1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta

Ferrari’s 250 GT reached a level of true dual-purpose perfection with the Short Wheelbase Berlinetta. It coalesced three parallel and mutually supporting paths of Ferrari development. Ferrari’s continuing focus upon both Grand Prix and endurance sports car racing emphasized power and reliability. Production of high quality gran tursimo automobiles delivered comfort and exclusivity to demanding clientele. And Pininfarina had refined a distinctive Ferrari design that visually captured and expressed the marque’s attributes.

Complementing the 250 GT SWB’s landmark design were a number of innovations. This was the first production Ferrari delivered with disc brakes and the first time telescopic shocks were used for a complete model run. Under the hood, the Ferrari 3-liter V12 took on new life with revised block, distributors relocated to the back of the camshafts, 12-port heads, and coil valve springs. Capable of over 280 hp in competition tune, the softer and more tractable street versions produced a reliable 220-240 hp with unusually strong mid-range torque.

As astute at catering to a client’s varied desires as Ferrari was at creating winning race cars, it was always willing to create specialized variations on series-produced cars to satisfy a whim-when the whim was backed by a heavy checkbook. These unique Ferraris are among the most prized by collectors and SWB Berlinetta S/N 2649 is one of these built-to-order cars. The 85th car constructed, and one of 66 built during 1961, its odometer now displays only 56,815 kilometers. Based on its history, this almost certainly is the actual distance covered by 2649 since new.

As a 1961 model, it incorporates two years experience in construction as well as desirable features such as quarter windows, which improve passenger compartment ventilation and reduce window condensation. Finished in Rosso with original black leather interior, a long list of special features and its covered headlights set it apart from other 250 SWB Lussos.

No automobile in the world, even from Ferrari, better expresses the concept of a dual-purpose gran tursimo than the 250 GT Short Wheelbase Berlinetta. Highly prized for their styling, responsive handling and refinement, 2649 is an outstanding example of this Ferrari model.

Steve Ahlgrim

Steve Ahlgrim - SCM Contributing Editor

Steve taught high school auto shop before moving to Atlanta, GA, where his love of sports cars led him to FAF Motorcars, the former Ferrari dealer where he served as General Manager and Vice President. He has been a self-proclaimed “one-trick pony,” coveting the Ferrari marque. He has been involved in concours judging for over 25 years and is a member of the IAC/PFA, an international committee overseeing high-level Ferrari concours judging. He is chief judge of the Celebration Exotic Car Show in Celebration, FL.

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