Ferrari 410 Superamerica, ever more super

The Ferraris are increasingly cult objects for the US market in the 1950s, which is why in 1956 a further evolution of the America family was presented, now named Super.

Going a step back, the America series was born on the advice of Luigi Chinetti, official importer of Ferraris overseas, who invited the founder to produce a variant of his Gran Turismo designed for the needs of the North American market, at that time the richest in the world.

Therefore, road cars derived from the racing world are born, albeit in a less exasperated way than the racing Ferraris, and characterized by more generous engines and dimensions. The cars were immediately appreciated by customers, however, in the mid-1950s, some US productions were able to burn much more prestigious cars such as Ferraris in the standing start, and Chinetti himself states that while an owner of an MG can bragging about handling, an easy-to-maneuver four-speed manual gearbox and good brakes, someone paying $ 12.000 for their sleek Italian steed can't use that kind of streamlining after an American barge just left it standing at a traffic light.

Hence the need to take another step forward: the Ferrari 410 Superamerica appeared at the Paris Motor Show in 1955, only in a static version, while for the first presentation of a real model we had to wait for the Brussels Motor Show, in January 1956.

The name maintains the common thread with both the Ferrari tradition and the America series: the number indicates the unit displacement, while the initials pay homage to the most prosperous market of this historical period, with the prefix Super to emphasize the dedication more.

This model is produced in three series for a total of only thirty-three examples: sixteen of the first, only five of the second, while there are twelve examples of the third evolution.

Starting from the technique, especially the chassis and chassis, the 410 Superamerica is closer to the legendary Ferrari 250 family rather than being an evolutionary continuation of the 375 America. In fact, the tubulars of the traditional steel frame are positioned above the rigid bridge, while in previous Americas they passed below.

The wheelbase was optional by the customer with two configurations, 2.800 millimeters, or 2.600 millimeters.

Independent wheels at the front, wishbones and individual shock absorbers ensure driving precision, while at the rear, in addition to the rigid axle, it is equipped with semi-eliptical leaf springs and hydraulic shock absorbers. The drum brakes on all wheels appear to be the weak point of this Gran Turismo, but only after an exasperated and stressful drive for the mechanical components.

Furthermore, the feeling is typical of the cars of this era.

As usual, the numbering of road frames ends with an odd number, accompanied by the suffix SA. The engine, type 126, is in effect a relative of the long block mounted on the previous 375, but with the same stroke, the bore that now measures 88 millimeters grows, bringing the final displacement close to five liters. Fuel is provided by three Weber 40 DCF double-barrel carburettors, while ignition is entrusted to a double coil and the distribution system that allow this thoroughbred to deliver 340 horsepower.

The third series, internal reference 514/A, keeps the mechanics of the car unchanged even though it is only available with a wheelbase of 2.600 millimeters, however there are significant improvements to the engine to obtain the final power of 360 horsepower.

In detail, for the first time a Ferrari presents spark plugs outside the V of the cylinders, the mechanical coupling between the liners themselves and the use of head gaskets. The 126/58 engine also has a feature worthy of racing Ferraris: the connecting rods are machined from solid and not from forging.

The carburetors are now 46 millimeters, while the gearbox remains a four-speed synchronized, identical to that of previous versions, but with the opportunity to choose various available ratios.

These changes allow the Ferrari 410 Superamerica to reach 262 km/h.

It is more complicated, despite the small number of units produced, to draw an aesthetic guideline: in fact, the wide choice of customization and the exclusivity of the first customers makes it practically impossible to configure one car the same as another.

The car is designed and built by Pininfarina, with the exception of three examples respectively by Scaglietti, Boano and Ghia.

Returning to the Cambiano coachbuilder's cars, the front is very similar to the 250 GT, with single headlights and ogival grille and Prancing Horse in the center that are increasingly becoming an icon of Ferrari style. The very long front bonnet and the cockpit set back streamline the profile of the car that ends at the rear with a veiled hint of fins, a very popular stylistic theme in the post-war United States.

Support lights are often inserted in the grille. The end result is a berlinetta with an Italian spirit and, thanks to the touch of Pininfarina, increasingly recognizable as a Ferrari.

The other body shops, on the other hand, have indulged more in dressing this Prancing Horse, and have been more influenced by American fashions: these are easily recognizable by observing the rear area characterized by more or less large fins, up to the disproportion. Scaglietti is the one who remains most faithful to our spirit and taste, Boano stands in the middle, while Ghia surprises by dressing his latest Ferrari in a flashy way.

A unique case is chassis number 0473, built by Ghia for Mr. Wilke, a great racing fan. Stylistically, the car line is inspired by some of Ghia's creations for Chrysler, in particular the Dart for the grille and the treatment of the boot. Excessive, even for the times, the ornamental fins on the tail.

An episode highlights the qualities of this Gran Turismo: Wilke loves to drive his Superamerica and once, when he comes off a highway near New York, he is chased by the police. The owner decides to embark on an improvised race with the patrol equipped with a souped-up car: the agents will only be able to catch the driver and his Ferrari in the parking lot of a restaurant, with the car parked, after the patrol had been sown on the road.

Wilke will get away with a fine.

Finally, mention should be made of the Superfasts: two experimental cars made by Pininfarina, with some better engine techniques and stylistic experiments inherited from subsequent series Ferraris. In particular, the faired headlights, and a new interpretation of the front, will be taken from the next 400 Superamerica.

The Ferrari 410 Superamerica plays an important role in the history of the Prancing Horse, because it fully demonstrates the reaction capacity of a small factory forced to enter the traditional market to give a future to its racing department, the real beating heart of the Maranello company.


Car body

Two seats

Front engine

Rear-wheel Drive

Size and Weights

Front track 1455 mm

Rear track 1450 mm

Wheelbase 2800-2600 mm

Unladen mass 1200 Kg

100 liter tank


Displacement 4962.96 cm³

Type V12 60°, front, longitudinal

Bore and stroke 88x68 mm

Compression ratio 8.5:1

Unit displacement 413.58 cm³

Single shaft distribution, two valves per cylinder

Powered by three Weber 46 DCF/3 carburettors


Power 250 kW / 340 hp at 6000 rpm

Specific Power 69 hp/liter (53 kW/liter)

Maximum torque 421 Nm at 5000 rpm

Specific torque 85 Nm/liter

Mono ignition, two distributors

Wet sump lubrication

Multi-plate clutch

Four-speed gearbox + RM


Tubular steel

Independent front suspension, transverse wishbones, coil springs, hydraulic shock absorbers

Rigid axle rear suspension, lateral struts, longitudinal semi-elliptical leaf springs, hydraulic shock absorbers

Drum brakes

Worm and sector steering

Front tires 6.50 x 16

Rear tires 6.50 x 16

16" rims

Performance declared

Speed 262 Km/h

Acceleration from 0 to 100 Km/h in six seconds

Luca Saitta


Who Are

© 2021 Osservatore Sportivo