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Monday, April 6, 2015

What Happened To The Greatest Ever Ferrari ?

In the film Toby Dammit by Federico Fellini , part of the tryptych of short films in Spirits Of The Dead, itself based on the stories of Edgar Allan Poe , Dammit, played by Terence Stamp, is battling alcoholism, depression and fame. In an attempt to rejuvenate his career he agrees to a film to be shot in Rome for which he names his price - a Ferrari.

Although I am not particularly into cars I will say that the car that is given to Dammit to race through the streets of Rome in, is in my opinion the most beautiful Ferrari I have ever laid eyes on. Of course, the maestro Fellini helps sell the Ferrari by placing it in a dream like state outside a theatre with fog and low lighting. Dammit uses it to race through the streets of Rome to escape his existential crisis. I won't ruin the film for you but I will say that the end of the film focuses heavily on the Ferrari.

What I love about the romance of this existential crisis is that Fellini uses all the bells and whistles of cinema to create recurring imagery of fine fashion, fine cars, fine women and fine living to convey a world of false people living with false Gods in which Dammit sees the need to escape. The Ferrari, which is gold, has no top and and as Dammit speeds through the city he starts to feel a tortured freedom with the wind in his hair.

I often think of that Ferrari as the most beautiful I've ever seen and until recently I had never found any information on it. As with all things that look exceptionally unique, it was custom made for the purpose of the film.

I managed to find the history of the car on Coach Build amongst numerous other sites. It seems the car was originally a racing Ferrari model called a 330 TR-LM #0808TR. In 1963 after the racing model had finished it's career an Italian design team called Fantuzzi, who were known to customise Ferraris, pulled the original model apart and began to build the new golden Ferrari on the chassis of the old race car. The Ferrari was then offered for sale either as a Coupe or as a Spider.

After these first models were made in 1964 the Spider body was constructed onto a  #4381SA 1963 330 LM Berlinetta which was owned by a film company named Crossograph SpA. The Spider was finished with a golden paint job and was used 4 years later in the film by Fellini. Once the movie was shot, the Ferrari was then unused and sitting in a parking lot in Rome for several years. Later the original Berlinetta body was put back on the car. The Fantuzzi body was then sold on to a chap who put the golden body onto a 330 GT 2+2 #8733 of 1966-vintage and repainted it red.

So, sadly, you cannot own today the original Toby Dammit Ferrari , which was nicknamed by some as the golden shark owing to the mouth of the grill at the front. However, in 2008 an American businessman by the name of Edward Walson set about re-creating the Toby Dammit Ferrari by customising a 599 GTB Fiorano Ferrari using carbon fibre to remove the roof but keep the structural integrity of the car and then it was painted gold. The car, which is not quite as elegant as the original, is still a wonderfully sexy modern version of the Fantuzzi-Ferrari it was inspired by. It has, however, developed its own following and you can read about the P540 Superfast Aperta -  The Golden 599 - here.

So the Ferrari in the film was only that Ferrari for a short period - it was previously a race car and after it became part of two Ferraris but the shell was never made golden again. It did, however, inspire an American to  give rise to a new interpretation in 2008 with all the advancements of technology in between. In some ways it's a little like our love for cinema fashion - you can dwell on all your old great characters but unless you indulge in setting out to make a brand new piece using great cinema as inspiration, it remains about as much of a dream as Toby Dammit's little girl wandering the streets of Rome with her ball.

Consider your next project.

The unique front grill by Fantuzzi reminded some of a shark's mouth

Actor Terence Stamp plays Toby Dammit trapped in a world of alcohol, false realities, perceptions and Gods

Inspired by the film Toby Dammit, American Edward Walson creates this unique customised  599 GTB Fiorano which is then referred to as the P540 Superfast Aperta or the Golden 599.

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