This is a 1960s Italian grand tourer at its finest.
If you’re like so many enthusiasts, you find the 1960s Ferrari GTs to be some of the most attractive vintage vehicles around. That helps fuel the extreme prices we see in private sales and auctions alike. Of course there’s more to it than that, and the video below helps illustrate one excellent point: 60s Ferrari grand tourers are excellent performers. You get to see a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta SWB flogged hard around the Paul Ricard circuit as part of the Dix Mille Tours weekend recently.
The symphony that Columbo 3.0-liter V12 produces is just captivating. With that high-rpm redline, you can hear the driver really push the Ferrari hard on straightaways, the powerplant just signing at ever-increasing octaves in response.
Adding to the excitement is the driver pushing things to the limit and beyond a little bit when it comes to handling. Feeling a classic car start to go sideways as you accelerate out of a turn is thrilling and disconcerting at the same time, but with something this valuable such maneuvers have to be even more never-racking.
Not surprisingly, the design of the Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta was handled by none other than Pininfarina. Clean, athletic lines and an overall simple look is the key to this model’s aesthetics. It was Scaglietti which crafted the body. Details like the relatively big hood scoop, the dramatically sloping fastback, aggressive grille, and those wide-set headlights communicate this is a vehicle with a purpose, not something just thrown together. Of course, that purpose is track racing, Enzo Ferrari’s true love.
The interior also has a simple, effective layout. A large tachometer and speedometer with smaller oil pressure gauge, sit behind the steering wheel. Four small gauges sit to the right for easy reference. The elegant, minimized design combined with everything else makes this a true driver’s car.
SWB stands for short wheelbase. That translates to even better handling than the longer version of the car, which bodes quite well for motorsports. A mere 176 were built, and that’s one of the main elements fueling ever-rising prices today. So it’s a rare treat to see one of these driven hard by someone daring and capable enough to flog the GT and not crash.