Most 250 road cars share the same two wheelbases, 2,400 mm (94.5 in) for short wheelbase (SWB) and 2,600 mm (102.4 in) for long wheelbase (LWB). Most convertibles used the SWB type.
Nearly all 250s share the same engine: The Colombo Tipo 125 V12. At 2,953 cc (180 cu in), it is not a large engine even for the time, but its light weight and impressive output (up to 300 PS (221 kW; 296 hp) in the Testa Rossa and GTO) made a big difference. The Ferrari V12 weighed hundreds of pounds less than its chief competitors — for example, it was nearly half the weight of the Jaguar XK straight-6. As for naming convention Ferrari uses capacity of 1 cylinder as a name.
The light V12 propelled the small Ferrari 250 racing cars to numerous victories.
Typical of Ferrari, the Colombo V12 made its debut on the race track, with the racing 250s preceding the street cars by three years.
A predecessor to the 250 line was the 225 S introduced at the 1952 Giro di Sicilia. Two of the two-seat sports prototypes were built, an open barchetta and closed coupe both by Vignale. Seven 225 S cars were entered at the Mille Miglia, but these were overshadowed by their larger-engined 250 S brother. Although not as heralded as the 250 line, the 225 did play one unique historical role: A 225 S tested at Imola was the first Ferrari to drive on that course.
The first of the 250 line was the experimental 250 S berlinetta prototype entered in the 1952 Mille Miglia for Giovanni Bracco and Alfonso Rolfo. The Mercedes-Benz 300SL racers of Rudolf Caracciola, Hermann Lang, and Karl Kling were faster on the long staights but the 230 PS (169 kW; 227 hp) Ferrari made up ground in the hills and curves to achieve victory. The car was later entered at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Carrera Panamericana.
The 250 S used a 2,250 mm (88.6 in) wheelbase with a "Tuboscocca" tubular trellis frame. Suspension was by double wishbones at the front, with double longitudinal semi-elliptic springs locating the live axle at the rear. The car had the drum brakes and worm-and-sector steering typical of the period. The dry-sump 3.0 L (2,953 cc (180 cu in)) engine used three Weber 36DCF carburettors and was mated directly to a five-speed manual transmission.
Following the success of the 250 S in the Mille Miglia, Ferrari showed a more conventional chassis for the new 250 engine at the 1952 Paris Motor Show. Pinin Farina then created coupe bodywork which had a small grille, compact tail and panoramic rear window, and the new car was launched as the 250 MM (for Mille Miglia) at the 1953 Geneva Motor Show. Carrozzeria Vignale's open barchetta version was also an innovative design whose recessed headlights and side vents became a Ferrari staple for the 1950s.
The 250 MM's wheelbase was longer than the 250 S at 2,420 mm (95.3 in), with the coupe 50 kg (110 lb) heavier than the 850 kg (1,874 lb) barchetta. The V12 engine's dry sump was omitted for the production car, and the transmission was reduced by one gear. Power was increased to 240 PS (177 kW; 237 hp). The four-cylinder 625 TF and 735 S replaced the V12-powered 250 MM later in 1953.
The 250 MM's race debut was at the 1953 Giro di Sicilia with privateer Paulo Marzotto, and a Carrozzeria Morelli-bodied 250 MM barchetta driven by Clemente Biondetti came fourth in the 1954 Mille Miglia.
An unusual hybrid between the light four-cylinder 750 Monza and the 250 line was the 250 Monza of 1954. This model used the 250 engine in the short wheelbase chassis from the 750 Monza. The first two used the Pininfarina barchetta shape of the 750 Monza and a one-off 500 Mondial. Two more 250 Monzas were built by Carrozzeria Scaglietti, an early use of the now-familiar coachbuilder. Although a frequent entrant through 1956, the 250 Monzas failed to gain much success and the union of the Monza chassis and 250 engine was not pursued beyond this model.
- See main article Ferrari TR
The racing 250 Testa Rossa was one of the most successful Ferrari racing cars in its history, with three wins at Le Mans, four wins at Sebring, and two wins at Buenos Aires.It sold at auction for a record breaking 16.39 million dollars.
The 250 GTO, designed for racing, was manufactured between 1962 and 1964 and 36 examples were built. A radically restyled GTO, the 250 GTO/64, was launched in 1964.
The 250 engine from the Testa Rossa was mounted in the midships position for the 250 P prototype racer of 1963.
The mid-engined 250 Le Mans looked every bit the prototype racer but was intended to be produced as a road-going GT. Descended from the 250 P, the Le Mans also appeared in 1963 and sported Pininfarina bodywork. Ferrari was unable to persuade the FIA that he would build the 100 examples required to homologate the car for GT racing. Eventually, 32 LMs were built up to 1965. As a result, Ferrari withdrew from factory participation in the GT class of the 1965 World Sportscar Championship, allowing the Shelby Cobra team to dominate the class. Only the very early LM's were true 250 models, with all the rest made as 3300cc models and as such should have been named 275 LM (the early cars were also converted to the 3300cc engine)
The Export model was similar to the 250 MM with its 2,400 mm (94.5 in) wheelbase. One exception was its 220 PS (162 kW; 217 hp) Lampredi engine. It was launched at the Paris Motor Show of 1953.
The 250 Europa, also introduced in Paris in 1953, looked entirely different. With the long 2,800 mm (110.2 in) wheelbase and Ferrari America-style bodies, it was designed as more of a grand tourer than any previous 250. Both Pininfarina and Vignale handled the coachwork, with 21 produced in total.
The 250 design was extremely successful on the race course as well as the street. A number of GT models were built in varying states of road or racing trim.
250 Europa GT
The first street car to use Colombo's 250 V12 was the 250 Europa GT, introduced at the 1954 Paris Motor Show. Pinin Farina's sober Paris coupe was just one of many shapes for the 250 GT line, with coachbuilt production extending through 1956 before the 250 line became more of a standardized product. The original 250 Europa GT used a 2,600 mm (102.4 in) wheelbase on a conventional chassis. The dry sump V12 was tuned to 220 PS (162 kW; 217 hp), with three Weber 36DCZ3 carburettors. Aping the Vignale's 250 Europa, Pinin Farina added now-familiar vents to the front fenders, a standard styling feature for many of the 250 GTs that followed.
250 GT Boano and Ellena
Pinin Farina introduced a 250-based prototype at the 1956 Geneva Motor Show which came to be called the 250 GT Boano. Intended as a styling exercise and inspiration to 250 GT Europa customers, demand soon called for construction of a series of the car.
Unable to meet demand due to much needed expansion, Pinin Farina asked Mario Boano, formerly of Ghia, to handle the construction. When Fiat recruited Boano, he handed production duties to his son-in-law Ezio Ellena. With partner Luciano Pollo, Carrozzeria Ellena would produce the 250 GT for another few years. Ellena revised the car, raising the roof and removing the vent windows from the doors. Those cars became known as 250 GT Ellena
Carrozzeria Boano built 74 250 GTs on the long wheelbase chassis. Carrozeria Ellena built another 50 Coupes.
All but one were coupes. The single convertible, 0461 GT, was sold to New York collector, Bob Lee, off the stand at the 1956 New York Auto Show. At the direction of Enzo Ferrari, Lee bought the car for $9,500-far below cost. He still owns it, making it one of the oldest Ferraris still in the hands of the original purchaser.
250 GT Berlinetta "Tour de France"
The 250 Granturismo Berlinetta, nicknamed the "Long Wheelbase Berlinetta", was also called the "Tour de France" after successfully competing in the 10-day Tour de France automobile race, not the famous bicycle race of the same name. There were 77 Tour de Frances built. A number of 250 GT "Tour de France" Berlinettas were sold for GT races from 1956 through 1959. Construction was handled by Carrozzeria Scaglietti based on a Pinin Farina design. The engine began at 240 PS (177 kW; 237 hp) but rose to 260 PS (191 kW; 256 hp) by the end.
A one-off short wheelbase Tour de France was built for the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans. This car, called the 250 GT Interim, would foreshadow the 2,400 mm (94.5 in) SWB cars of 1959. The 250 GT Interim is currently owned by Lulu Wang.
Scaglietti appeared at the 1956 Geneva Motor Show with their own 250 GT prototype, which became known as the limited production, Series I, “14-louvre” 250 GT Berlinetta. The first production car was built in November 1956, and production was now the responsibility of Scaglietti in Modena.
There were five series of 250 GT Berlinettas in all. From mid-1957, the Series II cars were introduced, with three louvers and covered headlights. Just 15 were produced. Series III numbered 36 cars; these retained the covered headlights but had just a single vent louver. In 1959, eight single-louver cars were built with open headlights, a new Italian requirement. Zagato also made five superlight cars.
250 GT Cabriolet Pininfarina Series I
About 36 examples were produced before a second series was shown at Paris in 1959. These later cars had much more in common with the production Berlinetta.
About 200 of the series two cars were built.
Motor Trend Classic placed the 250 GT Series I Cabriolet and Coupe ninth on their list of the ten "Greatest Ferraris of all time".
250 GT California Spyder LWB
Designed for export to North America, the 1957 250 GT California Spyder was Scaglietti's interpretation of an open-top 250 GT. Aluminium was used in the hood, doors, and trunk lid, with steel specified elsewhere for most models, though a few aluminium-bodied racing versions were also built. The engine was the same as in the 250 Tour de France racing car with up to 240 PS (177 kW; 237 hp). All used the long 2,600 mm (102.4 in) chassis.
Only 50 were ever made before it was replaced by the SWB version in 1960. It remains highly valuable for automotive collection, one example auctioned on August 18, 2007 at Monterey, California for $4.9 million. In May 2008, English broadcaster Chris Evans, set a new world record for the highest price ever paid for an automobile at auction when he paid $10,894,400 for a Spyder. The car, which was the 13th to be made, was once owned by Hollywood star James Coburn.
250 GT Coupe Pininfarina
Desiring to enter series production in order to stabilize the company's finances, Enzo Ferrari asked Pininfarina to design a simple and classic 250 GT coupe. After 250 GT Boano/Ellena, Pininfarina Grugliasco plant was expanded and the production of a new coupe could be moved back. The resulting car was introduced at Milan in 1958, and 335 nearly identical examples were built by 1960. Buyers included Prince Bertil of Sweden. The GT Coupe eschewed the fender vents for simple and clean lines and a notchback look with a panoramic rear window. The oval grille was replaced by a more traditional long narrow look with protruding headlights. Telescopic shock absorbers were also fitted instead of the Houdailles found on previous 250s, and disc brakes were added in 1960. The final 250 GT Coupe had a Superfast tail and was shown at the 1961 London Motor Show.
250 GT Cabriolet Pininfarina Series II
In line with the high-volume coupe, Pinin Farina also designed a plainer 250 GT Cabriolet for series production. Introduced at the 1959 Paris Motor Show, the GT Spider sported a look similar to the GT Coupe of the previous year, including the removal of the side vents. About 212 were produced.
250 GT Berlinetta SWB
One of the most important GT racers of its time, the 1959 250 GT Berlinetta SWB used a short (2,400 mm (94.5 in)) wheelbase for better handling. Of the 176 examples built, both steel and aluminum bodies were used in various road ("lusso") and racing trims. Engine output ranged from 240 PS (177 kW; 237 hp) to 280 PS (206 kW; 276 hp).
Development of the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta was handled by Giotto Bizzarrini, Carlo Chiti, and young Mauro Forghieri, the same team that later produced the 250 GTO. Disc brakes were a first in a Ferrari GT, and the combination of low weight, high power, and well-sorted suspension made it a competitive offering. It was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in October and quickly began selling and racing. The SWB Berlinetta claimed GT class of the Constructor's Championship for Ferrari in 1961.
In 2004, Sports Car International placed the 250 GT SWB seventh on a list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s. Motor Trend Classic placed the 250 SWB fifth on a list of the ten "Greatest Ferraris of all time".
250 GT Spider California SWB
Replacing their LWB California Spider with a SWB version, Scaglietti showed a new 250 GT Spider California at Geneva in 1960. Based on the 250 GT Berlinetta SWB, it also introduced disc brakes and a 280 PS (206 kW; 276 hp) version of the 250 V12. About 55 were built.
A record price for a 250 GT at auction was set on May 18, 2008 when a black 1961 SWB example that had been owned by James Coburn was sold for £5.5 million. The buyer was the radio DJ, Chris Evans.
The LWB 250 GT theme was expanded with the 2+2 model 250 GT/E. The first large production four-seat Ferrari (earlier four seaters were made in very small numbers). Interior space was increased by moving the engine forward in the chassis. The rear seats were ideal for children but rather tight for adults.
Engine output was listed at 240 PS (177 kW; 237 hp).
Almost 1,000 GT/Es were constructed by Pininfarina with prototypes starting in 1959 and continuing through three series until 1963. The model was followed by the visually similar 330 Americas.
The large production run of the GT/E was a major contributor to the financial well being of Ferrari in the early 1960s. MSRP of the GT/E was $11,500.
250 GT Lusso
Pinin Farina updated the 250 GT with the GT Lusso or GTL. Introduced at the 1962 Paris show, the car sported flowing lines and a fastback shape typical of the GT cars of the mid-1960s. Under the hood was the 250 GTO's Tipo 168 engine with 240 hp (179 kW; 243 PS) and three Weber 36DCS carburettors.
Scaglietti handled construction of the Lusso which lasted through 1964 with few modifications.
In 2004, Sports Car International placed the 250 GT Lusso tenth on a list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s. Steve Boone, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the group the Lovin' Spoonful owned one that was stolen from a repair shop in Queens, New York and never found, #4237.
A 250 in all but name, the 1963 330 America shared the outgoing model's chassis but not its engine. Powered by the new 4.0 L engine of the later 330 cars, fifty 330 Americas were built. Likely the most famous 330 America is that belonging to California socialite Sandra Ilene West. Mrs. West was buried at the wheel of her car following a 1977 drug overdose. Her instructions specified that she be clad in her lace nightgown with the driver’s seat "slanted at a comfortable angle". The car (and driver) is interred at the Alamo Masonic Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas. In the early 1990s (as reported in Classic Car magazine), a green-metallic 330 coupe was regularly abandoned, claimed and then re-abandoned in Melbourne over the course of 4 years. Its ultimate fate is not known.
The Ferrari 250's place in Lamborghini history
Tractor manufacturer Ferruccio Lamborghini owned at least three Ferrari 250s: a 250GT coupe by Pininfarina, one or two 250 SWB Berlinettas by Scaglietti, and a 250GT 2+2 by Pininfarina. He was frustrated by frequent clutch problems and complained to Enzo Ferrari. Lamborghini later hired ex-Ferrari engineers to design and develop his Lamborghini cars.
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|Ferrari road car timeline, 1947–1968 — next »|
|Sports||125 S||166 S||195 S||212 Exp||225 S||250 MM||250 Monza||250 GT Tour de France||250 GT SWB||250 GTO||250 LM|
|159 S||250 S||250 Export|
|GT||166 Inter||195 Inter||212 Inter||250 Europa||250 GT Europa||250 GT Boano||250 GT Ellena||250 GT Coupe PF||250 GT Lusso||330 GTC||365 GTC|
|275 GTB||275 GTB/4|
|Spider/Cabriolet||250 GT||275 GTS||330 GTS||365 GTS|
|2+2||250 GT/E||330 GT||365 GT|
|America||340 America||375 America/MM||410 Superamerica||400 Superamerica||500 Superfast||365 California|