Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale Bertone

Introduced in 1959, the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta was designed with three objectives; first, to be more aerodynamically efficient, second, to be as compact as possible, and third, to provide appropriate accommodation and luggage space for a true gran turismo automobile.

Seven cars, known today as “Interim Berlinettas” were built on the 2,600 mm long wheelbase chassis before construction was shifted to the 2,400 mm short wheelbase chassis. The change was to improve the cars’ responsiveness in cornering. Still called the 250 GT Berlinetta by Ferrari, its wheelbase has subsequently been firmly attached to the factory’s model designation to distinguish it from numerous other 250 GT models and the 2,600 mm chassis “Interim Berlinettas.”

Rumors of the new car had circulated for months amongst enthusiasts, drivers and the press and they were verified when the SWB Berlinetta was launched at the Paris Salon in October 1959. The car was the work of a small group of men at Maranello and included three young engineers, Giotto Bizzarini, Carlo Chiti and Mauro Forghieri. The new Ferrari stole the show and created immediate demand. So much so that, initially, delivery dates could not be confirmed.

The revised Colombo designed 60-degree V-12 engine had evolved into a powerful unit after six years of development. The cylinder heads adopted conventional coil valve springs, 12-port induction, more studs for better sealing and re-sited plugs for better combustion and ease of access.

The Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta would earn a reputation of almost mythical status and the car’s success in competition was immediate. GT racing was dominated by the SWB Berlinetta on a global basis.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in May of 2009 at Ferrari S.p.A., Fiorano Modenese, Modena. 

280 bhp at 7,000 rpm, 2,953 cc single overhead camshaft V-12 engine, three Weber 36 DCL/6 carburettors, four-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with A-arms, coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs and telescopic shock absorbers, four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,400 mm (94.5 in.)

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Scott Williamson

Gallery: Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale Bertone