Ferrari’s fortunes in the early 1950s were rising along with those of
The Ferrari 500 Mondial was a four-cylinder,
2-liter champion. See more Ferrari images.
The Ferrari 500 Mondial was born during the formative stages of this yeasty period. Ferrari was already well-known for its V-12s, but Enzo and chief engineer Aurelio Lampredi were cognizant of the success other manufacturers were having with four-cylinder engines.
A four-cylinder could furnish better low-end torque than a 12, allowing for more acceleration out of corners. Its lighter weight could help a car handle better, too. For its new four-cylinder sports-racing car, Ferrari tapped the development it had done on the four-cylinder engine for its 500 F2. That open-wheel monoposto dominated Grand Prix racing in 1952 and 1953.
The resulting Ferrari 500 Mondial was an extremely well-balanced machine. This was illustrated in its first race, the 12 Hours of
There were two series of the Ferrari 500 Mondial, and both were popular with factory drivers and privateers alike. All had a jewel of an all-alloy 2.0-liter based on Ferrari’s F2 engines. First-series cars had mostly Pinin Farina coachwork and resembled the coachbuilder’s voluptuous Ferrari 375 MM berlinettas and spyders.
A handful of the first-series cars, and all of the second series used Scaglietti coachwork. The
Ferrari also appreciated Scaglietti’s relationship with his son, Dino. Accounts over the years credited Dino with the basic Scaglietti design for the Ferrari 500 Mondial. But Scaglietti, a modest man who preferred to give credit to others, told this author that this was untrue. He said Dino, who had muscular dystrophy and thus spent the majority of his days at Scaglietti’s rather than trying to keep up with his energetic father, was responsible only for the headrests used on the Mondial and other competition Ferraris.
The Ferrari 500 Mondial played an integral role in Ferrari winning its second Sports World Championship in 1954. That type of success caused Enzo to funnel even more work toward Sergio Scaglietti, the talented, and humble, coachbuilder.
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