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Country of origin:Italy
Produced from:1962 - 1963
Numbers built:36 (All versions)
Designed by:Gestione Sportiva
Successor:Ferrari 250 GTO/64 Pininfarina Coupe
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:December 07, 2015
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Click here to download printer friendly versionArguably the most desirable and valuable car in the world, the Ferrari 250 GTO is surrounded with intrigue and myth. All of the 36 cars produced from 1962 to 1964 have survived and are accounted for, and most remarkably the history of every example is well documented. Up until the early 1970s, the GTO was regarded as an obsolete racing car. Since then prices have steeply risen to 10 digits in Pounds, Dollars and Euros. With today's value it's hard to imagine one was once used by a student driver and another used for auto mechanics practice at Victoria High School in Texas. Fortunately many owners still take their GTOs out with serious passion to participate in historic events around the world; for them and the spectators to enjoy. Museum displays don't do many cars justice, and it would be especially unfortunate to see Ferrari's definitive racer sit silently under artificial light.

Exceptional lineage
Launched in 1954, the 250 GT Europa spawned a line of exceptional Ferrari GT racers that could be driven to, and then excel, on the track. Power came from a 3 litre version of the Gioacchino Colombo short-block designed V12. Continuously developed from then on, this engine would power many different racers and road cars, ranging from the most luxurious convertibles to the full blown Testa Rossa racers. The engine was fitted in a simple but strong steel tubular ladder-frame that was suspended by wishbones with a single leaf spring at the front and a live axle at the rear. Not at all sophisticated, the GT car was designed to survive and win gruelling marathons on road and track. After the first series of cars were built in 1955, the Europa name was dropped and from then on the car was simply known as the 250 GT. After a victory in the Tour de France rally in 1956, the name Tour de France (TdF) was unofficially adopted for all long wheelbase (LWB) cars built after the Europa GT. A very well deserved nickname, as the 250 GT went on to win the French race another eight years in a row.

Shorter and more nimble
The 250 GT chassis began with a 2600 mm wheelbase, but Ferrari felt that handling and weight would benefit from a shorter chassis. In 1959 the first of these short wheelbase (SWB) cars was unveiled. As an interim series, the last seven LWB chassis were bodied with the upcoming SWB design. These LWB bodies included rear quarter windows, which were no longer necessary once the shorter chassis was complete. Both the engine and chassis were a development of the successful 250 GT, although the drum brakes were replaced by new discs to improve braking capabilities. Unlike the LWB 250 GT, the SWB was available as an aluminium bodied competition car or as a steel bodied 'Lusso' road car. The road car was built to comply with the latest FIA regulations which required a minimum number of cars be produced to secure homologation. Between 1960 and 1961 the 250 GT SWB was Ferrari's racing weapon of choice. Its dominance was complete, with consistent victories in the Tour de France and GT class victories in many endurance races, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Within the homologated specification, Ferrari continued development of the racer resulting in the 'Comp/61' version for the 1961 season. Compared to the previous series, it featured a more powerful engine, lighter and stronger chassis, and a slightly revised body.

Ferrari 250 GT SWB Comp/62
Although the 250 GT's performance was impressive, a number of problems urged the factory competition department, the Gestione Sportiva, to develop a new version for 1962. Motivation also resulted from the FIA decision to run the 1962 World Championship for GT cars, rather than sports cars. That change added to the overall importance of the 250 GT program. The only noticeable flaw with the 1960/61 SWB was the poor aerodynamics at high speeds, which were often described as 'brick-like'. Development of the Comp/62 started quite early in 1961. The first sign of things to come was a 250 GT SWB fitted with a Pininfarina designed SuperAmerica body and a dry-sump 250 TR engine. Not yet homologated, this 'Sperimentale' made its debut in the 1961 Le Mans race, where it proved quite quick, but failed to finish. Throughout the year various minor modifications were approved and added to the homologation of the 250 GT. These included the adoption of the TR engine, which was similar to the Comp/61, but used dry sump lubrication and six Weber Carburetors instead of three.

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  Article Image gallery (536) Chassis (28) Specifications User Comments (1)