Enzo Ferrari had 4-cylinder engine created, built a show car around it and sold the rights to produce it to electronics-manufacturing family
Sometime in the late 1950s, and although he had no intention of putting such a powerplant into production, Enzo Ferrari had his engineering department design and build an inline four-cylinder engine.
And not just any four-cylinder engine, but one inspired by the 3.0-liter V12 Gioacchino Colombo created for the Ferrari’s fast 250-series sports cars, with aluminum head, double-overhead camshaft and topped by a pair of Weber carburetors.
Ferrari wasn’t about to put such an engine into any of the cars he was building, but he figured to license the rights to someone willing to produce the engine and a car to house it.
Toward that end, Giotto Bizzarrini revised the tube frame chassis from a 250 GTO. The Bertone studio created bodywork to cover the car and its engine and the “Ferrarini” was displayed at the Turn auto show in 1961.
The car appealed to Oronzio and Niccolo del Nora, Ferrari-owning father and son who also owned a company that manufactured electromechanical components. Father and son launched Autocostruzioni Societa per Azioni, or ASA for short, and in 1965 introduced the Mille, a small sports car available as a coupe or convertible.
By then, Ferrari’s 4-cylinder engine had grown to 1032cc, providing around 90 horsepower, enough to speed the cars, built on an 86.5-inch wheelbase and equipped with 4-speed manual gearboxes and 4-wheel disc brakes, to 115 mph.
“The hope was the ASA would offer the mystique of a Ferrari at half the price,” Russo and Steele auction company reports in announcing that one of the ASA Spiders will be on the docket for its annual Scottsdale sale scheduled for January 17-21, 2018.
However, the auction house added in its news release, “The de Nora’s production capacity was limited, and sales were never prolific, so the cars never really built a following.”
ASA production ended in 1967 as producing only 50 cars, including a short-lived 6-cylinder Rollbar GT Spyder which, to save costs, wore a fiberglass body.
“During production only a handful of Spiders were built, some estimate only six,” Russo and Steele said, adding that the Spider being offered at auction is one of only two equipped with a 1100cc engine developed for a potential Le Mans 24-hour racing effort.