Story by Pete Vack
Photos by Gerald Vack
As we have seen in Part 1, the Editor’s uncle Gerry had an opportunity to try out his new Leica camera while at the Paris Auto Show in 1954. For an amateur, he did a pretty good job and the Kodachrome film looks as fresh now as it did in 59 years ago. The stock issue 50 mm lens, however, did not always make it easy to capture the entire car. Better, though, than a 35 mm which would have distorted the lines of the cars. We’ll take as is.
For the Editor, there were some stumpers, and if readers find us incorrect, please let us know. The Siata Fiat derivative is a case in point; we know that Siata made a number of 1100/1400 specials in 1954 and 1955, but were the bodies built in house, or by Vignale, and was the designer actually Michelotti?
Another was the Pegaso, clearly one of the Saoutchik bodied GT cars, but which one? It was not among the three cars on the Pegaso stand that year. It took some research but we turned to the classic book on Pegasos, “Ricart-Pegaso, La Pasion del Automovil” by Carlos Coma-Cros, and there we found the car and the history.
We begin with the all-time Pinin Farina classic, so often said to have been built for Ingrid Bergman and ordered by Roberto Rossellini. Sorry folks, Rossellini did not see it until the show and purchased it afterward. By that time Ingrid was not interested in his cars, or Rossellini for that matter, and the marriage soon fell apart. But the Pinin Farina body, the Ferrari 375 chassis, the famous director and the beautiful actress are legendary; whatever the circumstances of the purchase, Ferrari s/n 0456 embodies all four legends simultaneously.
The star of the show was the Pinin Farina 375 Ferrari built as a Pinin Farina styling exercise. However, immediately after the show ended on October 17th, Italian movie director Roberto Rossellini bought the car for about $6000 USD. When he registered the car, he left for Lyon to meet French director Francois Truffaut and the pair visited southern Spain. The steering broke along the way but the two directors got it repaired and made it home.