Uniquely bodied 1960s movie star. Fantuzzi’s Fantasy Ferrari. This unique and wild Ferrari starred alongside Terence Stamp in a Fellini movie, and its history is almost as incredible as its appearance. Marc Sonnery unravels the tale. Photography Jerry Wyszatycki.
FANTUZZI FERRARI Fellini’s film star driven and its fascinating history revealed
About four decades ago, late one night, a young teenager stumbled upon a movie on TV with the most enticing Ferrari footage ever. It was of an incredibly alluring – sexy, indeed – one-off, its body painted gold, thundering through Italy at night. Cue wide-eyed astonishment and 40 years of yearning to see it in person, that impressionable teenager was me, and this is not the tale of a car as such but the life-story of a body. Yes, those golden panels have, over the course of several decades, graced not one chassis, but two. And – briefly – even a third.
Spirits of the Dead, a trilogy of films made in 1968, featured three short stories translated by French poet Charles Baudelaire from Edgar Allan Poe writings: one each by directors Roger Vadim, Louis Malle and Federico Fellini, with leading actors such as Jane and Peter Fonda, Brigitte Bardot, Alain Delon and, in the Fellini segment, Terence Stamp. While the first two took place in the middle ages and 18th Century, Fellini’s film was contemporary, set in and around Rome. Called Toby Dammit and based on Poe’s 1841 short story Never Bet the Devil Your Head, it starred Stamp in the eponymous role of a degenerate film star coming to the Eternal City’s version of the Oscars to give the keynote speech before appearing in a film for which he would receive a Ferrari as payment. You can see where this going…
‘TO THE RACEBRED GROWL OF A V12 HE STORMS AWAY, DRIVING LIKE A LUNATIC THROUGH THE NIGHT’
Already intoxicated when he’s picked up at the airport press conference, during the limo ride Stamp shows little interest in the organisers’ talk of the imminent ceremony, pointedly asking about the Ferrari. Once in a while a ghost-like young girl appears, playing with a white ball (she is, in fact, the Devil. Do you follow? Never mind, neither did I), the awards evening starts, full-on Felliniesque in its psychedelic decadence. During his speech, and by then even more inebriated, Stamp’s character moves suddenly from Shakespearean elocution into nervous breakdown mode, shouting incoherently as the pressure and his failings become too much, then he runs from the stage, out onto the street, and looks for the car.
There, in a dimly lit alley, it awaits, menacing, a Ferrari fished out of nightmares, almost malevolent in its startling gold with a spectacular inverted U-shaped aerofoil. It’s watched by a guard, who does not realise Stamp is early. He hands him the key. Stamp deftly reaches inside (there is no outer doorhandle), jumps in, caresses the wheel, the gearlever, suddenly content… But then the organisers appear at the end of the street. ‘Mr Dammit, Toby, please come back!’ Not a chance.
To the racebred growl of a V12 he storms away, driving like a lunatic through the night, along country roads, through villages, all deserted. He becomes lost in a maze of backstreets and tiny lanes that mirror the confusion and despair in his mind, screaming hysterically, powering on as if attempting to escape his destiny yet knowing it is hopeless.
The footage is mesmerising, mixed with surreal touches such as bystanders appearing frozen in place, adding to the dreamlike effect of the sequence. Unintentionally amusing moments abound, too, such as when the car screeches its tyres… on a dirt road! The impression of speed, the pure howl of that engine, the excitement of the drive, all combine perfectly with the incredible allure of that body to make the passage unforgettable as Stamp heads recklessly for his destiny like a modern- day Icarus. As for how it ends between Toby and the little girl and her ball, you’ll need to find out for yourself. No spoiler alert here.
How did this car come to be? Well, the body itself is unique, having been created by the carrozzeria of Medardo Fantuzzi in Modena, the first chassis it was fitted to, albeit very briefly, was none other than the 1962 Le Mans-winning one-off 330 TRI no 0808, mere weeks after it had suffered engine failure at Le Mans in 1963 while being driven by Roger Penske. However, the client had other ideas and supplied a different car, fully three years younger: 0808 TRI was, in fact, based on the 1960 chassis 0780 TR. the replacement was no less than one of the three 330 LMBs, chassis 4381, one of the 4.0-litre variants of the 250 GTO configured for the newly introduced prototype class, raced just twice by the factory in 1963, at Sebring with Parkes and Bandini, and at Le Mans with Guichet and Noblet. Having finished neither race, it was sold on.
Fiorenzo Fantuzzi is the son of Medardo and himself founded a restoration shop. ‘I was at university in Bologna at the time but I was at the carrozzeria often,’ he says, ‘the 330 LMB was owned by Roman millionaire Pasqualino Alecce [son and heir of the pharmaceutical magnate Pasquale Alecce]; he had just bought it from Scaglietti and had the car brought to our workshops at Via Accolti 38 in Modena, near the Autodromo, asking for a completely new bespoke body. Naturally we were very dubious about his request so we asked the factory if this was acceptable: he wanted to remove the LMB body entirely.
‘The factory answered: “Don’t worry he is an excellent client, you can do what he wishes. And he will pay without problem.” So we removed the LMB body, this was late 1963, early ’1964.
In winter we had to keep our craftsmen busy when racing car designs had not yet been decided, so it was perfect timing. Doing one-off road cars in winter was almost routine.’
Regarding the styling, he adds: ‘Mr Alecce had just one simple request. He wanted a design inspired by the Scuderias sports prototype, the 250P.’ Hence the roll hoop. But as to why that striking Oro Antico hue was chosen, Fantuzzi is unsure, although it seems likely that such an unconventional colour would have been requested by the owner rather than specified by the coachbuilder.
Then followed a life as leisure transportation, but the film world soon found a use for this car’s unique allure. It was actually used briefly in two other films, albeit very forgettable Cinecitta jobs, the first one was made in 1965, three years before Toby Dammit. Called (in its native Italy) James Tont Operazione UNO, its lead ‘Goldsinger’ baddie is more than suggestive of its nature as a mediocre Bond spoof.
the other, Capriccio all’ Italiana, dates from 1968, a silly sketch movie in which the car is seen stuck in a huge traffic jam as actress Silvana Mangano nags at her husband for not moving faster. Interestingly, she was the wife of producer Dino de Laurentiis, the man behind many of Fellini’s films, ironically reflecting the cliquey nature of the movie business so pointedly derided in Toby Dammit.
Beyond its cinematic exploits, the car was driven to Monaco in 1966, where it graced Place du Casino, parked in front of the Hotel de Paris. And Edgardo Mungo, a Roman gentleman driver, recalled: ‘the gold movie car was driven around Rome quite a bit, slowly, by this old man with a hat, including the traditional parade down Via Veneto during aperitivo time.’ It should be mentioned that Fantuzzi rebodied another car in a similar way for Luigi Chinetti, using a 250 GTE (chassis 2235) crashed in Argentina, complete with ‘basket handle’ but far less well-proportioned. It was shown at the 1966 New York auto show and survives in the USA. there is also a fairly recently made red replica of the gold Fantuzzi body, in Italy, on 330 GT chassis 5725, but it’s glassfibre; I saw it in Bologna in 2012. Finally an evocation of the gold car was made by Ferraris special projects department for VIP client Ed Walson in 2009: the P540 Superfast Aperta, based on a 599 GTB.
Says Fantuzzi: ‘At the end of that chapter of its life, chassis 4381 was bought by Fabrizio Violati who had us reconfigure it to original body shape Las a 330 LMB]. Before that, the one-off gold body was removed and fitted to a 330 GT street car Lchassis 8733] and painted red. It remained in Italy for a few years and later went to Germany.’
The 330 LMB then went on to a life of vintage racing and concours. Meanwhile, the back-story of chassis 8733: this 330 GT had been sold new in Italy to a Pietro Capocaccia in Genoa, was later damaged, then bought in 1978 by Giulio Dubbini in Padua and fitted with engine no 5917 in 1979. A year later it received the Fantuzzi body.
The newly clad machine was bought in July 1981 by Andrea Auletta from Bologna, who took it to the 1983 Ferrari Days in Modena, a major event where Enzo himself greeted participants as they drove through the factory buildings. In 1985 it was sold to Vittorio Gatti of Casalgrande, who kept it for a short spell before it was spotted at Ferri Auto, a Modena dealership. Around 1989 it was bought by a German based in Munich, and seen at the Nurburgring Oldtimer Grand Prix 1991 parked in the club enclosures before being repossessed by a Czech bank in the 1990s, after which Bernd Frank, from a village near Stuttgart, bought it in 1999. It was during his tenure that the only previous article about it was published in the German magazine Focus.
It found its current owner in the USA in 2005. He has kept alowprofile, not participating in events, though it was spotted around Bridgehampton on New York’s Long Island. Historian Marcel Massini provided the decisive clue when he mentioned he had seen it at dealer Tom Papadopouloss premises, the latter kindly put me in touch with the owner.
And so, 40 years after first seeing Toby Dammit misbehaving in that wildest of Ferraris, there it was, in a warehouse in the Hamptons. A truly magic moment. Now painted deep red, it looks breathtaking, and has obviously been impeccably restored. Enter John Stankiewicz of Timeless Classics Automotive.
‘I was tasked with restoring it in 2008. It ran but was a bit rough, it needed a paint job, the fuel pump and brakes were failing, the carburettors needed to be rebuilt and so on_ ‘the engine was tired but we went ahead with all those things first so we could drive it. then, once we got the car running and sorted properly, we decided to rebuild the engine, which was a 4.0-litre, and upgrade it. Since the liners and pistons were so worn we made it a 4.4-litre. We used JE custom-made pistons, we had custom ground cams made for it, the cylinder heads are ported and everything else was just freshened-up as per factory spec. On the dyno we saw 396bhp at 7200rpm. the idea was to keep it usable on the street, idle smooth, yet up the wow factor a little.
‘The chassis, suspension and gearbox were in good shape and had been attended to previously. For the repaint it was stripped to bare aluminium; there were signs of previous poor repairs so the metalwork was done properly, the Plexiglas windscreen and headlight covers were cracked and yellowed so they were remade. It had its first public showing in the summer at the Bridge III show in Bridgehampton, where it certainly garnered a lot of admirers.’
Free from the tethers of practicality, lacking a proper windshield and any sort of roof, this special car has an unfair advantage over other, more pedestrian Ferrari designs. Arguably at the zenith of Ferrari 1960’s design, it belongs in the realm of fantasy, there could not have been a more appropriate co-star for Toby Dammit.
The cockpit is pure joy in its minimalist design; all it contains is focused on the driving experience, the windscreen is just high enough that the wind passes over the forehead rather than into the eyes, and the absence of any pillars makes you feel free, not hemmed-in as you might in a modern spider, the seating position is near-ideal and the car is as pleasant to tool around in as it is tremendously exciting and rewarding here at Bridgehampton Race Circuit. Impeccably sorted, with light steering, it brakes straight, turns instantly with very little roll, and feels ready for any challenge.
Almost sinful, right, Mr Dammit? Some prefer more toned-down Ferraris such as the 330 GTC but I’d wager they might change their minds if they saw this temptress. Hopefully it will appear again at more events, like a diva making an appearance to rapturous applause.
Just call me Toby and give me my reward so I can roar into the Roman night. But you can keep the little girl with the white ball.
THANKS TO the owner, and to John Stankiewicz, Tom Papadopoulos and Marcel Massini.
‘FREE FROM THE TETHERS OF PRACTICALITY, THIS CAR BELONGS IN THE REALM OF FANTASY’
Clockwise from left Fantuzzi was originally gold; starring with Terence Stamp in Toby Dammit; at rest at Modena; painted red in Germany; missing its nose-badge in Rome after filming; odd tail rivets; in Monaco in 1966. Below and facing page: Chassis plate relates to this body’s third, 330 GT-based, set of underpinnings; Nardi steering wheel has the usual maker’s signature; shape was inspired by 250P endurance racer.
‘BEYOND ITS CINEMATIC EXPLOITS, THE CAR WAS DRIVEN TO MONACO IN 1966, WHERE IT GRACED PLACE DU CASINO’
TECHNICAL DATA FILE SPECIFICATIONS 1963/1964 Fantuzzi-bodied Ferrari 330 GT
Engine: 4390cc 60° V12, SOHC per bank, three Weber 40 DCZ twin-choke downdraught carburettors
Max Power 396bhp @ 7200rpm / DIN nett
Max Torque c310lb ft @ 5500rpm / DIN nett
Transmission: Five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Steering: Worm and sector
Front: double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar.
Rear: live axle, radius arms, leaf springs, telescopic dampers.
Brakes: All Discs