Simanaitis Says

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FERRARI 212 EXPORT BARCHETTA—A CAR WITH REAL LEGS PART 2

THIS PARTICULAR FERRARI seems to hold a record for the most consecutive appearances in Road and Track: July 1952 through a full road test in November of that year. Here in Part 2 is that November test, plus a SimanaitisSays tidbit about the same car gleaned in 2013. 

This and images following from Road and Track, November 1952.

Body by Touring. The magazine observed, “Compared to the run-of-the-mill production sports car, Hill’s Ferrari carries an especially light aluminum body, fitted over a thin but stiff tubular framework. The coachwork by Touring seems to be of a high standard. Such things as heavy door latches and corresponding hardware are eliminated—logically enough in a competition sports car.” 

“Ferrari cockpit… all business, no frills.”

Classic Ferrari Steering. Road and Track noted, “… the steering (by worm and nut) is light and positive; naturally it would be, with the maker’s experience in the construction of Grand Prix cars. Yet, there is a gratifying ‘feel of the road’ in the lightweight wood and aluminum steering wheel which will satisfy all but the ‘a car-is-just-transportation’ drivers.”

Classic Ferrari Clutch. The magazine wrote, “Those accustomed to Italian clutch action will know that this mechanism on the Ferrari is ‘all-in or all-out,’ and the owner will want to carefully instruct his maiden aunt when she borrows his Ferrari for her daily trips to the market.”

A Classic Ferrari Drive. “The competition ride of the Ferrari,” the magazine said, “might be called rough by anyone accustomed to today’s ideas of super-soft suspensions, but the enthusiast will welcome the firmness and security.”

Road and Track said, “The driver position in this particular car seems good by Ferrari standards; some of the cars from the factory seem to be built for rather undersized drivers. The foot pedals, too, may seem, on first acquaintance, to be somewhat close together—particularly if the driver is accustomed to the great wide-open spaces on the floorboards of many current products.”

Short-Circuit Gearing. The magazine explained, “In reading the performance figures of the car tested, readers may puzzle over the recorded top speed… 123 mph; for certainly speeds far in excess have been claimed for what is one of the fastest sports cars in the world. It should be pointed out that this particular model is geared for relatively short road circuits…. With maximum gearing one could estimate 140 mph as the top speed, considering the Ferrari’s hp/frontal area, without being far from correct.”

A Cracked Plastic Windscreen. Test conditions included a “Calm night sea level, 85º F, 90 octane aviation fuel”—and a resulting cracked windscreen at 123 mph.


“Top speed was recorded in one direction only,” Road and Track reported. “Further attempts were abandoned in the absence of goggles.”  

Goggles Remembered. I brought my goggles when I had the extreme pleasure of driving this ex-Tour de France ex-Hill 212 Export Barchetta in the 1996 Colorado Grand, that time through the kindness of then current custodian Sherman Wolf. 

Image from SimanaitisSays, May 13, 2013.

The Ferrari was exhibiting fine legs back then too. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022

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