Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France
The Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta not only has breathtaking looks, it remains arguably the greatest and most important Ferrari road/racing car ever built. Its forerunner was the 250 MM, so-named after the famous Mille Miglia race, which hard-charging Italian hillclimb champion Giovanni Bracco won for Ferrari in 1952. That achievement, plus Ferrari’s first World Driver’s Championship win with Alberto Ascari driving the Type 500 and the company’s first collaboration with Pinin Farina (the 212 Inter cabriolet) combined to make the year 1952 a particularly significant one in the marque’s history.
The last 250 MMs had been built by 1954, and work began on what would become the 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France. A new strengthened 2,600-mm tubular chassis was equipped with a modern wishbone/coil-spring suspension and the Colombo Tipo 112 “short-block” V-12 engine. Subsequently, this engine was developed further and re-designated Tipo 128B, C and D. Three more 250 GTs similar to the 250 MM followed the prototype Pinin Farina-bodied Berlinetta.
There were five series of 250 GT Berlinettas in all. From mid-1957, the Series II cars were introduced, with three louvers and covered headlights. Just 15 were produced. Series III numbered 36 cars; these retained the covered headlights but had just a single vent louver. In 1959, eight single-louver cars were built with open headlights, a new Italian requirement. Zagato also made five superlight cars.
The Tour de France took five or six days and covered almost 5,000 gruelling kilometres around France, sometimes venturing into Italy, Belgium or Germany. The race consisted of up to six circuit races, two hillclimbs and a sprint. In the hands of Olivier Gendebien, the 250 GT Tour de France was victorious for the next three straight years in the race whose name the car had now unofficially taken, and the car and its enviable competition record remain the stuff of legends today.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2009 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona and in October of 2011 at the Battersea Evolution, London.
250 bhp at 7,000 rpm, 2,953 cc SOHC alloy block-and-head V-12 engine, triple Weber carburetors, four-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with A-arms and coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,600 mm.
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Peter Noel and Tom Wood