1958 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione 'Tour de France' by Scaglietti
Documents: German Fahrzeugbrief
- Recently uncovered period competition history
- A very early single-louvre example with covered headlights
- Important provenance, including ownership by Prince Zourab Tchkotoua, Steve Earle, and Richard Merritt
- Original engine recently rebuilt by GTO Engineering
- The ultimate dual-purpose alloy competition Ferrari
- Highly eligible for many of the world's premier historic motoring events, including the Tour Auto, Goodwood Revival, and Le Mans Classic
FERRARI’S TOUR DE FRANCE
The Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta is one of the most influential and impressive automobiles produced in the company’s illustrious history, as it helped to establish the marque’s dominance in racing in the GT class. With the 3.0-litre Colombo V-12 engine fitted to Ferrari’s 2,600-millimetre wheelbase chassis, numerous highly desirable Ferraris that followed in its footsteps, including the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta and the 250 GTO, can directly trace their roots to the 250 GT LWB Berlinetta. With incredible alloy coachwork that was designed by Pinin Farina and hand-built by Scaglietti, this was a car that was just as beautiful to look at as it was exciting to drive.
The 250 GT LWB Berlinetta proved its worth at the Tour de France in 1956, where an early example of the model (chassis 0557 GT) raced to victory with Alfonso de Portago behind the wheel. It is worth mentioning that this was not just a few laps on a closed course, but a multi-day event consisting of 3,600 miles of all-out racing, including six circuit races, two hill climbs, and a drag race. The fact that the 250 GT LWB Berlinetta came out on top of such a gruelling event spoke not only to the performance of the car but also to the level of craftsmanship behind it.
Nineteen fifty-six would not be the only year where a 250 GT LWB Berlinetta would take 1st overall at the Tour de France. Olivier Gendenbien went on to place 1st overall for the next three consecutive years, cementing the car’s reputation in not only motorsport but also automotive history and earning the nickname of “TdF” to commemorate its success over four years of racing throughout the French countryside. It is the most successful competition 250 GT Ferrari model, as it has garnered more victories than any other model, including the revered 250 GTO.
CHASSIS NUMBER 0897 GT
Ferrari’s production of the LWB Berlinetta is divisible into five distinct versions. This particular TdF, chassis number 0897 GT, is a classic 1958 version that has been fitted with a single louver between the rear and side windows and covered headlamps. Thirty-six such examples were produced, with this car being the fifth example built, and all were bodied in aluminium by Scaglietti and ready for competition.
This example was completed in late March 1958 and sold new to F.A.S.T. SpA, of Milan, Italy. Copies of the build sheets and the engine dynamometer tests show that this car produced an incredible 263.2 horsepower at 7,200 rpm and a similarly impressive torque output. Most 250 GT LWB Berlinettas only produced around 240 horsepower at the time!
Furthermore, additional research undertaken by RM Sotheby’s has uncovered that chassis number 0897 GT raced in the Gran Premio della Lotteria di Monza on 28 June 1959, under the banner of Scuderia Ambrosiana. Wearing #20, the car was driven by Carlo Leto di Priolo, yet it failed to finish. However, it did achieve the ninth fastest time in practice at that event. The car was then sold to Prince Zourab Tchkotoua in September 1959 and re-registered as MO 53102. Under his ownership, chassis 0897 GT was raced at the 1959 Cotê de la Faucille, held on 6 September, where he finished 2nd in class and 13th overall. The prince was a devoted Ferrari client and even finished 2nd in class at the Tour de France in 1959, whilst racing chassis 0503 GT.
Thereafter, the car was exported from Italy to the United States and was noted as being owned by Steven J. Earle, of Santa Barbara, California, the founder of the Monterey Historic Races. Earle sold the car in the late 1960s to another noted Ferrari enthusiast of the time, Richard W. Merritt of Bethesda, Maryland. It is believed that during Merritt’s ownership, the car’s original engine was removed, and the car was later sold to Don Peak and then Bill Zierling, of Malibu, California, in 1971. The TdF was then restored by Allen Bishop, of Pacific Palisades, who fitted an engine from a 250 GT PF Coupé, number 1555 GT.
Whilst passing through the care of well-known enthusiast Don Orosco, of Carmel, California, it was again restored, this time by Nino Epifani Restorations in Berkley, in 1989, and it was then sold to Engelbert E. Stieger, of St. Gallen, Switzerland. At this time, Stieger sourced and purchased the car’s original engine. The TdF also received a partial restoration by Garage Leirer in Switzerland.
In 1995, 0897 GT was sold to Matthias Fitch, of Munich, Germany. Over the course of the next 17 years, the car was regularly driven and enjoyed on rallies and historic racing events across Europe. These included the Mille Miglia on five separate occasions, the Ferrari Maserati Historic Challenge, and the Le Mans Classic in both 2010 and 2012. During this time, the car was driven with engine number 1555 GT, although Fitch still retained the original engine.
Recently, the original engine was reinstalled following a full rebuild by the Ferrari specialists at GTO Engineering. With only test mileage since the engine rebuild, the car is reported to be in excellent driving condition, and it would make a wonderful candidate for further historic racing events and vintage rallies. Accompanying the sale are copies of the car’s build sheet, documenting its high-horsepower specification, as well as its Italian Estratto Chronologico and period photographs that confirm its early ownership and racing history. Moreover, it is accompanied by its valid FIA HTP and A/3 Class FIVA Passport.
The 250 GT TdF, renowned for its incredible driving dynamics and road manners, is eager to please both on the road and track. Today, this car remains as desirable as when it was new, and it is highly valued as a competitive and successful GT car from one of Ferrari’s most successful eras of racing. As it is an ideal entrant for historic events around the globe, the acquisition of chassis number 0897 GT would not only afford its next caretaker access to some of the world’s most prestigious and selective driving events, but it would also serve as a highlight of any significant collection. As a true aluminium-bodied competition Ferrari, the TdF is one of the most successful and iconic dual-purpose Berlinettas ever to wear the Prancing Horse.
‘Please note that after the auction the car will be returned to GTO Engineering where it will receive final set up and shakedown further to the engine rebuild. The car will be transported to GTO Engineering, the works completed and then delivered to the RM Sotheby’s storage facility at the sellers cost. It is expected these works will take roughly two weeks to complete.