A story written by Simon Haldy 

In any Ferrarist’s discussion there is one question that always recurs: “which model would you chose if you were a billionnaire?”

Most of us will reply that the 250 GTO is the one, others will say that the 250 Testa Rossa or the 250 California or the legendary 330 P4 are for sure the perfect cars to match the ideal. I noticed that few (even among the real Ferrarists) will chose the 335S, my favorite Ferrari, as the one.

And yet, this car is combining all the prewar car magic together with the 50’s glamour touch, a moment of grace, embracing 30 years of Italian engineering genius and knowledge.

The 335S is the most significant Maranello machine ever, the natural continuation of the great 20’s and 30’s Alfa Romeo adventure, a kind of delightful dinosaur. May I say the ultimate prewar car lost somewhere in the 50’s when the collaboration between Ferrari and Jano was at its peak? Something like a final act of a legendary friendship between two racing car artists, which makes it so extraordinary.

Enzo Ferrari, Vittorio Jano and his family during the 30’s

Vittorio Jano – of course the name reminds all of you of the Alfa Romeo genius, the magician responsible for most Alfa and Lancia’s successes.

Since CHB is a connoisseur’s landmark, I am sure there is no need to explain who Jano was, nor to comment the Hungarian descent engineer’s incredible career. Just for fun let’s recall some of the Master’s greatest achievements; beginning with Fiat, Vittorio then moved at Bazzi’s instigation to Alfa, where he performed miracles. The P2, P3, 6C 1500, 6C 1750, 8C 2300, 2600, Tipo A, B and Lancia D50 are among Jano’s masterpieces.

During the Twenties, for others the Roaring Twenties, Enzo Ferrari and Vittorio Jano had to work together and began to respect each other. The dream team on the go won almost everything possible and the two men became Alfa’s outrageous success team. Before leaving Alfa Romeo at about the same time due to disagreements with the Milanese brand management, their paths split for a long time to come… but history was to bring them back together again and you’ll read it later on how. I think that this period must have been the toughest professional one for the future Maranello moghul.

Between 1937 and 1955 Jano became Lancia Corse’s department genius and as a result, his D 50 was the only car capable to compete with Mercedes. Everything seemed fine at that point for the Italian Mercedes opponent. Yet destiny had  different plans for Jano’s future and this was precisely when difficulties developed inside the Lancia racing team, forcing Vincenzo Lancia to sell part of his company to Fiat and to give up racing.

While Lancia was giving up racing, Fiat, the new co-owner, decided to move all of the former Lancia Corse department to Ferrari, including cars, spare parts, tools and of course the engineers. History and events had definitely decided to make Enzo and Vittorio coming together again like in the glorious old days. The dream team was back in business again, back to win of course…

Here you see the 335S winning the 1957 Mille Miglia with Taruffi at the wheel. Sadly de Portago would never see the end of this race, having fatally crashed when he lost the control of his 335S between Cerlongo and Guidizzolo, 70 miles from Brescia, causing the death of nine onlookers.

The 335S was the crowning of this great Jano and Ferrari reunion, after Vittorio had made his comeback, working this time directly for his old friend. He became the main engine development supervisor in Maranello. Jano had the best of the Commandatore’s engineers under his command, like for instance Bellentani and Fraschetti. He put them to work on a new generation of twin cam high efficiency engines, such as the Dino V6, the future V8 and of course they began to improve the V12 by shortening it and adapting to it the typical Jano twin cam distribution.

The 335S was for sure the climax of Jano’s work and studies at the Maranello factory, the culmination of almost 40 years of a life entirely dedicated to engine research, giving him the unique knowledge to create this incredible motoring jewel (with the help of Bellentani and the 335S is therefore also called the “Bellentani Ferrari” by the purists).

This dohc, twin plug, 4023 cc 12 cylinder unit, fed by six Webers, provided about 380 HP and clearly showed Jano’s influence (a kind of D50 Lancia engine to which they added 4 cylinders). This engine was mated to a transaxle gearbox with a de Dion suspension. Still impressive today, nearly 60 years later, isn’t it?

Let’s listen to the expert, Phil Hill, the 1961 World Champion and three times Le Mans winner and so many other victories. To him the Ferrari 335S was the most sophisticated and beautiful Maranello product of all time. Hill said: “The 335S was a driver’s dream, one of those moments when a car’s development in both power and handling peaked at the same time. Not only did the V-12 have more top end power than we had seen before, but the chassis behaved better on a variety of road surfaces and was more predictable, something Ferrari race cars hadn’t seen in the previous few years…”

I am sure that you agree with Hill, as I do, that this car is so important for both Ferrari and automotive history that it should be considered the most efficient, beautiful and sophisticated front engined Ferrari ever built. Paradoxically it was around this time that Jano’s dohc’s V12 was replaced by the Colombo inspired sohc V12, which was more reliable and easier to maintain….but Jano’s spirit survived in the beautiful V6 that later powered the successful Dino. Jano’s influence lasted for a very long time and changed Ferrari’s industrial vision forever, by producing smaller engines.

Believe me, the upcoming auction of a perfect 335S by Artcurial at Retromobile next February will break all the records and return the 335S’s significance to the public at large.

The 335S is the ultimate descendant of the prewar Alfa Romeo racing cars developed by Vittorio Jano, as well as a magnificent gift from two great automotive genius.