The 1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico was built to compete in one of the most dangerous races in the world. In fact, this race across Mexico had claimed the lives of several racers just one year prior. Ferrari happened to claim first and second place in that race that year as well. So, clearly, much was at stake for both Ferrari the company and its drivers for the 1952 event.
Like the 340 America it was based on, the 340 Mexico sported a 4.1-litre, Lampredi-designed V12. Unlike the America, however, the 340’s race engine developed an astounding 280 bhp, routed through a 5-speed manual transmission. That’s a respectable power output for a small car still to this day, so just imagine how powerful that must have seemed to the world in 1952. Zero to 62 mph reportedly happened in under 6 seconds, while the top speed was registered at a mind-blowing 174 mph! Meanwhile, an independent front suspension and a live rear axle paired with semi-elliptical leaf springs helped scoot the car around corners.
Styling and Racing
Sporting one of the longest hoods ever fitted to a Ferrari, the 340 Mexico strikes an aggressive profile. Designed by Giovanni Michelotti and built by Vignale, this remains one of the most iconic Ferrari designs of the 50s. Fortunately, the 1952 Carrera Panamerica proved safer than the previous year’s race, with only one fatality recorded. Unfortunately for Ferrari, it was Mercedes’ year to claim victory, with the famous gullwinged 300 SL crossing the finish line first (and with a vulture-smashed windshield to boot). With one car crashing out of the race, another of Ferrari’s cars (driven by Jean Lucas and Luigi Chinetti) managed a respectable third place.
Only four 340 Mexicos ended up being produced; three Berlinettas and one Spider. In 2011, one of those Berlinettas sold for £2.8 million at auction, an impressive amount that any reasonable person can expect to climb along with the values of other antique Ferraris. For 1953, the 340 MM replaced the Mexico and raced in the Mille Miglia of that year.