A Victorious Ferrari 340 America Returns To The Mille Miglia

At this year’s Mille Miglia rally among all of the spectacular cars there was one car that stood just a little higher than the rest – Car #196, a 1951 Ferrari 340 America coupe.  What makes this car special is that it is the actual car that won the 1951 Mille Miglia when the Mille Miglia was still an open road race.

Car 196

The 1951 Mille Miglia Winner At This Year’s Mille Miglia

At this year’s Mille Miglia the Ferrari 340 America was crewed by driver Richard Rawlins and navigator Jim Helfrich.  They had a good showing, but an issue at a Passage Control cost them a lot of points.  None the less, they give the car the effort it deserved.

This year the Mille Miglia got underway in the rain, just like it did in 1951.  The picture below shows the Ferrari 340 America, crewed that day by driver Luigi Villoresi and his co-driver  Cassani, waiting at the starting line for their out time.  In those years, the car’s number was based on its starting time, so as the car’s number is 405, then their start time or out time was 4:05AM.

Villoresi 1951 MM

Villoresi/Cassani At The Mille Miglia Start Line In 1951

The route that the cars followed in 1951 is shown below.  This route was used in 1952 as well.  The length of this route was 977 miles or 1,564 kilometres.

1951 Mille Miglia Route

The Mille Miglia Route Used in 1951


1951 Mille Miglia Villoresi

Front End Damage Slowed The Ferrari 340 America

Villoresi/Cassani went off the road relatively early in the race near Ravenna.  As can be seen, they had extensive left front wheel and suspension damage.  Some bodywork had to be cut away to change the wheel.  No doubt the rainy conditions contributed to the accident.

1951 Mille Miglia Villoresi Wins

Villoresi/Cassani Crossing The Finishing Line As The 1951 Mille Miglia Victors

During the running of the 1951 Mille Miglia, the weather cleared up and 12 hours 50 minutes 18 seconds after leaving the starting line in Brescia, Villoresi/Cassani crossed the finish line back in Brescia as winners.  They finished about 20 minutes ahead of Bracco/Magiolo in a Lancia Aurelia.

Ascari and Villoresi

Ferrari Team-mates Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi

Luigi Villoresi was one of those drivers whose career was stunted as a result of World War II.  He was winning non-championship Grand Prix races such as the Masaryk Circuit Grand Prix and the Tripoli Grand Prix 1937, the Coppa Acerbo and the Coppa Edda Ciano in 1938, the South African Grand Prix 1939, as well as the Targa Florio in 1939 and 1940.  Of course racing came to a halt during World War II.

Villoresi Ferrari 1949

Luigi Villoresi In A Supercharged 1.5 Litre Ferrari In 1949

After the war Villoresi took up racing again and continued to win or be competitive in the various Grand Prix races in the late 1940s and early 1950s.  With the start of Formula One racing for the Driver’s World Championship,Villoresi began to race for the Ferrari racing team.  By this time Villoresi was already 41 years old.  Villoresi retired from Grand Prix racing in 1957 after 31 Formula One championship starts without a victory, but he made it to the podium eight times while scoring a total of 49 championship points. Villoresi continued rally racing and won the Acropolis Rally in Greece in 1958 before finally retiring.  Luigi Villoresi died in 1997 at the age of eighty-eight.

Car 196 (2)

The Ferrari 340 America Attracted Lots Of Interest At The Mille Miglia

The Ferrari 340 America was built between 1950 and 1952.  The car used a slightly smaller version of the 4.5 litre Lampredi V12 developed for Formula One racing.  In those days Ferrari named its models after the volume of each cylinder in cubic centimetres.  As a result the 340 had a cylinder capacity of 340cc, therefore because it was a 12-cylinder engine, then the overall capacity was 4.1 litres.  These 4.1 single overhead camshaft engines produced about 220 horsepower at 6,000 rpm.

Car 1996 (5)

Interesting Image Of The Ferrari 340 America At The 2016 Mille Miglia

Ferrari only built 23 Ferrari 340 Americas – 11 by Vignale, 8 by Touring, and 4 by Ghia.  The most significant of these cars was the one-off 340 America Berlinetta, chassis 0082A, which won the 1951 Mille Miglia.  This is the car returned to the Mille Miglia in 2016.

Ferrari 340 America

A Ferrari 340 America Coupe

I know that Richard and Jim had a great time taking part in the 2016 Mille Miglia.  Certainly the cars are spectacular, but it is also a very competitive rally event.  Before the 2016 Mille Miglia I had telephone conversations and email exchanges with Richard and Jim, so I know that they went to the Mille Miglia not to merely drive around and wave at people.  They went to give the car a competitive drive in the rally.  And they did.

Car 196 (3)

Note The This Ferrari 340 America Has Right-Hand Drive

This is a very valuable car, so I assume that it will return to safe storage.  Maybe it will be seen again at some future event, but it certainly was appreciated at the 2016 Mille Miglia.

If you have any comments or questions about this post then leave a comment below or send me a private email at the following address: shanna12 at comcast dot net

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