On February 24, 1962 Ferrari held a Press Conference at its factory in Maranello. Several new racing cars were on display in the factory’s internal yard including this lovely Grand Touring car, a new prototype version of the 250GT berlinetta which had seen great competition success over the preceding several years. This new car, sometimes referred to internally at Ferrari as 250GT/Comp62, was lower and more aerodynamic than its immediate predecessor and had a more powerful V12 motor, yet still at three liter capacity , but had added a five-speed gearbox and revised suspension. Although actually quite different from the prior year’s GT car, this new berlinetta was homologated (“omologato” in Italian) as a continuation model, and thereby derived its popular future name: 250GTO.
A great amount has been written about these Ferrari 250GTs over the years, mostly derived from a single book first published in 1977, Jess G. Pourret’s La Légende Ferrari – 250GT Compétition. The Pourret book included the first attempt to set out complete competition and ownership histories for each car. The 250GTO was the high water mark of this series of competition-oriented GT cars and Pourret’s book ignited a collecting craze that continues to this day. In 1982 Pourret, himself a 250GTO owner, organized a 20th anniversary reunion for the model and the “cult of the GTO” began to form.
Over the years 1962-1964 a total of 36 Ferrari 250GTOs were built, plus two other GTOs with four-liter engines. All of these cars exist today. Over the intervening years a number of replica GTOs have been constructed, usually using a donor chassis and engine from one of Ferrari’s other models built in the 1960s. Like replica paintings, they only have value related to the cost of making another replica.
Every GTO has been raced at one time or another, with their height of international success coming during the period from 1962-1966. GTOs won their class at all the major international races, sometimes gaining the overall victory, and won numerous other races all over the world. Almost every well-known driver of that period raced a GTO. Today, the GTO remains a delightful and effective racing car, 50 years after its creation. Most of the current GTO owners have driven their cars long distances on public roads and have also raced them to good effect. The GTO is one of the most balanced GT cars ever produced and continues to exhibit a high level of absolute performance with very predictable handling, even when driven on the absolute limit. Yet the GTO is also a true dual-purpose sports car. Driving a GTO on the open road is an unforgettable experience and GTOs were often driven to the races and home again afterward.
There is a saying in racing that nothing is as old as last year’s race car. In the late 1960s one might find a 250GTO for something like $5,000, about half of what they had sold for when new. After Pourret’s book and the 1982 “reunion,” that value had escalated by almost 100 times! Today, over 30 years later and after more “GTO Reunions” and many more books and magazine articles, the increase in value may again approach another 100 times…
Photo by Günther Molter ©The Klemantaski Collection