The 50th anniversary of the greatest Ferrari ever made is certainly worth celebrating. To commemorate the birth of the Ferrari 250 GTO, over 20 exclusive sports racing cars will be brought to the show field of the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on August 21.
Originally, only 36 units of the 250 GTOs were built. Two 330 GTOs were also produced with larger capacity engines. So far, more than half of these exclusive cars are expected to appear at the Concours.
However, the owners of all of the exclusive cars were invited to the event. In the past few years, several of these GTOs were sold for up to $30 million.
Ed Gilbertson, Chief Judge of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, said that the Ferrari 250 GTO is “one of the great sports racing cars of all time.” He said that for three straight years, the GTO was able to beat any car in the world. In 1962, it debuted as a racecar at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
With the 250 GTO, American Phil Hill and Belgian Olivier Gendebien placed second overall. The first place went to a Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa sports racing car. The 250 GTO then went on to win Federation Internationale de L'Automobile's (FIA) International Championship for GT Manufacturers from 1962 to 1964.
The 250 GTO also won in the Tour de France in 1963 and 1964. Then in 1962 and 1963, it got the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood. It won at the Nürburgring 1000 km in 1963 and 1964. Then it got class wins in the Targa Florio in 1962, 1963 and 1964; and category wins at Le Mans in 1962 and 1963.
Built with the chassis of the Ferrari 250 GT SWB, the 250 GTO had been based on an experimental test car -- the 1961 250 GT Sperimentale. This test car had participated during the Daytona and was driven by Stirling Moss who later went on to have a GT win and ultimately place fourth overall. It was during the latter part of that same year that the 250 GTO started production. In addition to the Sperimentale, there will be other examples of the Series I and that Series II 250 GTOs that will be displayed at Pebble Beach.
According to Gilbertson, though one of this limited production cars was repaired as a result of receiving extensive damage during races, it remains in its original condition. It will be exhibited as well on the 18th fairway at the Pebble Beach Golf Links. In order to make a new car under absolute secrecy, it was Enzo Ferrari who assigned engineer Giotto Bizzarrini to create a car that was well outside the usual Ferrari circles.
Using the 250 GT SWB as the basis, Bizzarrini first lightened the chassis and then reinforced it. In order to enhance the car’s weight distribution, he decided to put the engine at the back of the front axle. However, by the fall of 1961, Bizzarrini, as well as other employees, decided to leave the company. To make sure that the 250 GTO would be completed, Enzo Ferrari thus assigned the task to coachbuilder Sergio Scaglietti and engineer Mauro Forghieri.
Continuing on the work done by Bizzarrini, the team worked on improving the V-12 2953 cc engine by putting in larger valves, six Weber double-barrel carburetors, and Testa Rossa heads. This resulted in an output of 300 hp, a significant increase in the horsepower. Instead of the SWB four-speed transmission, the team replaced it with the all syncromesh five-speed gearbox.
Included in the 250 GTO are a number of Ferrari technologies that are clearly from that same era. Examples are the wire wheels, disc brakes, live-axle rear end, the A-arm suspension in the front, and the hand-welded tube frame. To ensure that the car would remain lightweight, the interior was kept basic. It has no soundproofing and even the instrument panel does not have a speedometer.