This Is How A Ferrari 250GT Became Known By Its 14 Beautiful Louvres
Photography by Paul Criton
At an event like the Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille, standing out among a sea of jewel-like machines isn’t the easiest task. But had a passerby counted this Ferrari’s louvres, he may have stopped to appreciate a race-winning car that has decades of history under its belt.
During the 1950s, any proper gentleman racer was driving a Ferrari 250 GT Competizione. They were produced in both Passo Corto and Passo Lungo wheelbases, 94.5 inches (2.4m) for the short wheelbase, and 102.3 inches (2.6m) for the other. It is believed that 91 racing cars were built in the long wheelbase we’re interested in here, all powered by the famous Colombo V12, coiled in a supremely delicate aluminum body. At the opposite of the luxury of the “standard” GT, the racing versions built by Zagato or Scaglietti were extreme: lightweight interiors, plexiglas windows, V12s free from mufflers…
This car shown at Chantilly Arts & Elegance is a 250 GT Competizione “Tour De France” Passo Lungo. It won the 1957 Tour de France Automobile and took second in the prestigious Pau 3 hours, driven by Olivier Gendebien on both occasions.
Mr Gendebien was a racing driver from Brussels, who initially caught Enzo Ferrari’s eye by winning the Liège-Rome-Liège in a Mercedes-Benz 300SL. He was right to pay attention: Gendebien was a Second World War hero, eventually winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans four times, the 12 Hours of Sebring three times, and stands as one of the most successful racing drivers of that era.
This car also finished third at the 1957 Mile Miglia, and is still going well—racing at the reborn Tour Auto in 1995, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2004, and 2005 and showing at Goodwood, Villa d’Este and Pebble Beach. It was here at Chantilly, and rightfully won the first prize in its class.
If you’d like one of your own just like chassis number #0677GT, there were reportedly 84 “Tour De France”-style cars made—an unofficial name that came from Ferrari’s four consecutive wins between ’56 and ’59 at the Tour de France Automobile.
Of those, only nine had 14 louvres.