can be said for someone able to see one in person.