The brief, but significant, career of the Ferrari 225 S and 250 S furthered the development of the Colombo V-12 and signified that Carrozzeria Vignale was the coachbuilder of choice for Ferrari’s competition machines in the early 1950s. “S” stood for “Sport,” and of the 22 made, 21 featured Vignale coachwork.
Both models had a tubular chassis and underpinnings quite similar to those of the Ferrari 340 America. They also shared the Ferrari 340 America’s 88.5-inch (2250mm) wheelbase and its track of 50.3 inches (1278mm) front, 49.2 inches (1250mm) rear. The front suspension was independent with double wishbones and a transverse leaf spring. The rear had a rigid axle and semielliptic leaf springs.
In the Ferrari 225 S, the Colombo “short-block” engine’s bore increased 10mm over that in the Ferrari 212 Export model to 70mm, for a total capacity of 2715cc. That and other modifications saw horsepower reach 210 at 7200 rpm.
Vignale’s coachwork on the Ferrari 225 S was masterful. Of particular note was the restrained shape and stunning proportion of the Ferrari 225 S spyders. Embellishment was minimal, and the front fenders were punctuated with three beautiful oval portholes that acted as air outlets.
One Ferrari 250 S berlinetta (chassis 0156 ET) was built, and it would become one of the most important cars in Ferrari history.
Its engine was bored a further 3mm beyond the 225’s, while the stroke remained at 58.8mm. No one could know it at the time, but the resulting 2953cc V-12 was the foundation for an integral part of the Ferrari legend. That displacement was used by Ferrari for another 12 years on some of its most famous road and racing cars.
Indeed, this powerplant’s reputation for reliability in the heat of competition and its refinement on the street all but defined the unparalleled dual-purpose nature of Ferrari’s cars. That Ferrari 250 S was the first to demonstrate this achievement.
Finished by Vignale on March 1, 1952, it competed at the 1952 Mille Miglia just four days later. There, with Giovanni Bracco at the wheel, it handed Mercedes-Benz and its mighty 300 SL the only endurance-competition defeat the German company would suffer that year.
The Ferrari 250 S berlinetta also won the 12 Hours of Pescara. It led most of the Carrera Panamericana before a transmission failure put it out on the seventh leg. And it led at Le Mans, where, driven by works pilots Alberto Ascari and Luigi “Gigi” Villoresi, it set a new lap record before differential troubles retired it in the third hour.
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