Tom Wood ©2015, courtesy of RM Auctions

By the late 1950s, Pininfarina had established itself as not only the creators of the “Ferrari look” but also as the favored design house in Maranello. However, whilst the coachbuilder was rapidly expanding, it was not yet ready to meet the demand for increasing Ferrari production. As such, the first series-built “production” Ferrari models were farmed out to Carrozzeria Boano, a coachbuilder established by Mario Boano, which built 82 “Low Roof” coupés of the Pininfarina design.

At the end of 1957, Mario Boano left his company to establish a styling department at Fiat, leaving his son-in-law, Ezio Ellena, to take over, along with his former partner, Luciano Pollo. The renamed Carrozzeria Ellena continued in Ferrari production and built a further run of 50 Ferrari 250 GTs, now referred to as “Ellenas” or “High Roof” models, thanks to a two-inch raised roofline that improved headroom and, arguably, body proportions. A standard 4-speed gearbox shift pattern was also adopted for these cars, along with larger brakes, a ZF steering system, and the fitment of a single distributor for the engine.

In the January 1958 Sports Car Illustrated test of the model, the top speed was noted as up to 157 mph. The road-test car provided a 0–60 mph time of 5.9 seconds. Interior aspects, like the steering wheel, instrument panel, gauges, and door hardware, were identical to its glamorous sister cars of the period, the TdF and the LWB California Spider.

Chassis number 0755GT is recorded by Swiss Ferrari historian Marcel Massini as having been completed in December 1957 and then delivered the following month to Luigi Chinetti’s distributorship in New York City. That same month, it was displayed on Chinetti’s stand at the 1958 Chicago Auto Show.

In 2005, the Ferrari was restored from the ground up. The car retains its original offset transmission and Borrani wire wheels but its present engine, fully rebuilt by Ferrari specialist Patrick Ottis, came from a 250 GTE.

This exciting Ellena has been built to drive, and will provide an unrivaled driving experience for the true tifosi.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1957 Ferrari 250 GT
Years Produced:1956–58
Number Produced:130
Original List Price:$10,500
SCM Valuation:$600,000–$1,000,000
Tune Up Cost:$3,500
Distributor Caps:$450
Chassis Number Location:On frame tube next to engine
Engine Number Location:Right rear above motor mount
Club Info:Ferrari Club of America
Alternatives:1959–62 Ferrari 250 Pininfarina coupe, 1955–57 Alfa Romeo 1900 Zagato (SSZ), 1953–55 Fiat 8V
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 168, sold for $461,664, including buyer’s premium, at RM Auctions/Sotheby’s Paris sale on February 4, 2015.

Boano and Ellena are two different names for what is essentially the same car. The basis is a series-production 250 GT that originally was dressed in a body designed by Pininfarina and built by Carrozzeria Boano.

When Mario Boano closed Carrozzeria Boano, he passed the 250 GT body project to his son-in-law Ezio Ellena. Ezio continued the project as Carrozzeria Ellena. The Boano is considered the better built of the two, although the Ellena features a few desirable upgrades. Both the cars and the names are nearly interchangeable in the Ferrari world.

Boano/Ellenas are attractive, but their simple lines are less than exciting. The interiors are tasteful and comfortable. Driving the cars is where they really shine. The underpinning is similar to all the 250 Ferraris of the time. The motor is wonderful, as is the transmission. The chassis is near racing standards for the era. The weak link is the brakes, which, while powerful, are not up to the disc brakes that other marques were using at the time.

Stripping and salvaging

My entry into the Ferrari world involved disassembling old Ferraris for parts. At the time, there was an abundance of run-down cars that couldn’t be economically restored. There was also a need for all kinds of spares to keep the good examples on the road.

My job was to carefully dissect the donor and attach a label to each part indicating the model, serial number and identity of the part. The harvest was cleaned and neatly shelved until needed.

The donors were mostly 250 GTEs and 330 2+2s, but once we got a 250 Boano. Someone had scavenged the motor, and we bought what was left. The balance of the Boano was in decent shape, but Boanos weren’t considered desirable models at the time, so the car was worth more as parts than as a restored car. Just as I got the car torn down to the skeleton, a hobbyist noticed the bare body. He happened to have time for a project, and he had a spare motor. He bought the shell and all of the parts.

Once a rusty hulk

I saw 0755GT in person in 2002. The Ferrari Club of America was holding their National Meet in Los Angeles, CA, and RM Auctions was hosting an auction in conjunction with the event. RM had put together a few cars and a room full of spare parts. One of the cars was a stripped-out, rusty hulk of a 250 GT. As I remember, it was bought by a parts dealer who was going to sell the drum brakes to a customer who needed them to restore an important Ferrari race car that had been retrofitted with disc brakes. The brakes turned out to be worth more than what the dealer paid for the whole hulk. That hulk was 0755GT, and I never expected I’d see it again.

The car was missing the engine, and all of the exterior trim was removed. The bumper, headlights, headlight buckets, taillights, door handles, windows, window trim and more were missing. The interior was similarly gutted.

There was no pile of neatly labeled parts for 0755GT’s restorer. Humpty Dumpty had to be put together with a witches brew of whatever could be scrounged up or adapted to fit. The missing engine was replaced with a 250 engine of a later type. The expensive drum brakes were replaced with disc brakes. The bumpers are still missing. The gauges came from a 250 GTE. The list goes on.

A good car at great expense

0755GT is a bitsa, a bit of this and a bit of that. That’s harsh, but if it saved a Ferrari from the crusher, it’s okay with me. The finish quality looks good, and the car is attractive. It has a fresh Patrick Ottis engine and a correct transmission. 0755GT may not be a concours contender, but will be a great event car.

RM sold the shell of 0755GT for around $30,000 in 2002. Considering a nice example was probably $150,000 at the time — and the massive undertaking it must have been to put 0755GT back together — taking on the project wasn’t an Einstein moment. There had to be times that the restorer regretted not spending more for a better car.

It’s hard to put a value on a car that is so far from the norm as 0755GT, but considering it will always be a bitsa, I think it was well sold. The buyer paid entry-level money for a two-seater 250 Ferrari and got a good-looking, dependable car that will be a welcome entrant at most driving events.

The buyer didn’t get stung, but I suspect that down the road he too will regret not spending more for a better car. ♦

(Introductory descriptions courtesy of RM Auctions.)


Comments are closed.