In the Spring of 1949, Juan Manuel Fangio had been doing quite well racing the
Equipo Argentine Maseratis and Simcas in minor Italian and Argentinean Grand
Prix events. However the ACA (Automovil Club Argentino) would need to acquire
the Equipo Argentine Team at least two of the new Formula Two, Ferrari
Monopostos that had recently been developed if they wished to remain
At the direct request of Juan Manuel Fangio, two of these new cars were ordered
by the ACA, with funds to be paid directly by the Argentinean government. The
price for each new car was an astounding $11,000 U.S. dollars.
Chassis 011F taken June 23 1949 at the Modena Autodromo shortly before Jaun
Manuel Fangio tested the car in preparation for the Monza Grand Prix. Because
funds had not yet been received, the car remained painted in the Scuderia Ferrari
Factory Team colour of dark red rather than the pale blue and yellow as
requested by the ACA’s Equipo Argentine race team.
At this time, the FIA’s governing rules for Grand Prix racing stipulated that Formula
One vehicles would be limited in capacity to 1.5 litres with superchargers and 4.5
litres unblown. Ferrari’s Senior Engineer Columbo had chosen the smaller
supercharged formula that utilized a complicated twin cam head and two-stage
supercharger. The results of this combination were promising but frequently
unrealized as the drivetrain remained fragile, rarely holding together from one
race to the next. As a result most of Ferrari’s emphasis was placed on the highly
popular Formula Two races which allowed a maximum displacement of two
litres. In this configuration the Scuderia Ferrari were invincible; where both private
and Factory Team Ferraris won every event entered in the 1949 season!
In late May of 1949, an agreement was reached between the ACA and the Ferrari
Factory for the purchase of two new Formula Two Monopostos. One month later,
Fangio, Francesco ”Pancho” Borgonovo and Sr. Anesi, the president of the ACA
travelled from Milan to Modena to take delivery of their two new Ferraris. Upon
arrival they were quite disappointed to find that only one car was ready (s/n 011F)
and that it remained painted in the Scuderia Ferrari Factory Team colour of dark
red, rather than the ACA’s blue and yellow. The second car built on a longer
chassis remained in bare metal and was not yet ready for delivery. To further
complicate matters, the ACA had not yet sent funds and Ferrari refused to
release the red short chassis Formula Two Monopostos (s/n 011F) to Fangio.
Unwilling to let his first Ferrari slip through his hands, Fangio took direct control of
the situation. Both Borgonovo and Anesi knew that the ACA could not afford one,
let alone both new cars. Undaunted Fangio telephoned friends in Argentina to
arrange for funds to be sent to Italy.
On June 23 1949 chassis 011F was released to Fangio with an explicit
understanding that funds were on their way to Ferrari. Fangio took his new
Monoposto to the Modena Autodromo for testing. He was able to run the car
twenty laps but unable to get the car to shift into fifth gear despite a lot of heavy-
handed coaxing. With just three days to go before the Monza Grand Prix. Ferrari’s
engineers were unable to fix the gearbox problem. To this day, speculation
remains as to whether or not they actually wanted to fix the problem, as the
Scuderia Ferrari Factory Team planned to run F2 cars for Ascari, Villoresi and
Bonetto in the same Monza race. At Ferrari there was deep concern that Fangio
in term of his driving skills had a decided advantage over all three of the local
On 26th June, Fangio and the Ferrari team drivers drove their F2 Monopostos in
the morning practice session prior to the start of the Monza Grand Prix. Fangio
was still unable to use fifth gear but refused to give up. It was imperative that he
finish well or he would face an immediate loss of both financial and popular
support from both the ACA and the Equipo Argentine Team.
After the practice session the Ferrari Team cars and the other entrants’ vehicles
were rolled out to the starting grid. Missing from the starting line up was chassis
011F, which Ferrari officials impounded as payment had still not been received.
Fangio was bitterly disappointed to find himself defeated not by the opposition but
rather the ACA’s failure to complete their financial obligations. Desperate to
secure a release from Ferrari, Sr. Borgonovo and Anesi signed an Irrevocable
Letter of Credit guaranteeing payment in full on behalf of the ACA, something they
had no actual authority to do.
Upon receipt of the Letter of Credit the Ferrari officials released chassis 011F to
Fangio, just in time for the start of the race. From the beginning things went from
bad to worse. Both Ascari and Villoresi in similar cars battled far out in front for
first and second place. For Fangio the 80 lap race was an exercise of human
endurance. Still unable to use fifth gear, he tore around the track in fourth with the
car redlined at 7,500 rpm! At the midway point, Fangio brought the car in for a
scheduled pit stop and then went off in pursuit of Ascari and Villoresi. Lap after
lap he closed the distance until he saw Ascari and later Villoresi pull into the pits.
Only Sig. Bonetto remained ahead in another F2 machine. At this point Fangio’s
rear wheel spokes began to give way causing horrible vibration problems. The
oil temperature gauge needle was pegged in the red, however Fangio carefully
nursed his car around Bonetto’s car and on to an outright victory. Fangio was
quoted years later stating ”…that was an incredible win for me – it just seemed
an illusion that an Argentine could actually win a Monza!” This was the first race
and the first of many wins for Fangio in a Ferrari. While most historical
references note that Fangio was an official Ferrari Factory Team driver only in
1956, Ferrari nonetheless immediately claimed both the car and Fangio’s win as
those of the Scuderia Ferrari Factory Team!
For the last two races of the 1951 season, Fangio accepted a ride with Mercedes
Benz in the powerful W163. In the first Buenos Aires race, Gonzalez swept past
Fangio and Lang to take overall victory. In the second Buenos Aires Grand Prix,
Gonzalez beat both Kling and Lang to take overall victory again.
For the 1952 season, the car was again assigned to Froilian Gonzalez. Now four
years old, chassis 011F nonetheless remained very competitive. Gonzales won
the Rio de Janeiro Grand Prix and finished second in Buenos Aires behind
Fangio in the newer Tipo 166. Later in the season, Gonzalez finished third at Sao
Chassis 011F was dusted off for one final race in 1953 where it was given to
Josç Felix Lopes for the Grand Premio Ciudad de Buenos Aires. Lopes and
chassis 011F were both hopelessly out-classed and retired from the race in
Thereafter, chassis 011F remained in storage with the ACA for over forty years.
Despite remaining remarkably original, it deteriorated into a shadow of its original
In the late 1980’s the car was acquired by noted English Ferrari enthusiast,
Michael Vernon after being imported into England. In the Spring of 1990 the car,
which remained as discovered was sold at Auction by Christies for $837,000 to a
private collector. The car was then delivered to noted restorer, Tony Merrick, who
gave it a comprehensive and exhausting four year restoration bringing it back to
its original Supercharged Formula Libre configuration.
A quick inspection of chassis 011F’s engine after Fangio’s win at Monza
indicated that it was nearly ruined and that the car was in need of numerous
additional repairs. This cost the Equipo Argentine team an additional 300,000
Lire. This time payment would be demanded in full before Ferrari would release
the car. Clearly chassis 011F’s brief career as a Factory Team car was over.
Less than one month later, on 17th July, Fangio and chassis 011F were entered
in the prestigious French, ”Petites Cylinder Reims Grand Prix” which was better
known as the Wimille Cup Race. For this event, chassis 011F was now painted
in its proper Argentine Equipo pale blue with yellow bonnet. Despite this and the
recent repair work, Fangio could not get the five speed gearbox to work well. As
before, fifth gear remained elusive, limiting any change of a good finish; however,
Fangio nonetheless lead the entire race until the gearbox finally let go completely!
Chassis 011F was then returned to the Ferrari Factory for additional repairs and
modifications. A new two litre engine with integral supercharger was fitted
bringing the car up to Formula Libre configuration.
On the 25th August, 1949, Fangio and chassis 011F arrived in Argentina to a
hero’s welcome. Upon arrival he was a guest of Evita Peron who graciously
offered to give Fangio chassis 011F as a token of appreciation by the Argentinean
people. Fangio humbly refused the kind offer but assured Señora Peron that he
would continue to race the car for Equipo Argentine and the ACA.
On December 18th, the car was handed over to Sr. Campos for the General
Peron Grand Prix in Buenos Aires where he finished fourth overall behind Ascari,
Fangio and Villoresi.
Less than one month later, on January 8th 1950, Fangio made good on his
promise to Evita Peron and drove 011F to a fourth overall in the Eva Peron Cup
race in Palermo. On January 22nd, the car was turned over to Sr. Campos again
for the Grand Prix of Rosario at which he finished second overall, just behind
In April of 1950, Fangio and chassis 011F returned to Italy for the Grand Prix of
Modena and the Grand Prix of Monza, however mechanical problems forced
Fangio to retire on both occasions. In August of 1950 the car was shipped back
to Argentina for the upcoming season of races.
Chassis 011F was then given to Jose Froilian Gonzalez while a newer Tip 166
was assigned to Fangio for the Parana Grand Prix and the Santiago, Chile Grand
Prix. In both races Gonzales scored a second, finishing both events just behind
Fangio’s newer car.