It’s probably fair to say that the Ferrari 250 GTO is regarded as one of the world’s most desirable and sought-after cars, often referred to by many as Ferrari’s ultimate masterpiece. In a world of exotic super cars from manufacturers all over the world – many of them claiming to produce the greatest, most powerful and fastest machines on the planet – Ferrari is still regarded as one of, if not the best. That begs the question – what’s the greatest Ferrari? I suspect most supporters of the cavallino rampante would unreservedly answer ‘GTO’ simply because – amongst a history of performance machines that defined the peak of style, speed and sheer excitement – the GTO reigned supreme.
In actual fact, the Ferrari 250 GTO is now regarded as being the last of Ferrari’s pure-bred racing cars, but it was also considered a dual-purpose-type car; a machine designed to be driven on either the street or racetrack. This meant an owner could drive the car to the track, race it, then drive it home, despite the fact that characteristics which make a car excel on the racetrack do not always make for a good street car – and, of course, vice versa.
Naturally, the intrigue and myth that surrounds these automotive jewels comes at a price, and an original example could quite easily set you back many, many millions of dollars – although finding one for sale could be quite a challenge, as only 36 examples were built in the two years between 1962 and 1964. As a result, the opportunity to purchase a 250 GTO won’t come along too often. In May 2010 GTO chassis #4675GT sold for £12 million ($24.4 million) and it is rumoured that, more recently, chassis #5095GT changed hands for a sum exceeding £20 million.
Interestingly, all 250 GTOs have survived the test of time and, more surprisingly, all are accounted for, with every ounce of history still intact – yet more vital aspects of the Ferrari GTO legend, and another reason these cars command such respect from connoisseurs and, of course, such high values.
Gran Turismo Omologata
Looking at the final GTO production list, Ferrari produced 33 cars in 1962 and 1963. Only one featured a special body and was raced by Luigi Chinetti’s North American Racing Team (NART) in the 1963 24 Hours of Le Mans race, whilst the other examples received the standard Comp/62 design body. Luigi Chinetti’s special-bodied GTO was actually fairly similar in design to the 330 LMB GT/ Prototype cars, often referred to as the 250 GTO LMB, and in 1964 a completely new car was developed to compete in the GT Class. Unfortunately for Ferrari, homologation of the new 250 LM was refused by the FIA as there was no road-going version of the mid-engine racer. In 1962 the FIA regulations clearly stated that at least 100 cars had to be built before the model could be homologated for GT type events. This forced Ferrari into the unenviable position of having to hurriedly produce more cars. It built three new ‘Series 2’ GTOs fitted with gorgeous Pininfarina-styled bodies, bringing the total production to 36.
But these last three cars used a different chassis and 4.0-litre engine configuration and they have become known as 330 GTOs. Apparently, according to some sources, Ferrari numbered its chassis out of numerical sequence in order to avoid adhering to the FIA regulations mandating 100 examples. Enzo Ferrari was a master at negotiating the rules and twisting them to his own advantage – a strategy that worked for the Italian car manufacturer, as it went on to win its third successive World Championship with the 250 GTO despite the fact that not enough cars were built to make it technically eligible.
After a five year period of dominance the 250 GTO was showing its age, this becoming readily apparent when the more powerful and aerodynamically superior AC Cobra Daytona beat Ferrari to take the sports car class victory at Le Mans. In an attempt to regain pride and supremacy, Ferrari went back to the drawing board, designing and constructing a modified, racing version of its latest road car – the 275 GTB. However, Enzo’s powers of persuasion seemingly deserted him when the FIA deemed Ferrari’s latest race car as far too radical and extreme for GT racing and refused to issue homologation papers. This was to prove the end of an era for Ferrari as, disappointingly, it withdrew altogether from GT racing and began to shift its focus more into designing and building the world’s best road-going sports cars and, on the racing front, more radical prototype sports racers plus, of course, Formula One.
250 GTO – Kiwi-style
One only has to look back a few decades to realise that until the early ’70s, the GTO was regarded as an obsolete racing car. Today, for collectors and extremely well-heeled buyers deciding to enter the rarefied world of GTO ownership alongside celebs such as Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, decisions to be made prior to signing the cheque can be a confusing exercise in ensuring the exact history of their new investment. For example, four customers decided to return their GTOs to Ferrari in order to have the 1964-style body fitted – which means that, today, there are actually 28 chassis fitted with the Comp/62 body, one GTO LMB, four re-bodied with a 1964 design and three chassis originally equipped with a 1964 body.
As well, now that Ferrari 250 GTO ownership is reserved for the very rich there’s a growing market for replicas, or re-creations as some would rather have us call them. Whilst these are still very expensive to create if done properly, they are not too precious to drive and enjoy – and that brings us to this superbly hand-crafted Kiwi-built example.
Our featured Ferrari 250 GTO replica was built for an ex-pat Kiwi who currently resides in the UK – the team of Tim Foate, Gavin Tindell and Dale Stevens embarking on the two-year long project after receiving a donor Ferrari 330 GT from the UK-based Kiwi.
From their workshop on Auckland’s North Shore, this talented trio started quite literally from the ground up, using the front section of the donor Ferrari’s chassis rails as a starting point. The oval tubing necessary for Dale to construct the remaining chassis section was imported from Switzerland in order to keep the construction as close as possible to the original GTO. The rear suspension components – including radius rods and Watts linkage rods – were fabricated from scratch and fitted together with the rear leaf springs and Koni coilover shock absorbers. The front suspension comprises a standard wishbone type set-up with coil springs, which is completely adjustable, together with Koni coilover shock absorbers and a sway bar. A new limited slip differential carrier was installed along with new solid brake rotors and Dunlop brake calipers with aluminium pistons, exactly as the original GTO. A quick ratio steering box was also installed along with new uprights, steering knuckle and steering arm – all sourced from the UK.
The next step was to fabricate a ‘rotisserie’ onto which the chassis could be mounted for ease of installing smaller items, such as brake lines and the wiring loom. The completed chassis was sand blasted and sprayed satin black while still on the rotisserie, subsequent to trial-fitting interior panels, seats and foot boxes, all fabricated from scratch.
The aluminium body on this car is an absolute work of art. Gavin was invited to spend time at RS Panels in the UK, a workshop specialising in building GTO replicas and coach building exotic cars. Gavin was particularly interested to learn how they approached body fabrication, especially with regard to details like inner guards and other hard-to-find areas that, although largely unseen, needed to be made perfectly if the external panels were to fit and look just right.
After gathering as much information as possible – including patterns and many, many photographs of GTOs in various states of repair and restoration – Gavin headed back home to New Zealand to complete the enormous task of creating an aluminium body as close to original as possible. The job took over a year to complete and certainly wasn’t without its challenges for the team. Every air intake, brake duct, bonnet scoop and light recess – as well as the overall shape – had to be absolutely perfect if the GTO was going to look authentic.
At the same time the instrument cluster, fuel tank (complete with FIA approved ATL fuel cell bag), dry sump oil tank and other ancillary items were also fabricated and fitted.
Once off the rotisserie it was then a matter of attending to minor bodywork and finishing off any rough edges before fabricating the doors, which were the last items to be made. The doors included steel frames, Lexan windows and aluminium skins; in fact, the only things not made in-house for the body were the door locks.
By this stage the underside of the car had been painted and the bodywork was etched, primed and blocked back ready for final painting. The interior was finished in Hammerite metal paint exactly as were the original cars. The rolling chassis was then sent off to a renowned Auckland car painter, who applied the magnificent Ferrari Rosso Corsa paint finish that you see here in these pages.
Whilst all the bodywork was being attended to, the 4.0-litre Ferrari V12 engine, which was extracted from the 330 GT donor car, was modified to suit the 250 GTO.
Genuine Ferrari V12 Power
The original 330 GT long-block that was originally a wet sump configuration was converted to a dry sump set-up. This required a scavenge pump system and completely new magnesium cast sump provided by a company in the UK. Other items such as the water pump pulley had to be specially made to match up with the crank pulley, which also had to be specially fabricated along with many other specialty items with the help of precision toolmaker,
Ken Goodman from EG Whiter. The alternator mounting was changed, to a modern type alternator to make the car a little more usable.
The original 330 GT engine was fitted with three Weber downdraught carburettors as standard, but the V12 was converted to include six 40DCNF Weber carburettors, which included the design and fabrication of three separate intake manifold prototypes by Denver Lawson. Once the prototypes had been trial-fitted a final casting of each individual intake manifold was made to mount the carburettors. Ferrari did not originally use the DCNF Weber carburettors on the 250 GTO, so Tim had the top float bowls machined to look more period in line with the originals – including the trumpet stacks, which were also spun and fabricated to suit. The exhaust headers and entire exhaust system was made in-house by Dale, and includes specially designed mufflers.
The next big hurdle facing Tim and the team was the gearbox. The donor 330 GT was fitted with a four-speed manual gearbox with an overdrive system, while the original 250 GTOs had five-speed units. The GTOs that were built with the 4.0-litre V12 engines received the four-speed gearbox – supposedly, because of the additional power output from the larger capacity engine, Ferrari felt the five-speed ’box wasn’t strong enough.
Subsequently, a five-speed conversion kit was sent over from the car’s owner and this, according to Tim, was never going to fit, so it was then a matter of putting together a four-speed gearbox from all the parts they had available to them at the time. This proved to be a real mission, as the four-speed/overdrive 330 GT ’box had completely different rear casing and output shaft which needed modification to suit.
However, the task was finally completed to the team’s satisfaction and, once any final mechanical glitches had been ironed out, it was then a matter of adding the final touches – this included a set of beautiful Borrani wire wheels to complement the classic lines of this magnificent, Kiwi-built creation.
Looking around at Tim, Gavin and Dale’s incredible workmanship, the minute detail is pure GTO – extending to the stunning, handcrafted shapely bodywork to the stark, period-style interior. The intricate detailing is absolutely mind-blowing, from the handmade windscreen surrounds and chrome catches to the various shapes of the car’s intakes and vents – they all combine to replicate the gorgeous lines originally honed to perfection by Sergio Scaglietti, faithfully honouring the fabulous Ferrari GTO which brought home three GT manufacturers’ championships from 1962 to 1964.
Alas, this Ferrari 250 GTO is heading offshore to the UK to be with its owner, who plans to enjoy driving his Kiwi-built creation for many years to come.
The good news is that Tim, Gavin and Dale aren’t going anywhere and are looking for a new project – and there may even be a few Ferrari parts lying around! I think I’d better buy another Lotto ticket.
Words: Ashley Webb Photos: Adam Croy
This article is from NZ Classic Car Issue 258. Get your copy here.