Robert C. Wilke was an interesting individual. The owner of Leader Card Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Wilke loved racing and sponsored an Indianapolis team from the 1930s to 1970. Wilke was easy to pick out at the track, thanks to his boisterous ways and to his cowboy hat. Wilke’s teams claimed victories at the Indianapolis 500 and the National Championship three times in 1959, 1962, and 1968.
Wilke was also a personal friend of Enzo Ferrari, so it made sense that when it came time for Wilke to have his own supercar, he went with a Ferrari. Wilke would eventually own seven different Ferraris, but the one that perhaps best represented the racing fan was his 1955 Ferrari 375 MM Coupe Speciale by Ghia.
Built on a 375 MM chassis, the Coupe Speciale came with a competition 340 horsepower F1-derived Lampredi V12. The engine was further boosted by including here Weber type 42 DCZ 3 carburettors. After the chassis was completed, it was shipped to Ghia of Turin for bodywork. Ghia coach built the coupe in alloy with a steel inner structure.
The car ended up being the final Ferrari done by Ghia. It was also the only one of the nine road-going coupes built on a 375 MM chassis that was done by Ghia. Ghia’s design called for an extremely long hood. The wide, egg-crate grille was flanked by front fenders. The length of the car is further emphasized by the curved glass windshield and semi-fastback roofline. Subtle tail fins completed the lines of the car while an integrated chrome bumper gave the final touch.
Such a flamboyant design also called for eye-catching paint. That job was accomplished with a two-tone colour scheme that combined Salmon with Anthracite Grey—a combo that wouldn’t work with just any car but somehow brought the whole coupe together.
Wilke’s historic 1955 Ferrari 375 MM Coupe Speciale by Ghia is up for auction through RM Sotheby’s. This one-off is expected to bring in somewhere between $5,000,000 to $7,000,000.