Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta by Scaglietti

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250 GTO Berlinetta by Scaglietti





The 250 GTO was produced from 1962 to 1964 for homologation into the FIA's Group 3 Grand Touring Car category. GTO stands for "Gran Turismo Omologato", Italian for "Homologated Grand Tourer". When new, the GTO sold for $18,000 in the United States, and buyers had to be personally approved by Enzo Ferrari and his dealer for North America, Luigi Chinetti.

By late 1961, Ferrari began to develop a competition replacement for the successful 250 GT SWB. While the Short Wheelbase Berlinetta had been a dominant force in its day, the beautiful sports-racer was increasingly approaching its limits, most evident in the upright front end that inherently prevented the model from exceeding 155 mph. Coincidental to these machinations at Maranello, the FIA’s CSI announced new regulations for the 1962 racing calendar, replacing the prior World Championship of Sports Cars with the new International Championship of Manufacturers, which was to be determined exclusively by GT production car racing classes. Larger-displacement prototype racecars would be allowed to participate in some events, but not for points.

With the 250 GT platform already firmly homologated after six years of racing activity and corresponding road car production, the model was an obvious choice for Ferrari to continue in 1962. The luminary engineer Giotto Bizzarrini was tasked with further refining the 250 GT berlinetta, and the bulk of his efforts centered on developing new coachwork through aerodynamic testing in the University of Pisa’s wind tunnel and on the Monza track.

Introduced at a press conference in February 1962, the 250 GTO was absolutely stunning. Power was provided by the latest development of the 3-liter Colombo short-block V-12, a competition-tuned, dry-sump lubricated engine that breathed through six dual-throat Weber carburetors to produce 300 horsepower, in an echo of Testa Rossa engine specifications. The new type 539/62 chassis featured a number of engineering advances, including smaller, lighter tubing in some areas of the frame, a new all-synchromesh five-speed gearbox, and a revised rear suspension with stiffer springs and a stabilizing Watts linkage. Perhaps most significantly, the new chassis architecture and the dry-sump oil system allowed for the engine to be placed lower than the outgoing SWB, ensuring a lower center of gravity and correspondingly improved handling. Longer and lower than the 250 GT SWB, the new model also weighed roughly 250 pounds less than its predecessor.

As the Scuderia Ferrari continued to focus its sports car racing activities on the rear-engine Dino prototype racecars, the 250 GTO was largely entrusted to privateers, and numerous examples were sold to preferred racing clients (and marque distributors) like Maranello Concessionaires and Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team. It did not take long for the GTO to make its mark in competition, as the second car built (chassis number 3387 GT) finished 1st in class and 2nd overall at the 1962 12 Hours of Sebring, with Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien driving on behalf of Chinetti. This commenced a period of solid dominance that extended well into 1964, eventually establishing the 250 GTO as one of the most successful racing sports cars of all time.

Meanwhile, regulation changes were also afoot at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Despite the FIA's attempt to limit competition to GT models only, the Le Mans organizers remained committed to the idea of the prototype racecar. So, for 1962, the ACO stipulated a larger-displacement 4-liter class whose purpose was ostensibly to develop cars that might eventually translate into road car production. Other endurance racing venues quickly followed suit, with a 4-liter class being adopted at Sebring, the Targa Florio, and the Nürburgring 1000 KM. This wrinkle was not lost on Ferrari's engineers, and they soon began to seriously consider the potential of dropping a 4-liter motor into a GTO. It was this vein of thinking that gave rise to the fascinating history of the featured lot.

Thirty-six cars were made in 1962 and 1963. In 1964 the Series II was introduced, which had a different body. Three such cars were made, and four older Series I cars were given a Series II body. It brought the total number of GTOs produced to 39.

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