Model history: Although the 250 Europa GT was named very similarly to the 250 Europa it replaced, it was quite different in design. More importantly, Ferrari no longer considered the '250' as a road car only, but as it name suggests also constructed a 'Competizione' version to race in international GT-races. The 250 Europa GT might not be the best known of Ferraris, but it was the first in a long line of 250 GT race cars, which dominated GT-racing for almost a decade.
Launched at the 1955 Paris Motorshow, the first 250 Europa GT looked like the 250 Europa launched two years earlier. However, under the Pinin Farina designed coupe body, very little remained the same. The most important change was the replacement of the Lampredi long-block engine found in the 250 Europa, with the Colombo short-block engine. Both engines displaced just under three litres and had 12 cylinders, but that is where the similarities end.
Gioacchino Colombo's short-block V12 was first seen in 1.5 litre form in the Ferrari's first model, the 125 of 1947. He left Ferrari not long after that initial design, but his successor, Aurelio Lampredi, continued developing the short-block engine alongside the long-block unit of his own design. Being very similar in design to the larger 375 America, it was understandable that the 250 Europa also shared its long-block engine, even though there was already a 3 litre version of the short-block engine available.
One of the biggest advantages of the Lampredi unit as a road car engine was its simple design, with undetachable cylinder heads. For racing purposes the Colombo engine with its all-alloy construction and separate heads was the more suitable V12. The three litre Colombo V12 had made a victorious competition debut in the 1952 Mille Miglia. Based on the winning 250 S, Ferrari produced a series of thirty-one 250 MM (Mille Miglia) racers fitted with various bodies of which the Pinin Farina Berlinetta was the most common.
The Type 112 engine that found its way into the 250 GT was almost identical to the 250 MM unit, except for the quad-choke Webers found on the MM. Both the separate heads and block were cast from a silicon / aluminium alloy (siluminium). Two single overhead camshafts actuated the valves and powered the distributors, with the spark plugs located inside the V. Three Weber 36 mm carburettors were fitted and unlike later 250 GTs no ram-air induction was used.
The overall layout of the chassis was similar to that of the 250 Europa. Using the short-block engine meant the wheelbase could be shortened by 200 mm to 2600 mm total. Handling was further improved by replacing the single transverse leaf-spring found on all previous Ferrari road/race cars' front suspension by two coil springs. Houdaille friction dampers were used front and rear.
A total of thirty-four Europa GTs were constructed, of which a large majority were road cars fitted with Pinin Farina Coupe bodies. Four of the eight competition cars constructed were fitted with Berlinetta bodies similar to those of the 250 MM. The first and last 'Competitziones' constructed were the most interesting exceptions. The very last Europa GT was fitted with a Scaglietti body, which would form the basis of the design used from 1956 to 1958. When the production of the first thirty-four 250 GTs was completed, the name 'Europa' was dropped.
Chassis 0359GT was second 250 Europa GT off the line. It was sent to Vignale to be fitted with a unique coupe body. The very elegant shape included a wrap-around Corvette windscreen. The design was unusually clean for a Vignale bodied Ferrari. The only real 'frolics' were the small fins on the rear fenders. The one-off 250 Europa GT was sold new to Princess Liliane de Réthy of Belgium.
Some time later, it found its way to the United States where it remained until the late 1980s. Chassis 0359GT eventually ended up in the collection of Dutch Ferrari importer Frits Kroymans. The current owner acquired this car through Tom Price in 2010. He had the unique Ferrari restored by Motion Products ahead of the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Here was lined up alongside another unique Ferrari ordered by the Belgian royal family; King Leopold's 375 Plus.