When it comes to extremely rare and valuable cars, several names come to mind immediately. There’s of course the world’s most expensive car, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé, or the illustrious Bugatti Type 57C Atlantic, but perhaps the brand with the biggest gravitational pull of them all is Ferrari. Looking back at everything they’ve produced since the 125 S from 1947, it’s easy to understand why this brand has such a strong following and usually sets records at auctions. The list of exotic and highly desirable cars is seemingly endless, as the company always strived (and often succeeded) to build the best performance and racing cars they could. Sure, there are the odd misses here and there, but the vast majority is just pure magic on wheels. But what is to be considered Ferrari’s masterpiece, the crowning achievement, the holy grail? Depending on who you ask, opinions may vary but I bet most people will give you a three-digit, three-letter answer; 250 GTO. And as luck would have it, there’s a chance to own one coming up real soon!
Gran Turismo Omologato
The Ferrari 250 GTO is a legendary car, there’s no getting around it. Just 36 were built, or 39 if you include the 4-litre cars (we’ll get to that in a bit) and although it’s not the rarest Ferrari ever made it is probably the one that everyone would love to own! The 250 GTO was produced between 1962 and 1964, with 33 cars draped in the 1962-1963 Series I body and three more with a 1964 Series II body (see below, alongside the Breadvan). Four of the early cars were later converted to Series II bodies, which had a different rear section for better aerodynamic performance.
The 250 GTO was built at a time when Ferrari was at its peak in the world of racing. The scarlet cars dominated the tracks in the 1950s and 1960s, taking home no less than 6 consecutive overall wins at the Le Mans 24 Hours race between 1960 and 1965 for instance. The car gets its name from the 250cc displacement for each of the twelve cylinders of the iconic three-litre Colombo V12, along with the GTO abbreviation. This stands for Gran Turismo Omologato, which indicates this car is a Grand Tourer homologated to go racing, specifically in the FIA’s Group 3 Grand Touring Car category.
Designed to compete in GT Racing categories, it took on the mighty Shelby Cobra and later Cobra Daytona, as well as race-prepped Jaguar E-Types and Aston Martins. The development of the car was green-lit by Enzo himself, and the man in charge of the project was Giotto Bizzarini. Due to a dispute between Bizzarini and Il Commendatore, as Enzo is also known, Bizzarini left the company before the 250 GTO was completed, with Mauro Forghieri taking over his place. Bizzarini would eventually start building his own cars, which we documented in a previous instalment of The Petrolhead Corner.
The principle upon which the 250 GTO was developed, was rather simple for the time. Ferrari used the chassis of the outgoing 250 GT SWB and updated it a make it stiffer and lighter, and thus more suited for (endurance) racing. To improve the car’s performance, a lot of effort was put into the aerodynamic shape of the car, resulting in the iconic low nose, long-swooping front section, closed headlights and cut-off rear section of the car. Early testing results indicated a spoiler was needed to stabilize the rear of the car, which resulted in the signature up-swept lip at the back. Throughout all the cars there are small differences to be found because a) each one was hand-built, b) cars would need repair due to failures or crashes and c) Ferrari and drivers/teams that campaigned the cars would provide input for additional upgrades. That’s why, if you look closely at multiple 250 GTOs, you will notice differences in air intakes, cooling vents, and so on.
Underneath the hood of the car, there was a three-litre Tipo 168/62 Colombo V12 producing around 300 horsepower, combined with a total weight between 880 to 950 kilos, depending on the exact configuration of each of the 250 GTOs. The engine was bolted to a five-speed manual gearbox that was newly developed for the car. In addition to the 36 original 250 GTOs, there are several derivates. First up is the 330 LM which uses the same chassis as the smaller-engined cars, but is fitted with a 390bhp 4.0-litre V12. There’s also the 330 LMB which also used the bigger capacity engine but the chassis of the 250 GT Lusso instead. And then there’s the 250 GTO SWB Breadvan, which was a one-off designed by Bizzarini after he left Ferrari and built to specifically compete against the 250 GTO. This unique car has a specially constructed body to further improve aerodynamic performance.
It’s important to note this car is not a 3.0-litre 250 GTO but rather a 4.0-litre variant also referred to as the 330 LM. As mentioned, it uses the same chassis as the 250 GTO and the bodywork looks nearly identical with the exception of a bigger bulge in the hood to accommodate the larger displacement V12. Some people include the three 4.0-litre cars that were built in the total number of 250 GTOs as they’re nigh-on identical, which ups the number of cars from 36 to 39. As such, this car is listed by RM Sotheby’s as both a 330LM and a 250 GTO.
Why this car is very special, even more so than the other 250 GTO and even 330LM cars, is simple. It is the only Series 1 250 GTO that was raced by the factory and comes with a pretty impressive racing resume. Sadly it didn’t win the big one, the 1962 Le Mans 24 Hours it entered, but it did end up racking up quite a few overall or class victories and was always a race-winning candidate wherever it showed up.
The story of Chassis 3765 starts in 1962. Ferrari sold off most of the 250 GTO to privateers and professional racing teams such as Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team (NART), but this one stayed back at base and was raced by Scuderia Ferrari instead. The works team entered it in the 1962 24 Hours of Le Mans where it sadly retired after only 56 laps. Drivers Mike Parks and Lorenzo Bandini were forced to retire due to an overheating engine most likely caused by a crash into a sandbank earlier in the race. Nevertheless, the list of accolades of this car includes a class win and second place overall at the 1962 Nürburgring 1,000km race, as well as finishing second in the Sicilian Hillclimb Championship in 1965.
The current owner is letting it go after 38 years of ownership, a period in which the car won numerous prestigious awards. It was Best of Show at the Amelia Concours d’Elegance for instance, as well as a Blue Ribbon recipient at the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance. It is a winner of an FCA Platinum Award and the Coppa Bella Macchina at the Cavallino Classic, an annual concourse celebrating the excellence of Ferrari. It was also voted as runner-up in the special GTO class during the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, among a total of 23 GTO’s.
The car itself is currently in immaculate condition and comes with a well-documented archive of its history. Along with the car you get its build sheets, owner’s correspondence, period racing coverage, entry forms to several races, article clippings from magazines and so on. With such a provenance, it is a given this will be sold for an astronomical sum of money. The current record for a Ferrari 250 GTO sold at auction is a whopping USD 48.4 million, which was achieved in a 2018 auction also hosted by RM Sotheby’s. The estimate for this specific Chassis 3765 Series 1 Ferrari 250 GTO (or 330 LM if you will) is set at more than USD 60 million, which sounds crazy for a car but I am expecting this to break the estimate, to be honest.
The Factory Fresh Collection
If your pockets don’t run as deep as they need to in order to get hold of this unique Ferrari 250 GTO from 1962, there’s an alternative for you coming up in just a week. During their upcoming London event on November 4th, RM Sotheby’s will be auctioning off the Factory Fresh Collection. This one-owner collection consists of quite an impressive list of cars, mostly from Ferrari. The name comes from the fact they’re all very low mileage cars, some even with less than 100km on the odometer. What’s even better is that some of them are extremely rare due to the combination of paint colour, being right-hand drive or just having very low production numbers in general. It’s very rare to see these come up for auction together and in what is essentially factory-fresh condition.
The list of cars includes;
- 1992 Ferrari 348 TS
- 1990 Ferrari Testarossa
- 2008 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano
- 1973 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS by Scaglietti
- 2000 Ferrari 550 Maranello
- 1992 Ferrari Mondial T Coupé
- 2001 Ferrari 550 Barchetta Pininfarina
- 2007 Ferrari F430
- 1994 Ferrari 348 GTB
- 1992Ferrari 512 TR
- 2010 Ferrari California
- 2008 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano (yes, another one)
- 1993 Ferrari Mondial T Cabriolet
- 1992 Ferrari 512 TR (yes, another one)
- 1994 Ferrari 512 TR Spider
- 1992 Ferrari 348 TS
- 1979 Ferrari 400i
- 1991 Bentley Turbo R Drophead Coupé by Pininfarina
- 1969 Jaguar E-Type Series 2 4.2 Litre Roadster
- 1993 Jaguar XJ220
Estimates for cars in this auction range from GBP 100,000 to GBP 150,000 for one of the Mondials, to an estimate of GBP 2,100,000 to GBP 2,700,000 for the 512 TR Spider. Still a lot of money, but quite a bit more attainable than the 250 GTO!
Editorial Note: All images portrayed in this article are supplied by, and used with permission from RM Sotheby’s or our personal archives unless stated otherwise.