Friday, 4 March 2011

Millionaire Mystery - Scuderia Parravano Pt 2 of 2

Last Ferrari Friday we got a glimpse of a few of Scuderia Parravano's fabulous Ferrari's financed by building millionaire Tony Parravano.

Carlyle Blackwell, Ferrari 750 Monza

Photo Carlyle Blackwell, Publised Courtesy Blackwell Archive, for sales enquiry's please e-mail and your contact details will be forwarded to the Blackwell Archive.

This week we are looking at Parravano's 750 Monza chassis number #0538 being driven by an as yet

Carlyle Blackwell, Ferrari 750 Monza

Photo Carlyle Blackwell, Publised Courtesy Blackwell Archive, for sales enquiry's please e-mail and your contact details will be forwarded to the Blackwell Archive.

unidentified driver in a studio shot by Carlyle Blackwell.

The 750 Monza took it's name from the track on which Mike Hawthorn and Umberto Maglioli took a debut victory in 1954, powered by a 250 hp 3 litre / 183 cui version of the four cylinder engine that was also used in the 500 TRC in the 1954 season. The 750 Monza allowed Ferrari to retain the World Sports Car Championship in 1954 but was not strong enough against the onslaught of the Mercedes Benz 300 SLR's to give Ferrari a third consecutive championship.

Tony Parravano is rumoured to have paid Scaglieti over the odds for the unique body work on this particular vehicle which has a narrower radiator intake and a pronounced hump over the engine compared to a standard 750 Monza.

This unique car was crashed by one of the Caroll Shelby / Gino Munaron crew in the 1955 Targa Florio and does not appear to have been driven to any victories though Richie Ginther took 2nd place at New Smyrna Beach in 1957.

In December 1956 this photograph appeared on the cover of Road & Track magazine with the caption on the inside cover that reads "The closest photographer Carlyle Blackwell could come to a red sleigh for St Nick is this 3.5 litre Ferrari. The scene is a quiet village at Christmas Eve (on the 20th Century Fox's back lot), but if the kiddies are still awake, it's not the sound of sleigh bells they'll be hearing as midnight strikes."

Ed Arnaudin who purchased a copy of this photograph recently told his son Steve that there were rumours in the 1950's about Tony Parravano having connections to 'the mob' which never gained a foothold in Southern California where Tony lived and worked, these rumours are also present on the internet today. There is however no doubt that Tony might have legitimately made a lot of money from the post WW2 housing boom in California.

In mid 1957 Tony Parravano and an associate were charged with tax evasion by the Inland Revenue Service (IRS) and Tony went on the run attempting to take some of his 11 Ferrari's and 13 Maserati's with him. Some of these vehicles were seized in the US, others were sold in Mexico. All have since been accounted for.

#0538 M pictured here only made it as far as a Save On supermarket parking lot in Van Nuys, California where it was auctioned off by the IRS for $3500 to Sydney Coolidge along with a $275 trailer in 1958. The car is known to have been used in competition until at least 1963.

Tony Parravano disappeared for good in April 1960 three days before he was due to appear in court. In January 1964 Tony's associate paid 5 x $100 dollars in fines for 5 counts on a 27 count indictment and walked away a free man while Tony's wife settled with the IRS and ended up with most of Tony's assets.

There is no official record of what became of Tony, who, if he were alive today, would be a still credible 94 years old. He is reported to have been seen in a Rome launderette by a US racing journalist and there are reports on the net that the US Attorney General had a "Parravano Room" full of evidence against Tony though the fact remains his single indictment was on tax evasion charges and his associate had to pay $500 in fines on similar charges.

In 1986 #0538M resurfaced completely unrestored fitted with a Chevrolet V8 in the hands of a Mr Bill Shaker in Leesburg, VA who neither knew of the vehicles identity or it's value. In 1987 the vehicle acquired a new war wound the day before the Ferrari Club of America National meeting when it went on an unmanned trip down a drive way and hit Mr Shakers daily driver a Volvo.

David Smith #0538's next owner managed to reunite it with it's original motor and in 1993 #0538 won the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, Richard J Fraser tells his part in the story very well on the Barchetta website here.

If anyone recognises the driver of the car in the photo please chime in below.

My thanks to Ed Arnaudin who purchased a copy of it and to his son Steve who forwarded a scan of the copy to me, my thanks also to all the contributors on various threads at Ferrari Chat and The Nostalgia Forum who have knowingly and unknowingly contributed to today's blog.

Hope you have enjoyed today's fugitive edition of 'Gettin' a lil' psyco on tyres' and that you'll join me again tomorrow for a look at a Sebring Sprite. Don't forget to come back now !

28 07 12 PS Many thanks to Pamela Blackwell who has kindly retrospectively given me permission to post the photo's her father took.