The racing version of the 550 Maranello built by Prodrive will go down in history as the final 12-cylinder Ferrari to win at Le Mans and the most successful GT sports car of its era. We’ve famously championed these ultra-special Ferraris, which is why, together with the man who conceived and financed the 550 GT1 Prodrive project, we’re producing the definitive book about them…
Did you know that Prodrive homologated its GT racing version of the Ferrari 550 Maranello as a 550 GTO? We appreciate that comparing the car to the fabled 1960s Ferrari with which is shares its ‘Gran Turismo Omologato’ nomenclature sounds bizarre, but there are, in fact, parallels to be drawn.
Both are front-engined 12-cylinder Ferraris. Both were utterly dominant in their respective (golden) eras of GT racing. Both won their class at the most famous and challenging endurance race of them all: Le Mans. Both emit soul-stirring symphonies from their exhaust pipes. And, perhaps this goes without saying, both are also exceptionally beautiful.
“The Ferrari 550 GT1s entered 343 races across the globe between 2001 and 2008, scoring 60 pole positions, 69 victories and 151 podium finishes.”
Conceived by the Frenchman Frédéric Dor’s Care Racing Development outfit and designed, developed and constructed by Prodrive, the Ferrari 550 GT1s, as they were more commonly known, entered 343 races across the globe between 2001 and 2008, scoring 60 pole positions, 69 victories and 151 podium finishes.
They’re extraordinary statistics, and a testament to the expertise of Prodrive, whose skilled designers and engineers were able to unlock the racing potential of the 550 Maranello – something a range of other motorsport companies tried and failed to achieve. Even Ferrari had a crack with the 575M, though we bet it wished it hadn’t.Prodrive built just 12 of these cars, and today, they warrant the recognition they unequivocally deserve. Especially now that the model has received its full Ferrari Classiche Certificate of Authenticity from the factory. The Spa 24 Hours-winning 550 GT1 which RM Sotheby’s sold for a World-Record price last year kindled a fire. But we’re going one step further.
With the full support of the project’s godfather Frédéric Dor, we have embarked on a mission to produce the definitive book on the Ferrari 550 GT1 Prodrive. With progress already well underway, the 400-page tome tells the story of the car, from its conception, development and competition career to its retirement and subsequent eligibility in the world of historic motorsport.
“The 400-page book tells the entire story of the car, from its conception, development and competition career to its retirement and subsequent eligibility in the world of historic motorsport.”
Beautifully bound in a large square format and creatively designed by our talented team, the book is lavishly illustrated with hundreds of previously unseen images, including period racing shots and stunning contemporary photography. A portion of the latter was captured right here at Belchers Farm.The renowned Ferrari historian Keith Bluemel has authored the book, drawing on first-hand accounts from all the key characters involved throughout the 550 GT1 programme and who were instrumental in making it such a success.
These include Dor himself, Prodrive founder David Richards and technical director George Howard-Chappell, the acclaimed designer who styled the racing bodywork Peter Stevens, and a raft of the great drivers who piloted the cars such as David Brabham, Darren Turner, Thomas Enge and Steve Zacchia. We’ve also included comprehensive race reports and ownership chains for each of the 10 individual chassis built.
We haven’t quite settled on a print run yet, but the volume will be small. More details on that to come. We’re currently on the final steps of the path to publication, and in the time between now and then, we’d like to delve a little deeper into the contents of the book in a series of features over the coming weeks right here at girardo.com.These will explore what the Ferrari 550 GT1 Prodrive is and put it in historical context, what it won, the drivers who raced it, the events at which you can hear its six-litre V12 scream today and the differences between the racecar and its road-going Maranello counterpart. We’ll also be giving you an extract from our interview with the car’s designer Peter Stevens. For the occasion, we were joined by another of the famous cars he styled. Hint: it’s painted Papaya orange.
Watch this space and follow the Girardo & Co. Instagram and Facebook accounts for regular updates!Photos courtesy of Tom Shaxson and the Girardo & Co. Archive. Click here to discover the Girardo & Co. Archive, which comprises more than 3,000,000 captivating motorsport images from the 1970s to today.