The Ferrari 401S, “…the best Ferrari I ever drove.”–Carroll Shelby
Long before Carroll Shelby became a famed sports-car constructor he was a US SCCA champion racing driver. The car he called “the best Ferrari I ever drove” was a Ferrari 410S.
The Ferrari 410S was a creation of Enzo Ferrari and coach builder Sergio Scaglietti.
As with most of Il Commodatore’s competition cars, the Ferrari 410S used the best of what he, his engineers and designers knew at the time.
The chassis technology began with the Le Mans-winning 375 Plus, the frame was strengthened and the wheelbase reduced for better handling. The front suspension replaced the leaf springs with coils at the corners.
The V-12 sprung from the 410 Superamerica’s and was Ferrari’s largest ever at the time, at 4962cc. It had a twin-ignition system with 4 distributors for the 2-sparking plugs-per-cylinder heads.
Output hit the 400-hp mark, and was transmitted to the rear wheels via a 5-speed gearbox.
By Y 1955, Sergio Scaglietti’s design themes had matured so that the Ferrari 410S was a piece of rolling art.
Its proportions were superb, having the right curves to give it a very sexy shape, yet extremely aggressive, thanks in part to the large air intake necessary to cover the engine’s 3 46 DCF/3 Webers.
The Ferrari 410 S caught the eye of legendary American car-builder Carroll Shelby.
The model 1st appeared in January 1956 at the 1,000 km of Buenos Aires, 2 competed, 1 set a new lap record, and both retired with broken transaxles.
That performance caught the attention of John Edgar, one of Ferrari’s most active American clients. Mr. Edgar wound up with 1 of the 2 Buenos Aires cars and went on to win 1956’s SCCA Championship with Carroll Shelby driving.
“It was the best Ferrari I ever drove,” Mr. Shelby told John Edgar’s son, William, in FORZA magazine. “We never even changed the plugs that came in it, not for about the 1st 7 or 8 races! The car had a different timing system. It did not even sound like other Ferraris.”
While the Ferrari 410S may not have made much of an impact in Europe, it helped make Ferrari’s reputation as the car to beat in US endurance sports-car racing.
Have a terrific weekend.