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The 1960 version of the 250 GT berlinetta was designed by Pininfarina and built at the Scaglietti works in Modena. It was first presented to the public at the 1959 Paris Salon, thus the autumn of 2009 marks the model’s 50th anniversary. It was also the first Ferrari model imported to the UK by the newly founded Maranello Concessionaires Ltd in 1960. The body style was very similar to that of the final few cars in the preceding series of long wheelbase (which are now generally termed "Interim" for differentiation purposes) berlinettas produced during 1959, apart from the omission of the quarter window in the sail panel behind the door glass. The new model was built on a 2400mm wheelbase chassis, with factory type reference 539, and later 539/61. The designations “passo lungo” or "LWB" for the long wheelbase 2600mm chassis, and “passo corto” or "SWB" for the short wheelbase 2400mm chassis, are subsequently adopted Italian and English terminology to easily recognise which model somebody is referring to.

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... Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta '61 Register Part I >>>

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This model was the first Ferrari production road car to be fitted with disc brakes as standard equipment, and unlike the preceding 250 GT berlinetta series, was available in either left or right hand drive form. It was also available in competition specification with an aluminium body, lightweight interior trim, and the engine in a higher state of tune, or in "Lusso" (luxury) road trim, when it was normally fitted with a steel body with aluminium opening panels. However, there was a great deal of overlap of the two basic specifications, dependant upon the desires of the client, therefore it is not unusual for some road cars to have full aluminium bodies, and/or a higher state of tune engine. The 1961 competition cars had even lighter thinner gauge aluminium bodies, lightened chassis frames with some smaller diameter tubing, more highly tuned engines and other changes, to maintain their competitiveness against the “new kid on the block” - the Jaguar “E” Type.

The power unit was a further development of the original Colombo designed single overhead camshaft per bank V12 engine, with a capacity of 2953cc, and factory type references 168B, 168, and 168 Comp/61, all with wet sump lubrication. The engine featured a bank of three twin choke Weber 38 DCN or 40 DCL/6 carburettors, to produce a claimed 220 to 280bhp, dependant upon specification. Solex C40 PAAI and Weber 46 DCF/3 carburettors were a further homologated option, and the latter were used on the special 1961 competition engines, which together with bigger valves, special exhaust manifolds and other fine tuning details achieved the upper level of power outputs quoted above. The engine was coupled to a four speed + reverse all synchromesh gearbox, driving through a propeller shaft to the rigid rear axle, for which a range of ratios were available. The gearboxes of the competition cars had ribbed alloy castings, and the road cars normally had plain faced cast iron casings.
The overall design changed very little during the production run from late 1959 when it was introduced, to early 1963 when the last cars were sold. However, there are a number of detail differences that identify the period of production of a specific car. In the early months of production the front and rear wings sides were plain, as was the boot lid, there was an exhaust air slot in the top centre of the rear screen, and the sliding door windows had a pronounced downward curve to the top rear edge, whilst the front valance featured a pair of rectangular slots to cooling ducts for the front brakes.

The cars produced from around the middle of 1960 featured vertical angled exhaust air slots on the front and rear wings, which had a trim surround on three sides, and teardrop shaped indicators were provided on the front wings. There was a license plate recess in the boot lid, and the brake cooling intake slots in the front valance had projecting surrounds. The late 1960 examples were very similar, apart from the cabin exhaust air slot moving from the rear screen to a recess in the trailing edge of the roof, and either sliding or wind-up door windows were available. If the latter option was specified, opening quarter lights were normally provided. All examples produced up to this point had an external fuel filler cap, which was located in a cut-out in the top left corner of the boot lid.

The main visual differences between the 1960 examples and the 1961 onwards cars was the shape of the door windows, which had a straighter top edge, and the relocation of the fuel filler cap, which was either on the left rear wing or hidden within the boot. There were also myriad smaller differences, like a slightly larger radiator grille and slight re-profiling of the rear wing shape, jacking point locations etc, together with individual customer requirements, but the foregoing items identify the main differentiating features of the series.

Apart from the normal berlinetta body there were some one-off designs, mainly by Pininfarina in a style similar to that of the 400 Superamerica, including a cabriolet with a removable hard top, on chassis number 1737GT. Their “400SA” coupé bodied examples comprised of two road versions on chassis #s 2613GT and 3615GT, plus two lightweight competition examples on chassis #s 2429GT and 2643GT. The former lightweight model was never used in competition and was sold to a French client, whilst the latter saw race action at Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring, driven by the likes of Stirling Moss and Giancarlo Baghetti. Bertone produced two designs, the first in 1960 on chassis # 1739GT, which was unusual in that it featured cast alloy wheels, and another in 1961, featuring the “Chiti” shark nose look, on chassis # 3269GT. These offerings from Bertone, would be the last designs by any carrozzeria other than Pininfarina, to officially grace a Ferrari chassis for a number of years. During the sixties and into the seventies various examples received one-off bodies, but these were re-bodies of existing cars, as opposed to the provision of a bare chassis from the factory. The most famous of these is the “Breadvan” constructed on chassis # 2819 GT.

In competition the "passo corto" berlinettas continued the run of success of the preceding "passo lungo" models, with three consecutive wins in the Tour de France between 1960-62, winning the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood in 1960 and 1961, winning the GT category at Le Mans in 1960 and 1961, and in the Nurburgring 1000km in 1961 and 1962. These were just a few of the numerous class and overall wins achieved during its reign as the queen of the GT category, before being succeeded by the legendary 250 GTO.

Keith Bluemel
11/2009

Note from the Editor ... 2010 the Ferrari 250 GT will be the featured car in mainly every major event ... e.g. the Tour Auto
 ( www.tourauto.fr  enjoy yours!

A very beautiful Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta in concours conditions is offered by Andreas Birner


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