1959 Stanguellini Monoposto Formula Junior - SOLD
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  • Overview & History
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It is one of the most significant and original of all the FJ Monoposto cars, showcasing period workmanship and engineering as it was, not as we wish it would be.

You might be forgiven for not recognizing the name "Stanguellini" but it's an important part of motorsports history that any enthusiast of the golden years of Formula 1 should recognize. There's a great deal of history involved and while the basics are easy to summarize, it's worth your while to take a deeper, closer look at these wonderful little machines and the men behind them.

Vittorio Stanguellini was Enzo Ferrari's closest friend and the two shared a mutual passion for motorsports throughout the 1920s and 30s. Following World War II, they each founded firms to produce bespoke sports cars intended for the track. Enzo, of course, created some of the most legendary competition machines ever built, while Vittorio built smaller, more affordable racers designed to introduce new drivers to the sport. There is a tale that Vittorio promised Enzo that they would never be competitors, a promise that Enzo surely found reassuring given Vittorio's immense engineering talent. There might even be some truth to it, because today the very first thing you see upon entering the Ferrari Museum in Modena is a Stanguellini FJ Monoposto (single seat) situated on an elevated platform, indicative of the high esteem with which Enzo regarded his friend's most famous creation.

The Stanguellini family owned the very first Fiat dealership (which is still in business to this day) and built a reputation before the war tuning Fiats (among other marques) for street and competition, and in fact won the 1938 Targa Florio in a Maserati 6CM. Going fast was second nature. In the late 1950s, a growing global interest in motorsports led to the creation of Formula Junior, which was designed to give new drivers experience before graduating to Formula 2 and Grand Prix racing. The series was extremely competitive from 1958 through 1963, with many notable racers getting their start at the wheel of cars identical to this little red racer, including Jo Siffert, Lorenzo Bandini, Wolfgang "Taffy" von Trips, and Richie Ginther. It is rumored that even Juan Miguel Fangio was part of the Stanguellini FJ development team. The Stanguellini FJ Monposto was the single most successful of these Formula Junior racers, based on Fiat Topolino mechanicals with lovely aluminum bodywork by Vaccari & Baccrini-Carrozzeria Gransport of Modena, capturing more than 40 titles between 1958 and 1960. Sadly, the introduction of rear-engined cars by Cooper and Lotus ended Stanguellini's dominance and some would say the series was never the same, as Formula Junior ended after the 1963 season. Somewhere around 150 Stanguellini Monoposto Formula Junior racers were built and they remain a favorite of vintage racers to this day for their performance, reliability, and exceptional ease of use. They are beautiful, fast, and ideally designed for the driver who is eager to improve his skills without outgrowing his car. Don't be fooled by its size or specifications—this is a legitimate race car with significant performance.

This particular Stanguellini FJ is chassis number 00137, built in June 1959, and was purchased new by a young American named Peter Carpenter, who was traveling in Europe when he discovered Formula Junior racing in late 1958. The car competed throughout Europe during the 1959 and 1960 Formula Junior seasons, earning several impressive finishes for its admittedly green owner/driver:

5th place, Autodromo, Monza, Italy, June 1959
2nd place, Circuito Di Salerno, Italy, July 1959

Carpenter also took the car to Havana, Cuba to compete against drivers from the other side of the globe and generated additional podium finishes:

2nd place, Gran Premio, Habana, Cuba, February 1960
11th place, Gran Premio Della Libera, Habana, Cuba, February 1960

After the races in Cuba, however, it was abundantly clear that rear-engined cars were the way of the future. Its last known race was at Sebring in April 1960, with Carpenter moving on to a Lotus in 1961.

We do not have history on chassis #137 between when Carpenter stopped racing it and 1971, which it went on display in a private museum in Miami, Florida, but it is likely that Carpenter kept the car in his possession as it remains largely in as-raced condition without updates or modifications that would suggest it continued to race under different ownership. It retains its original Fiat 1100 cc four-cylinder engine (serial number 889318), original carburetors, original suspension and brakes, and even original Borrani wire wheels. Unlike so many other Stanguellini racers, it has not been updated for modern vintage racing, it shows no signs of period injuries and repairs, and it has never been fully disassembled for restoration or renovation. As such, it is one of the most significant and original of all the FJ Monoposto cars, showcasing period workmanship and engineering as it was, not as we wish it would be.

It remained in that Miami museum until 1994 when it was purchased by its third owner, which is how the car arrived in our showroom. Under the third owner's care, it was extensively serviced to put it into 100% operational condition (although we should note it is not race-ready or certified for current track use). It was repainted in its original Rosso Corsa bright red livery, although the owner found the shiny perfection of the fresh paint to be incompatible with the vintage racer and its history. Pete's Custom Coachbuilding was commissioned to "age" the finish and give it a more period-correct look, including re-creating Peter Carpenter's #31 "gumballs" on the nose and tail. It now looks very much like an appropriate vintage artifact from the golden age of Grand Prix racing. Sitting on those almost delicate Borrani wire wheels, it is simply beautiful from any angle.

The single seat was also restored with period red pleated leather, replacing a vintage racing seat that was probably installed by Carpenter himself. The remainder of the interior remains original, including the transmission tunnel next to the driver's right thigh, the lovely wood-rimmed steering wheel, and engine-turned instrument panel. The only gauges are oil pressure, water temperature, and a tachometer, and you'll note red markings on their faces indicating optimal operating ranges. There is also a small switch panel to the right of the shifter with a master battery cut-off switch, ignition switch, and starter button, with the battery and a vintage fire extinguisher just after. The inner panels are painted aluminum and the various scuffs and bruises are authentic, earned over the decades. The pedals, the Perspex windshield, and the snap-on black canvas cockpit tonneau are all believed to be original to the car.

Formula Junior was a spec racing series built on production car components, with the Stanguellini running a 1089 cc inline-four from a Fiat Topolino. Tuned with dual Weber DC0E28 carburetors and other tricks Stanguellini learned over the years, it made a rather robust 78 horsepower—not a big number until you realize that the entire car weighs less than 1000 pounds. This is the car's original engine and while it has surely been rebuilt over the years, it remains in original specification and retains most of its original parts, with only service items being replaced over the years. You will note that the engine is canted to the right side of the car to facilitate running the driveshaft next to the driver, and the engine is canted at a slight angle to keep the hood low. The lift-off aluminum hood also has a scoop designed to fit over the Webers' throats to force-feed them fresh, cool air. The only notable demerits are a non-period radiator cap and some modern wiring for the ignition coil, both easily remedied if absolute accuracy is your goal.

The transmission is a 4-speed manual, also from the Topolino, feeding a live axle rear end suspended on coil springs. The car's custom tube frame chassis is very visible throughout the engine bay, integrating the Topolino's front suspension, steering, axle, and drum brakes, all of which were effective yet designed to control costs. Production-based hardware makes service easy and the hardware is quite robust, standing up to the rigors of the track without apparent issues. Again, we believe all the chassis components are original to the car with only service items having been replaced. The car sits on its original painted Borrani knock-off wire wheels with vintage-looking 4.50-12 front and 5.5-14 rear Dunlop racing tires.

In addition to its notable racing history, this car has been extensively shown and invited to gatherings of exceptional automobiles, including the Meadowbrook Hall Concours d'Elegance, the Concours d'Elegance at Stan Hywet Hall, as a featured car in the "bunker" at the Greenbrier Concours, the Cortile at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, and has been featured in countless magazine features, photography books, calendars, and websites. A rare (and expensive) English-language copy of the Orsini & Zagari book "Stanguellini – Big Little Racing Cars" is also included with the sale (chassis #00137 is listed in the book).

Chassis 00137 is also available with a custom-made enclosed trailer.

Stanguellini FJ #00137 represents a rare and unique opportunity to own what is arguably the most beautiful Formula Junior car ever built, one that was also dominant in its day and with a genuine period race history. As an artifact, it remains exquisite in authenticity and detail, and would be ideal for display purposes in any collection. With appropriate upgrades, it could also be used for vintage racing where these cars continue to be competitive and easy to drive, not to mention economical to race. It remains the quintessential front-engined Formula Junior racer from the golden age of racing where men were men and the cars were elemental and exquisite.

NOTE: Sold on bill of sale only.

Vehicle: 1959 Stanguellini Monoposto Formula Junior
Price: SOLD
Stock Number: 115128
Odometer Reading: N/A
VIN: 137
Engine: 1089 cc inline-4
Transmission: 4-speed manual
Gear Ratio: 3.89
Wheelbase: 80 inches
Wheels: Front 12x4, Rear: 13x6 Borrani wire wheels
Tires: Front: 4.50L-12, Rear: 5.50L-14 Dunlop
Exterior Color: Rosso Corsa
Interior Color: Red leather
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