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250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione by Scagliette
Introduced in 1959, the 250 GT Berlinetta was designed with three objectives: first, to be more aerodynamically efficient; second, to be as compact as possible; and third, to provide appropriate accommodations and luggage space for a true grand turismo automobile. In the process, Pininfarina and Scaglietti created one of the most beautiful automobiles of all time, a succinct, straightforward and purposeful blending of form following function that is pleasing from all aspects.
Seven cars, known today as “Interim Berlinettas” were built on the 2600mm long wheelbase chassis before construction was shifted to the 2400mm short wheelbase chassis, a change deemed desirable to improve the cars’ responsiveness in cornering. Still called the 250 GT Berlinetta by Ferrari, its wheelbase has subsequently been firmly attached to the factories model designation to distinguish it from numerous other 250 GT models and the 2600mm chassis “Interim Berlinettas.”
One of the most notable GT racers of its time, the 1959 250 GT Berlinetta SWB used a short (2,400 mm (94.5 in)) wheelbase for better handling. Of the 176 examples built, both steel and aluminum bodies were used in various road ("lusso") and racing trims. Engine output ranged from 240 PS (177 kW; 237hp) to 280 PS (206 kW; 276 hp). The "lusso" road car version was originally fitted with 185VR15 Pirelli Cinturato (CA67).
Development of the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta was handled by Giotto Bizzarrini, Carlo Chiti, and young Mauro Forghieri, the same team that later produced the 250 GTO. Disc brakes were a first on a Ferrari GT, and the combination of low weight, high power, and well-sorted suspension made it competitive. It was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in October and quickly began selling and racing. The SWB Berlinetta won Ferrari the GT class of the 1961 Constructor's Championship.
The 250 GT SWB was an automobile that could be driven to the race track, easily decimate the competition, and then be driven home with ease at breakneck speed, while the driver was swaddled in fine Italian leather. By this time, Pininfarina bodies had become the norm for Ferrari, and the SWB was regarded by many as the finest Ferrari built to date. Although there were detail differences from car to car, the 250 GT SWB was fundamentally a standardized design. However, that did not stop the demand for custom coachwork. Six chassis utilized custom bodies, with four of those being designed by Pininfarina and the other two being built by Carrozzeria Bertone.
165 examples were constructed from 1959-1962. Scaglietti built both steel and aluminum bodies, often mixing features according to client’s wishes and manufacturing expediency. The 250 GT SWB Berlinetta is the last true dual-purpose gran turismo built in quantity by Ferrari – or anyone else for that matter. It is a milestone that marks the end of a legendary age when GT cars were driven to the greatest races, luggage unloaded, race numbers applied and driven to victories.
In both versions, “Lusso” and “Competizioni,” Ferrari constructed less than 200 SWB Berlinettas in total, these being built to three or four different specifications as to their external details – window configurations, marker lamp locations, body vents, etc. Also, one must remember that since these cars were totally hand-fabricated, in reality each SWB Berlinetta, while similar in appearance, is totally unique! Aesthetically they are unmistakably Ferraris – aerodynamic and devoid of superfluous bulk or embellishment with minimal overhangs and body corners wrapped around the polished Borranis. The general appearance of these fastback projectiles speaks of power and purpose.
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