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On 09 January 2014, at a reception at their new headquarters building in London, Bonhams announced that they have been given the privilege of offering the Ferrari 375 Plus, chassis # 0384 AM, at their sale at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July 2014. As anybody who watches classic Ferrari movements knows, this car has been the subject of a long running ownership dispute, which Bonhams have been instrumental in resolving, allowing the car to be offered for sale without any legal encumbrance hanging over it.

This car, chassis # 0384 AM, was originally a 1954 works car, and was driven by Umberto Maglioli in that year’s Mille Miglia on race # 545, where it retired on the homeward leg from Rome to Brescia. Two weeks after the Mille Miglia it was in the UK, where “The Pampas Bull”, Froilan Gonzales, on race # 11, drove it to victory in the Daily Express International Trophy at Silverstone. A month later it was in France for the Le Mans 24 Hour Race, where it was driven once again by Umberto Maglioli paired with Paolo Marzotto on race # 3, but it posted another retirement. This was its final outing as a works entry, and in 1954 it was sold to Jim Kimberley, a good Ferrari client, proficient gentleman racer and heir to the Kleenex empire. He raced it sporadically through 1954 and 1955, picking up some podium places, before either selling it, or loaning it, to Ohio Cadillac dealer Howard Hiveley, who campaigned it more extensively through to early 1957, picking up a quartet of race wins along the way, plus some good placings and a few retirements. It is understood that at some stage in 1957 there was a fire, the engine was removed, and the rolling chassis sold to Karl Kleve, also from Ohio, in 1958. Karl Kleve collected all sorts of cars over the years, including a number of obscure examples, the problem being that most of them were left to fend for themselves in the open against the ravages of the weather, and the Ferrari 375 Plus was no exception!

The car lay, one could say abandoned, on his property until around 1986, at which time it was reported as stolen. The car then appeared in Europe, having been bought by the Belgian Ferrari importer, Jacques Swaters, who undertook the complete restoration of the car, which made its post restoration debut at his company’s 40th anniversary celebrations in 1992. In passing, it should be mentioned that this was before the days of easy internet communications, where nowadays it is a simple job to verify the status of virtually anything that one cares to imagine. In the meantime Karl Kleve learned of the whereabouts of his car, and it is understood that he instigated legal proceedings to either get the car back, or get suitable reimbursement. To the best of my knowledge, an agreement was reached between the two parties, and payment made through an intermediary. However, this was not the end of the story, as after Karl Kleve’s passing, his family claimed that either no payment had been made, or that it was not what it should have been, and the whole thing started over again.

Whilst in Jacques Swaters tenure, he located original engine for the car, and purchased it. The car was then sent to Ferrari Classiche, who rebuilt the engine, and fitted it into the car. The engine that he originally had built for the car, when he purchased, it remains with the car as a spare unit, as do many original parts, like some body panels, fuel tank, brake drums and sundry other items. The reunification of some of these parts with the car has been possible courtesy of Bonhams efforts, as after many years of legal wrangling, they have been able to bring the two sides of the dispute together, to agree on an equitable solution. Thus the car can have the shadow lifted, and be enjoyed as it should be, by a new prospective owner and, hopefully, Ferrari enthusiasts worldwide.

Keith Bluemel