Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta

Designed by Pinin Farina, the late 1950s “Boano” and “Ellena” Berlinettas are generally considered to be Ferrari’s first series-built grand touring cars. These further developed the Pinin Farina Ferrari theme of simple, elegant lines and proportions with a minimum of brightwork and trim.

Pinin Farina designed their first Ferrari as early as 1952 and by the mid-’50s had truly established the Ferrari “look” as exemplified by the Boano/Ellena GT series. Design cues included the long, low hood and the signature oval radiator opening, traits which by the mid-1950s had secured Principal Ferrari Design House status for the Turin firm.

Eighty-two cars in the first series were built by Carrozzeria Boano. At the end of 1957 Mario Boano left his company to set up Fiat’s styling department, and his son-in-law Ezio Ellena took over with old partner Luciano Pollo. Thus the renamed Carrozzeria Ellena built a further run of 50 Ferrari 250 GTs, now referred to as “Ellena” coupes. Improvements included a two-inch raised roofline providing more head room and better body proportions, adoption of a standard four-speed gearbox shift pattern, larger brakes, a ZF steering system and the fitment of a single distributor to the engine. As befits a production car, passenger comfort as well as luggage accommodation were much improved from the previous Europa GT model, and panel and trim fit were described in period road tests as “superb.”

Also impressive was the performance provided by the famed Colombo-designed V-12, three-liter engine, which produced between 240 and 290 horsepower depending on its specification. Griff Borgeson’s very complimentary January 1958 Sports Cars Illustrated road test of the Richie Ginther, Lime Rock race-winning 250 GT, which listed for $10,975, called it a “Grand Touring masterpiece—without comparables—except other Ferraris.” In summary, the road test described a perfect blend of racing car performance with the manners and appointments of a luxury automobile. The “perfect seating position, silence at speed, the fully synchronized transmission, engine flexibility, rock-like solidity, predictable handling and gigantic brakes” further impressed Borgeson, not to mention the styling, which he labeled “contemporary Italian conservative, beautiful without being the least bit gaudy.”

Top speed was listed at 127 to 157 mph depending on the final drive gear ratio, with the road test car’s 4.57 gears providing a zero-to-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds. Such performance is not surprising since the mechanical specifications of an Ellena—engine, gearbox, rear, suspension, brakes, wheels and tires are the same as that of Ferrari’s GT racing car, the Tour de France. Even interior aspects like the steering wheel, instrument panel, gauges and door hardware were identical to its glamorous sister cars of the period, the “TdF” and the LWB California Spyder, many of which owe their lives today to a donation of vital parts from a Boano/Ellena Coupe.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2012 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona and in May of 2012 at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco.

250 bhp, 2,953 cc V-12 SOHC alloy engine with triple Weber Type 36 DC13 downdraught carburetion, four-speed synchromesh transmission, front independent suspension with unequal-length wishbones, coil springs and tubular shock absorbers, live rear axle with leaf springs, Houdaille shocks with axle location by twin trailing arms, four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 102".

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel and Tom Wood

Gallery: Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta