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1957 Ferrari 410 Super America

By Jeremy Wilson

Photos by Mike Litt

Putting it in perspective, the 1957 Ferrari Superamerica was the fastest and most expensive luxury sports car of its day. Its price, $16,800, seems like a bargain now, but that amount could have instead purchased a Rolls Royce, two Cadillac Eldorado Special Biarritz convertibles, two Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupes, or 16 BMW Isettas.

Ferrari had in 1951 begun producing the America, a limited-production, high-performance, grand touring model. Manufactured as the Type 340, 342, and 375 from 1951 until 1955, the America was followed by the Type 410 Superamerica, manufactured from 1956 until 1959. Finally came the Type 400 Superamerica, from 1960 until 1966.

These cars had low production totals: Only fifty-two Americas were produced, thirty-eight Type 410 Superamericas, and approximately fifty Type 400 Superamericas. The 410 was available as a Series I, II, or III, with production totals of 15, 8, and 15 cars respectively.

Powering these cars were “long block” V-12 engines designed by Aurelio Lampredi, the famed automobile and aircraft engine designer. The Type 340 initially produced 220 hp; by the time of the Type 410, horsepower had been boosted to 340 and later to 400.

All America and Superamerica models sported custom coachwork, usually by Pinin Farina.

Our feature car is a Type 410 Series III with triple-Weber carburetors, shown at the Kirkland, Washington Concours d’Elegance in 2010. Fielding questions for its owner Patty McBride was John Knudson.

“We’ve gone through the car,” said Knudson. “We just finished the engine, the transmission, and the rear end. We didn’t actually paint the car; we just cleaned the paint up. And we’ve done some upholstery changing but not a lot.”

The Superamerica was one of about 60 cars in the Ken and Patty McBride collection, many of which are Concours winners, including multiple awards at Pebble Beach.

“I take care of the cars,” said Knudson. “I keep them running and pull the engines and rebuild them if they need it. Jim Emmi does all the buffing and cleaning and makes sure that they shine.

“Ken, before he passed away, drove it in the Colorado Grand three years ago. He had a really good trip with it. Basically the car is a really good driver. We brought it over from Magnolia, Washington yesterday and it’s just a really nice pleasant car to drive. Everything has been rebuilt underneath.”

The Superamerica has been in the McBride collection for over eight years.

“It came from the Stan Baker estate, the gunsmith in north Seattle. Its chassis number 0475 and it is the fourth Superamerica built. It was originally beige, repainted to dark red by Baker. The future plans are to just keep it in the collection, keep it running, and on the road, so it can be driven to different car events.”

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