Though Boano and Ellena produced the majority of the Ferrari 250 GTs from 1956 to 1958, Pinin Farina also made coachwork for the chassis. In fact, it used it as the basis for one of the decade’s most beautiful cars, the Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series I.
The look of the Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series I was
inspired by the 410 Superamerica. See more Ferrari pictures.
Pinin Farina’s Cabriolet Series I used the same platform and running gear as the period’s other 250s, but with stunning coachwork inspired by the designer’s Ferrari 410 Superamerica “Superfast I.”
The first prototype (chassis 0655 GT) went to Ferrari Formula 1 driver Peter Collins. Superbly proportioned, it featured a large air intake on the hood and a dramatic cut down in the driver-side door. “The body lines are sleek and elegant,” was Autocar’s assessment.
Pinin Farina made a second Ferrari 250 Cabriolet two months later. Done as a special order “café racer,” it had a cut-down windshield and a fairing behind the driver seat.
Two other cabriolets served as the preproduction prototypes for what would become a small series; both were made in the summer of 1957. The second (0709 GT) was for Prince Aga Khan and had the definitive Series I look: smooth contours free of side air outlets, swept-back windshield, and racy wind wings.
The Ferrari 250 Cabriolet Series I was produced from summer 1957 into 1959. Motor Trend’s summation of the model was accurate and succinct: “Mechanical perfection of the 250 Gran Turismo is augmented by smart styling and superb coachwork by Pinin Farina.”
In 1958, the Series I was joined by the Ferrari 250 GT Coupe. This was an extremely important car for both Ferrari and Pinin Farina. It represented the two companies’ first real attempt at production standardization that would allow cars to be made in the hundreds, rather than dozens. Changes at both their factories made such large numbers possible.
In 1958-59, Ferrari set up its first formal assembly line, an elevated affair that enabled workers to construct the cars on the runway at the same time work was done underneath.
Concurrently, Pinin Farina completed its move to an all-new production facility. “(We) were convinced the only way to survive was to make more cars for our clients,” Sergio Pininfarina remembered. “The old factory was too small; it did not give us the freedom we needed…(so) the workers had difficulty. There was noise, and everything was old. In the new one there was more space, better logistics, a better environment for the workers ... It was a move in the right direction.”
A new design direction took form with two one-off Ferrari 250 GT Coupes made over December 1957-January 1958. These included a Speciale on chassis 1187 GT. They had the same general proportions as the Cabriolet Series I, but with more sober lines. Both prototypes had open headlights, long hoods, airy greenhouses, and bodywork devoid of louvers and other decoration. Preproduction prototypes of these coupes were built in May 1958. The rear quarter windows of the one-offs disappeared, and the roof and rear-end treatment were simpler and thus easier to produce.
The Ferrari 250 GT Coupe Speciale had a sleek body, free of decoration.
This, the definitive Ferrari 250 GT Coupe, was warmly greeted. Its “distinguished and racy looks sold out the first planned series of 200 cars well in advance,” noted Road & Track, which went on to call the Ferrari 250 GT Coupe “the ultimate in driving.” Sports Car Graphic voted it 1960’s “Sportscar of the Year.”
Produced into 1960, the Ferrari 250 GT Coupe line proved extremely popular, with more than 350 built. Most every one carried the standard coachwork, though Pinin Farina did make several one-offs for special clients.
A new convertible augmented the Ferrari 250 GT Coupe for ’59. The Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series II’s looks mimicked those of the coupe, and with good reason. Not only was the Series II more comfortable and refined than the Cabriolet Series I, but Ferrari and Pinin Farina wanted to clearly differentiate it from the sportier, competition-oriented Ferrari 250 Spyder California launched in 1958. That car looked much like the Cabriolet Series I.
The Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series II
convertible outmatched sales of the Series I.
The Ferrari 250 Cabriolet Series II made its public debut at the Paris Auto Show that October and went on to great commercial success, with production that continued into 1962.
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