Photos by Larry Nutson
It’s the 100th anniversary of the founding of Maserati and cars of this marque have come to symbolize the very best in Italian engineering and craftsmanship. In celebration, a very special Best of Italy collection is on display through April 27 at the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia.
With Italian classical and popular music in the background, the occasional aroma of fresh cooked lasagna and a glass of Italian red wine, an opening-evening reception treated car owners and guests to unrestricted access to more than 20 Italian beauties.
Along with the Simeone’s 1956 Maserati 300S — once owned by actor William Holden — its 1958 Ferrari 250 Testa Rosa and 1954 Ferrari 375MM, the show includes Alfas, Fiats, Lancias and Lamborghinis.
Car owners opened hoods and doors and freely shared their ownership stories. Tim O’Riordan bought his 1950 Alfa Romeo 2000 Touring Spider in 1995 for $2,500. Kelly Knight drives his original and unrestored 1987 Fiat X1/9 by Bertone year-round as long as the roads are dry and clean of ice-melt.
A favorite was the 1966 Alfa Romeo GTV of David Raab, although the 1959 Fiat Bianchina 500 owned by Willem van Huystee might be more appropriate in today’s crowded cities.
Two special Ferraris are on display: A 1955 Ferrari 857 Monza that is an original factory team car. It was the first 857 Monza built and was driven by Phil Hill, among others. Also, there’s a beautiful 1964 Ferrari 275 LM. It was driven by Walt Hansgen and Mark Donohue at Sebring in 1965 — Donohue’s very first professional drive.
Italian badged marques on display ranged in vintage from the 1930s right up to the 2000s.
We have here today a representation of the greatest era in sports car racing,”
— Dr. Fred Simeone
[/pullquote]April’s monthly Demonstration Day very appropriately paid tribute to another Italian and the most recognized automotive marque in the world: Ferrari. The red cars from Maranello achieved this recognition largely from their success on the racetrack. Before a gathering of 400 enthusiasts, Dr. Fred Simeone discussed the story of Enzo Ferrari, the history of his cars and their success in racing.
“We have here today a representation of the greatest era in sports car racing,” he said.
Six outstanding examples of the greatest Ferrari racing sports cars of all time included the Simeone’s 250 Testa Rosa and 375MM along with a 250 GTO that is on loan. By special arrangement, and just for this Demo Day, the owners of some very distinguished Ferraris shared cars: a 1955 Ferrari 857 Monza, a 1964 Ferrari 275 LM, and a Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Competition.
Adding to the vintage Ferraris on display, about 16 newer Ferraris were driven to the event by members of the online community FerrariChat.com.