Compared to its grand touring sibling, the famous 212 Inter, Ferrari’s 212 Export was both nimbler and more powerful. And, luckily, it was just as easy on the eyes. In 1951, when both models were introduced, Ferrari was still a very young company fighting to gain a reputation. And it was cars such as the 212 Export that quickly established the Italian carmaker as one of the best in the world.
The same front-mounted Colombo V12 from the 212 Inter displaced 2.6 litres. In this application, that’s good enough for 165bhp; 15bhp more than it made in the Inter. The power difference can be attributed to the fact that the 212 Export sports a triple-carburettor design whereas the Inter featured only one single carb. That power helped the lightweight racer reach a top speed of 220 km/h (136 mph).
The 212 rode on a new chassis that promised to be stronger than the one used in its 195 S predecessor. The new tubular steel frame was supported by an independent suspension up front and live axle out back. At 2,250mm (88.6 inches), the wheelbase was 350 millimetres shorter than the 212 Inter’s wheelbase. That’s quite a difference, but the reasoning behind this decision made sense as the Export was more focused on agility than comfort. And, as you will see, all these specs combine to create a very successful race car.
Racing the Export
Ferrari’s 212 Export was born at an exciting time. You see, 1951 happened to be the same year that the Tour de France Automobile race was reborn after a twenty-year hiatus. And was Ferrari ever ready; the 212 Export took the top three spots in that year’s race, leaving nought but scraps for the rest of the field. The 212 Export wasn’t done yet, however. Other notable finishes include first place in the Targa Florio and the Carrera Panamerica.
In all, Ferrari produced 28 examples of the 212 Export. Nearly all of them were raced competitively. A rare one-off version of the Export, deemed the “Uovo,” made an appearance at the U.K. Concours of Elegance in 2018.