Ferrari made the decision to produce a racer that met the requirements to be classified as street legal in the early 1960s. They owned the homologated Group 3 Grand Touring Car, the 250 GTO. This model was produced from 1962 to 1964 in a limited edition for each year of production. Highly praised as one of the best sports cars of its time, here is a brief history of the Ferrari 250 GTO.
The first prototype of the 250 GTO was derived from a previous model of the 250 GT Berlinetta SWB. Work began in 1961 on development with the inspiration chassis that was converted to meet the new design standards and specifications of the conceptual model of what would become an exclusive and valuable production car. Ferrari created two prototypes of the 250 GTO with variations. The initial car was known as the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Le Mans Berlinetta Sperimentale, which was designed and manufactured to competition specifications including a competition gearbox, a beefed-up chassis, and a fully-tuned Type 3.0-liter engine with 300 bhp. The body of the prototype was a Pininfarina design with a lightweight aluminum alloy construction for the body. He entered the 1961 24 Hours of Le Mans competition but was unable to complete the race due to an engine failure along with several other issues that were identified for improvement. He was taken back to the factory where he underwent the necessary upgrades before running the 3-hour Daytona Continental race and took fourth place in 1962.
The second prototype
The network prototype has not been so easy to trace. Some say it was built from a 1960 240 GT SWB chassis, while others venture that it was from a 1959 250 GT SWH, or possibly a 250 GT Boano. Ferrari’s racing department worked on the chassis and bodywork under the direction of Giotto Bizzarrini with major modifications. Of particular note is the fact that the team used unfinished aluminum with a rough finish and the aesthetics of the prototype were so rough that it was dubbed ‘the monster’. It was tested in September 1961 at Monza and while it put on a good show with fast laps, the same high-speed stability issues were still troublesome. As it turned out, the experimental body that had been designed for the prototypes was scrapped.
Moving Forward with a New Design Team for the 250 GTO
Giotto Bizzarrini served as chief engineer and chief development officer for the 1962 GTO. This version was designed for the Group 3 GT racing competition. Enzo Ferrari and Bizzarrini disagreed and after a dispute he and most of the other Ferrari engineers received their receipts. Enzo brought Mauro Forghieri on board and, together with Scaglietti, began body development for the 250 GTO. The development of the car body required a whole team of engineers working together and, according to historical records, there was not a single person who could take credit for the design. Enzo Ferrari wasn’t about to leave anything to chance this time. He had his eye on the prize, and after spending a lifetime chasing perfection in his supercars, his tolerance for long-standing argumentative opinions that ran counter to his notions of progress was minimal to nonexistent.
The first race the 1962 250 GTO took part in was 12 Hours of Sebring and was driven by Olivier Gendebien of Belgium and Formula One driver Phil Hill. Running as a prototype, the car came in second, but was overtaken by a Testa Rossa. Still, he had an impressive run. (https://www.roadandtrack.com/racing/ferrari-gto-history) The car went on to compete in various high profile competitions from 1963 to 1964 and took home several titles before being phased out of the racing scene in 1967. Some of the original 250 GTOs were used in rally racing and some were converted to road legal cars.
Ferrari built a total of 39,250 GTO models in 1962. 33 of them were built with standard features for the model with three variants being made with the 330 engine, one four-liter. These have often been referred to as 330 GTOs. Three of them were identified as a variant of the Type 64 due to bodywork revisions. Due to homologation regulations Enzo Ferrari was required to produce 100 of these, but found some loopholes that allowed him to include another 250 models to receive proper homologation documentation to proceed.
A strong collectible history
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