Commendatore Enzo Ferrari, the Old Man as he was often called, is discussing a request by Peter Collins to modify the gear lever knob on the Ferrari 335 Sport which Collins will drive in the upcoming 1957 Mille Miglia with photographer Louis Klemantaski as his navigator. Collins has just come back from testing his 335 Sport on the Abetone Road above Maranello. This Ferrari is fitted with a four-spoke steering wheel as preferred by Collins and his “mate” fellow Ferrari driver Mike Hawthorn. On Enzo Ferrari’s left in the dark shirt is Ferrari test driver Martino Severi.
After final preparation at Maranello, the team cars would be taken by their drivers on the road to Brescia for scrutineering and then to a hotel in nearby Manerbio owned by the Marzotto family, who were both Ferrari’s good customers and semi-works drivers during the early 1950s.
The 335 Sport, along with its main competitor the Maserati 450S, was perhaps the high point in performance of 1950s sports car design. With a 4.1 liter motor with four camshafts and dual ignition, the 335 Sport had close to 400 hp and a top speed of 180 mph. This level of power on the narrow two-lane and bumpy roads of postwar Italy which were used for the Mille Miglia was a real test of driver skill and courage. Collins and Klemantaski would lead the 1957 Mille Miglia at a record pace until their car’s transaxle failed in Parma, not far from the finish in Brescia, while the top placings would go to two more of these Ferraris driven by Piero Taruffi with German Wolfgang von Trips second. However, the Collins/Klemantaski 335 Sport, driven by Collins and Phil Hill, would go on to win the World Championship for Manufacturers for Ferrari at the last championship race of 1957 at Caracas Venezuela.
Another 335 Sport in the Mille Miglia, driven by Alfonso de Portago with his friend Edmund Nelson riding alongside, would crash at high speed due to a blown tire just prior to finishing in Brescia, killing them both and nine spectators. That crash brought down the curtain on the Mille Miglia.
Photo by Louis Klemantaski ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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