By the late ’50s it was apparent that Ferrari had perfected the dual-purpose gran turismo automobile with its line of 250 GTs. The Colombo-designed V12 had evolved into a powerful engine. More important in racing, where it was said, ” to finish first, you must first finish,” it was reliable. That reliability
carried over to 250 GTs that never saw the race track, creating confident and satisfied owners.
By 1961 competition pressure had persuaded Ferrari to create high-performance versions of the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta. Known as the 168 Comp./61s and sometimes called “SEFAC hot rods,” one steel-bodied car, built during the construction of many of the Comp./61s, was delivered with a comprehensive selection of Comp./61 performance features, making it a true factory hot rod: 2549GT.
2549GT was built to US specifications. In addition to the Tipo 168F engine, it was built with a cold air box, 40-mm Weber carbs, aluminum front and rear bulkheads, outside fuel filler, ribbed alloy case competition transmission, full Abarth competition exhaust system with SNAP exhaust extractor tips, 8 x 34 (4.25:1) rear axle ratio, black-face competition instruments, a metal dashboard and single floor skins without insulation, all highly specific competition specification items. These features are documented in the Ferrari factory build sheets.
Chinetti sold 2549GT upon receipt to pioneer television entertainer and personality Dave Garroway, creator of the Today Show. He paid $17,900 for 2549GT, a premium of some 40% over the New York price of a standard 250 GT SWB Berlinetta. It was never raced, serving only as a road car for Garroway for a period
of six years until sold through Atlanta Ferrari dealer Don Fong to Terry King in 1967. King used the car as a daily driver for years, and then commenced a restoration that was, sadly, unfinished at the time of his death by cancer.
This SWB is spectacularly presented in a rich dark French Blue with tan leather interior and chrome Borrani wire wheels. It of course retains all its important Comp./61 options. The engine benefited from improved porting and high-lift cams during its rebuild and now delivers more than the factory-rated 285 hp.
Organically sensual, superbly restored and uniquely configured, 2549GT is unique among the very small club of Ferrari dual-purpose gran turismos. It has ample room for a week’s necessities for two and is ready for the drive to Palm Beach where its performance will startle the competitors at Moroso and its appearance will awe the onlookers at the Cavallino Classic.