Vignale-bodied 1952 Ferrari 342 America is a star at Greenwich—and everywhere else
Dennis and Susan Garrity’s 1952 Ferrari 342 America, with coachwork by Vignale, has spent most of its existence at the front of the line, so it looked slightly out of place at the rear of The Grand Tour at the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance on Friday. It didn’t stay there for long.
The Ferrari will be among 14 elegant Vignale-bodied automobiles—six of them Ferraris—to grace the lawn at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park for Sunday’s concours. The 342 America is one of only six built (three cabriolets, three coupes) and the only one bodied by Alfredo Vignale’s design house in Grugliasco, near Turin. The rest of the 342s went to fellow Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina.
The Garritys, who live a world away from Grugliasco in Green Bay, Wisconsin, purchased the unique Ferrari (chassis / engine #0232AL) at RM Sotheby’s Monterey Auction in 2017.
“We have other Ferraris, and we wanted something unique,” Dennis Garrity says. “We had our eye on five or six cars when this one came up. It was more than we wanted to pay, but we knew we wouldn’t get another chance anytime soon, so we jumped on it.”
Designed by Giovanni Michelotti, the 342 America has museum-quality credentials, but it’s no trailer queen. “It’s been all over the world,” Garrity says. “Italy (Villa d’Este), Switzerland (Swiss Concours d´Elegance Coppet), London (Salon Privé), Pebble Beach …” And now Greenwich, Connecticut, where the Garritys enjoyed driving it on the 80-mile tour.
The 342, one of the earliest “ultra-Ferraris” to wear the America nameplate, was a luxurious and powerful touring car designed and built for Ferrari’s top clients, including King Leopold of Belgium. Enzo Ferrari even owned one. The best of the bunch was #0232AL, which was test-driven by the factory on October 27, 1952, and delivered to Odofranco “Otto” Wild of Muri, Switzerland, on January 14, 1953.
Built with an extended 104-inch wheelbase to accommodate its larger, 200-horsepower Lampredi V-12, the car’s “AL” designation stands for “America Lungo,” which translates to Long America. All six automobiles are left-hand drive.
Among the Vignale-bodied Ferrari’s unique features are the slotted taillights, which are recessed into the fenders. With a boxier silhouette than the typical Ferrari, the 342 America looks a bit like a Cunningham C-3, which makes sense when you consider that Vignale bodied those too.
After Wild’s ownership, the Ferrari was eventually exported to the U.S. in the late 1950s or early ’60s, when it was purchased by T. Dan Smith of Los Angeles. Smith sold it to friend Norman Snart of Hayward, California, in 1971, and Snart owned the car for more than 20 years before selling it to Paul Forbes in 2004. It changed hands again in 2007 before Dennis and Susan Garrity bought it 10 years later.
Although the 342 America had been restored just prior to the Garritys’ ownership, they immediately began a full restoration that would take two and a half years to complete and would change 0232AL’s color scheme from metallic green and white to light metallic blue. Wisconsin’s Motion Products did the bulk of the work, and David Carte did the finishing touches.
The meticulous work resulted in exactly what the Garritys were hoping for when they acquired the car: a star among the stars that shines even when it happens to be at the end of the line.