Well before the 206 and 246, Dino established the market for a Junior Ferrari, Enzo sought to extend the reach of his company and improve the bottom line via an entry-level GT car. Some at Ferrari, including Il Commendatore himself shared the concern that a junior model could cheapen the brand, so to minimize risk, the plan was to design and engineer the car within the hallowed walls of Maranello, but actual construction of the vehicle would fall to an outside firm. At a year-end press conference in 1959, Enzo displayed a prototype of the engine and announced it would go into a specially designed small-bore sports car. Known internally as “ Tipo 854” (850cc, four cylinders), the tiny engine looked very much like one-third of a 250-series V12 (if you imagine another inline four and a V4 left over). While in development, the engine appeared in a modified Fiat 1200 test mule fitted with a strange mix of leftover and new Pininfarina panels and built by Scaglietti to look like a miniature 250 PF Coupe. Journalists dubbed the car “Ferrarina” despite it wearing nothing in the way of identification (save for a mysterious machine gun emblem) as they had spotted none other than Enzo Ferrari himself driving the prototype every day as part of its development.
Enzo Ferrari never had the intention of building the car himself despite his staunch support of the project. He shopped around the initial prototype to several manufacturing facilities (including an Italian arms company, explaining the badging) but found no takers. Regardless, development continued, as the great Giotto Bizzarrini designed a new chassis to accommodate an updated, 985 c.c. version of the four-cylinder engine. The tubular frame resembled that of a scaled down 250 GT, with double wishbones up front, a live axle with trailing arms in the rear and a set of specially designed Dunlop disc brakes. Pairing with the new chassis was a lovely fastback body by Bertone. Finally, a deal was struck with the De Nora family of Milan to build the car under the newly formed Autocostruzioni Societa per Azioni (A.S.A.) banner. Despite its exquisite quality and Ferrari cachet, sales never really took off, and ASA could not build enough cars to keep costs low enough to compete with Lancia, Alfa Romeo or even Abarth. In a last-ditch effort to save the project, the De Nora family added a lovely little Spider to the lineup. In the end, just 52 coupes, 14 spiders and 20 post-Ferrari “Berlinetta 411s” were produced. Only 32 coupes came to the USA, and today only 3 Spiders are known to reside on our shores. Despite the commercial failure, the ASA 1000 GT laid the groundwork for the successful Dino to follow, and it is highly regarded among collectors of classic Italian etceterini and Ferrari vehicles.
This exquisite 1965 ASA 1000 Spider is one of just seven known survivors from a production run of only fourteen open-topped cars. The delectable Spider version of the ASA Mille debuted at the Turin Motor Show in 1963. The Bertone family resemblance to the GT sibling was evident, however, the Spider differed significantly in specification. For starters, the chassis was completely redesigned. While still a Giotto Bizzarrini creation, the Spider’s multi-tube backbone frame was completely unique compared to the coupe’s traditional oval tube style frame. Suspension components were shared between the two cars, although the Spider used wider, 13 x 4.5-inch wheels all around. The body looked the same as the Coupe; however, it was built entirely in high-quality, lightweight fiberglass by Corbetta in Italy. The jewel-like engine, 4-wheel disc brakes, and four-speed overdrive gearbox remained unchanged. Thanks to the construction, the Spider weighed just 780 kg. The lovely little ASA Spider hit the market at the same price as the coupe, and despite its undeniable beauty, sales never took off. While reports vary, it is generally accepted that ASA produced only fourteen open-topped 1000 Spiders.
Chassis number 11014 is one of the finest surviving examples of the ASA Spider extant. In the hands of its most recent owner, it received a complete, body-off restoration finished to concours standards. It is believed this car appeared at the 1965 Geneva Auto Show and was then sold to a buyer in Spain, although little else is known about its early ownership history. Documents show the car was on the West Coast of the USA in the late 1990s, under the stewardship of Mr. M.J. “Tim” Matthews. At the time, it was finished in silver with a black interior and appeared to be a sound, driver-quality car. Around 2000, he sold the car, and receipts indicate it received an engine rebuild in 2002/2003. The current owner acquired 11014 from Hyman Ltd in approximately 2009, and he soon commissioned a complete, nut-and-bolt restoration.
Photos show the body was removed, and the chassis completely restored and detailed to a high standard. The body was then refinished in a gorgeous shade of dark metallic blue, and trimmed with stunning tan Connolly hides. The team completed the project just in time for its debut at the 2015 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Since the restoration, it has remained in the owner’s vast collection of significant automobiles and professionally maintained in impeccable order.
The dark blue paintwork is gorgeous, accented with exquisitely restored chrome bumpers and body trim. Body fit is excellent, with straight, clean reflections in the panels. Contrasting the fine metallic blue paint is a beautiful interior trimmed in tan Connolly leather. It lives up to the junior-Ferrari ethos, feeling every bit like a scaled-down 250 PF Cabriolet inside. Tan hides cover the seats, door cards, and the beautifully quilted parcel shelf. Light tan Wilton carpets, bound in matching leather, are fitted with the same level of care. All of the upholstery presents in excellent condition, appearing fresh and taut with virtually no wear since the restoration. From the driver’s seat, a lovely three-spoke wood rim wheel sits ahead of a bank of fully restored ASA-branded Jaeger instruments.
Beneath the forward-hinged bonnet rests the tiny jewel of a 1-liter inline-four. Ensuring the engine was as fresh and robust as the rest of the car, a full teardown and rebuild were undertaken, and it now presents with outstanding detail. The satin black engine sheet metal is accurately detailed with proper wiring, hardware, and fittings including the Fram oil filter housing. Twin Weber 40 DCOE carburetors feed the little four, which runs beautifully and sounds utterly magnificent breathing through the factory-correct exhaust. Being a proper GT car, power goes through a four-speed manual with overdrive to allow for effortless cruising.
Rarely available on the open market and seldom restored to such a high standard, this ASA 1000 Spider is one of the most fascinating and evocative of all the 1960s Italian etceterini. This example benefits from expert care in the hands of a dedicated collector, and it is equally suited to carving sinuous back roads or gracing prestigious concours fields of the world.