THE EX-ECURIE FRANCORCHAMPS SPA 500 KILOMETER RACE WINNING
1964 FERRARI 250 LE MANS BERLINETTA
Chassis No. 6023
Engine No. 6023
Rosso Corsa with black leather interior
Engine: 12 cylinders, 3286cc, 360bhp at 7,500rpm; Gearbox: five speed manual; Suspension: independent front and rear with coil springs and double wishbones all round; Brakes: Dunlop discs front and inboard rear. Right hand drive.
The ultimate development of the famous line of '250' designated Ferrari Sports-Racing cars was embodied in the Le Mans Berlinetta, introduced at the Paris Motor Salon in October 1963.
It was clear to Enzo Ferrari that for him to be able to maintain superiority over his rivals in the GT Classes of long-distance events and road-racing, a new model was required; that it should be homologated by the FIA; and with further success at Le Mans the principal goals. Breaking with tradition, the new 250 LM represented a significant step forward from the standards of the 250 GTO, and moved much closer to following the logical development of the 250P sports-racing models.
For FIA acceptance, a minimum 100 production units would have to be manufactured, and indeed following the precedent set by having hoodwinked the FIA into accepting the GTO as a development of the SWB models, this was not going to work the second time around. Nevertheless it was introduced as a 250 variant in Gran Turismo guise; mid-engined, a first for a GT from Maranello, the prototype initially utilising a further development of the 3 litre engine. This was immediately enlarged to 3.3 litres for the production models, but still retained the '250' nomenclature rather than '275', further disguising Ferrari's intentions.
The V-12 engine with dry-sump lubrication was still installed lengthwise behind the driver, with transmission via a 5-speed crash box into the multi-tubular chassis, in which the side-tubes carried water and oil to the forward-mounted radiators. The incredibly low and seductively styled bodywork was designed by Pininfarina, whilst the mechanical arrangement with suitable axle ratio and gearing allowed a maximum speed of up to 300km/h. The road-holding was superb, utilising a wheel-base identical to the GTO at 94ins, and with a track of 67ins; height was just amazing at only 43 inches!
In early 1964, with the production gaining momentum, Ferrari applied for FIA homologation which was turned down. This infuriated Il Commendatore, who immediately suspended Ferrari works entries to international events, but this action by the FIA threatened to reduce the car's eligibility for classes for prototypes only, for which it was not intended.
However this did not prevent other teams from achieving success, with a fine victory in the Reims 12-hours event of July 1964 for the Maranello Concessionnaires entry, driven by Graham Hill & Jo Bonnier; and capped by its greatest achievement the following year at Le Mans, where the cars took first and second places, with Masten Gregory driving a NART-entered car with Jochen Rindt and the Ecurie Francorchamps car behind. Their records showed two cars entered with one of them finishing second, having led, only to succumb to a puncture, robbing them of victory. This car 6023, driven by Langlois & Elde, was forced to retire with clutch trouble during the early hours of the morning.
It was supplied new in August 1964, the 17th off the production line, and the second of three cars all supplied directly to Ecurie Francorchamps, the Belgian importer for Ferrari, and delivered originally in red racing livery. This team was one of the three principal entrants of Ferraris in sports-racing events and was the first to race the 'LM' models, of which ultimately only 32 examples were built.
In September, 6023 was entered for its first event, the Paris 1000km at Montlhry, for their No. 1 driver Willy Mairesse with Jean Blaton (Beurlys), but possibly due to hasty preparation it did not finish. However fortunes were quickly restored with Mairesse gaining victory and fastest lap in the 300km Angola GP, and the other team 250 LM placed 2nd driven by Lucien Bianchi, thus rounding off a pleasing season.
The car was repainted in Belgian national yellow to commence the 1965 season, where at Zolder, Willy Mairesse won a hard-fought race in the Coupe de Belgique. April saw testing sessions for the Le Mans race where Langlois was 13th fastest in 6023, while later in the month it was entered for Mairesse in the 1000km Inter Europa Cup at Monza, but failed to finish due to steering problems. National pride was at stake on the 16th of May at Spa-Francorchamps for the 500 kilometre race. Mairesse was at the wheel and fought a race-long battle against the Cobra coupes of Whitmore and Bondurant after seeing-off the other Ferrari competition from Mike Parkes in a 330P and finally taking the chequered-flag, winning from the British entry of another 250 LM driven by David Piper. This was a superb achievement by the Francorchamps team in their major home event, and a great victory for the marque type as well.
Indeed in a recent article devoted to the 250 LM, David Piper is quoted for his impressions of the car: For me it's twice the car a GTO is and still very under-rated. It is more sophisticated, much quicker- and the gearbox and steering are fabulous. On really fast circuits such as Daytona, Sebring, Le Mans and Reims, it was very quick in a straight line and would out-perform many more-powerful cars.(Classic & Sportscar; June 1999).
The busy season continued the very next week with the longer-distance 1000km race at the very demanding Nordschleife Nrburgring track, where although he qualified well in practice, Mairesse had to retire from 6th place with suspension damage after some 23 laps completed. But the car was back in action only another week later when Beurlys took first place in the Herbeumont hillclimb event. A short respite followed allowing time to prepare the car for Le Mans in mid-June, where it was entered for Langlois & Dernier (Elde), together with the second EF team entry of the car number 6313 for Dumay & Gosselin. 6023 was forced to retire with an inoperative clutch, whilst the second team-car actually led for many laps from early morning until midday, when a puncture surely robbed them of what would have been a great victory - having to settle for 2nd to the NART entered LM driven by Rindt & Gregory. A month later 6023 achieved a creditable 3rd place in the 12 Hour race at Reims, victory at least going to Ferrari, with P2's first and second, and Mairesse & Beurlys completing a hat-trick, beating off yet another challenge from the Ford-engined Cobras. Beurlys won two further hillclimb events at Andenne and Bomeree during July, completing a quite remarkably successful and hectic season.
Life at the top is very short for racing cars, as continuous developments fuelled by strong competition make today's front-runners tomorrow's also-rans. However, the team continued to enter major events in 1966 at Monza and Spa 1000km and Le Mans, where regrettably, mechanical faults caused retirements in all those races. However some successes still came their way with 4th place in the Coupes de l'Avenir at Zolder, and 7th in the Paris 1000 km at Montlhry; but a retirement in the Kyalami 9 hrs race, where Jacky Ickx made a debut for the team. In all these racing miles it never had a major accident, and all bodywork panels are believed original.
At the end of 1966 the car was displayed at the Brussels Motor Show, whereafter it was sold to a Mr. Luscombe-White of London, passing in turn to Mr. Patrick McNally in Lausanne, and then sold to another Swiss owner, then to David Piper, who at the same time owned the sister team-car 6313, at which point the engines were transposed, 6023 was repainted red, and re-sold to an American owner Dr. Hamilton Kelly via Tom Meade. Several other notable collectors/dealers handled it until purchased by Kimble McCloud, a keen enthusiast, who used it as a road car from 1976 until the mid 1980s, whereafter it was purchased by Richard Freshman, who raced it in an historic event at Elkhart Lake in 1987. Fortuitously Mr. Freshman was acquainted with the new American owner of 6313, and to mutual advantage they agreed to swap engines again, so that both Ecurie Francorchamps cars were back to their factory-spec origins. Two further ownership changes have seen the car in private collections in Europe with little usage since restoration in 1987. However the current vendor had commissioned a no-expense spared complete cosmetic and detail refurbishment, including retrimming the interior in black leather to his personal preference over the factory specification trim, and a supreme-quality repaint so that the car is now resplendent in Ferrari works livery and presented in immaculate condition. A recent mechanical check-over by a leading restorer in England enables us to proudly offer for sale this rare, superbly original and historic Ferrari of impeccable pedigree and provenance. This 250 LM is ready for a Concours lawn or the front row of a period racing grid.