1957 Ferrari 250GT LWB Berlinetta TdF

{vsig}2010-9_2525{/vsig}The LWB Berlinetta was one of the great Ferrari racing cars and was the start of the 250 GT Berlinetta’s competition career. It would win more races than either of its legendary successors, the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta or the 250 GTO.

Introduced in October, 1954 at the Paris Salon, it was a refined evolution of the competition 250 MM. A 2,600 mm, 102.3-inch, chassis with wishbones, and coil springs replaced the elliptic leaf spring front suspension of the earlier Ferraris. The first prototype was built by Pinin Farina who developed five more prototypes. One ended up with the Marquis de Portago, and in December 1955, he scored the first victory for the new car in the Tour de France Race, a multiday competition over French roads, with hill climbs and circuit races.  Ferrari fans quickly seized on Portago’s victory to nickname his winning mount the “Tour de France.” The type won the Tour de France three more times and “TdF” became its moniker.  Scaglietti in Modena built the first production car in November 1956, and then built about 65 over the next three years.

The Scaglietti version had three variations of the body, characterized by the number of ventilation louvers in the sail panel. About 29 series III cars with single louver vent were built. This  version, #0925, is a single-louver car, finished in December 1957 with a factory roll bar. The car was sent to Santa Monica Ferrari dealer Otto Zipper, who sold it to Bill Harrah, the casino owner and possessor of an extraordinary car collection that he had started assembling in the late 1940s. At its peak, he had 1,200 cars, and his personal collection included four Ferraris: this 250 GT Tour de France, a 166MM, a 250 LM, and a 410 Superamerica. By 1964, his car dealership, Modern Classic Motors, became the Ferrari distributor for 11 western states.

Chassis 0925 GT remained in Harrah’s Reno, Nevada collection for 30 years. In 1986, it was sold to a California collector, and in October 1988 it sold at the Orion Monaco Ferrari auction, for $874,680. In 1992, it was traded to Japan in partial exchange for a 330 LMB.

Harald Mergard of Germany was the next owner in 1993, and he drove it in the 1993 TdF retrospective. Terry Hoyle rebuilt the engine and drove the car for the Mille Miglia and the Coppa d’Oro. In 1993, the gearbox and steering box were rebuilt. In 1994, the car was restored by Ferrari specialists DK Engineering in England. The car ran again, in the Mille Miglia, in 1995 and again in 1998. In 2004, the car was shown at the Cartier Concours at the Goodwood Festival.

The car shows less than 17,600 miles, and this is almost certainly original mileage. Never raced in period and stored for many years in Harrah’s collection, it’s the most original Tour de France Ferrari we’ve ever offered. Its all-alloy bodywork, covered headlamps and red finish are a feast for the eyes. It was Ferrari Classiche Certified in 2009.

John Apen

John Apen - SCM Contributor

John holds degrees in engineering and operations research from the University of California-Berkeley, New York University, and Johns Hopkins. He vintage raced a Ferrari TdF for 13 years and has been restoring old cars for nearly 50 years. He owned the Atlanta Ferrari-Maserati dealership, FAF, for 17 years. He’s always had an affinity for obscure American cars, and in high school, he drove a 1936 Packard convertible coupe, followed by a 1949 Olds Holiday hardtop that got him through college. Today his garage includes 11 cars, including a Top Flight 1960 Corvette he’s owned since day one, a 1957 T-Bird, and several vintage Ferraris. His automotive library contains over 5,000 magazines and books and 1,800 auction catalogs. He has contributed to SCM since 1996.

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