Darin Schnabel ©2023, courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The Ferrari 250 GT/L berlinetta Lusso is undoubtedly one of the most appealing grand-touring models ever built, combining the 250 GT’s developmental apogee with one of Scaglietti’s most acclaimed coachwork creations. Introduced at the 1962 Paris Salon as a replacement for the discontinued 250 GT PF coupe, the Lusso featured an all-new interior arrangement highlighted by a revised dash panel and leather upholstery throughout the cabin.

Mechanically, the Tipo 168 U engine was the ultimate 3-liter development of the long-running short-block “Colombo” V12, featuring the outside-plug ignition and single-cylinder porting that had proven so successful in the 250 Testa Rossa and California Spider racing variants. This superb platform was further bolstered by chassis improvements including four-wheel disc brakes, a suspension with coil-over shock absorbers at each corner, and a rear Watts linkage that had been perfected on the legendary 250 GTO.

Originally owned by jet-set luminaries and celebrities such as Steve McQueen, the Lusso was built in a modest quantity of just 350 examples over roughly two years of production. The 250 GT/L has since evolved into one of Maranello’s most collectible production models, essentially the final and most developed evolution of the celebrated 250 GT lineage.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1964 Ferrari 250 GT/L Lusso
Years Produced:1962–64
Number Produced:350
SCM Valuation:$1,351,000–$1,991,000
Tune Up Cost:$3,500-plus
Chassis Number Location:Stamped on the passenger’s side frame rail next to the engine
Engine Number Location:Stamped on a flange on the rear passenger’s side of block
Club Info:Ferrari Club of America
Alternatives:1963 Aston Martin DB4GT, 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, 1964 Lamborghini 350GT
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot 128, sold for $907,000, including buyer’s premium, at RM Sotheby’s Monterey, CA, auction on August 17, 2023.

Ferrari Lussos were never intended to be competition cars. “Lusso” is Italian for “luxury,” and these cars were intended to be Ferrari’s upscale consumer offering. Tellingly, the factory brochure features an elegantly dressed model standing next to the car, implying the Lusso was intended for dinner dates rather than track work.

Yet Ferrari GT cars are never too far removed from their competition siblings. The Lusso’s luxury status did not keep a few determined owners from trying their cars in competition. The chassis was not far removed from that of the 250 SWB, and while Lussos were not typically podium winners, they never embarrassed their pilots.

Lusso to LMB

Our subject car, s/n 5521GT, was delivered as a shiny new Lusso to a Sicilian-based English client in 1964. Little is known about it until the early 1970s, when it was purchased by London-based Mike McQuaker. He decided the Lusso would make a good vintage racer and by 1976 had entered it in some club events. Bitten by the racing bug, he began modifying the car for serious competition use. His efforts paid off, as it is reported that he won the 1986 and ’87 British Maranello Ferrari Challenge Series.

Whether due to accident damage or personal preference, McQuaker commissioned the U.K. coachbuilding firm Williams & Pritchard to make a new body for 5521. An alloy body was built to replace the original steel one. The new body mimicked the shape of a Ferrari 330 LMB, Ferrari’s follow-up to the 250 GTO.

The LMB had a silhouette influenced by both the GTO and the Lusso. Powered by a 390-horsepower, 4-liter V12, the LMB trumped the GTO by 90 hp. Unfortunately, the front-engine LMB was introduced just as race cars were morphing from front-engine to mid-engine power. Just four 330 LMBs were built before the model was discontinued.

The new Williams & Pritchard alloy body looked dramatically different. The original dash was retained, but the rest of the interior was stripped and prepped like a race car. A full roll cage was fitted along with a pair of competition seats. Disc brakes replaced the original drums and handling was tweaked with a competition-tuned suspension. The engine output was bumped from 240 hp to 280 by replacing the three-carb induction with a six-carb setup, cold-air box and a straight-through side-exit exhaust.

Left for dead

RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction is held at the Portola Hotel & Spa in downtown Monterey. It is currently the only Car Week sale held in a permanent facility. A plaza behind the hotel holds maybe 75 auction cars, and RM Sotheby’s used part of this area to create a display for the so-called “Lost & Found Collection.”

This was a group of Ferraris that at one time belonged to a Central Florida collector. As elusive as Bigfoot, this collector quietly assembled an incredible collection that at one time included a 250 GTO, a 330 P variant and a bevy of other important Ferraris. In 2004, Hurricane Charlie passed through the area and destroyed the building in which the collection was housed. Pictures show the cars on a cement slab with the walls and the roof of the building nowhere to be seen. Some cars escaped with minor damage; others were not so lucky. Determined not to relive this experience, the owner moved the cars to a secure facility in Indianapolis, IN.

Said collector recently told me if he had an extra $100, he would put it into another car before spending it to repair one he already had. The Lost & Found cars were testament to that logic. No attempt was ever made to repair the hurricane-damaged cars. Instead, they were recently sold as-is to the vendor who consigned the cars in Monterey. They were cleverly displayed in similar condition to the way they were found after the hurricane, complete with a tire lying on the broken windshield of a 308 GTB and a large wooden plank lying in the bent roof of a 365 GT 2+2.

Diamond in the rough

Presented as part of this derelict collection, the Lusso looked a bit sad — but promising. It did not have any apparent body damage, but the paint was self-destructing in big flakes. The engine compartment looked complete. An optimist might think fresh gas and a new battery was all it needed to drive it away. Of course, recommissioning will not be that simple. The last time the car was seen in public was 2003, and there is a good chance it has not been started since then. Brake work, fuel hoses and carb rebuilds will be needed at a minimum to make the car operational. Making it race-ready is a whole different story.

I would put this car in the category of Ferrari oddity. It is a stretch to call it a Lusso, and it is not an authentic Ferrari race car. It leans on the side of re-creation rather than speciale. It will not make the lawn at most of the big concours and it may not be legal for sanctioned historic racing. There are a lot of things it will be good for, though. It will be a fun track-day racer, a great car for tours, and the king of Cars & Coffee. And of course, it will simply be a blast to drive around.

RM Sotheby’s estimate was $600,000–$1,000,000. The winning bid plus premium was $907,000. You would be hard-pressed to buy a donor Lusso for that much money and you sure could not reproduce this car for close to the price. The market for this car is in Europe, where historic racing is popular. This car will run with cars several times its price. It may take a couple hundred grand before it is race ready, but it’s worth it. The buyer wins here all the way. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.)

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