The sheer volume of truly significant automobiles at the 2015 Amelia Island Concours is breathtaking, but none were more significant to me than the display of race cars owned and driven by Sir Stirling Moss at the far end of the Ritz Carlton’s 18th fairway. The 1956 Ferrari 290MM car was presented in impeccable condition out of the Pierrey Collection in London.
The Ferrari 290 MM displayed at the 20th Annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance was restored by the Classiche Department at Ferrari in 2014, was awarded the “The Chairman’s Choice Trophy for the Car Found Most Appealing by the Chairman”, simply confirming for us Bill Warner’s impeccable taste. Final approval for the award came from Honorary Chairman Sir Stirling Moss himself, who played a big role in the Ferrari’s impressive race history.
Built in 1956 to take part in sports prototype competitions, this 290 MM (chassis 0628M) actually started life as an 860 Monza powered by a large-displacement 4-cylinder. Its maiden race was the Mille Miglia in which it competed as an official works car, finishing second overall at the hands of Englishman Peter Collins. Photographer Louis Klemantaski served as co-driver, documenting the 1000-mile race with his camera along the way.
In that same year, the Ferrari also came second in the Coppa d’Oro delle Dolomiti with Olivier Gendebien and Jacques Washer as well as third in the Targa Florio, with Hans Herrmann and Gendebien and in the Aosta-Gran San Bernardo in the hands of Italian driver, Umberto Maglioli.
At the end of 1956, however, Enzo Ferrari decided to replace the 4-cylinder engine with a 12-cylinder and the car was renamed the 290 MM. It made its debut at the Buenos Aires 1000 Kilometres in January during which Wolfgang Von Trips, Peter Collins and Eugenio Castellotti drove it to third position.
Late in the 1957 season Stirling Moss raced this Ferrari twice for the Temple Buell team at the fourth Bahamas Speed Week in Nassau, winning the 100-mile Nassau Trophy and the 250-mile Governor’s Trophy. The races were significant as Moss’ first drives in a V-12 Ferrari sports racing car. The following year, Dan Gurney delivered a second-place finish in the 290 MM at the International Formula Libre Grand Prix at Watkins Glen and 0628M continued racing until 1961.
Years later, the 290 MM embarked on a second career, competing in the classic car races like the Mille Miglia Retrospective and Monterey Historics, in addition to honored spots at both the Pebble Beach Concours and Cavallino Classic. Chassis 0628M through the years underwent major modifications after an accident, but eventually it was sent directly to the Classiche Department for restoration to its original form. It appeared at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance 2015 wearing its number from the 1957 Sebring 12 Hours, as raced by Phil Hill and Wolfgang von Trips.