The Ferrari 250 GTO still represents today a fundamental piece of the history of the Cavallino: the model created by Giotto Bizzarrini presents a perfect combination of aesthetics and performance, a rare balance in which all the elements that compose it are perfectly integrated with each other.
The countless successes achieved with the 250 GTO make this car simply extraordinary, to the point that the Court of Bologna, ruling on a complaint lodged by Ferrari to protect the design of its jewel from an imitation, defined it as a work of art in all respects.
For the first time a car has been granted copyright: it is a completely new episode, apparently exaggerated, but which is matched by the high consideration that enthusiasts have for this particular model, to the point that one of the specimens of the Ferrari 250 GTO were sold at the famous auction house Sotheby's for over forty-one million euros.
The car is built on the 2400 millimeters wheelbase chassis, following the philosophy presented with the 250 GT Berlinetta short wheelbase from which it derives, but even if the body is built following the same guidelines, the tubes used are of a lower section, to which additional cruises are added to increase torsional stiffness.
The internal reference number is initially 539/62 Comp, but will later be replaced with the 539/64 Comp. Similarly to the 250 GT Berlinetta short wheelbase, the Ferrari 250 GTO will have four disc brakes installed; the handbrake controlled by a cable acts on the rear wheels, and the car is available, according to the customer's needs, with driving on the left or right.
Giotto Bizzarrini is commissioned to create a car capable of beating the Jaguar E Type, also using the aid of the wind tunnel, with the aim of not revealing any details regarding the first developments of the model; interviewed over the years, Giotto, in fact, will declare that he has been commissioned to work on a new project starting from the base of the 250 GT Boano. However, the official records of the company state the opposite, certifying that the chassis entrusted to build the new car is that of the 250 GT short wheelbase, chassis #1791 GT.
On its first outing on the Monza circuit in September 1961, before the Italian Grand Prix, the car earned the nickname of Monster, due to its rather revamped body.
During the test sessions, the car will be entrusted to the driving of the legendary Stirling Moss, who sets impressive times; the 250 GTO immediately proved to be extremely competitive and efficient, reaching performance values that the 250 GT short wheelbase had never been able to provide, even remotely.
In this same period, however, a revolution is underway at Ferrari, and Bizzarrini will suddenly find himself out of the company: the final construction of the car body will therefore be entrusted to Sergio Scaglietti, who will present the definitive form of the GTO still known today.
The drive unit is essentially a revived version of the 250 Testa Rossa specification: it is a three-liter V12 with single overhead camshaft per cylinder bank, designed by Gioachino Colombo, with a 73 by 58 bore and stroke 8 millimeters, dry sump lubrication, and internal reference number 168 Comp/62.
The spark plugs have been placed outside the V of the engine block, while the supply is ensured by a battery of six Weber 38 DCN double-barrel carburettors, with a double coil and ignition distributors located in the rear area drive unit. The declared power is around 300 hp.
Combined with the latter, a new five-speed synchronized gearbox is presented with a sector selection turret, located in the cockpit, very similar to those used in racing Sport models since the mid-1950s. The motion is transferred through the transmission shaft to the rear rigid bridge, equipped with a Watt parallelogram.
The rear axle is available with a wide range of ratios, and fits perfectly as if it had been fitted to a racing car.
During the production period (1962-1964) the shape of the aluminum car bodies designed and built by Scaglietti varies little. An exception is made for a single model with bodywork with the lines of the 330 LM Berlinetta, and the last three cars of the series: these cars will be dressed with a body designed and decorated by Pininfarina, but also built by Scaglietti.
Aesthetically, these models are very similar to the mid-engined 250 LM racing sports car. Four examples produced at the beginning of the series are bodyworked again with the new liveries during 1964. Although the overall shape of the body will not vary entirely, the differences in the details on the cars produced will be evident.
In the first machines of the series, there are small elliptical air intakes for the radiator, flanked by rectangular fog lights. Also at the beginning, the air intakes for cooling the brakes were positioned under the nose; later they will become vertical and will move near the front optical groups covered in Plexiglass, under which the position lights are located.
The tail spoiler is bolted to the rear panel, and there are vents for the passenger compartment air on the rear side panels that support the roof. In a short time the air intakes for cooling the brakes will become circular, and the position lights will move to a semi-recessed position on the sides of the front of the fenders. Shortly after all these small changes have been made, the rear spoiler will be welded, thus becoming an integral part of the car body.
All the models produced, except for the cars built in 1964, are equipped with three small opening panels that have the shape of a D, and are located in the front part of the engine hood: these serve to increase the air flow towards the radiator. The pattern is repeated under the nose, where there are three similar vents, designed to perform the same function.
Even the cars built and re-bodied in 1964 will have many differences between them, but in these cases the differences will affect other details of the model, such as the shape of the roof and the bonnet; the first can be longer, shorter and equipped with a spoiler or shorter without an integrated spoiler, the second instead comes with the classic air intake or an eye-catching protuberance in the central area, which extends towards the nose.
A number of cars will undergo some modifications during their use in the racing sector: in particular, a third air vent will be added on the front fender and, occasionally, other slots will be opened on the bonnet to facilitate the cooling of temperatures.
In addition to the primary details already mentioned, there were numerous individual differences between the various cars: for example, some cars could boast rear light clusters mounted on supports, while in others they were fixed directly on the tail panel.
The 250 GTO berlinettas will continue the long series of racing successes begun by the previous long wheelbase and short wheelbase models, and when the constructors' championship is transferred to the GT category starting in 1962, the GTO will give Ferrari a hat-trick of world triumphs between 1962 and 1964.
The car will dominate its class with great authority, and only in the last year of racing will it encounter some difficulties against the AC Cobra, equipped with a V8 engine with a significantly higher displacement. Among the numerous international successes of the 250 GTO it is right to remember the victories in the Tour de France 1963 and 1964, the conquest of the GT category of the Targa Florio 1962, 1963 and 1964, the splendid performances shown during the Goodwood Tourist Trophy in the 1962 vintages. and 1963, the triumph in the GT category at Le Mans in 1962 and 1963, and at the 1000 km of the Nuerburgring in 1963-1964.
The 250 GTO is the highest expression of the Ferrari 250 GT cars, managing to boast incredible performance on the track and on the road, without distinction, and was perhaps the last car produced in small series to be able to enjoy this peculiarity. Among fans of the Ferrari brand, the GTO has reached a legendary level. With a small series of thirty-six cars, many of which with a remarkable sporting record, it has become one of the icons of the Cavallino production, and its fame has allowed it to enter a very prominent position among the circle of collectors.
Engine: front, longitudinal, 12V 60°
Bore and stroke 73x58.8 mm
Unit displacement 246.10 cm³
Total displacement 2953.21 cm³
Compression ratio 9.8:1
Maximum power 221 kW (300 hp) at 7400 rpm
Specific power 102 hp/liter
Single shaft distribution, two valves per cylinder
Six Weber 38 DCN carburetors power supply
Mono ignition, with two distributors
Dry sump lubrication
Single plate clutch
Tubular steel frame
Front independent suspension, wishbones, coaxial coil springs with telescopic shock absorbers, anti-roll bar
Rear suspension rigid axle, double lateral struts, longitudinal leaf springs, coaxial coil springs with telescopic shock absorbers
Five-speed gearbox + RM
Steering screw and tapered roller
Fuel tank capacity 130 liters
Front tires 6.00x15
Rear tires 7.00x15
Length 4325 mm
Width 1600 mm
Height 1210 mm
Wheelbase 2400 mm
Front track 1354 mm
Rear track 1350 mm
Dry weight 880 kg
Maximum speed 280 km/h
Simone Pietro Zazza