Ferrari Nembo Spyder

Knotty Nawadhinsukh Words by Knotty Nawadhinsukh

East Anglia Air Ambulance Service Helicopter And Crew With The Ferrari Nembo Spyder

Racing driver and motor enthusiast Richard Allen who passed away on November 26th 2016 could clearly remember the helicopter of the East Anglia Air Ambulance Service (EAAA) coming to the help of one of his fellow race drivers after a crash, hence his generous gesture – the gift of a Ferrari Nembo Spyder to be sold at auction by H&H Classics to benefit the EAAA on March 29th at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford.

The 1964 Ferrari 330GT is conservatively estimated to sell for a figure well in excess of £500,000. The car is a very rare specially commissioned Nembo Spyder and has a 4 litre V12 engine. Richard Allen acquired the Nembo from Italy in the mid-nineties and decided not to drive it on the road but display it regularly at Ferrari events in the UK. The car became the most beloved of all the cars in his extensive collection.

Patrick Peal CEO of the EAAA says: “The gift opportunity which this legacy offers would enable to us to proceed with the building of a bespoke hangar to house our Helicopter, Anglia 2, at Cambridge airport some 400 m from our base. Our own hangar next door would mean adding some 180 available shift hours a year significantly increasing the number of lifesaving missions we could fly each year.”

The estimated investment needed to build the Hangar is close to £200,000 so the lowest estimate for the car sale would comfortably cover this. The EAAA is all about changing what could be the last day of your life into one that is merely the worst day in your life. We feel deeply honoured to have been the recipient of Richard Allen’s thoughtfulness and generosity – his legacy will be to help us save many more lives.”
Respected Ferrari marque specialists such as GTO Engineering charge around £500,000 – £650,000 to make a 250GT SWB or 250 Testa Rossa replica. “The cost of making the Spyder for sale with H&H would be at least £500,000 if done by a known name Ferrari specialist,” says Damian Jones, Head of Sales at H&H who are auctioning the car in March.

Richard Allen, was chairman of the Ferrari Owners’ Club (UK) for many years. He was impressed with how H&H handled the Colton Ferrari sale which raised £10m for the RNLI and he also liked the idea of selling the Nembo in East Anglia.
Dominic Lyncker, MD of H&H Classics, says: ”We are honoured to be tasked with this sale which will bring help from the skies in much the same way as the Richard Colton Ferraris we sold for the RNLI will bring help at sea.”
Of all the Ferraris made by Neri & Bonacini, the small series of Nembo Spyders was their greatest. From a small shop in Modena, they transformed unwanted Ferrari chassis into something much more special. Built on the 250 GT platform, the Nembos were influenced by the Ferrari GTO, but featured distinctive proportions. All these cars were carefully constructed, period re-bodies that made their donor cars look staid by comparison.
Widely acknowledged as the fourth and final Nembo Spyder, chassis 5805GT was commissioned from Giorgio Neri (the ‘Ne’ of Nembo) during the 1980s by a wealthy British collector whose stable also included one of the three 330 GTOs ever made. Unlike its earlier siblings, chassis 5805GT was based around a 330 GT chassis and running gear (rather than 250-series components). The two-seater also differed in being the only right-hand drive example made. The first Nembo Spyder – chassis 1777GT – was completed in 1966 and has been credited with inspiring the design of the legendary 275 GTS/4 ‘NART’ Spyders (Luigi Chinetti of NART apparently spying it during the mid-1960s).

Posited by Cavallino Magazine as ‘The Most Beautiful Ferrari?’, chassis 1777GT began life as a 250 GT Pininfarina Cabriolet before being reconfigured by Giorgio Neri and his then business partner Luciano Bonacini with input from American enthusiast / entrepreneur Tom Meade. Legend has it that ‘Nembo’ was a contraction of the names Neri, Meade and Bonacini but the distinctive moniker was also associated with an Italian parachute regiment not to mention the ‘Nembo Kid’ (a re-branding of the comic hero Superman).
Neri and Bonacini were well known in Modenese car circles and something of an obvious choice for Meade. Not only were the pair former Maserati race engineers but they had also helped create the famous Ferrari 250GT ‘Breadvan’ and made a significant contribution to Count Giovanni Volpi’s Scuderia Serenissima. Although, Neri and Bonacini had gone their separate ways by the end of the 1960s, the former remained very much part of Italian supercar culture. Indeed at the time he was tasked with transforming chassis 5805GT, Neri was fabricating the distinctive side strakes for Ferrari’s then flagship, the Testarossa.

Still more than capable of bespoke commissions, his workshop contained a number of fascinating projects when work on the fourth Nembo Spyder began. Despite bearing a strong family resemblance to each other, no two Nembo Spyders were the same. The different commissioning owners all had subtly different briefs. The one for chassis 5805GT included a shortened wheelbase and retention of its 4 litre V12 (rated at 300bhp / 288lbft of torque), four-speed manual gearbox and other associated 330-series running gear. The two-seater aluminium bodywork was crafted to a high standard as an examination of its inner wheelarches will attest. Sadly, chassis 5805GT’s then owner ran out of funds when the project was nigh-on complete aside from its windscreen, brightwork, hood and various inner panels.
A director of the Ferrari Owners’ Club (UK) at the time, the late Richard Allen learnt of the fourth Nembo Spyder’s existence on the grapevine and journeyed to Neri’s Modenese workshop to inspect it in 1992. Accompanied by fellow marque enthusiast Tim Blackburn, the pair were impressed by the presence of a 250LM, assorted bucks / jigs and a scrapped Drogo body! Determined to make chassis 5805GT the jewel in the crown of his collection, Allen struck a deal and had the Ferrari brought back to the UK.
Interestingly, chassis 5805GT is rumoured to have covered a mere 26,000 miles or so prior to its transformation. A proud Richard Allen began showing his Nembo Spyder at Ferrari Owners’ Club Concours events in 1998 and continued to do so up until its last public outing some fifteen years later at the Club’s Waddeson Manor Concours meeting.

None of the four Nembo Spyders are eligible for Ferrari Classiche Certification because they have been re-bodied. However, the quartet remain part of a noble coachbuilding tradition and are judged by many to be among the most beautiful Ferraris ever made. There are those who consider chassis 5805GT to be a continuation car. However, others feel it has a genuine claim to being the fourth and final Nembo Spyder because of Giorgio Neri’s involvement. Certainly, few would doubt its right to wear Nembo badges in the same way that few would doubt Figoni’s ability to execute a Figoni & Falaschi design or that only Maseratis made before the founding brothers’ departure are worthy of the Trident badge.

Regardless, chassis 5805GT is a unique motor car made all the more so by the late Richard Allen’s incredibly generous decision to offer it for sale at no reserve so as to benefit the East Anglia Air Ambulance Service. We consider it to be the fourth and final Nembo Spyder, the only RHD example and the only 4-litre V12-powered one.

Richard Allen never drove chassis 5805GT in anger but nonetheless had it road registered as ‘BPR 455B’. The ‘NMB 64’ plates it wears in many of the accompanying photos were for show purposes only. Still very smart several decades after its rebirth, the Ferrari possesses a current MOT certificate valid until October 2017.