Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France
The Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France won the
Tour de France nine times in the 1950s. See more Ferrari pictures.
“Tour de France” came to identify a series of competition-oriented Ferrari berlinettas built over the next three years, all based on the 250 GT, all with 3.0-liter V-12s and all based on Ferrari’s “long-wheelbase” 102.3-inch (2600 mm) chassis. The Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France was the heart of the Ferrari mystique.
The event Tour de France was a multiday competition over several diverse circuits, and Ferrari followers quickly seized on the ’56 win by Alfonso de Portago to nickname his winning mount.
The timing was perfect. The FIA had just created a Gran Turismo category as another response to the 1955 Le Mans tragedy. It sought to emphasize a more civilized performance perimeter exemplified by the “GT,” a sporting car at home on the road as well as the track. The category capped displacement at 3.0-liters. That bode well for Ferrari: It had been competing with Colombo-designed 3.0-liter V-12s since the Ferrari 250 S in 1952.
The development of what would become the Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France began in 1954 with a series of striking, custom-coachwork competizione coupes from Pinin Farina. These used a new, stronger tubular chassis with suspension updated from previous Ferrari 250s by replacing elliptic leaf springs with wishbones, coil springs, and shocks.
The “prototypes” for the Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France series appeared in 1954-55 on Ferrari 250 GT competiziones that had aluminum bodywork, plexiglass side windows, and other race-oriented features. These cars sometimes are referred to as Ferrari 250 Europa GT berlinettas. The handsome form derived from Pinin Farina’s Ferrari 375 MM berlinettas, but with a slightly wider track.
For 1956, body construction switched to Scaglietti because Pinin Farina’s plant was bursting with work for Ferrari, Alfa, and others; Pinin Farina would move to a new factory in 1958. “The shop divided into two sectors,” Sergio Scaglietti recalled of the period. “One group did repair work for Pinin Farina, while another, the larger group, made body panels.”
Though initial Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France designs were Pinin Farina’s, Scaglietti spoke often with his Turin counterparts and made modifications as he saw necessary.
The 1956 Tour-winning Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France closely resembles earlier 250s. The Ferrari 250 GT Tour de Frances made during ’56 and ’57 had a more tapered nose, a new tail, and a louvered sail panel. They are often called “Fourteen Louver” cars for the number of slats.
Late in 1957, Pinin Farina designed a new Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France body that Scaglietti built. It had yet another nose highlighted by covered headlights and a new sail-panel treatment with vents instead of louvers. These make up the majority of Ferrari 250 GT Tour de Frances and are referred to as “three” and “single” outlet or slot cars, depending on the number of vents. The very last Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France had open headlights in accordance with 1959 Italian regulations.
Fangio and Frere; Collins and Moss; Spa and Monza; Goodwood -- and the Tour de France nine times. The list of drivers and events won by Ferrari 250 GTs in the TdF family reads like a racing dream book. These timeless competition berlinettas were immensely popular with serious amateurs, too, and some drove them on the street. They were, afterall, GTs.
The Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France performed well both in races and on the street.
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