Market Finds: Is This 250 GT SWB Berlinetta The Vintage Ferrari Of Your Dreams?

Is This 250 GT SWB Berlinetta The Vintage Ferrari Of Your Dreams?

Andrew Golseth By Andrew Golseth
April 7, 2016
16 comments

Photography Courtesy of Artcurial

What’s the most beautiful Ferrari? It could be any model spanning the company’s history—tough choice, isn’t it? There are so many attractive machines it’s almost unfair to pick just one. Many say the 250 GTO while others prefer the 250 Lusso. What about the California or 275 GTB? Well, call me a nonconformist, but I’ll make an argument for this 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta.

For the sake of argument, I’m going to get unnecessarily picky, here. The Lusso has long, dramatic proportions—perhaps too theatrical. The c-pillar on the 250 GTO always looked out of place in my eyes, like a hastily added “feature.” The California is the obvious choice for a drop top, but I prefer a fixed roof. The 275 GTB is undeniably beautiful, but more elegant than sporty. In Goldilocks fashion, that’s why I find the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta just right.

The honest, simple face isn’t try-hard and the fenders gradually curve down the flanks just past the doors before the quarters hike-up over the rear wheel arches. The short wheelbase (SWB) keeps the proportions tidy and the overhangs minimal, while the fastback roofline accentuates the low-slung body lines, giving the car a scrappy, fast-even-when-parked, character. I even love the c-pillar’s lack of glass or louvers—no need for unnecessary styling.

Being a member of the 250 family, under the scooped hood lies a Colombo Tipo 125 3.0-liter V12 with an Italian tenor register like no other. With a horsepower output somewhere near 240, it’s worth mentioning the 250 SWB Berlinetta was the first Ferrari GT equipped with four-wheel disc brakes. So it can go and it can stop, but where this prancing horse really gallops is through the twisty pavement.

Thanks to its short wheelbase, double wishbone coil spring front, and semi-elliptical live axle rear suspension configuration, the SWB Berlinetta can switch feet like a Cuban salsa master, albeit one born in 1961. The slippery body, shaped by the same folks who would later bring the 250 GTO, keeps the car nimble—weighing in around 2,400 pounds. In fact, one maneuvered its way to first in the GT class at the 1961 Constructor’s Championship.

This numbers matching road-going version features a fully upholstered interior and a slightly softer but still compliant suspension compared to the hardcore Competizione model. Chassis 2917GT was originally finished in Azzuro light blue and displayed at the 1961 Paris Motor Show. The second owner, who for whatever self-torturous reasoning, only drove black cars—so, he had Carrosserie Chapron paint it black. Between the man who apparently hated having a clean car and 1969, the car was resprayed yet again, but this time in iconic Rosso Corsa. Perhaps not very original, but how can anyone genuinely dislike a red Ferrari?

Since purchasing the car in 1969, the current owner has enjoyed a lengthy near half-century love affair with this Maranello masterpiece. It’s noted the caretaker drove the Ferrari regularly through the French countryside over the past 47 years, and has preserved the overall condition with great care. Other than being manufactured in Italy, the car is said to have remained in France since the 1961 Paris Motor Show—unless you reside in the Land of the Franks, it’s time to change that.

History
– Displayed at the 1961 Paris Motor Show
– Remained in France since 1961
– Same owner for the last 47 years

Specifications
~240 hp, Colombo Tipo 125 3.0-liter V12, five-speed manual transmission, front coil sprint double wishbone and rear live axle semi-elliptical suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,400 mm.

Vehicle information
Chassis no.: 2917GT

Valuation
Auction house: Artcurial
Estimate: TBD
Price realized: TBD; Auction on 9 July

 

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Steven RobertsonDavid SLa Dolce VitaNickHighnumbers Recent comment authors
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Steven Robertson
Steven Robertson

The SWB engine is tipo 168, not 125. Gearbox is 4 speed, not 5.

David S
David S

What about the 330 LMB? The Le Mans Berlinetta combines the 250 Lusso’s roof-profile and Kamm tail with the streamlined nose of the 250 GTO — and a serious racing motor. I do think that the Passo Corto Berlinetta is the essence of 1960’s Ferrari, a crouching Rottweiler with coiled haunches and a sneering mouth full of cheese-grater teeth, but the 330 LMB deserves honorable mention. It’s far and away the rarer Ferrari as well.

La Dolce Vita
La Dolce Vita

Easily one of the most beautiful cars of all times. Perfectly balanced proportions, delicate curves yet purposeful stance, great motor, super handling and undeniable pedigree. What’s not to like. Shame we no longer make cars that can so effortlessly switch from being a race car at weekends to a daily driver during the week.

Nick
Nick

Well for a start, for that kind of money I’d want the front number plate straightened……

Highnumbers
Highnumbers

Not just the best Ferrari design – one of the best car designs PERIOD.

It’s aggressive and graceful at the same time, just a masterpiece of Italian design. I can’t think of any other road car that better embodies not just the Ferrari aesthetic, but the entire concept of a racing-derived sports car.

No doubt this one will fetch $10M or more, but I won’t be surprised. I’d rather have one than a GTO any day of the week.

Jim Levitt
Jim Levitt

Short wheelbases are real nice, however I disagree about Lussos. I never cared for them all that much and that dashboard has always been too odd for me.
Give me a 4 cam any day (275 GTB/4).

Andy Subbiondo
Andy Subbiondo

Beautiful but not the most beautiful (that’s the Lusso) but
I’ve always thought the 250 SWB is the quintessential Ferrari, the car that embodies the brand.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Everything about the SWB is just right [ excepting of course the recent price tags attached to them ] including the fact that it was one of if not the most winningest model … in races of all kinds I might add .. in Ferrari’s history

Andy Subbiondo
Andy Subbiondo

Stirling Moss is said to have won a British sports car race while listening to a concert on the radio in Rob Walker’s 250 GT SWB .

Rene
Rene

@Andy Subbiondo: Even better, Moss won the 1960 Goodwood TT while listening to the live broadcast from Raymond Baxter, who unwittingly kept him updated on the gap he had to the Aston Martin DB4GTs of Roy Salvadori and Innes Ireland two laps in arrears.

FW Brit
FW Brit

Such a stunningly beautiful car – from any angle. I just hope the new owner takes this on the road rather than storing away. That car was built to be driven hard.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

” That car was built to be driven hard ”

Amen !