A late-production single-louvre ‘Tour de France’ with open headlights – the ultimate 1950s dual-purpose Ferrari Gran Turismo
One of only 36 single-louvre Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinettas and only nine delivered with open headlights
Fitted from new with a bespoke competition-oriented version of the Tipo 128D Colombo V12 engine
Boasting a successful and photo-documented period Italian competition history, including three GT class victories
Comprehensive ownership history from new, verified by its corresponding Marcel Massini report
Highly eligible for the world’s most prestigious motorsport and concours events, including the Goodwood Revival, Mille Miglia and Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
The Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta, more commonly known as the ‘Tour de France’, is among the most significant Ferraris of them all for a plethora of reasons, not least the fact that without it, the immortal 250 GT ‘Short Wheelbase’ and GTO would never have seen the light of day.
This desperately beautiful Gran Turismo was designed by Pinin Farina, that history-steeped engineer of elegance which managed to tread the line between delicate and imposing, and constructed by Scaglietti. It’s dainty and delicate and lip-smackingly delicious, yet retains the commanding and powerful presence so typical of a 12-cylinder Ferrari.
Beneath that seemingly never-ending bonnet resides the bulletproof Colombo V12 in potent three-litre form, the engine that helped set the Ferrari 250 GT on course towards total domination of GT racing.
It was the exuberant Spanish nobleman Alfonso de Portago who earned this Ferrari its ‘Tour de France’ moniker, when he won the 1956 running of the gruelling 3,600-mile six-day French endurance road race. Our very own Max Girardo had the privilege of selling the very car in which he won, chassis number 0557 GT, in 2015 for World Record money.
In addition to three further consecutive victories in the Tour de France Automobile, the 250 GT Berlinetta’s competition accolades include class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959 and outright victory at the Targa Florio in 1957. These dual-purpose Gran Turismos were as unstoppable as the charismatic racing legends who drove them – from Piero Taruffi to Olivier Gendebien – and did Ferrari the world of good from an international publicity perspective.
Just 77 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta ‘Tour de France’ were built between 1956 and 1959, of which just nine were finished by the factory in ‘single-louvre’ guise with open headlights, as mandated by new government legislation for 1959. Just like this utterly exquisite example.
The 30th of 36 single-louvre 250 GT LWB Berlinettas built by Ferrari, and only nine delivered with open headlights, chassis number 1335 GT was collected directly from the factory on 23 April 1959 by one Casimiro Toselli from Turin. He paid the princely sum of 5.5m Italian lire for the pleasure.
Resplendent in rosso, the car was notable in that Ferrari fitted a special competition-oriented version of the Tipo 128D Colombo V12 (internal number 0292 D), with higher-compression pistons, Weber 36 DCL3 carburettors, hotter camshafts and an additional cooling fan. The result? Almost 250HP and a touch beneath 260lbs-ft of torque. Punchy numbers indeed.
The upgrade reflected Toselli’s intentions for the car – he wanted to race his new ‘Tour de France’ right off the bat. A mere week after collecting the Ferrari and just three days after road-registering it in Turin with the city’s famous black number plates, Toselli entered chassis number 1335 GT in the VI Coppa Sant’Ambroeus at Monza. And the Italian gentleman driver clearly had the talent to bolster his ambitions, finishing second in the GT category.
Four further events beckoned for Toselli and the ‘Tour de France’’ in 1959. Three of them were popular Italian hill-climbs at which he added three further class podiums to chassis 1335 GT’s résumé. Nineteen-sixty began for Toselli as 1959 had ended – with a GT podium in the Stallavena-Bosco Chiesanuova hill-climb.
In fact, this Ferrari’s results went from strength to strength in 1960, Toselli racking up top-three finishes in all six subsequent events he entered, including class victories in the GP Napoli on the Circuito di Posillippo, XXII Coppa della Consuma hill climb and the Sassi-Superga hill climb. Interestingly, for the Garessio-Colle San Bernardo hill climb in July, the Tour de France was entered under the banner of Count Giovanni Volpi’s Scuderia Serenissima, among the greatest privateer teams associated with the Prancing Horse.
In chassis 1335 GT’s final outing of 1960 – and indeed its period competition career – Toselli finished a fine third. The race was the prestigious XI Coppa Inter-Europa on the history-steeped banking of the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza. Telling of the 250 GT LWB Berlinetta’s dominance, ‘Tour de Frances’ were the class of the field, finishing first, second and third.
Short and sweet – it’s the perfect way to describe this Ferrari’s successful Italian competition history, which is, remarkably, very well photo-documented. And today, said competition history is arguably the 250GT LWB’s strongest trump card.
Its competitive duties over, chassis number 1335 GT was sold by Toselli in 1962. Over the course of the following 17 years, this car remained in Italy, passing through the hands of a number of documented owners, before it was acquired by the Swiss industrialist and serial Ferrari collector Albert Obrist – a man who Ferrari itself describes as a ‘walking talking pillar’ of its fabled history.
“Short and sweet – it’s the perfect way to describe this Ferrari’s successful Italian competition history, which is, remarkably, very well photo-documented.”
In 1980, Giorgio Schön enters the fray. The Milanese official Ferrari concessionaire purchased this ‘Tour de France’ in 1980. Over the course of his 22-year ownership, Schön proved to be the perfect owner for this significant dual-purpose Ferrari Gran Turismo. Not only did he commission a restoration with Kappa of Torino in 1985, but he also entered a long list of historic motoring events with the car, including multiple Mille Miglia Storica rallies, the Tour de France Automobile and myriad official Ferrari meetings including the marque’s 50th-anniversary celebrations, held in Rome/Maranello in 1997.
Chassis number 1335 GT made a brief sojourn to London in the United Kingdom at the dawn of the New Millennium, before returning to Italy in 2003 to join the collection of a Brescia-based Ferrari enthusiast by the name of Emilio Gnutti. It remained with Gnutti for almost a decade, before it was acquired by its current owner in 2012.
Today, this 250 GT LWB Berlinetta ‘Tour de France’ represents an exciting opportunity for a collector to acquire a fabulous example of one of the true great dual-purpose Ferrari Gran Turismos.
There are many characteristics of chassis 1335 GT which speak to the current, ever-discerning market, not least its incredibly rare single-louvre open-headlight configuration and its well-documented ownership history. And then there’s the ‘hot’ competition-oriented V12 engine – a special order directly with the factory from Casimiro Toselli – a client who clearly wielded influence in Maranello.
As previously mentioned, however, it’s this Ferrari’s period competition history – more specifically its impressive record of results and Scuderia Serenissima association – which raises pulses the most here in the Girardo & Co. office. It goes without saying that this 250 GT’s credentials render it eligible for the world’s greatest historic motoring events, from circuit event such as the Goodwood Revival and road-rallies including the Mille Miglia to über-prestigious automotive beauty pageants such as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este.
To share this most special of Prancing Horses with the world for the first time in over 25 years would be an opportunity difficult to resist.
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