Factory certified 1958 Ferrari 250GT Berlinetta Tour de France Coachwork by Pinin Farina/ Scaglietti Chassis no. 1039GT Engine no. 1039GT
The organisers of the Tour de France always allowed outright winners and class winners of the French car-racing marathon to add the name of the race to that of the car. Nothing could be more appropriate for the Ferrari 250GT Berlinetta Competition - its official name - which won nine consecutive victories with the original model and then the short wheelbase version. Giorgio Schön, Ferrari 250 Grand Touring Cars, Ed. Nicola Cutrera.
By the late 1950s, road car production had ceased to be a sideline for Ferrari and was seen as vitally important to the companys future stability. Thus the 250, Ferraris first volume-produced model, can be seen as critically important, though production of the first of the line - the 250 Europa, built from 1953 to 1954 - amounted to fewer than twenty. Before the advent of the Europa, Ferrari had built road-going coupés and convertibles in small numbers, usually to special customer order using a sports-racing chassis as the basis. Ghia and Vignale, of Turin and Touring, of Milan were responsible for bodying many of these, but there was no attempt at standardisation for series production and no two cars were alike.
The early evolution of the 250 series coincided with an important stage in the development of the 3-litre Ferrari V12. A re-jigged (68x68mm bore/stroke) version of the 340 Americas Lampredi-designed long block engine had been chosen for the 250 Europa, but with the introduction of the 250 Europa GT in 1954 a change was made to Colombos lighter and more compact short-stroke (73x58.8mm) unit. Power output of the single-overhead-camshaft all-aluminium engine was 220bhp at 7,000rpm.
At 2,600mm the 250 Europa GT chassis was 200mm shorter in the wheelbase than that of the Europa and followed Ferraris established practice, being a multi-tubular frame tied together by oval main tubes, though the independent front suspension now employed coil springs instead of the previous transverse leaf type. A four-speed, Porsche-type, all-synchromesh gearbox transmitted power to the semi-elliptically sprung live rear axle, while hydraulic drums all round looked after braking.
The 250GT Competizione Tour de France evolved from the preceding 250 Europa GT and competition Mille Miglia models, using the same 2,600mm wheelbase as the former and the Colombo V12 engine developing up to 280bhp. Its suspension arrangements remained essentially as before, although a front anti-roll bar was included, for the first time in a Ferrari. Maranello had yet to be convinced of the desirability of disc brakes, so the 250GT Competiziones performance was restrained by massive drums with a friction surface of 1,278cm2.
A handful of what can be interpreted as prototypes of the 250GT Competizione appeared on chassis manufactured within the preceding 250 Europa GT series, Scagliettis on chassis number 0425GT - shown at the Geneva Salon in 1956 being accepted as one that presaged the forthcoming Tour de France series. The Modenese coachbuilder went on to body the vast majority of 250 Competizione Tour de France models built between 1956 and 1959, although to a Pinin Farina design. These cars are commonly differentiated by the number of vents in the rear-quarter sail panel rather than their year of manufacture, while expert opinion differs with regard to the total number manufactured (75-77).
A single vent model with original covered headlights, Ferrari 250GT Competizione chassis number 1039GT is the 69th Tour de France manufactured and was invoiced on 26th November 1958 by SEFAC Ferrari to Luigi Chinetti in North America for Hastings Harcourt of Santa Barbara, California. In 1959 the car was sold to H G Peters and then in 1964 to Greenwich Autos of Greenwich, Connecticut. The engine was briefly replaced by a Ford unit around this time but the car was later reunited with the original. Officially inspected and authenticated by Ferrari in January 2005, chassis 1039GT comes complete with factory certification confirming the chassis, engine and body to be original.
In 1974 chassis 1039GT was sold to long standing Ferraristi Charles W Betz and Fred Peters of Orange County, California. By the early 1980s it had passed to Chantal and Larry Menser of Seal Beach, California. Larry Menser drove the car, registered LE 58 TDF, at the Monterey historic races in August 1983, 84, 85 and 86.
In June 1987 1039GT was sold to lawyer and collector Joe Moch of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was subsequently advertised for sale in Ferrari Market Letter and in 1992 was sold via The Chequered Flag to the current owner in Switzerland. In September 1993 it was entered in the Chopard Concours, Mies and in February 1997 was displayed at the official opening of Ferrari Suisse headquarters, Nyon. Fittingly, 1039GT took part in Frances Tour Auto in 1997 and 1999.
While in the well-known present ownership the car has been restored in Italy by some of the finest of recognised Ferrari specialists, the engine being rebuilt by Diena (3,000 kilometres since) with coachwork by Bacchelli & Villa and interior by Luppi. Finished in Rosso Corsa with beige leather upholstery, 1039GT is offered with FIA papers, Ferrari Certificate (2005) and Swiss Permis de Circulation. It drove well when tested recently for Octane magazine, whose report is scheduled for publication in the January 2006 issue.
By winning those nine consecutive Tours de France, the Ferrari 250GT Berlinetta demonstrated peerless qualities as a Granturismo, proving equally at home on city streets, the open road and the race track. A fully restored and correct example of this legendary dynasty, 1039GT offers a future owner the prospect of hugely enjoyable period performance motoring and entry into the most prestigious of historic motor sports events including the Ferrari Challenge, Mille Miglia and, of course, the Tour Auto. It may be imported to the EU via Great Britain at the reduced VAT rate of just 5% for historic cars.