By Dave Abrahams
Maranello, Italy - This Ferrari 225E should have been renamed Phoenix when the factory's Classiche department completed its as-new restoration, decades after the car was practically destroyed by fire.
Arguably the best result of the record prices being paid for classic Ferraris recently is that many wrecked cars that would previously have been regarded as unsalvageable, are now viable restoration projects.
Which is where Ferrari Classiche comes in; the factory's dedicated authentification and restoration shop is the recognised authority on vintage Ferraris and is allowed to certify its projects 'exactly as original'. What does for their collectors' value can be imagined.
Chassis no. 0178 left the factory in May 1952 for delivery to its first owner, Count Antonio Sterzi, just in time for him to enter it in that year's Mille Miglia, with Nino Rovelli as co-driver.
In June of that same year it won the Coppa del Toscana with the count's son Bruno at the wheel, and went on to win the Bolzano-Mendola hillclimb and the Coppa InterEuropa at Monza.
However, in preparation for this race the Sterzi team removed both front and rear bumpers, which later went missing when the car changed hands.
Some years and a couple of owners later the car caught fire and was almost completely burnt out, although its 155kW 2.7-litre V12 engine and five-speed gearbox suffered very little damage. An attempt was made during the 1980s to rebuild the body and get the car running, but without success.
Finally the car was bought by an Argentinian collector who shipped it to Ferrari Classiche for a complete rebuild - including the engine and the interior, which turned out to be a monumental challenge, because all the records of the car's original trim had been lost.
In order to replicate the original interior a closely as possible, the Classiche historians photographed the cabin of every 225 they could track down before starting work on the Sterzi car.
The restoration, including a complete engine rebuild, took almost two years but as you can see from the pictures and video, it was worth it; certainly, the owner thought so.