With the birth of the 250 GT, Ferrari went from being a small-scale constructor to a manufacturer producing cars on an industrial scale. The name „250“ alluded to the 3-litre engine, a V12 unit originally designed by Gioacchino Colombo, with an overhead camshaft per bank of cylinders. This served as a base for two different families of cars: on one hand were the Ferrari touring cars, more civilised than their predecessors with a greater degree of comfort and equipment in line with the development of GT cars, and on the other hand were the more radical sports cars that helped to build the brand’s legendary status; cars such as the Testarossa, Tour de France berlinetta, 250 GTO and 250 LM. The short wheelbase 250 GT berlinetta, the model presented here, belongs to the second of these families.
Unveiled at the 1959 Paris Motor Show, the 250 GT SWB succeeded the 250 GT Tour de France berlinetta that had enjoyed such success in competition. This new car, however, had a shorter wheelbase (2 400 rather than 2 600 mm), hence the name it was later given, „passo corto“ or „short wheelbase“, to differentiate it from preceding versions. Designed by Pininfarina, it was built in Sergio Scaglietti’s workshops in Modena, and although the overall shape of the car remained pretty much the same throughout its career, numerous details changed. Certain examples intended specifically for racing were given an aluminium body, and depending on the version, the engine produced anything between 220 and 280 bhp.
Strong, driveable and extremely well balanced, this car followed in the footsteps of the Tour de France berlinetta, achieving enormous success during its three year career. In the hands of the greatest drivers, the 250 GT SWB won the Tour de France Automobile three times (1960, 1961 and 1962), was victorious in the GT category of the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1960 and 1961 and the Nürburgring 1000km in 1961 and 1962, to mention just its greatest achievements.