One of just 46 alloy-bodied Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinettas built in 1960 and only 75 Competizione models built by the factory
Finished second overall at the 1960 Tour de France Automobile in the hands of Jo Schlesser and Pierre Dumay
A fully-documented history, and accompanied by a wealth of fantastic period imagery
Matching numbers and Ferrari Classiche certified
Among the most desirable 1960s dual-purpose GT sports cars on the planet
The Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione
There are great Ferraris and then there’s the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione. A mouth-watering recipe of desperate Pininfarina-engineered beauty, heady power, intoxicating noise and ballerina-like poise and finesse. And that’s before you factor in the multitude of international race wins, or the charismatic gentlemen drivers who piloted them. Three consecutive Tour de France Automobiles. Two Le Mans class victories. The Tourist Trophy at Goodwood. Stirling Moss. Phill Hill. Pierre Noblet.
Perhaps the best thing is that the SWB hallows from an era when GT racing remained true to its roots – when sports cars’ dual-purpose nature was par for the course. As such, this drop-dead gorgeous Ferrari is as at home meandering along the twisty mountain roads of the Côte d’Azur or parked on a piazza in Portofino as it is hammering down the Mulsanne Straight in the dead of night, its Pininfarina-designed Scaglietti-built body shooting through the air like a bullet, its three-litre Colombo V12 shrieking away as it rotates at 7,000rpm.
The predecessor to the hallowed 250 GTO, the Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione is one of the most significant cars in the marque’s revered bloodline. As such, these thoroughbred Prancing Horses are not only among the most sought-after and valuable cars but also objects on the planet. That’s why we’re so excited to have recently handled this magnificent example.
This Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione
The Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta we have been honoured to source for a longstanding client is chassis number 2127 GT. One of 46 alloy-bodied Competizione specification examples built in 1960, this left-hand-drive 250 GT boasted an air outlet atop the rear screen, a bug deflector on the bonnet, sliding side windows and a French tricolore stripe running down the length of its Celeste bodywork. Inside, the black leather seats were complemented with navy blue corduroy inserts.
Issued with its Certificate of Origin on 10 September 1960, this Ferrari was sold new for the princely sum of 5.5m Italian lire to one Gino Morandi, a 38-year-old from Modena who acquired the car on behalf of the French racing driver Pierre Dumay. Clearly a man who didn’t want the world to know about his inner thrill-seeker, Dumay raced under the pseudonym ‘Loustel’ – a common move for gentleman drivers of the era. This SWB was issued with its Modena registration – number ‘MO 59805’ – on 12 September 1960 and a mere three days later, made its competitive debut in the Tour de France Automobile.
A gruelling cross-country road race held over eight days and 5,075km of asphalt and gravel roads, the 1960 edition of the Tour de France Automobile began on the Côte d’Azur in Nice and concluded in Biarritz, encompassing seven historic racing circuits including Rouen, Le Mans, Spa-Francorchamps and the Nürburgring along the way. Assigned the race number 154, chassis 2127 GT was driven by Dumay and Jo Schlesser, who at that time was one of France’s foremost racers.
Charismatic gentleman drivers feuding both on and off the track. Biased officials overtly favouring certain competitors. The world’s greatest GT cars. And a jam-packed day-and-night itinerary mixing regularity trials on public roads with high-speed tests on legendary circuits. Oh, and notoriously unpredictable autumn weather. It was a recipe which earned the Tour de France Automobile equal doses magic and respect.
The story on everyone’s lips ahead of the 1960 edition of the event was the great rivalry between the Belgian drivers Willy Mairesse and Olivier Gendebien. Both were driving Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinettas, two of the 10 250s contesting the great road race. Said rivalry was to be the undoing of Gendebien, who was paired with Lucien Bianchi. In overdriving his Ferrari, he damaged his engine and was forced to slow in the closing stages. While Mairesse and his co-driver Georges Berger were unstoppable at the front, a mature drive from Dumay and Schlesser in 2127 GT saw them emerge in second place, a position they retained until they crossed the finish line.
The most significant point of the race for Dumay and Schlesser was the two-hour night race at the legendary Le Mans circuit. Gendebien was called in by the Ferrari boss Romolo Tavoni when his SWB began spewing blue smoke. Fearful that Mairesse’s car would suffer the same fate, Tavoni instructed his leading driver to slow down and allow Dumay to win the sprint race. Did Mairesse heed his boss’s instruction? Did he heck.
The following passage from Maurice Louche’s definitive book on the Tour de France Automobile brilliantly describes the drama which subsequently unfolded. “The ever impetuous Mairesse ignores the order, goes after Dumay and overtakes him at insane speed, breaking the lap record in the process. Pleased to be out in front and relatively calm, he comes out of a corner to find a Porsche travelling much slower than he. In the subsequent collision the Ferrari’s right wing is stove in, forcing Mairesse back to the pits for repairs. Pierre Dumay takes advantage of this (the pressure off, he had turned on the radio) to take Gendebien’s second place overall by winning the race.”
Just two days after it crossed the finish line second overall in the Tour de France Automobile, chassis 2127 GT was entered by Dumay in the Coupes de Paris at Montlhéry, though sadly failed to finish. The great Autodrome de Linas- Montlhéry played host to this Ferrari once again – the event was the 1,000km de Paris, which had attracted many of motorsport’s biggest names, including Graham Hill, Wolfgang von Trips, Roy Salvadori, Innes Ireland and Maurice Trintignant.
Joined by Fernand Tavano, Dumay drove an excellent race, finishing fourth overall behind the Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinettas of Ecurie Francorchamps and Jo Schlesser. The Rallye du Limousin in France was 2127 GT’s next competitive outing, in April of 1961. Next up was the 11-lap non-championship Grand Prix de Spa, in which this SWB was raced with aplomb by Pierre Noblet, the Frenchman finishing fourth overall. Dumay took the wheel at the next event, the 10th Grand Prix de Rouen in June, though was once again joined by Noblet for the 6 Trophee d’Auvergne in Clermont-Ferrand in July. The duo finished an impressive third overall.
Pierre Dumay parted with chassis 2127 GT in 1962, having enjoyed two wonderful years of racing – if his pseudonym is anything to go by, to the obliviousness of his family! Antoine Cicoira, an Italian hotelier based between France and Africa, was the next custodian and he was keen to continue to write its racing story. Cicoira entered the car in three African events: the Taça Cidade di Loanda and the Grande Premio di Angola in 1962 and the 6 Heures de Dakar in 1964. At the latter, he was partnered by an Italian driver by the name of Richetti, the car finishing the searing hot event third overall.
This Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione passed through the hands of three further French owners, one of whom traded his Ferrari 340 America, until 1986, when it was sold to Laurence Bristow in the United Kingdom. An aspiring racing driver, at the time Bristow was competing in the MG Metro Challenge – a very different arena to that in which 2127 GT competed in the early 1960s. Bristow graduated through the Uniroyal Production Car Championship and into the BTCC, where he raced a Ford Sierra RS500.
In 1993, Bristow entrusted the UK-based Ferrari experts at DK Engineering with comprehensively restoring his new Ferrari. We have invoices and correspondence between DK’s founder David Cottingham and Bristow on file, outlining the extraordinary lengths gone to restore the car back to its former glory – with one change, that is. Chassis 2127 GT was repainted in dark red, a shade similar to that found on Ralph Lauren’s SWB, and the interior retrimmed entirely in black.
Almost immediately after being registered with the UK number ‘MFF 440’ in April of 1994, Bristow returned 2127 GT to the highways of France and entered the modern version of the Tour de France Automobile, the Tour Auto, sharing the driving duties with DK’s founder David Cottingham. In 1995, this SWB was acquired by one David Morrison and, in turn, Nigel Corner, who decided to return the car to its former blue colour scheme.
Corner also contested the Tour Auto and, later in 1995, gave the Ferrari its maiden competitive outing in the UK at the Goodwood Revival. The car’s next custodian was the renowned British Ferrari collector and authority Ronald Stern, who clearly recognised the exceptional provenance and history of 2127 GT. Stern passed the car on to one John Bentley from Harrogate, England, in April of 2004. The following year, Bentley entered the car in the Tour Inter Europa & Concours d’Elegance, an event at which it fittingly won the Epitome of Elegance award. In 2007, shortly after it received its full Red Book Ferrari Classiche certification, chassis 2127 GT made an appearance at the Ferrari 60th Anniversary Concorso di Eleganza in Maranello.
Bentley sold the car on to its previous owner, a prominent British collector with whom it joined an exquisite selection of other historically significant Prancing Horses. In November of 2015, said owner exhibited chassis 2127 GT at the Ferrari Finali Mondiali at Mugello, before it took tenures in pride of place in both the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena and the Ferrari Museum in Maranello.
We can trace our connection to this breathtaking 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione back to our Rétromobile stand in Paris last February. A longstanding client had decided he wanted to add a ‘Short Wheelbase’ to his exquisite collection and tasked Girardo & Co. with sourcing a great car.
We consulted closely with the client, gauging his current collection and working to understand his interest and goals, before deciding on an alloy-bodied Competizione, the purest and, in our opinion, the most desirable variant. After further discussion, a car built in 1960 with a great period racing history and a transparent and traceable subsequent life was earmarked.
As you can imagine, the pool of cars fulfilling those criteria is especially small. However, utilising our global network of historians, marque experts, trade contacts and, most importantly, collectors, our team was able to identify chassis number 2127GT as a potential car. An extensive period of research ensued, leaving no stone unturned on our quest to verify the car’s provenance and originality. Over the course of several weeks, we then negotiated to purchase the Ferrari on behalf of our client. And once the deal was concluded and the car was in our possession, we sent it to Carlo Bonini, one of the world’s leading Ferrari specialists in Italy, to be returned to its exact 1960 Tour de France Auto specification.
On the Ferrari collector ladder, there are few rungs higher to climb than a 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione, an achingly beautiful dual-purpose GT racer which, in the hands of exuberant and unforgettable racing legends, vanquished the opposition in an era of motorsport which is commonly held to be the most golden. Chassis 2127 GT distinguishes itself further in that it finished second in one of the most famous motor races in the world, enjoyed a relatively quiet subsequent competition career and boasts an entirely traceable history ever since then. Furthermore, it’s resided in collections of some of the world’s foremost Ferrari authorities, people whose names are synonymous with the Prancing Horse.
Ultimately, this fabled Ferrari is simply one of the most special cars we’ve ever encountered – an historic and jaw-droppingly beautiful sculpture on wheels, powered by a twelve-cylinder which electrocutes every nerve ending in your body. From a driving and ownership perspective, for us, there is quite simply very little to beat it.
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