Brian Henniker, courtesy of Gooding & Company
In early 1962, Nuccio Bertone purchased a complete 250 GT SWB chassis from Maranello and laid out his vision for a spectacular new Ferrari that he would retain for his personal use. To execute the design, Nuccio turned to Giorgetto Giugiaro, a young stylist who had joined the coachbuilder in 1959. Though he would go on to become one of the most talented and influential designers of the post-war era, the 23-year-old Giugiaro had penned only a handful of cars by 1962. Nevertheless, his Aston Martin DB4GT Jet and a one-off Maserati 5000 GT showcased his remarkable ability to make already outstanding sports cars even more desirable. Working together, Nuccio Bertone and Giorgetto Giugiaro created one of Carrozzeria Bertone’s most famous designs and, quite possibly, the most memorable coachbuilt Ferrari of all time. For the past 35 years, this extraordinary Ferrari has been the crown jewel in one of the most impressive private collections of post-war Italian sports cars ever assembled. Leading Ferrari experts have professed their admiration for this SWB’s striking design, and many top collectors have attempted to acquire it, but it has remained elusive, jealously guarded by its passionate long-term owner and wholly unavailable for more than 30 years. A one-of-a-kind 250 GT SWB, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro for the personal use of Nuccio Bertone, one of the most successful and influential Italian coachbuilders, 3269GT is a world-class Ferrari that possesses every special quality sought after by discerning collectors.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale Sharknose
Years Produced:1959–62
Number Produced:About 90 steel-bodied cars and 75 alloy cars
Original List Price:$13,500
SCM Valuation:$7,000,000–$15,000,000 for non-Speciale cars
Tune Up Cost:$3,000
Distributor Caps:$450 (two needed)
Chassis Number Location:Left frame member by steering box
Engine Number Location:Right rear above motor mount
Club Info:Ferrari Club of America
Alternatives:1936–38 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante coupe, 1955–56 Alloy-bodied Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, 1960–63 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWB
Investment Grade:A

This car, Lot 39, sold for $16,500,000, including buyer’s premium, at Gooding and Company’s Pebble Beach Auction on August 15, 2015.

You’re the head of a successful Italian business and a bit of a gearhead. You’re able to buy any car that you want, and you want a Ferrari. There’s a problem though: You’re Nuccio Bertone, the head of one of the world’s top carrozzerias, and your competition dresses Ferraris.

There’s no way a Bertone is going to drive a Pininfarina design, so you’re stuck driving Brand X — until a meeting with Enzo Ferrari results in a 250 SWB chassis delivered to your door.

There are several versions of the meeting and how the SWB chassis made its way to Bertone. The true story will probably never be told, as each man would spin the story to embellish his version. In any case, the meeting would produce one of the most important GT Ferraris ever built.

Enter Giorgetto Giugiaro

Early Ferrari bodies were built at a number of coachbuilders, but by the 1960s, Ferrari had developed a solid allegiance to Pininfarina which continues through today. Bertone had done two previous commissions for Ferrari customers, a 166 Inter Cabriolet for Milan automobile dealer Franco Cornicchia, and a 250 SWB for Dr. Wax, a spirits distributor, but it would not be until the 308 GT4 of the mid-1970s that Bertone would be awarded a Ferrari factory contract.

Once at Bertone, chassis 3269 needed a body, and the person selected for the job was Giorgetto Giugiaro. When he was still in his early 20s, Giugiaro was assigned to design the 250 SWB Speciale for Dr. Wax. Several successful projects later, Giugiaro was asked to design the Speciale for the boss. The task was accomplished with the creativity that would become the hallmark of the young designer. The SWB was exceptional on execution and remains exceptional today.

Giugiaro’s design paid tribute to Ferrari’s then-current competition cars by dividing the grille area into two sections via a protrusion referred to as a Sharknose.

That nose is about the only nod to any previous Ferrari design, as the balance of the car was totally unique. Interestingly, a variation of the nose shows up on the Bizzarrini 5300 GT and the Iso Grifo; however, which is the chicken and which is the egg is subject to debate.

A long life with many changes

Any assumption that a car this important has remained untouched would be wrong. The car may have been designed and built for Mr. Bertone but it was a tool for his company and it would see limited use with Mr. Bertone behind the wheel.

Upon its completion, chassis 3269GT was displayed at the Geneva Auto Show in a beautiful blue finish. A few months later, it was changed to silver gray, then shown at the Torino Auto Show. Shortly thereafter, it went to a new owner — and then quickly passed through two more owners before landing in America a scant five years from its introduction with its fifth owner.

The sixth owner was a studio musician named Bill Karp. Mr. Karp didn’t get the memo that you’re not supposed to drive a Ferrari and put chassis 3269 to use as his daily transportation. It’s reported that Karp put over 100,000 miles on the car in his 13 or so years of ownership —sometimes with a drum set stuffed inside.

1980 saw Los Angeles attorney and legendary Ferrari collector Ed Niles sell 3269 to Lorenzo Zambrano. Zambrano, a Mexican, was the head of Cemex, a global construction material supplier and one of the world’s wealthiest men. Zambrano was also a passionate Ferrari collector. His collection was home to some of the most important Ferraris on the planet, including the other Bertone-bodied SWB, chassis 1739. Chassis 3269 was one of his most prized possessions, and it would stay with him until his unexpected passing.

Zambrano enjoyed showing his cars, and upon purchase sent 3269 out for a light restoration. The restored car was shown at the 1982 Pebble Beach Concours. In the early 1990s, Zambrano commissioned Bob Smith Coachworks, a Ferrari restoration specialist, to comprehensively restore the car to top show standards. Following the restoration, 3269 garnered accolades and awards at some top international concours.

A very unique, famous car

Underlining the importance of 3269 — and complementing its success on the show field — the car has received extensive press coverage. Chassis 3269 was specifically applauded in period reviews of the 1962 Geneva and Torino auto shows. More recently, 3269 has been the subject of feature articles in Cavallino, Forza, and Road & Track magazines. Several books single out the car for special recognition. Additionally, Ferrari has awarded the car Classiche certification.

Most Ferraris are known by their individual model types, as in 250 GTO, California Spyder or NART Spyder. Only a few make what I call singular status. The Bread Van, the Bergman 375 and the Nimbo Spyder are examples of Ferraris with singular status. They are unique examples within a model type that can be exactly identified just by mentioning their name. The Bertone SWB is a member of this elite group.

Another sale soon?

The absence of a Ferrari blockbuster, such as last year’s 250 GTO, at this year’s Monterey auctions gave several Ferraris the opportunity to share the limelight this auction weekend. Seven of the top 10 sales were Ferraris. Six of them were 250 models. Four of them sold for over $10,000,000, with a 250 LM hitting the weekend’s top sale at $17,600,000.

Chassis 3269 beat its $16,000,000 top estimate by $500,000. It was one of the few breakouts of the weekend. The price was well over the value of a standard 250 SWB — and right in line with the high end for the model. It’s hard to value a one-off example like 3269, but there’s a dealer in the U.K. who apparently thinks the car is worth a bit more. 3269 is now offered on the dealer’s website at an undisclosed but obviously greater price. That’s what I call a gutsy play. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Gooding & Company.)

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