Of all the classic, iconic, and unique cars that Ferrari has made through the decades, none of them can beat the charisma of the 250 GTO. It’s stylish, sleek, and was one of those classics that its pilot would drive across regular roads to the racing track and completely smoke its competition with only a short while later.
Moreover, the car’s last 3 letters – GTO – notoriously enhanced its mystique. This acronym for “Gran Turismo Omologato,” or “Grand Touring Homologated” in English, means that Ferrari made enough examples to qualify the car for GT competition racing. However, Enzo Ferrari actually cheated his way through the racing regulations through some clever illusionism…
Let’s first take a step back, though, because regardless of any regulations, the 250 GTO outclassed its fierce competitors of the time – the Jaguar E-Type Lightweight and Shelby Cobra, and Aston Martin DP214 – with a stunning Italian design!
With the iconic 250 GT SWB 1959 as precursor, the 250 GTO had an excellent starting point for further development. Still, with its tubular aluminum bodywork and a lowered and stiffened chassis the 250 GTO took aerodynamics to a completely new level. In addition, Ferrari radically stripped the interior by taking out its floor carpet, replacing leather with cloth, and taking out the speedometer in order to cut as much weight as possible.
Under the hood
When you look underneath the aerodynamic bodywork, you’ll find the same engine that powered the 250 Testa Rossa – a 300bhp producing V12 with 3.0-liter capacity. While this was similar to Jaguar’s E-Type Lightweight, the 250 GTO’s aerodynamics gave it a significant advantage and helped Ferrari to come in first for 3 International Championships for GT Manufacturers in a row (1962–1964).
Cheating like a pro
So how did Enzo cheat it’s way through the FIA’s homologation regulations? 1962 FIA regulations stipulated that car marques had to build 100 examples in order to qualify their car for GT racing, but that was far from feasible for the Ferrari marque…
So, Enzo came up with the brilliant idea to put the chassis numbers of the 250 GTOs in a non-consecutive order. In addition, he had his 250 GTOs moving around so it would look like there were more examples than he actually had made. As a result, Enzo got the GTO letters attached to his car with only 39 examples ever being made!
From scarcity to legendary
Because of the 250 GTO’s notorious scarcity, Enzo personally vetted all the buyers in order to judge if they would be suitable owners of his babies. Of course, now they circle around various owners, and demand prices far above their initial price tags.
After rolling out of the factory in 1962, a 250 GTO would cost you only $18.500. While this was still a significant amount for the time, the prices were ruthlessly driven up throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, and during the ‘90s they blew through the roof altogether. These days, you’ll have to scrape 30 million dollars together to even be in the conversation for a 250 GTO – similar to a 250 Testa Rossa – and that’s completely independent of how the classic car market is doing globally at any point of time!
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