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Returning this Ferrari 250 GT LWB ‘Interim’ to Goodwood after 61 years

In August of 1960, Jo Schlesser raced a Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta ‘Interim’ in the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood, finishing an impressive seventh overall. At the Goodwood Revival this weekend, Max Girardo will follow in the Frenchman’s proverbial tyre tracks and race the same car on the same circuit, 61 years later…

That’s right – thanks to an especially generous owner and friend, Max Girardo will contest the Stirling Moss Memorial Trophy at this year’s Goodwood Revival with chassis number 1509 GT, which is one of just seven Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta ‘Interims’ built.

Never heard of the ‘Interim’ before? You’re definitely not alone. In the spring of 1959, Enzo Ferrari was feeling impatient. For almost five years, his 250 GT LWB Berlinettas had proven to be the cars to beat in international GT racing, winning three Tour de France Automobiles on the trot, among countless other victories. But the introduction of a successor was nigh.

Essentially an early development of Pinin Farina’s softer SWB body mounted on the long-wheelbase 250 GT’s chassis, the ‘Interim’ was conceived to test the high-speed performance of Enzo’s forthcoming GT car’s sleek new bodywork. Two prototypes raced at Le Mans in 1959, finishing commendably in fourth and sixth overall. Five more ‘Interims’ were constructed and delivered before the Tour de France Automobile in September. And the final example built, chassis number 1523 GT, claimed outright victory.

Less than a month later, the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta was revealed at the Paris Motor Show, instantly climbing to the top of every gentleman driver’s wish list. Such is the rarity of the Ferrari 250 GT LWB ‘Interims’, even by the standards of the earlier ‘Tour de Frances’, and the narrow window of time in which they were ‘current’, they are not widely known about or understood today.

In 1959, the car was a fleeting glimpse of a very near future; an integral stepping stone towards the creation of the car commonly considered to be the greatest dual-purpose Ferrari berlinetta of them all – the immortal SWB. If you’d like to find out more about this incredibly rare and historically significant berlinetta, you can read Girardo & Co.’s guide to the Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta ‘Interim’ by clicking here.

The beguilingly original Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta ‘Interim’ Max will be driving at Goodwood this weekend is chassis number 1509 GT. The fourth of just seven examples built, 1509 GT was delivered new in September of 1959 to the French racing driver Jo Schlesser. The car was finished in white with a red and green stripe, the national colours of Madagascar. Schlesser was born in and grew up on the island, which was a French colony until 1960.

This 250 GT LWB Berlinetta’s first competitive outing came in the 1959 Tour de France Automobile, in which Schlesser drove with his wife Annie. The Frenchman entered a plethora of further races with 1509 GT in 1960, including the Nürburgring 1,000km, where he finished 11th overall and second in class partnered with the great Lucien Bianchi, and the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood, in which he crossed the line seventh overall.

Not only is the Stirling Moss Memorial Trophy the first race of the Goodwood Revival weekend, taking place at dusk on Friday evening, but it’s also undoubtedly the most beautiful.

The hour-long two-driver affair is held specifically for pre-1963 closed-roof GT cars and this year’s 30-strong grid comprises Ferrari 250 GT SWB/Cs, Jaguar E-types, Aston Martin DB4GTs and a handful of AC Cobras, among others. Max will be paired with Philip Kadoorie and the duo will share the hallowed asphalt with everyone from seasoned historic motorsport veterans to Formula 1 legends Jochen Mass, Jenson Button and Martin Brundle.

Max and Philip had the opportunity to test the ‘Interim’ at Goodwood last week, with assistance from estimable gentlemen from the The Light Car Company, who will be running the car at the Revival. Naturally, any chance to get behind the wheel of such a rare and desirable Ferrari is one to relish, though Max was especially taken by the ‘Interim’.

“In my opinion, the ‘Interim’ represents an underrated sweet spot in the Ferrari GT lineage,” he explains. “Despite sharing virtually identical underpinnings to the ‘Tour de France’, the ‘Interim’ feels more modern somehow. There’s the slightly reclined driving position, the updated dashboard and the view out over the slightly elevated bonnet.

“I can’t hammer home enough how much of a joy to drive it is. The car is so user-friendly. It’s powerful enough to be balanced on the throttle, but not so much as to terrify you. As well as sounding glorious, the V12 is laden with torque, and the four-speed gearbox is a delight to use. The handling is predictable and balanced, with the poise of a ballerina. It’s enjoyable precisely because it’s not razor-sharp and threatening to bite at any second. I can understand completely why the 250 GT LWB Berlinetta was able to win the Tour de France Automobile four times in a row.

“I can’t put my finger on exactly what makes the ‘Interim’ feel slightly sharper and more zingy than the ‘Tour de France’. Perhaps it’s the disc brakes on 1509 GT, which were a common period upgrade on these cars. By no means is the overall difference night and day, but you can definitely recognise it.”

Whether you’re planning on visiting Goodwood in person on Friday or whether you’ll be procrastinating from work by sneakily watching the online live stream, you can catch Max, Philip and the ‘Interim’ in the Stirling Moss Memorial Trophy. Qualifying commences at 9.20am while the green flag drops on the hour-long race at 6.20pm. See you there!

Photos: Tom Shaxson for Girardo & Co.

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