The Ferrari 250 GTO
is a GT car which was produced by Ferrari from 1962 to 1964 for homologation into the FIA's Group 3 Grand Touring Car category.
The numerical part of its name denotes the displacement in cubic centimetres of each cylinder of the engine, whilst GTO stands for "Gran Turismo Omologata", Italian for "Grand Touring Homologated."
When new, the GTO commanded an $18,000 purchase price in the United States, and buyers had to be personally approved by Enzo Ferrari and his dealer for North America, Luigi Chinetti.
36 cars were made in the years '62/'63. In 1964 'Series II' was introduced, which had a slightly different look. Three such cars were made, and four older 'Series I' were given a 'Series II' body. It brought the total of GTOs produced to 39.
In 2004, Sports Car International placed the 250 GTO eighth on a list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s, and nominated it the top sports car of all time. Similarly, Motor Trend Classic placed the 250 GTO first on a list of the "Greatest Ferraris of all time".
1962 Ferrari GTO 250 in Lime Green
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The 250 GTO was designed to compete in GT racing. It was based on the 250 GT SWB. Chief engineer Giotto Bizzarrini installed the 3.0 L V12 engine from the 250 Testa Rossa into the chassis from the 250 GT SWB and worked with designer Sergio Scaglietti to develop the body. After Bizzarrini and most other Ferrari engineers were fired in a dispute with Enzo Ferrari, development was handed over to new engineer Mauro Forghieri, who worked with Scaglietti to continue development of the body, including wind tunnel and track testing. Unlike most Ferraris, it was not designed by a specific individual or design house.
The rest of the car was typical of early-1960s Ferrari technology: hand-welded tube frame, A-arm front suspension, live-axle rear end, disc brakes, and Borrani wire wheels. The Porsche designed five-speed gearbox was new to Ferrari GT racing cars; the metal gate that defined the shift pattern would become a tradition that is still maintained in current models. The interior was extremely basic, to the point where a speedometer was not installed in the instrument panel. Many of its switches came from the Fiat 500.///
||Ferrari 288 GTO
||3.0 L V12
300 PS (296 hp/221 kW)
||2,400 mm (94.5 in)
||1,100 kilograms (2,425 lb)
According to the FIA rules for sports car racing, at least one hundred
examples of a car had to be built in order for it to be homologated in the GT
class (as opposed to the less-restricted prototype class). However, Ferrari
built only 39 250 GTOs (33 of the "normal" cars, three with four-liter 330
engines (sometimes called the "330 GTO" but properly the 330 LMB), and three
"Type 64" cars with revised bodywork) but nevertheless the car was allowed to
race in the GT class. Some say that Ferrari successfully argued that the model
was technically a modification of the 250 GT SWB, some say that Ferrari's clout
was such that it was better for the sport to allow the team to compete instead
of dealing with a petulant (and crowd-depressingly absent) Scuderia Ferrari.
The car debuted at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1962, driven by the team of
American Phil Hill (the standing World Driving Champion) and Belgian Olivier
Gendebien. Although originally annoyed that they were driving a GT-class car
instead of one of the full-race Testa Rossas competing in the prototype class,
the experienced pair impressed themselves (and everyone else) by finishing 2nd
overall behind the Testa Rossa of Bonnier and Scarfotti.
The success was not a fluke; the 250 GTO was an exceptionally capable racing
car. At the time of its introduction it was (depending on choice of gears and
final-drive ratio) most likely the straight-line fastest car on any race track;
more subtly, but perhaps more important, it had no bad habits or nasty tricks in
its wide performance envelope. In the best Ferrari tradition, it made normal
drivers look excellent and gave great drivers an unsurpassable advantage. Years
of development for its significant components, and traditional Ferrari
robustness, also guaranteed that the car would last until the end of the race.
In the end, the GTO won the World Manufacturer's Championship three years in a
row: 1962, 1963, and 1964.
The low production (39) allowed Ferrari to be selective about potential
owners; if you were in the good graces of Ferrari himself, or his North American
ambassador Luigi Chinetti, your $18,000 (early-1960s dollars, of course) would
buy you the best GT racing car available at the time.
The 250 GTO arrived as perhaps the last car that could compete on such a
level and still act as something of a normal road car; more visibly, it was one
of the last front-engined cars to be truly competitive at such a level. In the
age before vintage racing, the 250 GTO faced the same fate as any other racing
car of its time: as it passed into obsolescence, some were kept as regional race
machines, while others were used as normal (if barely-practical and thoroughly
glorious) passenger cars.
Collectability and appreciating value
In the late Seventies and early Eighties, the focus of the "performance" of
the 250 GTO and other rare Ferraris turned out to be their rapidly-accelerating
market value. As the auto industry struggled through new regulations and
questionable marketing decisions, the unfettered performance machines of the
recently bygone era took on a new desirability. There was also something of a
paradigm shift; instead of being old but lovable racing cars, well-heeled
collectors (Ralph Lauren among them) started to see the 250 GTO and its brethren
as a sort of drivable fine art, much like the coach built luxury cars of the
pre-World War II era.
This investment mentality reached an unreal peak in the late Eighties. As the
wealth of certain members of the baby-boomer generation exploded and the stock
market became a questionable investment, the market value of classic cars,
especially Ferraris, went geometric - and as the much-touted great example of
all the best traits of the breed, the asking price of the 250 GTOs soared
highest. One of them, seized by the FBI from a convicted drug dealer, was sold
in a sealed auction in 1988 for approximately $2 million, which was considered
outrageous at the time - and within three years would come to be seen as a good
investment. The last 250 GTO believed to be auctioned off was through World
Classic Auctions, in Las Vegas in 1991. The total came up to $5.5 million.
A legend states that a 250 GTO exchanged hands to a Japanese collector for apx
The money element, and the car's raw desirability and scarcity, have resulted
in a number of faux 250 GTOs being crafted on the base of more common Ferrari
chassis; there are many more cars that look like 250 GTOs on roads today than
were ever rolled out of the Scaglietti coachworks. The Alpha One 250 GTO replica
used the chassis and body of a Datsun Z-car and can be seen in the John Candy
movie Delirious. In the opening scenes of the film Vanilla Sky, the main
character drives a black 250 GTO, though this was later revealed to have been a
different car altered to look like an original 250. On a more sinister level,
misrepresentations of the original cars, with unscrupulous types attempting to
sell them for full price, have been reported. One such example though he did not
sell his was Charles Brocket, who had his passed off as a genuine example when
it is was a replica and this only came to light when he was convicted of
insurance fraud in 1996. The replicas sparked a famous saying that of the
3000 plus that have ever been built, all 39 are still running.
Prices peaked around 1991; although specifics are discreetly glossed over, it
is common knowledge that a 250 GTO traded hands in a private sale around this
time for no less than fifteen million dollars.
The collector-car bubble burst in a very messy way not much later, but the
price for legitimate high-demand Ferrari models has steadily climbed in the
middle of the first decade after the millennium. Market value for a 250 GTO in
late 2006 is escalating to approach the earlier high mark; should one be lucky
enough to consider ownership, a minimum of $10 million will be required.
- Buckley, Martin & Rees, Chris
(1998). World Encyclopedia of Cars. London: Anness Publishing. ISBN
- The Ferrari Pages. Cars From Italy. Retrieved on November 20, 2004.
- Ferrari 250 GTO. Ultimatecarpage.com. Retrieved on October, 2005.
- Supercars.net article on Ferrari 250 GTO
More Ferrari GTO Pictures
Ferrari 250 GTO at the Gumball Rally
Goodwood Festival of Speed 2006
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