Contrast a leisurely jaunt from Paris to Monte Carlo in a modern supercar with the challenges faced in 1951 by Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi while piloting their Ferrari at top speed in the Carrera Panamericana. The five-day, border-to-border road race, which attracted over 2 million spectators during its brief five-year life span, covered more than 2,000 miles of Mexican highway connecting Tuxtla Gutiérrez and Juárez—though the word highway is perhaps a generous description of those perilous roads.
The Italian styling studio Vignale bodied 37 of the 82 Ferraris built on the 212 Inter chassis. Equipped with a 2.6-liter V-12 engine capable of exceeding 100 mph across the Mexican countryside, the car shown here placed second in class behind a similar Ferrari piloted by the Taruffi/Chinetti team. While the latter is now lost, serial number 0161 EL has been restored to its original racing specifications, complete with sponsor Sinclair Oil Corp.’s green dinosaur on the fenders.