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“THE FABULOUS Ferrari,” R&T wrote in a September 1953 road test, “lives up to all the thousands of words which have been written about it.” This particular road test subject was the Vignale-bodied Ferrari 4.1 Coupe, “believed to be the actual car with which Simone led the 1952 race during the early hours….” and a favorite of mine for these last 60 years.
The test car was owned by Masten Gregory, whose Jaguar C-Type had also been tested by R&T.
R&T noted that the 4.1’s “successful racing heritage is very evident. The engine and transmission make a bit of noise—a racket which one unkind soul likened to a threshing machine.”
The 4.1’s five-speed gearbox is devoid of synchromesh. Noted R&T, “Down shifts take real skill and, during performance tests, it was a real thrill to watch Mr. Gregory practice ‘racing changes’ using the heel and toe technique to perfection….”
“The seats and the driver’s position,” R&T reported, “were without fault and we liked the typical Italian wheel location, well forward so that one tends to steer more with the back and shoulder muscles.”
The 4.1’s acceleration was formidable for the era. Its 0-60-mph time of 6.1 seconds beat the Jag C-Type’s time by a half-second, even though “… in deference to the cost of replacement, all of our checks on acceleration were made with considerable caution. This affects initial acceleration since full throttle was not applied until over 1000 rpm was attained.”
“The ride is firm,” R&T observed, “as would be expected. A fair estimate would be to compare the ride with the TC MG—though actually it’s somewhat better because it is flatter with very little of the TC pitching tendency.”
I suspect this may be the first and only time R&T ever compared a Ferrari with an MG TC.
It wasn’t that R&T found the Ferrari without fault. “The steering,” R&T wrote, “is not quite as ‘perfect.’ Though requiring only 2.3 turns lock to lock, there is a lack of feel during low speed driving, coupled with the need for considerable effort to turn sharply. Above 30 mph the steering becomes light and is very accurate. However, at around 60 mph on lightly rough surfaces the entire steering column sometimes vibrates viciously—a fault which all Ferrari owners seem to accept without complaint.”
“Despite some faults,” R&T concluded, “the 4.1 Ferrari is a type of car which has not been available since the death of Ettore Bugatti.”
High praise indeed. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2018