The 1973 Ferrari 365 GT 2+2 doesn’t figure to draw the highest bids Monday at Coys’ True Greats auction at the Royal Horticultural Society in London, but its next owner will drive away with a great story.
The car, one of only 55 high-hand-drive models, formerly was owned by British boxer Henry Cooper, who used his famed left hook — “Enry’s ‘Ammer” — to knock down Muhammad Ali in the fourth round of their fight June 18, 1963, when Ali still fought under his given name, Cassius Clay.
Clay rallied to win the fight in the following round, and they fought again three years later before becoming lifelong friends. (Cooper was ahead on the scorecards in their 1966 bout when a cut under one of Cooper’s eyes gave Ali the victory on a technical knockout.)
Cooper became a popular British radio and television commentator after his boxing career and is the only boxer to receive knighthood. He died in 2011.
At Coys sale, his Ferrari will be offered along with a pair of signed boxing gloves. Also being sold is a model of a Henry Cooper statue with funds from that piece of art benefiting the London Ex-Boxers Association, which plans to erect a full-size statue of Cooper at the Fellowship Inn in Bellingham in 2017 “in recognition not only for what he (Cooper) achieved in boxing but for the great contribution he made to many charities and more important as an example to young people.”
Cooper lived and trained at the inn before his fight with Ali. The building is undergoing restoration. Coys used it as a backdrop for the photo shoot of Cooper’s Ferrari.
“The project will secure the future of the community pub while creating more than 70 jobs and lots of training and volunteering opportunities,” said Alan Hall, councilor for the Lewisham district. “Henry Cooper is a Bellingham local legend, it was great to see the car back in the area where he grew up and the interest it created amongst locals — hope it’s a knockout sale!”
Cooper’s four-seat Ferrari is powered by a 400-horsepower, 4.4-liter V12. Even weighing in at 3,190 pounds, it sprints to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and can hit 165 mph. The car’s pre-auction estimated value is £55,000 to £70,000 ($68,500 to $87,000).
“He loved his cars, was a great motorsport enthusiast and at one point even did some club racing alongside his great friend Graham Hill,” Coy’s Chris Routledge said of Cooper. “Known as Enry’s Ferrari by various marque specialists, the provenance of this car makes it a sound investment and could be the ideal Christmas treat for discerning collectors.”
More than 40 classic and sports cars are on the docket for the Coys auction. Cooper’s Ferrari is one of several at the sale, which will include a 1979 512 Berlinetta Boxer, 1968 330GTC Berlinetta, 1972 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spyder, a 1974 245 GT E series, 2005 420 and 2000 550 Maranello.
Also being offered is a 1969 Porsche 911 S/T raced in Sweden by Kent Frohde – the car has a pre-auction estimated value of £700,000 to £900,000 ($871,000 to $1.12 million) – as well as a 1972 Maserati Ghibli 4.4 SS manual and a 1926 Bentley 3-liter sports tourer.