Once upon a time, automakers used to specialize in an area of expertise. For example, Ferrari built high-performance sports cars and grand tourers for the well-heeled. The idea that the Italian stable would make a four-wheel drive was laughable. When Nevada businessman Bill Harrah requested as much of Enzo himself back in 1969, the Ferrari patriarch flat out refused. Thus, Harrah set about building his own, having his mechanics combine a Ferrari 365GT with a Jeep Wagoneer. The result was the enigmatic Jerrari, and that very car is now on sale once more, at Classic Driver.
The car’s story has become muddied over the years, as each subsequent retelling varies on one or two minor details. Hagerty have one of the clearest histories of the car, outlining the story of not only the Jerrari itself but also it’s successor, the Jerrari 2. Most narratives agree that the Ferrari donor was selected when one of Harrah’s mechanics crashed it, with the Italian car donating its V12 engine and front clip to the project. Harrah had a large team responsible for taking care of his 1500-car collection, so was able to undertake the build in-house.
A Borg-Warner four-speed was substituted for the Ferrari’s original transmission for packaging reasons, while changes were also made to the engine’s sump to allow space for the front differential to clear the motor. The sheet metal work was handled by Harrah’s team, too, with the 365GT’s rounded front end being shaped to neatly flow into the boxy Wagoneer body. The Ferrari V12 under the hood was certainly an upgrade over the stock engine, packing 320 horsepower over the original 230 horsepower Buick V8. Despite this, the vehicle retained the stock Wagoneer brakes and suspension, outside of a set of Monroe shock absorbers.
The result was a four-wheel drive of unconventional appearance, and one that polarizes audiences to this day. Finished in racing green, the car features plenty of winks to its bastard nature, from “Jerrari” badges on the rear in Ferrari script and a custom Prancing Kangaroo badge on the front. There’s also the original Ferrari steering wheel inside, and the pedals were swapped over as well for that suitably Italian feel.
In a contemporary review by Road and Track, journalist Ron Wakefield noted that the fit and finish was of top quality. However, he cited issues with driveline vibrations and the insufficient braking ability, as well as gearing issues that prevented the V12 from spinning up the wheels in first gear. The resulting vehicle was perhaps more interesting than a genuine high performance off-roader, with cited high-speed stability issues keeping Wakefield from exploring the vehicle’s capabilities beyond 125mph.
In the mid-70s, Harrah ended up yanking the V12 and putting it in a 1977 Wagoneer, as he grew tired of being recognized everywhere he went in the striking mashup vehicle. This vehicle was known as Jerrari 2, though externally appeared as a stock Jeep Wagoneer. The original Jerrari was then given a 390 cubic inch Chevrolet small-block V8, an engine that was reportedly far more usable, though lacking that magical Italian charm.
The vehicle on sale at Classic Driver is listed as “price on request”, and it’s in Germany, so if you want to lay your hands on it it could take some doing. Of course, these days, such swaps are unnecessary, with Ferrari developing its own SUV. Even Lamborghini are now selling more SUVs than supercars. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to see someone graft a Ferrari 458 nose on to the front of a Jeep Wrangler, though, so if you have the resources, please get down to work. Be sure to let us know when you do.
Got a tip? Let us know: email@example.com