History of the 1964 - 1966 Ferrari 250 LM
In the late 1950s, racing engineering was radically changing to favour mid-engined cars. Maurice Trintignant had won the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix in a mid-engine Cooper-Climax, and then Jack Brabham won again in 1959 in a mid-engined racer. Enzo Ferrari immediately started testing a mid-engine 1.5-litre V-6 monoposto to stay competitive, and shortly thereafter American Phil Hill won the 1961 F1 World Championship for Ferrari while driving a mid-engined 156 F1.
Encouraged by the results, Ferrari further pushed development with a mid-engine 3-litre V-12 250 P sports-racer, which won the 1963 24 Hours of Le Mans. Providing 300 bhp, the Colombo 2953cc SOHC V-12 proved the ideal mid-engine power plant, and it was developed into the 250 Le Mans berlinetta of 1964.
The 1964 Ferrari 250 LM shared little design heritage with any previous front-engine Ferrari. Its chassis was a multi-tube space frame-—the two longitudinal tubes were gone. Suspension was independent by coil and wishbone and the body was virtually identical to the 250 P, with the addition of a "tunnel window" roof that was inherited from the 1964 Ferrari 250 GTO. The stunning alloy body was styled by Pininfarina.
The first two 250 LM cars had the 2953cc V-12, but the remaining 30 examples were bored out to 3286cc (like the Ferrari 275 GTB) and bumped up to 320 bhp. With an all-up weight of 1,874lbs and a 5-speed transmission, the 250 LM was capable of 183 mph, although it didn’t have a speedometer. Its performance matched the fastest GTOs, and it offered the traction, braking (courtesy of 4-wheel disc brakes), road holding, and handling of a Formula One racing car.
The Ferrari LM looked sleek and exotic, but few were driven on the road and the factory only trimmed two cars with road use in mind, including a Pininfarina show car for Geneva in 1965. The car was not comfortable to drive, with offset pedals (worse on the two right-hand-drive examples) a lack of insulation, a harsh ride, no space for luggage and minimal rear view.
But none of this really mattered on the track, where the car racked up a stack of successes. It won the 1964 12 Hours of Reims, the 1965 1500 Kilometers of Spa, and most significantly, Luigi Chinetti’s NART team unexpectedly and dramatically won the 1965 24 Hours of Le Mans with Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory at the wheel. Another 250 LM, driven by Pierre Dumay and Gustav Gosselin, placed second.
The 1965 win was Ferrari’s sixth straight Le Mans victory and their ninth in all. The 250 LM was also the last Ferrari to win at Le Mans in Enzo Ferrari’s lifetime, securing the car’s position in Ferrari lore. Nonetheless, racing development proceeded apace and the 250 LM struggled to stay competitive in international competition as Ferrari’s 275 P and 330 P came online.
Today the Ferrari 250 LM is one of the most desirable and valuable cars in the world, and certainly one of the preeminent cars of the 1960s. Values are reliant on provenance, documentation, and originality. With only 32 built, finding one that is available to buy is rare. When this does occur, it captures the attention of some of the most sophisticated collectors in the world. Ownership, however, provides entry into some of the finest and most exclusive events worldwide, and a thrill that few cars—from then or now—can equal.