Inside the Ferrari 250 GTO Tour

2012 is turning out to be a very special year of meetups, tours, and anniversaries.  We share photos courtesy of Chitiphotocar of a highly exclusive event in France's Champagne region; the Ferrari 250 GTO Tour.

This years Ferrari 250 GTO tour is only the latest in a series of meetings celebrating the most iconic Ferrari of all time. Every few years a handful of the highly sought after 250 GTO get together for a few days of driving, high class lodging, excuisite cuisine, and vintage wine and champagne.
Inside the Ferrari 250 GTO Tour
The last weekened in June saw 23 of the legendary Gran Tourismo Omaligatos (GTO) arriving at the event sponsored by the the pinnacle of "glamour and success"- Moët et Chandon. Things began early Saturday morning at the rustic four star hotel Briqueterie de Vinay bed and breakfast just minutes from Moët et Chandon and Perrier Jouet's famous vineyards.  The early morning rise and drive was only the beginning of  a week's worth of driving, eating and drinking in celebration of the 250 GTO's 50th anniversary.

Inside the Ferrari 250 GTO Tour

The real story here isn't the exclusive opulence that this tour presents to its participants, that seems to be a consolation prize for being the owners of such amazing cars.  These are real race cars steeped in history, and they mark an important point in time when endurance racing cars were expected to be club racers, hill climbers and every day roads cars. The 250 GTO competed in countless motorsports events throughout the 1960's including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Tour de France, and the Targa Florio. It was driven by the top drivers of the time including Jackie Stewart, Paul Frere, Phil Hill, and John Surtees and owned by legends like Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and Sir Stirling Moss.

Inside the Ferrari 250 GTO Tour

When new in 1962, the 250 GTO cost a pricey $18,000 (roughly $183,000 in 2012 monopoly money). It's original buyers were hand selected and approved by Enzo Ferrari himself, a process that continues to this day for the most exclusive and most special cars to leave the archway at Maranello.
Inside the Ferrari 250 GTO Tour
Of the 250 GTOs built between 1962 and 1964 for homologation in the FIA Group 3 Grand Touring Category, only 33 remain. They were based on Ferrari's popular 250 GT SWB (2400 mm long ) chassis, while the the all aluminum 3.0-liter Colombo V-12 was sourced from the successful 250 Testa Rossa.  The engine  itself was modified by Ferrari chief engineer Giotto Bizzzarrini (he also built Lamborghini's quad cam V-12) who fitted a dry sump oil system. This allowed for better weight distribution and lower center of gravity helping to give the 250 GTO its signature low slung looks and superior high speed stability.
Inside the Ferrari 250 GTO Tour
With the help of designers and  Sergio Scaglietti, an all new aluminum body was designed and fitted on to the 250 GT SWB's chasis. Scaglietti spent countless hours perfecting the overall shape and hammering out the details that would allow the 250 GTO to maintain high speed stability and exceed 170 mph. The high speed capabilities of the GTO couldn't be matched by the Shelby Cobras on anything but a short and technical road course.
Inside the Ferrari 250 GTO Tour
Inside the Ferrari 250 GTO Tour
Despite its gorgeous looks, the Ferrari 250 GTO was an excercise in functionality. Its interior was spartan and didn't include a speedometer, but only the gauges necessary for racing. It also share many interior pieces with contemporary Fiats. The only exceptions being the Nardi Steering wheel and the signature gated shifter.  
Inside the Ferrari 250 GTO Tour
The second 250 GTO ever made. Chassis #3387GT
The time spent by Scaglietti perfecting the body, and master engine building of Bizzarini made the the 250 GTO a serious contender right out of the box. This particular car #3387GT  was the second GTO ever produced, and made its racing debut at Sebring on March 24, 1962. Driven by Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien, it placed second overall and first-in-class in the 12-hour race. It also went on to race in the 24 hours of Le Mans the same year, where it came in sixth overall and third in class.  
Inside the Ferrari 250 GTO Tour
Chassis #3505GT formerly owned by Sir Stirling Moss
Inside the Ferrari 250 GTO Tour
This now famous pistachio green 250 GTO recently sold for $35 million in May, and is arguably the most expensive car in the world. Originally built in 1962 for Ferrari works driver Sir Stirling Moss, the car was originally intended to be driven by Moss in the 24 hours of Le Mans that year. Unfortunately it never happened, as a severe career ending accident at Goodwood left him in a coma for over a month and temporarily paralyzed the left side of his body. The car eventually made it to LeMans in 1962, but retired after 165 laps.
Inside the Ferrari 250 GTO Tour
Chassis number 3505GT is the first of eighty right hand drive models made, and this, combined with its history and unique color, explains its high price at auction. Despite increasing in value by over four and half times in the last ten years, this very special GTO  still gets driven, just as it should.
Inside the Ferrari 250 GTO Tour
After leaving the Briqueterie de Vinay, the 250 GTO tour drove 21 miles north to the historic Reims-Gueux. One of the fastest tracks on the Formula One calendar, the old ircuit is where Ferrari won the French Grand Prix five times between 1953 and 1961.  It featured two long straights and fast sweepers where drivers drove their cars at full throttle for the majority of the 5.1 mile  course, which was comprised of public roads.
Inside the Ferrari 250 GTO Tour
However it's legacy was cut short; the circuit hosted its last race in 1972.
Inside the Ferrari 250 GTO Tour
Fans, Ferrari enthusiasts especially, make it a part of their pilgrimage to relive history by driving the old course.  Their efforts are aided by a preservation society which tries to keep the old pit and grand stands standing, and organizes its own tours and meetings a few times a year.  
Inside the Ferrari 250 GTO Tour
A rare black 250 GTO 4219GT and a 250 GTO/64 #4091GT
Pictured on the right is a 250 GTO/64,  specially designed by Pininfarina and built by Scaglietti. Only four were ever made. Extensive modifications were made to the suspension, engine and body, as it was intended to trick the the FIA into letting the mid engined 250 LM compete in the FIA GT category (hence the bodywork similar to the 250 LM). However it failed to meet the FIA's homologation standards and only four were ever made. Nevertheless, the 4091GT was an accomplished road racer winning the GT3000 class at the 1964 Targa Florio.

Inside the Ferrari 250 GTO Tour

The 3767GT3445GT  in  unusual colors for the 250 GTO- not red.
Inside the Ferrari 250 GTO Tour
The 250GT/64 getting a bootfull of throttle
The 23 cars are all expected to appear at the Le Mans classic this weekend (July 8th-9th). Stay tuned for more of the Ferrari 250 GTO tour in part 2. Let us know in the comments which 250 GTO you would make part of your dream garage. Photo credit: Julien Parent- Chtiphotocar.com See more of the 250 GTO here

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