The Ferrari 250 GTO was about as focused a car as has ever been built. Designed by Giotto Bizzarrini, everything about it was geared to speed. Its cabin, for instance, was conspicuously spartan. The GTO – Gran Turismo Omologato – was made to win races, not comfort contests! Specifically, races in the World Sportscar Championship. The Ferrari 250 GT had been struggling in said series – mainly on account of poor aerodynamics. Which is where Bizzarrini came in. His brief was to draft a more slippery shape. One that could deliver more than 150mph, at any rate … which was what the GT was currently mustering. Bizzarrini went to work. The grille was made smaller. The headlights were faired in. A foreshortened rear end now sported a spoiler. Ferrari were pleased. The GTO’s top speed was clocked at 173mph.
But, Bizzarrini’s bodywork was just for starters. The GTO had other weapons in its race armoury. Like a 3.0-litre Tipo 168/62 Colombo V12. The 300bhp it produced took the Ferrari from 0-60mph in 6.1s. That called for a stiff chassis. An alloy-tubed frame was duly installed. The aluminium V12 engine was suckled by six twin-barrel Webers. Because it was dry sump, the motor sat lower – as did the rest of the car. More grist to the aerodynamics mill. A 5-speed gearbox turned the rear wheels. Only suspension let the side down a tad – being somewhat outdated. Saying that, it clearly did not hamper the whole package too much. In ’62, the GTO won the World Sportscar Championship. And again, in ’63 and ’64. At Le Mans, in ’62, while it came second in the overall standings, it took the coveted Group 3 GT class.
Bizzarrini also took care that the GTO’s styling was suitably seductive. As well as being one of the all-time great racers, as a roadster its low-down looks were sublime. Ferrari played a bit fast and loose with the facts, however … in true motorsport tradition! They passed the GTO off as just a streamlined GT. That got them off the hook, homologation-wise. Otherwise, they would have had to build 100 GTOs, to go racing. As it was, only 39 were built. In truth, though, the new car was unique. While the GTO – and its GT forebear – did indeed share many components, there was enough that was fresh about the GTO to set it apart. It certainly was a streamlined GT – Bizzarrini’s wind-cheating wizardry had seen to that. But – should there be any doubt that the GTO was special – a price comparison is telling. When Ferrari produced the car – between ’62 and ’64 – it cost £6,000. In 2014 – at Bonhams Quail Lodge auction – one sold for £22,843,633. Which made it the most expensive car ever, at the time. The Ferrari 250 GTO was a one-off, all right!