8 September 2014
1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione 'Tour de France' by Scaglietti
- Chassis no. 0563 GT
- Engine no. 0563 GT
Sold for £4,872,000
- The eighth of nine 1956 250 GT Berlinetta Competiziones
- Outstanding period racing history
- Top 10 finishes at the 1956 and 1957 Tour de France Automobile
- Matching-numbers example and certified by Ferrari Classiche
- Original user manual, spare parts catalogue, and comprehensive history file included
THE “TOUR DE FRANCE”
When Ferrari’s first 250 GT Berlinetta left the factory gates in March 1956, one can only assume that the engineers that had built and designed the car had no idea of the impact the factory’s newest berlinettas would have on the future of Ferrari’s most sporting line of road cars. The first iteration of the 250 GT Berlinetta would achieve great success on race tracks across Europe, and it would lead to even more successful cars that would be derived from the same platform in the future. These berlinettas were undoubtedly the most desirable cars in the Scuderia’s stable, as they were built as dual-purpose sports cars. They combined all the luxury and performance Ferrari had to offer but in a driver-friendly package. There was nothing that these cars could not do in the eyes of their drivers.
The 250 GT Berlinetta’s nickname owes itself to Alfonso de Portago, his co-driver Edmund Nelson, and their win at the 1956 Tour de France, which was the first for Ferrari’s 250 GT Berlinetta. Following de Portago’s result in 1956, Olivier Gendenbien led Ferrari to overall victories for the next three years, cementing the car’s nickname into the annals of automotive history with a compelling show of engineering and competitive dominance. The TdF also picked up an overall victory at the Targa Florio in 1957 and won the GT class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959.
CHASSIS NUMBER 0563 GT: THE EIGHTH TdF
Chassis 0563 GT is the eighth of only nine 1956 250 GT Berlinetta Competiziones, and it is eligible for every historic motoring event, including the Mille Miglia. Following factory completion, it was sold new to Racing Sport S.r.l, of Torino, Italy, on 10 September 1956. The car was then immediately leased to Jacques Peron, of Nice, France. It was registered on Torino plates TO 214813 on the 14th of that month, and it began its racing career just three days later, at the event that would grant this car its namesake.
This TdF entered the fifth annual Tour de France Automobile wearing race number #75 and was driven by Peron and co-driver Jacques Bertrammier. Peron and Bertrammier would finish 8th overall and was the second TdF behind de Portago and Nelson, which no doubt helped to cement the nearly new car’s reputation at the Tour de France and within sports car racing in general. Peron would enter his TdF in one more race that year, the Coupes du Salon in Montlhéry, where he finished 2nd overall.
The 1957 season got off to a very good start for 0563 GT when Peron won the Rallye des Forêts in March. The car and driver’s second outing for the season proved to be equally successful, and on 7 April, Peron took 1st again, at the U.S.A. Cup at Montlhéry, which was followed by 2nd overall and 2nd in class in the Rallye du Printemps. Peron and 0563 GT returned to Montlhéry in June for the Grand Prix of Paris, where he won his class once more. The car then entered the Rallye de l’Allier, where it continued its dominance with another 1st place finish. Following some mechanical issues that lead to a DNF at the 12 Hours of Reims in July, the car finished 1st at the Razal race in August before embarking on its second Tour de France the following month.
The 1957 Tour de France would prove even more successful for 0563 GT than its first outing at the same event. Peron and his co-driver Georged Burggraff finished 5th overall behind a trio of TdFs: the Ecurie Francorchamps entry driven by Gendenbien and Bianchi, the Scuderia Ferrari entry driven by Maurice Trintignant and François Picard, and the 3rd place team of Garage Montchoisy, which was driven by Jean Lucas and Jean-François Malle. It is important to note that 0563 GT was just one place behind the legendary Stirling Moss in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, which was an incredible achievement in itself! The Coupe du Salon at Montlhéry was followed by Peron’s last event of the year, the Armagnac Rallye, in which he finished 3rd.
Nineteen fifty-eight saw a more limited season for the car, but its highlights included a 7th place finish at the Pau 3 Hours and a class win at the Plainfoy hill climb. Later in the year, Peron returned 0563 GT to the Ferrari factory in Modena, marking the end of its professional racing career. The car would remain there for over a year before being sold by to Bruce Kessler on 11 November 1959 and exported to the United States. In 1960, it was sold to Ron Wakeman from California, who kept it for over a decade, and in 1973, it became the property of Larry Taylor, also of California. Ten years later, in 1983, Richard Gent Jr. bought the car from Taylor’s estate and had it restored by Joe Piscazzi’s Auto Body and Tom Selby. Following the restoration, Gent displayed the car at the 25th Annual Ferrari Club of America International Concours at Stouffer’s Pine Isle Resort at Lake Lanier Island, Georgia, where it was awarded Second in Class.
In the 1990s, still under the ownership of Richard Gent, 0563 GT was fully restored by Bob Smith Coachworks in Texas, who brought the car back to the livery which it wore at the 1957 Tour de France. Gent did not show the car again until January 2001, when it attracted great interest at the 10th Annual Palm Beach Cavallino Classic. Later that year, the car won the Forza Award at the 37th Annual Ferrari Club of American National Meeting and Concours in Dallas. Chassis 0563 GT made its way to California in August 2003 for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it placed Second in Class, which was no small achievement in a highly competitive class that year.
Following Gent’s tenure, 0563 GT was purchased by its current owner in 2009, and he would campaign the car in historic racing and continue to display it at several concours events. The car, now boasting Ferrari Classiche certification, was driven in the Shell Ferrari Maserati Historic Challenge in 2010, which was followed by winning the Spirit Cup, as well as a Platinum Award, at the 19th Palm Beach Cavallino Classic the next day. The car would return to the Cavallino Classic the following year and once more for the historic races associated with that event in 2012, where it placed 3rd. That same year, the car was accepted to the Mille Miglia and was driven with gusto around its native Italy whilst wearing #371. It would compete once more in the same event in 2013, again without fault.
Finally, 0563GT was entered into the Tour de France rally this year and also took part in the small and very exclusive Le 250 Tornano a Casa rally. The rally started at Le Mans, where this TdF was invited to take part in the parade laps prior to the start of the race. It would then drive through France and back to the Ferrari factory in Maranello. Once again, the car performed faultlessly, attesting to the durability and reliability of these cars.
In many ways, the TdF is the ultimate symbol of Ferrari’s long pursuit of perfecting the dual-purpose sports car. As a result of their extremely low production numbers and, in turn, high desirability, these cars rarely make their way to the open market. Chassis 0563 GT is a very compelling example of its breed, as it boasts two top 10 finishes in the very race that earned the car its fabled nickname. It was driven as the factory would have intended when new, and it has received the opportunity to relive its glory days through historic racing at the hands of its current owner. The car was recently repainted in Italy and is still in excellent condition, and it will be welcomed at any historic racing or concours event around the globe, including the Mille Miglia, the Tour de France, and the Le Mans Classic.
Without the TdF, there would be no California Spider, no 250 GT SWB, and no 250 GTO. This is the model that started Ferrari’s most valuable series of dual-purpose sports cars and the one that brought home more silver than any other. For the individual looking to establish a collection of historically important Ferraris, this TdF is a necessity.