1959 FERRARI 250 GT BERLINETTA "TOUR DE FRANCE"
COACHWORK BY SCAGLIETTI
Chassis No. 1385GT
Engine No. 1385GT
Red with black interior
Engine: V12, 2,953cc, 260bhp at 7,000rpm; Gearbox: four-speed manual; Suspension: front, independent, rear, semi elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: four wheel hydraulic discs. Left hand drive.
Ferrari was quick to arrive at a distinction between Coupes and Berlinettas in the mid fifties. A Coupe was a luxuriously finished two passenger car for road use while the Berlinetta, also a two passenger car, did away with the frills and was able to represent the marque in comperition. These cars were called long wheelbase Berlinettas until Potago won the 1956 Tour de France and they then received the unofficial title of "Tour de France".
The Tour de France was a timed rally around the perimeter of France. The 5th Tour held in September 1956 was 3,600 miles long, included six races on different major race circuits and was the most gruelling competition event for any road car. The de Portago/Ed Nelson victory established the 250 GT series of cars for evermore and many private owners had equal success with this model. In January 1957, Scaglietti began construction of a second series of 250 GT Berlinettas which although similar in shape now had the cold air scoop on the bonnet as standard, the large rear window was reduced in size and louvred quarter panels behind the side window replaced the previous row of fourteen louvres. These additions all helped ventilation. The ultimate and final development, like the example offered here, had straight headlights, uncovered, as many drivers had complained about poor lighting at night due to the plexi covers.
The competition results of the 1957 cars further enhanced the 250 GT reputation, winning the tour of Sicily, third in the Mille Miglia only 1mph slower than the winning Piero Taruffi Ferrari 335S cam car. The 250 GT finished first to fifth in the Reims 12 Hour Race with a new lap record of 115mph, won the Coppa Inter Europa and was first, second and third in the Tour de France.
Although these cars were built for competition use they were just as practable being used as every day transport, although one had to watch the very thin aluminum coachwork from careless other road users. With such dual personality, the 250 GT "Tour de France" has today become one of the top collectable Ferraris and was the basis for the 250 GT Short Wheelbase and subsequent homologation special, the GTO.
This car was first delivered new on May 2nd, 1959 to a Signor Piotti, a wealthy Italian gentleman driver. He raced it in a couple of races, including the Grand Prix de la Lotterie in Monza, apparently never achieving any significant results. Piotti perhaps believing that the car was to blame rather than his skill as a driver, regularly sent the Ferrari back to the factory to be tuned and updated to the latest specs. The car is now fitted with the rare Amadori disc brakes, of the first type fitted to Ferraris, and it is believed this is a period modification carried out at the factory.
The car then went to Monaco and left Europe for the US in 1975. Amongst the owners are Pedretti, Gelles and Peter Giddings.
The present owner purchased the car in early 1996 and entered in the Historic Tour de France where it performed faultlessly, driven by the former Le Mans Ferrari driver Richard Bond, until the brakes cried enough and the car retired towards the end of the event. The brakes were subsequently attended to and the "Tour De France" has since participated in a few more rallies without any problems.
This "Tour de France" has recently been researched by the Ferrari factory. The engine is original to the car with matching numbers to the chassis and the correct "numero interno". Also, to the factory's knowledge this "Tour de France" has never never been invlolved in a serious accident. The condition of the car today is not up to Concours standard, but it is in a very sound and original state. The original Houdaille shocks have been replaced with Koni shocks, but it was done in such a way that the original shocks could be easily retrofitted. The Weber carbs, 36 DCL3, are fitted with "trumpets" and there is an airbox. The wheels are 16 inch with Dunlop racing tires. The chassis is very straight and unmarked. The paint is clean, but with some cracking and the interior is good with some patina overall and a worn carpet on the driver's side. This "Tour de France" is said to be a pleasure to drive. It pulled strongly and the gearbox worked fine, and the temperature and oil pressure were good. Overall, it is an ideal entrant for the Mille Miglia Retrospective, Tour de France, Colorado Grand and similar long distance touring events.