Tour de France Auto

Car in the spotlight : Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta

While the Tour Auto is coming, and one of them is registered for the race, we offer you to (re)discover the Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France.

Genesis of the Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta

Everything starts in 1955, Armando Zampiero wins the italien sports car championship with a Mercedes-Benz 300SL. Ferrari, which is upset about being beaten on its own ground, develops a new car for the GT category and introduces it in the beginning in 1956.

That’s how the Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta is created. It has been designed by Pininfarina and is built by Scaglietti, whose workshop was closed to the Ferrari plant. The chassis is based on the Ferrari 250 GT Boano, a long wheel-base (2600 mm). Its main advantage is that the car has been produced to the necessary number to be hoùmologated by the FIA in the GT category.

Technically, the Colombo V12 is kept, with its 3 liter displacement (250 cm³ per cylinder, hence the name).It is fed by 3 Weber double carburetors. It develops 230 to 260 hp, depending on the settings. The chassis shares a lot of elements with the regular 250 GT, including the tubular treillis frame and the rear drum brakes, but the front axle is suspendent thanks to coil springs.

To obtain a Berlinetta (two-seater in Italian) the passenger compartment is reduced, the quipment is minimal and the windows are now in Plexiglas. The car weight is reduced to 1,180 kg, allowing a top speed of 162 mph and 0 to 60 in 10,3 seconds.

Only 14 cars are built by Scaglietti, a few cars being built by Zagato.

1956, the Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta debuts

The history of the Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France is linked to the spanish pilot Alfonso de Portago. Born in a spanish noble family, he is noticed in 1954 and 1955 seasons, driving 4-cylinder sport cars and also Lancia D50s, bought by Ferrari and competing in the F2 category.

In 1956, he is one of the core drivers of Ferrari and gets pretty good results, mainly in fall. Driving the blue Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta 0557GT, shown in the post, he wins the Tour de France Automobile. Gendebien driving a “regular” 250 GT takes the third place, confirming Ferrari was on fire.
On top of that victory, De Portago wins the Coupes du Salon, on Montlhéry track, with the same chassis.

The Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta is upgraded at the end of the season, with the addition of air routings and a modified bodywork.
The car will be once again modified in spring, with 3 vents on the rear quarter panel. At the Mille Miglia, De Portago dies, therefore leaving his title…
Ferrari keeps getting outstanding results: Gendebien and Frère win the 12 Hours of Reims, driving a car from the Francorchamps team, ahead of Hill and Seidel, and Gino Munaron, driving Ferrari 250 GT Berlinettas too.

In the end of the year, the Tour de France is once again a perfect playground for Ferrari. Gendebien and Bianchi win for the Francorchamps team, ahead of two other Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta !
Like in 1956, the winner also grabs the first place at the Coupes du Salon.

In 1958, the cars get the first place at the 3 Hours of Pau and honorable places at the 12 Hours of Reims and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Once again, the Tour de France is won by Gendebien et Bianchi gagnent une nouvelle fois la course, and the ohter Ferrari 250 GT Berlinettas get the thrid, fourth and fifth place !

Ferrari-250-GT-Berlinetta-Tour-de-France-1000-km-12h-de-Reims-1958

In 1959, the cars are driven on the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. Beurly and Eldé for the Ecurie Nationale Belge get the third place ahead of Pilette and Arrens for the North American Racing Team. This second car is actually a 250 GT Interim Berlinetta. It keeps the long wheel-base but the body is the same as the upcoming SWB.
At the Tour de France, Gendebien and Bianchi win again at the wheel of their Berlinetta. Four victories in a row for the Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta definitively make it worth of its alias “Tour de France”.

The new SWBs will get the upper hand over the Berlinettas for the following years. At the end, the car gets its last victory at the Mille Miglia in 1961, driven by Gunnar Anderson.

The Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France, nowadays

This car is quite rare, and it’s quite hard to come across one. Our colleague Nicolas of Arthomobiles keeps a record (in French) of every 250 GT he met.

Regarding its auction price, the blue car in this post has been sold for $13,200,000 last summer, due to its history. The red one reached  £4,750,000 in fall.

Collin Kolles, former F1 team manager and now manufacturer of endurance prototypes, has registered one in the upcoming Tour Auto. We will provide you some pictures, since we will be there !

Pictures : RM Auctions, Revs Institute, News d’Anciennes.

Posted by Pierre in Cars in the spotlight, Non classé, 0 comments