Stikkord: 52

1952 Ferrari 340 America Vignale Spider

We are proud to partner with Bonhams on this film in excited anticipation of their upcoming January Scottsdale Auction. We encourage you to learn more about this auction online at

“I searched for a car to compete in the Mille Miglia. It was quite a long process to find the right car…so I searched, but there was one problem, how to convince my wife?” says Michael Stehle. “I convinced her to come with me…I showed her the car…‘Wait, wait, let’s start the engine’— ‘OK, you can start the engine’,” she said back. Once this ex-Works 1952 Ferrari 340 Spider by Vignale had cleared its throat, the verdict was in: “OK, you can buy this car,” his wife said.

In the early 1950s, this was Ferrari’s supercar. This very car drove the Mille Miglia in 1952, with Enzo Ferrari appointing his top driver Piero Taruffi to race it—leading for much of the race before being felled by transmission troubles. Still, it would race in a number of other period events, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Targa Florio, always placing well against other top machines.

“This car, you can like it or you can love it; but in my opinion, it’s a pure racing design, it’s reduced to a minimum,” Stehle says. “In comparison to Pininfarina, this coachbuilder tried to make the car more beautiful, maybe, but Vignale was just functional—I fell in love with the shape, it’s the minimum of design.”
His first time driving the car was at the Mille Miglia, and that at first, it wasn’t easy to drive— 280 horsepower and a very lightweight body made him cautious until he grew more familiar with the car and, eventually, began to overtake his fellow drivers. But when the car was stopped during his first Mille Miglia, it was the Italian people’s unmatched respect for Ferrari that was perhaps most surprising.

“They kiss the body, they want to see inside, because they appreciate the car so much,” Stehle says. “In 1952, this was the most important car for Ferrari at that time, they didn’t make too many cars; they didn’t have too much money. So they invested time, money, and all the effort in this car.”

“For me, it’s an honor to drive this car because it’s part of this fantastic history of Ferrari.”

Drive Tastefully®

Jay Leno parades around in ’52 Chrysler Imperial


Jay Leno is not known as a quiet man. He’s a comic, after all. So how do you think it’ll go when he’s given an enormous, Chrysler Imperial parade car, complete with two meaty public-address speakers on the front bumper? Exactly.

In an amusing start to the latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, we see the eponymous star of the web series addressing the citizens of Burbank, CA from the big, comfy seat of a 1952 Chrysler Imperial Dual-Cowl Phaeton. One of just three produced by Chrysler at a price of about $33,000 a pop – a whopping $296,000 in today’s dollars – this particular example is owned and still used by the city of Los Angeles. Its most famous passengers include President Dwight D. Eisenhower and then-Vice President Richard Nixon.

Underhood, there’s a 331-cubic-inch Hemi V8 that’s been mated to a two-speed PowerFlite automatic. As for the exterior, while it may look like a 1956 Imperial, it did originally roll out of the factory in 1952. According to the LA city officials that accompanied the car, Chrysler called the three sedans back in 1955 and refitted them to fit in with the latest Imperial models.

Jay Leno's Garage
Jay Leno’s Garage

At 21.5 feet long, even in today’s world of big pickups and SUVs, this particular example occupies a big space on the road. Surprisingly, it’s still driven regularly, taking part in parades and celebrations across the City of Angels. You can check it out both in Jay’s garage and on the streets of Los Angeles in the video above.

Leno drives Henry Ford II’s all-original ’52 Ferrari 212 Barchetta

The story of the relationship between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari is absolutely fascinating. The two great men of the auto industry had what appeared to be a burgeoning friendship until Ferrari pulled out of a deal to sell his company to Ford in the ’60s. The latest car featured in Jay Leno’s Garage is a 1952 Ferrari 212 Barchetta that tells the very beginnings of that story.

This Prancing Horse was a gift to Ford from Enzo when the two companies were first thinking about merging, according to the curator of the Petersen Automotive Museum. Ferrari really wanted to show off its best so instead of the 212’s normal V12, this car was fitted with the larger 2.7-liter unit from a Ferrari 225. The car has been almost unaltered since then. It still wears its original paint, and it’s tires date back to 1954.

The great thing about the Petersen is that unlike a lot of auto museums, the people there actually drive the cars and keep them in working order. Once on the road with Leno behind the wheel, this Ferrari really sings. Unfortunately, he can’t open it up too much because the 60-year-old tires really hold things back. Scroll down to watch this amazing piece of automotive history and learn it’s possible effect on the styling of the original Ford Thunderbird.