Ferrari 250 GT – The Definitive Guide to a Sports Car Legend
The Ferrari 250 GT models represent some of the most iconic and coveted sports cars ever produced. First introduced in 1953, the 250 GT established Ferrari as a force in GT racing and set a new benchmark for luxury sports car performance.
250 GT Berlinetta “Short Wheelbase”
The first 250 GT was the Berlinetta “SWB” introduced in 1956. Designed by Pininfarina, its beautiful fastback body was matched to a short, 2,400 mm wheelbase for nimble handling. Colloquially known as the “Tour de France” for its racing dominance, the 250 GT SWB cemented Ferrari’s reputation for excellence.
The 250 GT SWB immediately proved effective in competition, securing Ferrari the GT manufacturer’s title in 1958, 1960, and 1961. Driven by talent like Olivier Gendebien, Phil Hill, and Willy Mairesse, the SWB took class wins at Le Mans from 1960-1962 along with victory at the 1960 Tour de France. It remains one of the most successful GT racers ever.
Luxurious Grand Touring
While devastating on track, the 250 GT SWB was also a supremely refined road car. Details like carpeted floors, leather trim, and bespoke coachbuilt bodies provided first-class grand touring. The 3.0L Colombo V12 gave effortless power even in street tune. As the pinnacle of 1950s GTs, the 250 SWB was equally at home racing or cruising the open road.
Ferrari 250 GT “Lusso”
Introduced for 1962, the 250 GT Lusso represented a more luxurious evolution of the 250 GT. Its extended 2,500 mm wheelbase improved interior space and ride comfort over the SWB. Luxury touches like plush upholstery, polished wood trim and luggage racks reinforced the Lusso’s refined grand touring persona. Though not as competition-focused as the SWB, the Lusso still provided incredible performance from its 300 hp V12.
Beautiful Pininfarina Coachwork
The Lusso retained the stunning fastback coupe coachwork of its forebear, again built by Pininfarina. Its graceful lines and details like the double front fenders are considered automotive works of art. The Lusso’s timeless shape combined elegance and excitement in a way only Ferrari could achieve. It cemented Ferrari’s partnership with the famed Italian carrozzeria.
Ferrari 250 GT Racing at Le Mans
Though more street-focused than earlier 250 racers, the Lusso remained a competent competitor. A Lusso won its class at Le Mans in 1962, 1963, and 1964, continuing Ferrari’s dominance. Privateers also successfully campaigned Lussos in hill climbs and rallies, underscoring the robustness beneath its beauty. The Lusso maintained Ferrari’s reputation for world-class grand touring sports cars.
Modern Investment Favorite
Today, 250 GTs are among the most valuable classic Ferraris and cars of any type at auction. Records are routinely shattered, with pristine SWBs fetching well over $10 million and Lussos over $3 million. Their stunning looks, full Ferrari heritage and historic racing connections make the 250 GTs eternally desirable. For car collectors, the 250 GT represents the Holy Grail.
From the track to the road, the 250 GT established Ferrari’s sports car supremacy in the 1950s and early 1960s. These landmark grand tourers will forever enjoy icon status in automotive history.