Custom bodywork, a large and powerful engine, and extremely limited numbers are the three attributes that define the Ferrari 410 Superamerica. Debuting in 1955, this was the fourth in Ferrari’s line of America models. Sold between 1951 and 1967, these were all top-level offerings, with each housing a big V12 in front of the driver. As a GT car, the Superamerica’s performance was unrivalled, but its sky-high price put it out of reach for most shoppers.
A Bigger V12
Ferrari pulled the 4.5 litre V12 from the 375 America for duty in the 410, tweaking it so that it now displaced 5.0 litres. A larger engine meant more power, with a resulting surge of about 40 bhp, for a total of 335. Drivers were given a 4-speed manual transmission to help put all that power to the pavement. The Superamerica rode on a tubular steel frame supported by an independent suspension up front and a live axle out back. Ferrari rated the 410’s top speed at 262 km per hour, which made it the fastest production car on sale at the time.
Curious and Custom Bodywork
Most 410s were designed and built by Pininfarina, who allowed their well-heeled 410 customers to customize each car to an extent. Some models, however, were given to other coachbuilders, with the resulting products being some of the most eccentrically-styled Ferraris, ever. Ghia’s attempt, in particular, looked like something from outer space. While the merits of those designs can be debated, Pininfarina’s body featured a classically handsome long hood, small cockpit, and short rear-end layout. The design may not have etched the same impression on the public as the cheaper and much more popular Mercedes 300 SL, but there is no denying its appeal.
From ’55 to ’59, there were three series of the 410 Superamerica built, with the Series III cars receiving some engine upgrades that resulted in a 25 bhp bump in power. When it went on sale, the 410 Superamerica became one of the most expensive cars on the planet. It’s not really a surprise to learn, then, that just 35 examples were made, giving way to the 400 Superamerica in 1959. Of course, that exclusivity means these are a very valuable item today.