A BETTER BARN FIND
A RARE FIND…
With every passing year there are fewer and fewer of them around. They’re a dying breed, an endangered species, their numbers dwindling significantly. No, not some obscure creature in an equatorial jungle or the infamous snail darter. Reference here is to the unrestored, original condition forty or fifty year old Ferrari. Not too many of them left and, of those that are still around, seldom will you find one as nice as Tom Shaughnessy’s cream-colored 250 Europa coupe.
Shaughnessy, from San Clemente, California, and a Ferrari parts supplier whose specialty is finding lost Ferraris hidden away for years in dusty old barns and dark warehouses, located his Europa in Seattle, Washington, and took possession in July of 2003. Although the car was reasonably well known and not one that had dropped off the radar screen decades ago, it was still a bit of a coup for Shaughnessy to locate and land the old Europa. The story here is how it managed to come through fifty years of existence and still look and run like new. The car stands today as a tribute to one couple’s love for, and devotion to, their Ferrari.
EUROPA DEBUTS IN PARIS…
Ferrari’s 250 Europa was introduced to the world at the Paris Auto Show in October of 1953, wearing an unusual Vignale five window coupe body. This was chassis number 0295 EU and, as it turned out, was one of just four first series Europas to receive Vignale coachwork. The more familiar, classic 250 Europa look, as seen on Shaughnessy’s car, was drawn and built by Pinin Farina. Only seventeen of these Pinin Farina Europas were built, sixteen coupes (one was soon changed to a 375 America), and one cabriolet. One of the four Vignale Europas was also built as a cabriolet, although it too was quickly changed to a 375 America by swapping its three liter twelve cylinder motor for a 4.5. All but two Europas were left hand drive.
The Pinin Farina coupes came in both three and five window configurations, with a number of the cars offering occasional 2+2 seating. Other variations on the Europa theme involved the shape and location of the driving lights, the shape of the chrome side trim, and the width of the chrome trim ring around the grill opening. Also introduced at the 1953 Paris Salon was Ferrari’s 375 America with body by Pinin Farina. Except for its engine, the 375 America was just about an identical twin to Pinin Farina’s Europa, which can lead to confusion and misidentification of the two types.
250 EUROPA GT…
Ferrari continued to build the 250 Europa until the latter half of 1954, when it was replaced by the 250 Europa GT. The principal visual difference between the two models had to do with their wheelbases. Because the replacement Europa GT was built with a short block V-12 engine, it received a new 2,600 mm chassis (tipo 508), which was 200 mm shorter than the tipo 103 chassis used in the 250 Europa.
The principal mechanical difference had to do with engine design, although the Europa’s transverse leaf spring used in the front suspension would be replaced by coil springs during the Europa GT’s run. The long block 2,963 cc engine (tipo 103) used in the first series Europas was a scaled down version of the large displacement 375 America V-12 laid out by Aurelio
Lampredi, while the shorter Europa GT motor (tipo 112), based on a Gioachino Colombo design, displaced 2,953 cc and was a detuned version of the motor used in the 250 Mille Miglia berlinettas and spyders. With a bore and stroke of 68 mm, one of the very rare “square” engines produced by Ferrari, the Lampredi Europa was good for a little over 200 bhp at 6,300 rpm, compared to about 215 bhp for the Colombo design at 7,000 rpm. Both models used four speed gearboxes and drum brakes.
KEEPING THEM STRAIGHT…
Chassis numbers for the first series cars range from s/n 0295 EU to s/n 0353 EU, while for the Europa GTs they range from s/n 0357 GT to s/n 0427 GT. Yes, this was the first use of the GT suffix, which Ferrari would use in so many of its serial numbers over the next decade. Sprinkled in among the second series cars were seven berlinettas, most of which were precursors in looks to the upcoming 250 GT long wheelbase, or Tour de France, berlinettas. Curiously, Ferrari also used the EU suffix in identifying twenty four coupes and cabriolets produced at the end of the 212 Inter series, prior to the first 250 Europa.
The Europa and Europa GT were the first series-built road going Ferraris to be identified with the hallowed 250 model name, and followed on the heels of the 212 Inter line built from 1951 to late 1953. Also, with the Europa series of cars, Ferrari laid the groundwork for its longstanding working relationship with Pinin Farina, displacing Carrozzeria Vignale, whose Giovanni Michelotti designs had become overly chromed and quite “busy”.
LAST 250 EUROPA…
The Ferrari Shaughnessy found in Seattle turned out to be the twentieth and last 250 Europa to leave the Factory with Pinin Farina lines. The car rolled out carrying serial number 0351 EU, according to what it says on the chassis plate and build sheets, but when photographing it for this story, s/n “0319 AL” was found stamped on the chassis, a serial number associated with a 375 America coupe. Another Ferrari mystery!
At Pinin Farina, the car was recorded as job number 12548. Although it went to Turin for coachwork on May 25, 1954, Factory build sheets for the car show that work on the engine, suspension, and gearbox, and construction of the chassis, had been completed by February of that year. When finished, s/n 0351 EU came with a red leather interior, which it still has today with splendid patina, and a two-tone gray exterior. The car was sold new to Clarence Brown of Los Angeles, who used it in Europe initially – it’s pictured in the 1954 Ferrari yearbook at a concours on the French Riviera that year.
The single overhead cam V-12 engine (internal number 106) used in s/n 0351 EU was built with three Weber 36 DCZ carburetors, a pair of Fispa diaphragm fuel pumps (plus an Autoflux electric pump at the fuel tank), and an 8 to 1 compression ratio.
Tires were by Pirelli, size 7.10 by 15, mounted on light alloy Borrani 500 by 15 wire wheels. With that size tire and the 8/34 rear axle ratio used in s/n 0351 EU, theoretical top speed in each gear is 48 mph in first, 71 in second, 96 in third, and 121 in fourth.
Nothing unusual about the front or rear suspension – a live axle out back, suspended by long semi-elliptic leaf springs and Houdaille shocks, with, up front, a single transverse rubber bushed leaf spring, unequal length wishbones, and Houdaille dampers. It all rests on a standard Ferrari frame using twin longitudinal steel tubes with liberal cross bracing.
The car stayed with Brown for just over three years, and then was sold on January 31, 1958, to Lorne Garden, who lived in Seattle. Although at this point the odometer showed barely 26,000 kilometers, Garden had the engine rebuilt with new pistons, rods, main bearings, valve springs, and timing chain. Over the three-plus years he had the car, Garden maintained detailed records of the work performed on his Ferrari, and the entire paper trail has stayed with the Europa down through the years.
But by July of 1961, family pressures forced Garden to part with the car (see below) for $3,000. The Europa’s third owner was Stan Baker of Seattle, Washington, who was the car’s savior, notwithstanding all the attention lavished on it by Garden. By then the Europa had logged about 44,000 kilometers. Baker kept the car the rest of his life, his widow, Kathleen, agreeing to sell it to Shaughnessy last year with the odometer showing 65,000 kilometers.
THE BAKER YEARS…
The Europa came into the Baker’s world somewhat by accident. Stan owned and operated a gun shop in Seattle, and when business was good he would buy something for himself and something for Kathleen. Business was good in 1961 and she let it be known that a white Thunderbird would be nice, even though the Bakers knew about the Europa since they and the Gardens were friends. Three years earlier, when Lorne Garden had gone to look at the Ferrari in Los Angeles, he fell in love with it, bought it, and had his wife fly down so they could drive it back to Seattle. The trip north soon turned into a nightmare, when the rough running Europa stopped altogether and Mrs. Garden demanded to be flown back home, leaving Lorne to fend for himself.
It was all downhill from there between the Ferrari and the wife, the situation reaching its nadir in July of 1961 when the Europa was put up for sale, but Lorne Garden’s misfortune turned out to be Stan Baker’s good fortune.
Although the car, christened Old Smokey by Kathleen, needed work when it became part of the Baker household, a new love affair had begun. First, the badly pitted windshield had to be replaced and the original silver-gray paint called out for a respray. Full of enthusiasm, the Bakers stripped off the old paint in their garage over several weeks time, a monumental task given the thickness of the lacquer, so that Stan could repaint the car in the color it wears today. When laid bare, they were surprised to see that the Pinin Farina body consisted of a patchwork of hand formed metal squares and rectangles welded together to form the car’s shape. Because the wire wheels also needed work, Kathleen devoted an entire summer, and numerous finger nails, to cleaning and polishing the Borrani spokes and rims, while Stan rebuilt the entire brake system.
Down through the years the reconditioned Ferrari was entered in several local shows in Washington and Oregon, winning more than one first place prize, and was driven to various destinations as far away as California and Arizona without a problem.
Baker was twice invited to enter the Europa at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. In 1965, it was the winner in the class for European sports cars costing over $7,000. Twenty five years later, Baker was back at Pebble Beach with s/n 0351 EU, this time securing third place honors against stiffer opposition in Class M-2 for Ferraris with custom coachwork built through 1960. During the forty two years the Bakers owned the car, Stan maintained it by the book, enjoying it, showing it, caring for it, and driving it, so that the Ferrari Shaughnessy got was about as original as a fifty year old car can be.
THE EUROPA LOOK…
With the Europa, Pinin Farina introduced the long hood, short rear deck look which would become their trademark design for future front engine gran turismo Ferraris. The long, softly rounded, flowing lines, the subtle absence of excess chrome adornment, and the light, airy, low cut greenhouse preferred by the Turinese coachbuilder, would be used to win Ferrari over and push the other great Italian coach builders into the wings, at least as far as Maranello was concerned. With its classic large oval egg crate grill, near fastback roof line, and chopped and channeled hot rod-like profile, the Europa represents an excellent blend of elegance, speed, and custom coachwork.
Settle onto the car’s wide, well padded, red leather seats and confront an instrument panel complete with period Veglia gauges, including an average speed meter rally clock. There’s the nearby gearshift topped by a palm filling triangular shift lever. Get hold of the wide diameter wood rimmed steering wheel, and locate the familiar three pedals in the foot well and you’re ready to go.
Like most classic grand touring Ferraris, a ride in a Europa is marked by rapid acceleration and filled with exciting sounds, especially as the engine winds into its upper rev range. The ride is not velvet smooth but certainly not objectionable, even on rougher surfaces.
The 250 Europa was not the fastest Ferrari of its day – certainly cars in the 250 MM series, and many 225 Sport and 340 models, were quicker since most were built for competition, but in 1954 no Ferrari offered more comfort and luxury with an abundance of speed than did the Europa, and only a handful of cars from other manufacturers could compete with it in those categories. For those whose savoir faire embraced automobiles, and whose 1954 travels took them to places such as Monaco, St. Moritz, the Cote d’Azur, or the Costa Brava, there was no better way to get there, or no better car to be seen in once you got there, than a Ferrari 250 Europa. And it’s just as special today, fifty years later.
Alan Boe is one of the foremost Ferrari historians and researchers of our day, and he writes intelligently, and extensively, on Ferraris for many serious publications. He is also Chief Judge of the Ferrari Class at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Copyright © 2005 Cavallino Magazine.