This story starts in 1952 when Willamette (Willie) Keck Day decided she wanted to buy a new Ferrari. It should be noted that Willie’s husband was the principal of Superior Oil company in Los Angeles. Superior oil was later bought by Mobil for untold millions of dollars; suffice to say, for Willie, money was no object.
Willie took a trip to Maranello in early 1953 to discuss with Enzo Ferrari particulars of the car she wished to order. At that time there was a myriad of models with different bespoke coachwork on offer for this wealthy California lady. According to Ferrari a nice 212 convertible or Berlinetta would fit the bill nicely. This didn’t satisfy our Willie!
Willie’s Husband was also a car lover and Los Angeles in the early fifties was a paradise for Ferrari Maserati and Porsche sports cars. The Sports Car Club of America held many races in the region and Willie had been a spectator to these, witnessing the new Aurelio Lampredi designed large displacement Ferraris taking away the top prizes.
Willie’s idea of her new Ferrari was a 375 Mille Miglia, Pininfarina competition spider. Ferrari was aghast!!! He thought that this type of car was totally unsuitable for a woman. I must agree having owned, restored, and raced The Alberto Ascari 340/ 375 MM PF Berlinetta 0320AM. The car was a real beast with very heavy controls especially the steering and brakes. The 375MM was definitely not suited for a diminutive lady to drive.
Willie was having none of this and insisted that it was to be a 375MM spider or nothing. I am sure that this was a case of “money talks“. Ferrari who always needed money to finance his true love, racing, finally succumbed. Another important condition of sale was the car color.
All of Willie’s cars were painted the same shade of blue so a sample was handed over and with a signed contract for delivery by the end of 1954 Willie departed for Los Angeles.
When the notification arrived that the car was ready for delivery at the factory Willie departed once again for Maranello in high spirits. In those days (50s until the 70s) customer cars were delivered at Viale Trento e Trieste in the center of Modena. This building had been the Alfa Romeo Racing department under Ferrari’s management before the War. Willie checked in at the Hotel Fini and waited to following day to go meet Enzo and collect her car.
All the new cars were parked and covered until delivery to the new owners.
Willie went to meet Enzo and see her car for the first time. He took her out into the storage area where the car was parked and lifted the cover for her to see it. There was a loud gasp when she saw the car was a bright yellow.
How could Ferrari have made such a mistake! She had handed him samples of the blue color of all her cars on her trip in 1952 when she ordered it. She was furious.
Through her translator. she complained that this wasn’t how she had ordered it showing the contract she had signed stipulating blue paintwork.
Ferrari wasn’t fussed at all by this complaining lady and explained to her that He had decided on yellow paintwork with a green interior because this was much more suitable for a lady and thus was born this yellow 375MM n. 0460AM.
The car still remains today with the Day family in Nevada. In 1973 It was shown at Pebble Beach Concours where it placed 2nd behind my 212 Export Touring Barchetta 0158ED. Since then it has seldom been seen in public. This must be the most original Ferrari with the longest one family ownership in existence.