- The 26th of 36 third-series single-vent examples
- Successful competition history, with six overall wins and a podium finish in all 12 period races entered between 1959 and 1960
- Certified as retaining its matching-numbers engine, gearbox, and rear axle with Ferrari Classiche Red Book
- Fully restored by marque specialists Motion Products Inc. in 2005–2006
- 17 years of fastidious care by the current owner
- Documented with factory build sheet copies, former owner’s correspondence, restoration invoices, and history report by marque expert Marcel Massini
During its illustrious history, Ferrari has built many superlative models with a berlinetta body style. Few of them can compare, in both beauty and competition success, to the 250 GT “Tour de France.” Born in the wake of the disastrous 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 250 GT berlinetta was an attempt to capitalize on the FIA’s revised racing classes, which placed a newfound stress on production-based grand touring cars. With production of the 250 GT road car already in full swing, the new model required only some minor modification to result in a competitive race-winner.
While the 3-liter type 128 Colombo short-block V-12 was fitted with triple Weber 36 DCL/3 carburetors (often with velocity stacks) to improve induction and resulting horsepower, the chassis was clothed in striking new coachwork from Scaglietti that was formed from lightweight aluminum alloy. In combination with Perspex glass and a minimally equipped cockpit, the new berlinetta boasted an improved power-to-weight ratio, and stood ready to do battle against competitors like the Jaguar XK and Mercedes-Benz 300 SL.
The very first 250 GT berlinetta, chassis number 0503 GT, finished 1st in class at its debut race at the Giro di Sicilia in April 1956. Six months later the legendary Marquis Alfonso de Portago drove one of the berlinettas to an overall victory in the grueling Tour de France rally, a 3,600-mile, week-long jaunt consisting of six circuit races, two hillclimbs, and a drag race. Enzo Ferrari was so delighted that the factory began referring to the new model as the “Tour de France,” a decision that was further vindicated when Oliver Gendebien went on to win the French race in a 250 GT berlinetta for three consecutive years from 1957 to 1959.
The Tour de France body style was modified several times during the model’s production run, with the most identifiable difference evident in the treatment of the C-pillar quarter panels, which featured varying numbers of louvered vents. For 1958 and 1959, the third-series cars featured just one vent on the so-called sail-panel, with 36 examples bodied in this fashion among a total output of 72 TdFs. Among these third-series cars, about two thirds of the production were fitted with recessed covered headlamps and one third fitted with open headlamps. This final evolution of the TdF also featured improved mechanical elements including a new gearbox, a revised intake manifold and cylinder heads, stronger valves and connecting rods, and a new crankshaft.
As the centerpiece of many Ferrari-focused collections, the Tour de France is undeniably one of the most captivating 250 GT iterations, occupying an important perch in Ferrari racing lineage that rivals sibling variants such as the Testa Rossa, California Spider, the Short Wheelbase, and the GTO. Highly celebrated by enthusiasts today, the 250 GT Tour de France epitomizes the finest in dual-use grand touring Ferraris that could be driven to the circuit and vigorously raced before enjoying a relaxing trip home.
CHASSIS NUMBER 1161 GT
Raced in period by a respected luminary in American Ferrari circles, and the subject of a 2000s restoration by one of the niche’s leading names, this Tour de France is a particularly desirable example of the legendary 250 GT variant. According to the research of marque expert Marcel Massini, chassis number 1161 GT is the 26th example clothed in the single-vent coachwork style, and the 62nd example built overall. It is further distinguished by being the last TdF built in 1958.
Copies of factory build sheets demonstrate the engine was completed in November 1958, and the chassis was subsequently dispatched to Carrozzeria Scaglietti for the sensational single-panel TdF coachwork, which was executed entirely in aluminum alloy. Finished in a lovely shade of dark green, the body was fitted with covered headlamps with chromed bezels, full front and rear bumpers, external hood-fastener claws, and unpainted triple-gill fender vents, while the interior was equipped with a rollbar and trimmed with tan leather.
In March 1959 the 250 GT was delivered to Luigi Chinetti Motors, and soon thereafter the car was sold to the famed Bob Grossman, a New York-based privateer racer and dealer who is renowned for his role in helping popularize the 250 GT California Spider, among other racing endeavors. Grossman sold (or lent) the Tour de France to Walter Luftman of New York City and he raced it in several events, twice finishing 1st in the GT Class at Lime Rock, in July 1959 and October 1959. He also campaigned the Ferrari at Montgomery, New York, in August 1959, and finished 2nd at the Long Island Sports Car Association’s (LISCA) Interclub Championship event at Bridgehampton in September. In August 1960 Grossman took the wheel to compete in the LISCA’s Bridgehampton race, for which he applied an MG-logo octagon on the car’s side, in a nod to his role as part of the MG racing team (as pictured in the 1960 Ferrari Yearbook). Between 1959 and 1960 1161GT competed in a dozen races, winning six and always finishing in the top three in its class, an impressive accomplishment.
Circa 1962 the Ferrari was sold to Peter Sherman of Maitland, Florida, and he later took the berlinetta with him when he relocated to Ashton, Maryland. In September 1969 Sherman sold the 250 GT to an Indianapolis-based dealer who quickly found a buyer in Ken Hutchison of Tower Lake, Illinois. Hutchison went on to keep 1161 GT for an impressive period of 17 years, during which the original green paint was kept intact.
A THOROUGHBRED ON TRACK AND FIELD
In June 1986 Hutchison sold the Ferrari to the respected Illinois-based collector Bill Jacobs. Two months later the 250 GT was acquired by Yoshijuki Hayashi of Tokyo, Japan, and he commissioned a complete refurbishment by European Auto Restorations in Costa Mesa, California, that included an exterior refinish in rosso, and a new tan leather interior. In June 1995 the Tour de France was sold to Mr. Terada’s Art Sports of Osaka and Tokyo, and a year later the car was traded to fellow Tokyo resident Yoshikuni Okamoto in exchange for a 250 GT Short Wheelbase.
Mr. Okamoto sold the Ferrari a year later to a California-based dealership, which in turn sold the car to noted collector Ed Davies in Florida. Mr. Davies had the engine rebuilt and went on to enjoy the berlinetta in several vintage events, racing it in the Shell Historic Ferrari Challenges held in conjunction with the 2000 and 2001 Cavallino Classic, and exhibiting it at the Cavallino Classic Concours d’Elegance in January 2000. In August 2000 he raced the TdF again at the Shell Historic Ferrari Challenge at Elkhart Lake, and four years later the car was campaigned at the Monterey Historic Races at Laguna Seca.
In August 2005 Mr. Davies sold the Tour de France to the consignor, and he set about a high-quality restoration with the intention of exhibiting the car at major events. During 2005 the 250 GT was entrusted to the marque experts at Motion Products Inc. in Neenah, Wisconsin, for a comprehensive restoration that was capped with a new finish in rosso complemented with a central stripe in French blue. The interior was also re-trimmed with blue leather and fitted with a new rollbar.
The Ferrari’s exhibition run began at the 2006 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and continued 10 months later with an appearance at the 2007 Cavallino Classic. The TdF was then re-submitted to Motion Products in January 2008 for some corrections, and following this work the car was again presented at the Cavallino Classic, this time winning an FCA Silver Award. In July 2010 the 250 GT was displayed at the Keeneland Concours d’Elegance, and the owner subsequently enjoyed it during a successful run on the 2013 Colorado Grand.
Highly eligible for many of the most prestigious events, the 250 GT Tour de France is the ideal car to take on a grand touring rally or show on the lawn at a traditional concours d’elegance. Claiming an accident-free early life of American racing use in conjunction with the famed Bob Grossman, this historically significant Ferrari is documented with build sheet copies, restoration invoices, former owner’s correspondence, and a variety of period photos. It would make a sensational addition to any sporting collection, particularly suited for Ferrari enthusiasts searching for a quality example of the venerable Tour de France model.