Featured: Have a Spare $11 Million? This Legendary Ferrari Racer Could Be Yours

Have a Spare $11 Million? This Legendary Ferrari Racer Could Be Yours

Avatar By Ryan Connolly
August 10, 2015
16 comments

Photography by Patrick Ernzen & Maurice Louche Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Soon, you may hear discerning car collectors whistling a characteristic Christmas tune once sung by Andy Williams. Don’t fret; the seemingly endless advertisements have not gotten an early jump on the holiday season. No, the annual Monterey motor week has arrived and for a collector that means it is “…the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.

While the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is the flagship auto show at Monterey, the highly exclusive auctions are where the real gems cross the stage. On the block there will be plenty of gorgeous metal to whet any enthusiast’s appetite, from Miuras to 300 SL Gullwings, to McLaren F1s, but this year, there is one crown jewel up for grabs that will shine brighter than most: the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione ‘Tour de France’ by Scaglietti.

Chassis number 0557GT is just one of nine cars built by Scaglietti in this configuration; this particular Ferrari being a bonafide racer from the start. While the “Tour de France” nomenclature was never officially the given name, it quickly became the identifier for this run of competition-focused Ferrari berlinettas, each based on the 250 GT. This very car was the one that birthed the legend of the Tour de France designation, placing first overall at the 1956 Tour de France Auto.

While a handful of you might have expected this car to come with a matching bicycle and a prancing horse cycling jersey, the Tour de France Automobile was a legendary sports car race, frequently taking place throughout France between 1899 and 1986. The 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione evolved into existence as a result of drastic changes by the FIA after the catastrophic calamity at the 1955 running of Le Mans. The FIA’s amendments put emphasis on the use of grand touring cars, transforming the way manufacturers approached racing throughout Europe.

The new Gran Turismo class set a displacement cap of 3.0 liters, which proved perfect for Ferrari as their 3.0 liter V12 had already been running amok in racing circles for years. Seemingly overnight, the long-wheelbase 2,600mm 250 GT chassis became the ideal instrument for the revamped series.

This gorgeous French blue example features a 260-horsepower version of the triple Weber carbureted SOHC 12-cylinder engine, mated to an all-synchromesh four-speed manual transmission. The car also features an independent suspension up front, with a live rear axle out back using semi-elliptical leaf springs. Brakes were drums all around – no discs here.

The six-day 1956 Tour de France Auto combined multiple aspects of classic rally racing, including two hill climbs, a drag race, and six different circuit sprints. An aristocratic Spaniard, Alfonso de Portago, owned and ran this particular example for over 3,600 miles to victory at the 1956 Tour. Even though his illustrious racing career had begun less than three years prior, he bested the stiff competition from legendary marques such as Mercedes-Benz, whose 300SL was piloted by racing legend Stirling Moss. The 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione lineage went on to dominate the pack at the French rally for years to come.

Along with his copilot Edmund Nelson, Portago took chassis 0557GT to first place finishes at the Coupes du Salon and the Rome Grand Prix, tacking on another in early 1957 at the Coupes USA, thus extending the rich racing history of this very special car. While his success was sure to continue in the 250 GT, Portago was regrettably killed in a crash behind the wheel of a Ferrari 335 Sport at the Mille Miglia just one month after his victory at Coupes USA.

Following his death, the car was given to Portago’s English friend, C. Keith W. Schellenberg, who held onto it until 1983. The next owner–a Brit by the name of Peter G. Palumbo, sold the car in 1992 to a world renowned Ferrari collector in Mexico who treated the car to a ground up restoration by Bob Smith Coachworks. That owner, Lorenzo Zambrano, took impeccable care of the classic racer and exhibited the car at numerous events leading up to his death in 2012, taking top prize at Concours events around the globe.

Offered publicly for the first time in 23 years, 0557GT is being offered for sale at this year’s Monterey Auction through RM Sotheby’s. Recent versions have fetched between $8M and $9.5M, none with a legacy as significant as this very first Tour de France racer. While the car alone stands momentous in its own right, the Ferrari build sheets and period photography will accompany the vehicle across the auction block.

One can only hope the lucky buyer will continue to show it off to the world for years to come. Keep your eye on this one in the coming days at Monterey, and do try to keep any Christmas jingles out of your head until at least September.

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Francois Bozonnet
Francois Bozonnet

there was one for sell a few time ago.

Dennis White
Dennis White

Yeah, what is it about these Petrolicious guys and Alfa’s? Everything I read is about Alfa’s. OK, so they are historic, and beautiful, and competitive, and even affordable. Does that mean it has to be shoved down our throats every time we turn around?

Alfa66

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

1) Beautiful ? Yeah the pre 156’s were . Everything since then has either been box ugly or a rebadged this that or the other thing pretending to be an Alfa . 2) Competitive ? Yeah back in the 50’s they were competitive . Suffice it to say though once the 60’s on forward rolled around their competitiveness slowly waned into non existence 3) Affordable ? Seriously ? Yeah sure … ten years ago Alfa’s were affordable but in the last five their prices have escalated into the realm of the ludicrous due to unfounded collectormania in light of what… Read more »

Dennis White
Dennis White

Uhh… I think you missed the point!

Jim Valcarcel
Jim Valcarcel

No he didn’t Dennis. He’s perfect!

Jon Ulrich
Jon Ulrich

Ferraris are aways welcome, as far as I’m concerned. This is a beautiful example of the golden age of Italian design and proof positive that Ferraris can be as lovely in blue as they are in red.

Andrew Salt
Andrew Salt

Lovely write up and stunning photographs. I have been Petroliciously enlightened. Thank you.
Personally, I don’t yet get the vibe that a bias is creeping in towards the Dancing Donkey. I did feel it a while back towards Porsches, but that passed.

Is there any way you could offer up some of your images for sale in large file sizes so some of us Petrolicious Punters could get them printed up? Just a thought.
I’ll get my coat.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

I’ll be honest , blunt and to the point here Petrolicious ; Your overt Ferrari bias in your covering/previewing Monterey is getting a bit … how shall I say this … old . Suffice it to say this car is a mighty fine find but the fact is there’s plenty of other iron at least if not more interesting and significant both on display as well as on offer from hot rods & customs to factory prototypes to pre war gems , Mercedes etc etc etc . So a bit more ‘ balance ‘ if you would good sirs .

Josh V
Josh V

Yeah, at least we can count on you to be bias-free.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

First off you might want to look up the definition of ‘ Bias ‘ versus ‘ Opinion ‘ .

Second .. pardon me for having learned and factual opinions based on decades of first hand experience and the willingness to express them

Golly gee . Guess I must of left my Politically Correct hat in storage . Oh wait .. I never had a politically correct hat seeing as how Political Correctness is a sign of weakness and lack of discernment .

Jim Valcarcel
Jim Valcarcel

I’ve got an idea. How’s about you take your all knowing, all perfect knowledge and go to another website that is as perfect as you are and never ever come back. That way you can live happy? Or is that impossible for your perfect mind?

Josh V
Josh V

But your opinions are bias, man. haha Also that’s what bugs me about you, you’re so cocksure and certain that your knowledge is unquestionable. From my experience, it’s people like you that keep younger people like me out of car shows and events, because we’re worried that we will be judged and made fun of (I no longer take my car to shows). Also, you’re not a victim here. I wasn’t calling you out because of political correctness (I’m not even a loyal fan of Ferrari, but I can recognize their achievements), its because I actually thought you pointing out… Read more »

Jim Valcarcel
Jim Valcarcel

Well put Josh. Please do not let certain people put you off in your enjoyment of the car hobby. Us older car people (I’m 61) need young people like yourself to keep this fine and FUN hobby alive in to the future. Do not ever permit anyone to keep you from bringing your car to a show. I for one would love to see it, whatever it may be. Your kind of input is more than welcome to keep us old guys on our toes!

Afshin Behnia
Afshin Behnia

TJ, We welcome unpopular and contrarian points of view. What we WON’T put up with is rudeness and abrasiveness. We censored and even banned you in the past when your comments turned into personal attacks. I personally don’t have any issue with your opinion about our choice of cars to feature or that there might be other cars that deserve attention – I’m sure there are. What I DON’T like is your style. Play nice or be banned again. You could’ve just as easily made your initial comment a constructive one by pointing out some examples that you think deserve… Read more »

Jim Valcarcel
Jim Valcarcel

Afshin, thank you many times over. Those of us that frequent Petro love it. We love the stories. The films. The hard work that we know you and your staff put into this website. Indeed know that your readership also welcomes “unpopular and even contrarian points of view”. And no one desires anyone to be banned from the website. However, we come here to relax and have fun. Not to get verbally beat up by others. It’s easy to say “well just don’t read certain commenters words”. But then we constantly have to be on the look out for those… Read more »

Afshin Behnia
Afshin Behnia

Jim,
So sorry about Ethel! I’m sure you have loving memories of her.
You hit the nail on the head. We’re not here to discuss the world’s problems, but to come and enjoy something we all love. Hopefully TJ will wise up and change his tone.