|Vehicle:||1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta|
|Number Produced:||165 (all variations)|
|Original List Price:||$12,000|
|Tune Up Cost:||$2,800|
|Chassis Number Location:||Front frame tube|
|Engine Number Location:||Rear engine mount|
|Club Info:||Ferrari Club of America P.O. Box 720597, Atlanta, GA 30358|
This car sold for $3,571,600 at RM’s Sporting Classics of Monaco auction at the Grimaldi Forum on May 1, 2010.
Enzo Ferrari may not have invented the “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” marketing ethos, but he sure knew how to exploit it. So, while the 159 Scaglietti-built 250 GT SWBs look the same to non-discerning enthusiasts, those that won 12 major international races and the GT class at Le Mans in 1961 are most assuredly far different. And the significant differences between the competition and street versions have a major effect on values today.
Much of this differential can be ascribed to racing provenance, for the competition SWBs (and subsequent 250 GTOs) won the last five Tour de France events that, combined with the four earlier wins for the LWB Berlinetta, made a perfect nine-year record.
Several SWB flavors available
Soon after the success of the racing LWB TdF Berlinettas, all of which had alloy bodies with some competition features, customers urged Ferrari to build a more tractable dual-purpose street version. To satisfy the demand, Ferrari morphed the SWB into three distinct types.
The first 20 SWBs were competition cars, part of a run of 71 aluminum-alloy bodied Berlinettas built by Scaglietti. Introduced next was the Lusso, Italian for “luxury,” featuring a steel body, a detuned engine, soundproofing, roll-up windows and other accoutrements for luxury travel. Scaglietti built around 88 of these. In addition, Ferrari delivered six SWB chassis to Bertone and Pininfarina for different body variations.
In general, the alloy-bodied SWBs were meant for racing, while the steel cars were for the street or club racing. The street cars had Tipo 168 engines producing a reliable 230 to 240 hp at 7,000 rpm while the competition engine was a 168/B capable of 280 hp at 7,200 rpm. But, as with all Ferrari production, there were exceptions, and a few steel cars got competition engines while a number of alloy cars got detuned engines and full Lusso interiors. Thus, a knowledgeable buyer has to fully research the history of every SWB under consideration.
Alloy-bodied comp cars were special
Among the alloy cars were 20 special, lightweight cars developed and built in 1961 and early 1962 with a multitude of special features depending on their target races. Weight is the enemy of competition cars, so these 1961 comp cars (which became known as “SEFAC hot rods”), were even lighter than the earlier 1960 racers – and perhaps some 300 pounds lighter than the steel cars.
These alloy cars were far from regular SWBs. Most were built on lightweight chassis made of smaller-diameter chrome-molybdenum steel aviation tubing, and they had aluminum instead of cast-iron brake calipers. The engines, known as 168/61 Comp, were the most powerful three-carb engines ever produced at Maranello, most producing an impressive 290 hp. These comp engines were carefully balanced and featured polished rods, polished intake and exhaust ports matched to the manifolds, as well as special magnesium components. All of this “blueprinting,” as opposed to merely assembling to production tolerances, is what most Ferrari engine builders do today. This is why a contemporary V12 rebuild can easily surpass $30,000.
The “thin to win” body used an aluminum skin measuring barely more than 1 mm (0.040 in.) thick. The interior was stripped of all insulation and a single sheet of aluminum formed the floors. Given this thorough focused on competition, it’s no wonder why the SEFAC hot rods are now the most valuable of the SWBs. (Though interestingly, at Stirling Moss’ request, s/n 2735 was delivered with full carpeting, an ashtray and door panels!)
Real SWBs far better than any clone
Today SWB values bottom out with the many replicas based on shortened 250 2+2 chassis. In the November 2006 SCM issue, Mike Sheehan estimated that a shop with all the jigs and fixtures could put one together for around $400,000, but the present market price for these clones is around $300,000.
For genuine steel SWB Berlinettas with no stories, the estimated current value is between $1.5-$1.8 million, or perhaps a bit more, considering the rapid price gains for pre-1965 collectible Ferraris this year.
Today the alloy comp cars can easily hit the $4 million range or higher, especially with the right race history. The cars change hands infrequently. However, a standard (not a SEFAC) alloy comp car, disassembled and undergoing restoration, but owning some competition provenance through original owner and factory driver Jo Schlesser, sold for $2.8 million at RM’s 2007 Monaco auction. I can’t find any recent auction sales of any actual SEFAC hot rods, but over $6 million could be possible.
As for this car’s more recent past, in 2002 a broker sold s/n 3401 in the U.S. for $1.45 million, and it was last sold at RM’s Maranello, Italy sale in May 2007 for $2.5 million. Even though the pre-Monaco 2010 auction estimate was an aggressive $3.5 million to $4 million, the $3,571,600 paid was still considerably above what SCM and many experts expected a steel-bodied, non-comp SWB Berlinetta to realize in today’s market. With no race history to speak of, this steel street car seemed very well sold.