The unfortunate crash of Pierre Levegh in the Le Mans 24-Hours of 1955 prompted the F.I.A. to re-write regulations to return endurance racing to dual purpose sports cars capable of road and racing use rather than the Grand Prix based cars that top level world class racing had become. Sports race cars in the mid 1950s were essentially Grand Prix cars cloaked in two-passenger coachwork. Following the tragedy at LeMans in 1955, which killed 80 people, there was a clamor, followed by new regulations, to return to the classic type of sports race car. This was one that could be driven about town and yet be tough and fast enough to be competitive, a truly practical race car.
Enzo Ferrari had been building competition coupes, the Berlinettas, since 1950 with the cars establishing a credible record in international competition. The new GT based regulations favored his 250 GT line of cars that evolved into the Geneva Auto Show display model of March, 1956, a Pinin Farina design that was the forerunner of the Scaglietti cars, Ferrari's official coach builder. The new 250 GT won its first race, Nassau, December 1955, and tallied numerous high finishes prior to the Tour de France of September of 1956.
The Tour included six races held on major racing circuits, two hill climbs, and a drag race. Winning five of the circuit races and first overall in the Tour, along with an astounding number of victories during 1956 and 1957, the long wheelbase Berlientttas became known as the Tour de France line, the classic Ferrari coupe for both road and race use. The 250 designation is due to the displacement of a single cylinder, 250cc, giving the triple Weber equipped V-12 engine designed by Gioacchino Colombo, an Alfa-Romeo engine designer hired away be Ferrari, a capacity of just under 3-liters producing 260 horsepower giving the 2500 lb cars exceptional performance. The coachwork was lightweight aluminum, and the interiors quite stark.
This example, chassis number 1161 GT, is the last of the 1958 Tour de France cars, another race winning Ferrari Competition Belinettas. It has raced at Montgomery Airport, Lime Rock and Bridgehampton.
Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France with chassis 1353GT is a long wheelbase Berlinetta constructed by Scaglietti and clothed in an all-alloy body. It was purchased by Pietro Ferraro in 1959 who entered the car in the Trieste-Opicina hill climb where it finished Fifth in Class. The car was sold to its new owner, a California resident, during the 1960s and remained in their care until the early 1990s. It was purchased by Peter Hannen and shown at Christies International Historic Festival at Silverstone. It was sold to Andrew Pisker in 1994 and shown at the prestigious Louis Vuitton Concours d'Elegance. It appeared at the 1995 Festival of Speed at Goodwood.
Ownership passed to Lord Cowdray of the United Kingdom in 1997 and then to Arturo Keller of the US in 1998. It was shown at the 2007 Cavallino Classic. By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2007
Sold for $1,445,004 (£2,255,000) at 2008 RM Auctions. The 1959 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France with chassis number 1385GT was the 69th of 72 built and one of just 36 single louvre cars constructed. The first owner, a Milan resident named Sig. Luigi Piotti, took delivery of the car on May 2nd of 1959. The car was immediately prepared for racing and entered in the 1st Gran Premio della Lotteria in Monza on June 28th. The second race was in early October in the 4th Coppa Nevegal hillclimb where it was piloted by Armando Zampiero. The car had failed to finish its first race, but took home the overall victory in the hillclimb.
The cars next race was on October 9th of 1960 at the Coppa d'Oro ACI at the Modena Aerautodromo where it was driven by Armando Zampiero. Piotti retained the car until the mid-1960s and had the car fitted with disc brakes and Knoi telescopic dampers. The next owner was Peter Staehelin, a former Ferrari racing car team owner. The car was exported to the United States and next seen in 1974 in the inventory of Alberto Pedretti's Wide World Of Cars. It was sold to Peter J. Morgan of San Francisco, California in 1975. The next owner was Walter Luftman of Stamford, Connecticut who took ownership in 1976 and retained the car for three years before selling to John & William Gelles of Chappaqua, New York.
Peter Giddings of San Francisco, CA purchased the car in 1980, selling it in 1981 to Gary A. Schonwald of New York, New York. He kept the car for two years, selling on February 28th, 1982 to Ernest Mendicki, of Monte Vista, California. In 1984 it was sold to an individual in the South of France who kept the car for the next 12 years.
In 1996, the car was sold to Philippe Marcq of London, England. While in his care, he drove the car in the Tour de France on April of 1996, with co-driver and former Le Mans racer Richard Bond. A year later it was offered for sale at Christie's auction in Pebble Beach and purchased by Carlo Vögele of Rapperswil, Switzerland.
Vögele raced the car in the 'Tutte le Ferrari in Sicilia' in Italy in November of 1997. The following year it was sold to Kämpfer of Othmarsingen, Switzerland. The car was restored and race prepared during 1998 and 1999. It was finished in red with a black stripe. Upon completion, the car was campaigned by Heinrich Kämpfer in the Shell Ferrari Maserati Historic Challenge. During 2005 and 2006 the car underwent a second restoration where it was given a stripe and re-spray in metallic silver grey with dark red longitudinal racing stripe, black seats, and carpets. When it was completed it received its Ferrari Classiche Factory Certificate of Authenticity (#058 F).
The current owner purchased the car on December 17th of 2006. It was the feature car, appearing on the cover, of the Cavallino magazine in the April/May 2007 issue. Since that time, the car has been driven and campaigned in a number of events, including the Tour Auto in April of 2007 and the 60th Anniversary meeting in Maranello, where it was awarded a class win at the Concours d'Elegance.
In 2008 it was offered for sale at the Automobiles of London presented by RM Auctions in association with Sotheby's. The car was sold for a high bid of £2.255.000. By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2008
This 1959 Ferrari 250GT long wheelbase Berlinetta 'Tour de France' is the 68th of 72 made. Chassis number 1357GT was sold in April 1959 to Frenchman and gentleman racer Mr. Pierre Dumay. Mr. Dumay raced 1357 in the 1959 Hillclimb season with nine victories in 11 starts. 1357 was sold at the end of the 1959 season, and was raced in early 1960 by Mr. Eduardo Lualdi. The car's most significant victory was first in class at the 1960 Targa Florio, driven by Lualdi and co-driver Giorgio Scarlatti. The car was sold again in July 1960 to Mr. Armando Zampiero. Mr. Zampiero continued to race 1357 sparingly until 1962. The car has been in the United States since 1965 and a part of the Marriott Collection since 1985.
The Tour de France title was awarded to Ferrari for winning the famous French event. From 1956 through 1959, less than one-hundred 250 GT's would be given the prestigious title. Most of the interiors were handled by the famous Italian coachbuilder Scaglietti and a few by Zagato. Throughout its life span, the exterior was modified to include front wings, covered headlights, three vent side panels, single ventilation ducts, and various other enhancements. Under the hood, the horsepower ranged from 230 to 240. The engine was mostly fitted with three twin choke Weber 36 DCL downdraught carburetors. The engine was placed under the front bonnet and powered the rear transaxle. The Colombo 60-degree V-12 powerplant had a displacement of 2953 cc. The top speed, under the most modified circumstance, was around 145 mph with could go from zero to sixty in less than seven seconds. Ferrari used their all-synchromesh four-speed gearbox. Scaglietti was commissioned to build ten of the Tour de France's in 1956. Scaglietti fabricated alloy bodywork for eight that featured the familiar egg-crate grilles and rounded wings. The fashion was similar to PininFarina's 375 Mille Miglia and 250. Both sliding plastic and wind-up glass were used for the side windows. The rear window was a wraparound windscreen. The Milan coachbuilder Zagato outfitted two examples in 1956 mainly for competition purposes. The roof was their trademark double-bubble design. To reduce the overall weight, a lightweight alloy shell was outfitted on the exterior.
In 1957, 27 more vehicles were produced. Scaglietti modified the bodywork using front wings with a portion of the vehicles receiving covered headlights and three-vent sail-panels.
In 1958, 29 examples were produced. Single ventilation ducts replaced the sail panels. In 1959, 11 more examples were produced.
The interior was modest with only the essential amenities offered. Most of the bucket seats were leather, a few were vinyl. By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2011
Based on the 250GT LWB Berlinetta which won the 1957 Tour de France, Ferrari built 38 further 250GT Tour de France Single Louver Coupes for endurance racing in 1958 and 1959. This 1959 Ferrari 250 GT features coachwork by Scaglietti. Scaglietti was chosen because they possessed a great deal of experience working with lightweight aluminum. It is powered by a water-cooled, overhead-cam, V12 engine, with 2953cc displacement, with a power rating of 260 horsepower and coupled to a four-speed manual gearbox. The V12 engine displaced 250cc per cylinder, which accounted for the car's '250' designation.
Completed in March 1959, this Berlinetta was dispatched to Jacques Swaters' Ferrari dealership in Brussels for Armand and Jean Blaton, two wealthy brothers who competed using aliases to disguise their racing activities from their disapproving father. At the first major race in early June 1959, they entered the car in the Nurburgring 1,000 Kilometer race. It was rolled at a practice round. With a cobbled up make-shift windshield and some dents pounded out, this Tour De France model was first in GT class and 9th overall. Later that month at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ecurie Francorchamps entered the car for drivers Leon Dernier, using the alias 'Elde' and Jean Blaton racing as 'Beurlys,' and after a fairly uneventful race the duo finished a remarkable 3rd overall and won the 3 liter GT class.
In the 1959 running at Le Mans, it was 1st in the GT Class and 3rd overall. The Ferrari 250 GT 'Berlinetta Competizione' was so dominating in the 1956 Tour de France event that the long wheelbase 250 GT Berlinetta became known as the Tour de France model.
Production of the 250 Series began in 1954 and continued on through the early part of the 1960's. There were numerous variations of the 250 and would ultimately become Ferrari's most successful line of vehicles to date. The 250 is also recognized as the first Ferrari to ever receive disc brakes. This did not take place until the end of the 1950's. Also, the 250 was the first four-seater.
Ferrari's were custom built cars. They were not mass-produced. Ferrari provided the engine and chassis while Italian coach builders provided the body. This meant the specifications varied. Engines also varied in horsepower rating, torque, and displacement. This was no different for the 250 GT which saw many different variations in body style and body types.
Ferrari built the road-going Ferrari's to fuel his passion for racing. Many of the vehicles he built for the road had a competition model. That is, a modified version of the road-going model. An example of this was the 1959 short-wheel base (SWB) Berlinetta (Berlinetta which means coupe) and given an aluminum body. It was debuted in October 1959 at the Paris Salon. GT cars were road-legal vehicles that could also be taken to the track and compete without the need for modifications. Although this was their purpose, Ferrari realized that many customers would not race their vehicle, but rather wanted the power and performance that sports cars offered. To comply, Ferrari built these cars to be powerful and luxurious. The vehicles could still be run on the track, mostly on requiring the adoption of stickers and complying with any safety requirements.
The 250 road-going vehicles mostly shared two wheelbase sizes, a 2400 mm and 2600 mm. The 2400 wheelbase were referred to as the SWB (Short wheel base) while the other was the LWB (long wheel base).
The base engine was a Colombo 60-degree, single-over-head cam, 'vee' type 12-cylinder, with aluminum alloy block and heads, and cast-iron cylinder liners. The displacement was 180 cubic inch (2953 cc). Horsepower production was around 220-260. The front suspension was independent with double wishbones and coil springs. The rear suspension was a live axle.
The first 250 introduced was the 250S and available in either berlinetta or spider configuration. Introduced in 1952, they were powered by a 3-liter Colombo engine producing about 230 horsepower.
At the 1953 Paris Motor Show, Ferrari introduced the 250 Europa and Export. These were the only models in the series that were powered by a Lampredi v-12 engine also seen in Formula 1. The 250 Export had a 2400 MM wheelbase, similar tot he 250 MM. The 250 Europa had a larger, 2800 mm wheelbase which allowed more interior room. During their short production lifespan, only 18 examples were produced. Pininfarina and Vignale were tasked with creating the coachwork.
In 1954 four specialty built 250 Monza were built for racing. They shared many similarities with the 750 Monza's, but were equipped with the 3-liter Colombo engine.
At the 1957 Geneva auto show, Ferrari displayed their 250 GT Cabriolet. Coachwork was courtesy of Pininfarina; the wheelbase was 2600 mm in size. In 1959 the second in the 250 GT Cabriolet series production began after only 36 examples being produced.
From 1957 through 1959 Ferrari produced the 250 GT Berlinetta 'Tour de France' (TdF). The name had been given for the 10-day automobile race. Originally the engine produced 240 horsepower but was later modified to 260 horsepower. Carrozzeria Scaglietti was responsible for creating the bodies based on Pinin Farina's design.
Scaglietti was responsible for constructing the 1957 250 GT California Spyder. These sat atop a long, 2600 mm chassis and aluminum was used throughout the body in efforts to reduce the overall weight. In total, around 45 examples were created before they were replaced by the SWB version in 1960.
There were 250 examples of the 250 GT Berlinetta SWB produced. Production began in 1959 and used the shortened, sportier wheelbase. Giotto Bizzarrini, Carlo Chiti, and Mauro Forghieri were responsible for the development. Some were built for racing while others were meant for daily transportation. Horsepower ranged from 240 to 280. Steel or aluminum bodies were used. The steel bodies were suited for the road-going vehicles, also known as Lusso. The racing trim vehicles were powerful and had low weight. They were vary competitive and are regarded as the most important GT racers of its time. In 1961 the SWB Berlinetta captured the GT class of the Constructor's Championship.
In 1960 a Scaglietti 250 GT Spyder California SWB was shown at the Geneva Motor Show. Built as a replacement for the LWB and based on the 250 GT SWB, around 55 examples were produced.
The Ferrari 250TR was produced from 1957 through 1958 during which only 19 examples were created. The 'pontoon' fender body was designed by Scaglietti and the power was supplied through a Colombo 12-cylinder engine mounted at a sixty-degree angle and outfitted with six Weber 38 DCN carburetors. Power was sent to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual gearbox. With 300 horsepower, the 800 kg vehicle was able to achieve a 168 mph top speed. From 1958 through 1961, the 250 TR was entered in 19 championship races where they emerged victorious ten times.
The 250 in 250 TR represented the unitary displacement while the TR was an acronym meaning Testa Rossa. Testa Rossa translates to 'red head' which referred to the color of the engine's cylinder head.
The 250 TR series was built to capture the world championship which was experience questionable times. During the 1955 24 Hours of Lemans a fatal accident occurred and the Commissione Sportiva Internazionale (CSI) began investigating ways to make the sport safer for the drivers and the spectators. Their efforts were escalated in 1967 when another fatal accident occurred at the 1957 Mille Miglia. The committee decided upon a displacement limit but they were in disagreement on the size; the proposed figures ranged from 3 to around 3.5 liters.
1958 was the introductory year for the new regulations, which had been announced during the later part of 1957. Ferrari had been building, testing, and racing the 250 GT which had performed well during the 1957 Mille Miglia. The Colombo V12 260 horsepower engine received a larger bore, camshaft, and other improvements resulting in a 3.1 liter displacement and 320 horsepower. Testing continued throughout the 1957 season in both body configuration and mechanical components.
Ferrari had anticipated the new engine size regulations and thus had been sufficiently prepared to capture the world championship. Due to the potential of negative publicity caused by the fatal accidents, other manufacturers, such as Aston Martin, Lotus, Cooper and Jaguar, were hesitant to continue racing. Ferrari believed their closest competitor would be the powerful and technologically advanced Maserati 450 S which featured a quad-cam eight-cylinder engine.
Ferrari quickly began capturing victories during the 1958 season. The 250 TR was a solid vehicle thanks to the preparation and testing. The steel tubular ladder frame was of traditional Ferrari construction; a DeDion rear axle was used on the works racers. Customer cars were outfitted with a live axle. Drum brakes were placed on all four corners of the car. The engine had been modified to comply with regulations and to fit in the engine bay. In reality, the vehicle was an outdated car having only the benefit of proper planning and proven technology. Most cars featured disc brakes which provided superior stopping power. The Colombo engine dated back to the beginning of Ferrari and was antiquated in comparison to the modern power-plants.
Nearing the close of the 1958 season, the competition began to rise. Aston Martin had a lethal combination, a 3 liter DBR1 racer and Stirling Moss as the driver. Even though the Aston Martins did score a victory at Nurburgring 1000 KM, Ferrari was able to capture the World Championship. The legendary Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien easily capture a third victory for Ferrari at the grueling 24 Hours of Lemans. The 250 TR works cars were referred to as TR58, to distinguish them from the customer TRs.
For the 1959 season, the vehicles received slight modifications which made the vehicle lighter and more powerful. The big news was the use of Dunlop disc brakes. The engine received coil valve springs and the horsepower increased slightly to 306. A Colotti designed five speed gearbox replaced the four-speed unit. Pininfarina was tasked with designing a new body and the construction was handled by Fantuzzi. As a result of the improvements, the name was changed to TR59. At their inaugural race, the TR59 finished first and second. This streak did not last and at the end of the season, it was Aston Martin who emerged as the world champion. The TR59 was plagued with reliability issues mostly due to the gearbox. The vehicles were forced to retire early from races, including Le Mans.
For the 1960 season, the TR was modified slightly to comply with new regulations and to rectify the transmission issues. These vehicles are commonly referred to as the TR59/60. Aston Martin had withdrawn from the championship which left no factory opposition for Ferrari. Porsche and Maserati provided competition, especially at Targa Florio and the Nurburgring 1000 km where they scored victories. At Le Mans, Ferrari finished first and second and captured the word championship, beating Porsche by only four points.
For the 1961 season, Ferrari introduced the mid-engined 246 SP. The TRI61 was given a new spaceframe chassis and was able to capture victories at Sebring 12 Hours and Le Mans. With victories between the 246 SP and the TRI61, Ferrari once again captured the world championship.
The CSI implemented stricter rules for the 1962 season which meant the TR was unable to score points for the factory. It was still allowed to race for the overall victory. By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2007
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