Others will, without doubt, break this curious record, but in August 2014 Bonhams (Quail Lodge, California, USA) sold “the Most Expensive Car Ever”. This week Aestheticons’ contributor, Dominic Baker, takes a long hard look at this enigmatic icon that achieved such an accolade.
Along with the Jaguar E type (Ed. Enzo Ferrari is said to have called the E Type “the most beautiful car ever built”) I consider the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO to be one of the most beautiful cars ever created. Flawless curves and that lovely long bonnet. With only 39 ever made, it’s pretty hard to come by and it also holds the record at auction for being the “Most Expensive Car in the World” – at a jaw dropping $38.1 m! In fact, I recall a few years back when Top Gear were doing a piece on this revered classic racer, the BBC couldn’t even afford the insurance to let one of the presenters have a drive in one. Although, subsequently, I believe the Radio DJ, Chris Evans, let James May have a go in one of his from his private collection.
So we really are dealing with racing royalty here. Created between 1962 and 1964 the GTO’s were all hand made with a Ferrari Tipo V12 engine which delivered 300 horsepower and 0-60 in approximately 6 seconds with a top speed of 170 mph.
The body of the GTO (which stood for “Gran Tourismo Omologato”) was designed by Sergio Scaglietti, Giotto Bizzarrini and later Mauro Forghieri. Giotto Bizzarrini and a large number of other engineers were later fired by Enzo Ferrari over a dispute. It was an innovative design for the times, with wind tunnel testing delivering its low profile appearance and aerodynamics. The GTO was made completely from lightweight aluminium, it has no speedometer and a five speed manual gear box.
With Le Mans and Sebring in mind, officially Ferrari were supposed to make 100 to comply with the manufacturing rules in order for it to be homogolated for group 3 Grand Touring Racing. Some how they got away with only ever producing 39. Unsubstantiated, but it is said that Ferrari numbered the chassis out of sequence so FIA inspectors would believe that there were more cars made than there actually were!
Ferrari made three 4 litre engines for racing and testing, (the 330 engine) and you could spot these as the bigger housing needed meant large hump on the bonnet. Each car was hand built right down to the gear box and engine so no two were exactly the same, a few had a slightly longer doors on one side than the other, some you could still see faint hammer marks in the interior body work where others had a variance in the air intake/vents positioning. In 1964 Mauro Forghieri and Mike Parks redesigned the body work with small adjustments.
The hand built 3 litre Tipo 168/62 V12 engine – when fully revved sounded like the Gates of Hell had been opened wide – was a solid engine that could more than cope with the 24 hours at Le-Mans and then a long drive home. It had been used in the previous Le Mans winner, the 250 Testarossa.
I believe this car to be breathtaking at any angle. And one of the last racing cars of that era to be painstakingly hand built buy craftsman at the top of their game, a truly iconic piece of automotive art that gets better every time I look at it.
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