31 October 2012

Lot 183

1964 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso Berlinetta by Scaglietti

To be auctioned on Wednesday, October 31, 2012

High Bid of £510,000

  • Chassis no. 5101 GT

250 bhp, 2,953 cc V-12 engine, four-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with unequal-length A-arms and coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs and parallel trailing arms, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5 in.

• Matching-numbers
• Ferrari Classiche certified
• Participant in the Tour Auto
• One of Pininfarina’s most beautiful designs

The gorgeous Ferrari 250 GT Lusso berlinetta is generally regarded as having been one of the most exquisitely proportioned and most beautiful of all the Pininfarina styling creations upon the legendary front-engine Ferrari 250 GT chassis. These were classic high-performance Gran Turismo cars with a difference, for they combined power and speed with the highest contemporary levels of elegance and comfortable accommodation for two, plus their luggage.

A prototype of the new 250 GT/L, or Lusso as it became known, appeared at the Paris Motor Show in October 1962 and was considered another stylistic triumph for the designer, Pininfarina, whose name officially became one word in 196, and builder, Scaglietti. The strikingly elegant lines blending into a Kamm tail were reminiscent of the 250 GT SWB berlinetta. The 250 GT SWB berlinetta had been Ferrari’s last real dual-purpose road and race car, and the difference between the racing cars and road cars was ever widening. The Lusso’s stable-mate was the mighty 250 GTO, a pure racer, but the 2,400-millimetre short-wheelbase chassis of the Lusso bore a great resemblance to the immortal 250 GTO, as did some of the styling.

The 3.0-litre 250 series of Ferraris began production in the late-fifties and the 250 GT coupé, cabriolet, spyder California, and GTE 2+2 were all part of the company’s road car production. The Lusso would be the last car to be fitted with the Colombo-designed 3.0-litre V-12 engine. With just three Weber carburettors, as opposed to the six used on the racing version, the unit produced approximately 250 brake-horsepower and was capable of propelling the car to a top speed of 240 km/h (150 mph), and it travelled 0–100 km in eight seconds. The Lusso was manufactured during a very short period, from 1963 until 1964, with only 350 produced.

The Lusso received a tremendous reception; in May 1964, Car & Driver said that “its proportions approach perfection”. Road and Track did not road test the car until 1969, but wrote, “Ferrari’s most beautiful car; a classic at age five”. Ferrari Magazine called it “one of the all-time classics”. And the German weekly Revue Automobile called it “the most beautiful car in the world”. Auto Week wrote, “Some cars, like some movies, are not for kids. This is one of them”.

It wasn’t just the press that gave the car such plaudits. It attracted some well-known owners. Dr Harvey Postlethwaite, Ferrari’s former head of design in Formula One, owned one, as did Battista “Pinin” Farina, apparently so pleased with the outcome of their design that he had to have a car for his personal use. Steve McQueen was another owner and fan. His friend William Claxton recalled, “We would set a place to meet for lunch and then take off, Steve in the Lusso and me in my Porsche 356 SC 1600. Steve’s idea of fun was to go roaring off and, a couple hours later, be parked at the side of the road pretending to be bored waiting for us to arrive. It was a great time. He really loved that car”.

Chassis 5101 GT, the striking left-hand drive example we have the pleasure of offering here, is the 124th car built, supplied new to it first owner, Gioacchino Vari, of Rome, Italy, painted black with black trim, in 1964. Gioacchino Vari was a well-respected sports car personality in Rome, and later, he was the owner of two Ferrari service centres in the city. He also did some racing in the 1950s, and it is believed that he participated in the Targa Florio in a Lancia Aurelia. After being exported to the United States, the car remained in the American Midwest, first with one Dr Williams, of Ohio, and sometime thereafter with Jim Monroe, also of Ohio.

Ed Wettach, of Ferrari South in Missouri, owned the car in the early-1980s, and it has also resided with noted Ferrari collector Brandon Wang. Richard Lee, of Hong Kong, acquired this stunning Lusso from Wang, and he subsequently kept it for some 10 years, competing in several events, such as the 2006 Tour Auto Lissac and the 2008 Tour Auto.

Perhaps most importantly, this Lusso is a matching-numbers example, and it has been certified by Ferrari Classiche, which affirms it correctness and authenticity to the specification in which it was originally delivered. The current owners have elected to refinish the car to its original black livery, now complemented by a red interior with recently fitted black carpets by Surrey Trimming at Addlestone. While conducting this work at 355 Auto Restorations in Dunsfold, the body was taken down to bare metal and was found to be in superb order without any signs of accident damage.

Despite its short two-year production run, the 250 GT/L is, on the strength of its appearance alone, one of the most appreciated and sought after Ferraris to date. Conceived and executed as a luxury gran turismo, its success was attributable to the seamless blend of competition racing performance and sexy Italian styling—a winning combination exemplified by this highly desirable and extremely rare example, one of only 350 built.

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