Sold for $7,150,000 at 2013 Gooding and Company - Pebble Beach.
While seemingly of widely-differing cultures and traditions there are certainly many aspects that tie Spain and Ireland together. Not the least of these connections would be the influence of the Celts and the Celtic language that dominated both nations at moments in their history. Therefore, Spanish and Irish cultures coming together were not only relatively familiar but each offered rich traditions.
In the case of Alfonso De Portago the mixture of Spanish and Irish would provide a wealth of more than just traditions and culture. Becoming the 17th Marquis of Portago, Alfonso would inherit one of the most respected and revered titles in all of Spain. His mother, Olga Leighton would provide even more wealth being a wealthy Irishwoman.
Born in London in 1928, De Portago would not be in want at any moment of his early life. Living on the west coast of France, Alfonso would have the means to try his hand at a number of different trades. It wouldn't take too long before the thrill of motor racing would take hold.
Bold, daring and never one to back down from a challenge, Alfonso wouldn't shy away from danger or anything that included speed. This would include taking up a bet that he could fly his own plane under a bridge. While this may not entirely seem all that dangerous or bold, the fact the supports were barely wider than the plane's wingspan would give at least some indication as to Alfonso's propensity to willingly walk a very fine line.
It would be in 1953, at the New York Motor Show, that Alfonso would meet Luigi Chinetti. Chinetti would be immediately impressed by the Marquis and would hire him to drive with him in the Carrera Panamericana. The introduction to motor racing would be something of a trial by fire as the Panamericana already had a fearsome and infamous reputation. Still, the experience would hook De Portago. For the first time in his life he would be in want of something.
But unlike most, even when De Portago found himself in want, he would have the means to make it come to pass. However, he would back up his means with the talent to compete. Earning a number of victories and top results, De Portago would draw interest from Enzo Ferrari. Suddenly there would also be an Italian influence in the De Portago line, including the type of car Alfonso drove away from the track.
The Ferrari 250 GT would be a brand new line from Ferrari. Chassis 0415 GT would be among the first ten to be produced and would be a forerunner of the 3.0-liter competition models that would make the marque famous.
The chassis would be essentially the same as the 250 Europa but would be far superior making use of coil-spring front suspension and the updated synchromesh four-speed transmission.
The engine would be a Tipo 112 and would be based upon the same V12 that had been used in the 250 MM. The main difference between the two would be the fact the 250 GT would make use of two twin-choke Weber carburetors instead of the four-barrel carburetor used in the 250 MM.
Some of the other obvious carry-overs to the 250 GT of De Portago's would be the influences of the 250 MM, 375 MM and 500 Mondial in the Pinin Farina-designed coachwork. And while 0415 GT would be one of the first ten 250 GTs to be produced, it would be one of just four 250 GT Berlinettas to be built by Pinin Farina.
The Pinin Farina design was simple and straight-forward. The aim was clear. It was obvious the lightweight aluminum Berlinetta was intended for competition, perfect for somebody of de Portago's reputation. Known as a 'two-car man' because of the way he abused his vehicles, the 250 GT would come finished with no bumpers or decorative trim. Everything about the car was with competition in mind. Even the interior would be sparse with only the essential instruments mounted in a small instrument panel and the aluminum interior panels would remain exposed.
The car would be completed and delivered to De Portago in November of 1955. Bearing a white livery with black leather upholstery, the car would make its debut with De Portago at the 2nd Annual Nassau Speed Week. In a five-lap race for production cars over two liters, De Portago would take his new car and would finish in 4th place behind three Jaguar D-Types.
Unfortunately, De Portago would entrust the car to his friend Gleb Derujinsky in the 30-lap Governor's Trophy race that same day. Around the halfway mark of the race Derujinsky would lose control of the car and would end up rolling it into a ditch. Amazingly, no serious damage was done to either car or driver and 0415 GT would be repaired in time to take part in the 60-lap Nassau Trophy race held on the 11th of December. Given another opportunity, Derujinsky would manage to finish 17th overall. De Portago would go on to finish the race in 2nd place driving his own 750 Monza. He would finish behind Phil Hill.
Unfortunately, Marquis De Portago would not survive as long as his 250 GT. Dying in the 1957 Mille Miglia, motor racing would lose one of its great gentleman drivers. However, 0415 GT would remain to remind all of the person and his great talents.
In 2009, 0415 GT would be put on display by Ferrari Classiche at the Techno Classica in Essen. Having been restored and refinished by the Ferrari factory itself, 0415 GT retains its original livery. Given its importance in the 250 GT line, the chassis is already a priceless piece of Ferrari history. But then there is its uniqueness, even amongst the impressive line of the 250 GT.
One of just four to be produced by Pinin Farina, one of the first ten to be produced, suddenly 0415 GT takes on a value that goes beyond mere association. And then there is the added asset of its relationship with the Marquis De Portago. Suddenly, the sparse competition model becomes a rare piece of history.Sources:
'Lot No. 143: 1955 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione', (http://www.goodingco.com/vehicle/1955-ferrari-250-gt-berlinetta-competizione/#tab2). Gooding & Company. http://www.goodingco.com/vehicle/1955-ferrari-250-gt-berlinetta-competizione/#tab2. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
'1955 Ferrari 250 GT Europa GT News, Pictures and Information', (http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z13221/Ferrari-250-Europa-GT.aspx). Conceptcarz.com: From Concept to Production. http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z13221/Ferrari-250-Europa-GT.aspx. Retrieved 2 September 2013.By Jeremy McMullen