Monday 28 November 2011

Who coachbuilt Ferrari's Mini?

It is certainly no secret that Enzo Ferrari was a fan of the Mini. In fact he used an Austin Mini Cooper privately in the 1960s and according to some sources it was delivered to him personally by Alec Issigoinis. A few pictures of him with the car (and Issigonis) are known, but the thing that strikes me is that the Mini appears to be modified, or even coachbuilt. Just have a look at the faired in driving lights and replaced indicators at the front to see what I mean. And was that the only modification? The light metallic paint job may refer to more mods, as do the quarterlights in the doors.

But who carried out these conversions? I never found out. But more recently I came across some pictures of the Ferrarina (a stillborn Ferrari project for a small car that was built in a coorporation with Piero Beretta, president of the gun manufacturer - more here) and noticed the headlight arrangement of that car. It is about similar. And it dates from the same period, too. But which carrozzeria was responsible for the Ferrarina? No one seems to know. So there we go. I reckon there is a link between Enzo Ferrari's coachbuilt Mini Cooper and the Ferrarina, but which?

UPDATE 30 November 2011: 
As Jens Christian mentions in a comment below it appears there could have been more then one car. Paul Mellor thinks so, too, noting the indicator on the second picture of Enzo Ferrari's Mini looks further forward on the wing. Another interesting note came in from Alastair Brown: "Hi Jeroen, I see you are asking about the body of the Beretta Ferrarina on the blog. You have the photo from Graham Gauld's excellent 'Modena Racing Memories' shown, and in my copy, page 105 states that the Ferrarina which the Berettas saw was "in fact a bit of a mock up cobbled together by Pinninfarina using the chassis from a Fiat 1200 using some body panels from Fiats small sports car" Pinninfarina would be the obvious choice for Ferrari of that period of course. However, it seems a further sports version was built on a Bizzarini designed chassis and displayed on the Bertone stand at the Turin show in '61. don't know what it looked like though, but my guess would be that it looked like the ASA which it became. Hope this helps." I'm sure it does. Thank you, Al!

UPDATE 19 February 2014: 
Is this it? It surely looks similar, but I'm not sure. Click here

Famous picture of Issigonis and Ferrari with the latter's Mini Cooper

And another well-known photograph of Ferrari and his Mini Cooper

The stillborn Ferrarina. Headlight arrangement is similar to Enzo Ferrari's Mini
Picture courtesy Graham Gauld

Note the similarities in light arrangements. Who (coach)built these cars?


  1. Hi Jeroen & all.

    Regarding the Enzo Mini (s?)
    There are romours that he owned 2 Mini Coopers, and if you look in the pictures, does it not look like the one by the petrol station has quarter windows ? maybe its just hard to see ? but I have this picture in a book, and it really dont look like the car has quarters ? another difference, are the wheels, first car has LP882 rims in what looks like Black colour, while the other one, has LP883 rims, with Silver paint, and in this picture you can clearly see that the seat is not original = coachbuilt ?.
    Regarding quarters, some one might think "ohh its just a Innocenti" as its in Italy --
    no its not, becourse Innocenti didnt have quarter windows in the old MK I/II Mini,s

    These came on the later MK III doors.

    Jens Christian

  2. mini 30 years on by rob golding p68/69should answer the question.............downton did the engines and radford the coachwork...probably!

    daniel richmond(proprieter of downton)took enzo an automatic mini but he didnt wantit cos they forgot to make it in lhd

  3. Hello
    May I suggest another proposition :
    The quater lights may come from the previous Morris Mini Deluxe MK1 sold on the australian market: these minis were the first ones to be fitted with quater lights.
    I bought a few years agon such australian quater lights for my coachbuily project.
    Regards, Stewart KURBY

  4. Just a few observations : I can see a clear line where the quarter light is on the petrol station shot and that side light is in exactly the same place (not further forward as suggested) in both pictures. Also Downton did not tune the Enzo car pictured according to Downton staff there at the time, the car was merely spanner checked over.

  5. Hello, I hope you will be able to respond. I'm working on a tiny video about a friend of mine, she loves her mini! I've got a scene where she mentions Enzo Ferrari has one. Would love to use the second picture with permission of course. Would you be able to point me in the right direction of whom I could talk to to ask about permissions and giving credits?