History of the 1964 - 1964 Ferrari 250 GTO
Ferrari produced the 250 GTO between 1962 and 1964 to compete in international GT racing. A front-engined, rear-wheel-drive coupe with two seats, the Ferrari 250 GTO was initially designed by Giotto Bizzarrini, with further work by Mauro Forghieri and Scaglietti. Due to their striking styling and motorsport success, the 250 GTO is now one of the most highly prized models in the world.
After experimenting with the aerodynamics and packaging of a prototype – known as ‘Il Mostro’ – throughout 1961, Ferrari began constructing examples of the 250 GTO in 1962. The Italian company claimed that the GTO was a development of the older and more conventional Ferrari 250 GT SWB, in order to circumvent FIA regulations that required the construction of 100 examples of any model to be entered in GT racing.
Though the chassis bares many similarities to the SWB, there were many differences between the two models. Developments specific to the GTO include a tube frame chassis; an aerodynamic body, refined by wind tunnel testing; and a lightweight cloth interior. The GTO also featured disc brakes, double wishbone front suspension, telescopic dampers all round and a leaf-sprung live rear axle. A small number of cars would receive ‘Series II’ bodywork, with further aerodynamic refinements, in 1963 and 1964.
The 250 GTO was highly successful in international GT, endurance and hillclimb racing between 1962 and 1964. The model helped Ferrari win the International Championship for GT manufacturers for three years running, as well as winning the 1963 Goodwood TT and 1964 Tour de France, and taking second overall at the 1963 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Ferrari 250 GTO is fitted with a 2953 cc Tipo 168/62 ‘Colombo’ V-12 which produces 296 bhp and spins to 8,000 rpm. It features a dry sump, a pair of overhead camshafts and six Weber carburettors. The transmission, meanwhile, is a five-speed unit with full synchromesh and dog-leg engagement pattern which drives the rear wheels through a limited-slip differential.
From the large, wood-rimmed steering wheel to a shining orb of a gear lever, just to sit in the 250 GTO is an event. Performance is respectable but overshadowed by the aria from the V-12 and four trumpeting exhausts. The 250 GTO requires slight and gentle inputs, rewarding drivers with exceptional handling and four-wheel drifts.
There are a number of specialists in both the UK and USA capable of servicing, restoring and preparing the model for motorsport. Many of these firms can also provide spare engines, often built from less valuable 250 GTE blocks. Ferrari’s own Classiche department has access to the original designs and tooling for the model and can also provide restoration and official authentication services. General parts availability is good, with many items recently remanufactured.
The greatest hurdle in buying a 250 GTO is availability: only 36 cars were produced and they rarely are offered publically. Fortunately, every car produced survives and the history of each chassis is fully chronicled and readily accessible. A number of cars have been fitted with replacement engines to increase durability and performance in historic racing, a move which has no impediment on value.
There are a number of variations in bodywork between cars. Three examples, constructed in 1963, were produced as ‘Series II’ 250 GTOs, featuring less curvaceous bodywork. In addition, three ‘Series I’ cars were rebodied in period – two by Ferrari, one by external coachbuilder Scaglietti – to resemble the ‘Series II’ and one 250 GTO was fitted with bodywork reminiscent of the 330 LMB.
Very few cars approach the 250 GTO in collectability or value. Other competition-focused Ferraris of the same era include the earlier 250 SWB and later, mid-engined Ferrari 250 LM. Ferrari also produced three examples of the 330 GTO, based on the 250 GTO but fitted with a four-litre engine. These were entered in races where the 250 was not considered a production car. Alternatives include the AC Cobra 289, Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato and Jaguar E-type Lightweight.