1958 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta
1958 Ferrari 250 GT BerlinettaSource: RM Auctions
Blenheim, Ontario, Canada
portfolio | web site
Posted: 04 Feb 2012
Photo Credit: Darin Schnabel
From RM Auctions:
Estimate: $450,000-$525,000 US
AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Not Sold at a high bid of $400,000
• A genuine matching-numbers example with factory build sheets
• Full restoration by marque expert
• Recent Ferrari Historic Racing and Colorado Grand participant
• Rare survivor, one of only 50 built of which only 15 are known to remain in original condition
Designed by Pinin Farina, the late 1950s “Boano” and “Ellena” Berlinettas are generally considered to be Ferrari’s first series-built grand touring cars. These further developed the Pinin Farina Ferrari theme of simple, elegant lines and proportions with a minimum of brightwork and trim.
Pinin Farina designed their first Ferrari as early as 1952 and by the mid-’50s had truly established the Ferrari “look” as exemplified by the Boano/Ellena GT series. Design cues included the long, low hood and the signature oval radiator opening, traits which by the mid-1950s had secured Principal Ferrari Design House status for the Turin firm.
Eighty-two cars in the first series were built by Carrozzeria Boano. At the end of 1957 Mario Boano left his company to set up Fiat’s styling department, and his son-in-law Ezio Ellena took over with old partner Luciano Pollo. Thus the renamed Carrozzeria Ellena built a further run of 50 Ferrari 250 GTs, now referred to as “Ellena” coupes. Improvements included a two-inch raised roofline providing more head room and better body proportions, adoption of a standard four-speed gearbox shift pattern, larger brakes, a ZF steering system and the fitment of a single distributor to the engine. As befits a production car, passenger comfort as well as luggage accommodation were much improved from the previous Europa GT model, and panel and trim fit were described in period road tests as “superb.”
Also impressive was the performance provided by the famed Colombo-designed V-12, three-liter engine, which produced between 240 and 290 horsepower depending on its specification. Griff Borgeson’s very complimentary January 1958 Sports Cars Illustrated road test of the Richie Ginther, Lime Rock race-winning 250 GT, which listed for
$10,975, called it a “Grand Touring masterpiece—without comparables—except other Ferraris.” In summary, the road test described a perfect blend of racing car performance with the manners and appointments of a luxury automobile. The “perfect seating position, silence at speed, the fully synchronized transmission, engine flexibility, rock-like solidity, predictable handling and gigantic brakes” further impressed Borgeson, not to mention the styling, which he labeled “contemporary Italian conservative, beautiful without being the least bit gaudy.”
Top speed was listed at 127 to 157 mph depending on the final drive gear ratio, with the road test car’s 4.57 gears providing a zero-to-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds. Such performance is not surprising since the mechanical specifications of an Ellena—engine, gearbox, rear, suspension, brakes, wheels and tires are the same as that of Ferrari’s GT racing car, the Tour de France. Even interior aspects like the steering wheel, instrument panel, gauges and door hardware were identical to its glamorous sister cars of the period, the “TdF” and the LWB California Spyder, many of which owe their lives today to a donation of vital parts from a Boano/Ellena Coupe.
This aspect, coupled with the minimal build numbers, means a very low survival rate for the 250 GT Boano/Ellena series. Ferrari historian Marcel Massini, who inspected this car in 2005, estimates that only about 15 250 GT Ellenas remain in their original form.
Although marketed as Ferrari’s luxury grand touring car, these 250 GTs also distinguished themselves in competition, running in the Mille Miglia, scoring an Alpine Rally GT Class win and securing a remarkable overall victory in the 1957 Acropolis Rally.
PROVENANCE OF “BLACKIE,” A FERRARI 250 GT ELLENA (NO. 0861 GT)
The factory build sheets on file for Ferrari no. 0861 GT indicate that the construction of this car was commenced on January 7, 1958 with the testing procedure being signed-off on April 14, 1958. The first owner, according to Mr. Massini, was Antonio Fiorani in Modena, Italy. Later it was imported by Luigi Chinetti Motors in New York. By 1969 Bradley Balles of Dallas, Texas spotted it in Evanston, Illinois. The price was $3,250, but Balles traded in a 1967 Mustang for $1,750, and so the difference, including $75 for sales tax, was $1,575! Brad Balles purchased no. 0861 GT on January 3, 1970 and kept it until he sold it to the present owner in 2002—an ownership period of 32 years.
Late in the Balles ownership, “Blackie,” as he named the Ellena, was given a full body and interior restoration. In the spring of 2002, the present owner commissioned a total mechanical restoration from Andy Greene Sports & Vintage Race Cars of Savannah, Georgia.
In April 2004 the car was entered in the North Carolina 500 mile Highlands Classic Rally as part of its “break-in” procedure. “Blackie ran perfectly—great speed and sound, sports car handling, excellent fade-free brakes and perfect normal gauges, plus room for all of my wife’s luggage,” reported the delighted new owner. Back at Greene’s shop, minor rectifications were carried out before Blackie’s biggest adventure: two days on the race track! On July 9 and 10 it was accepted to race in the drum brake class of the Shell Ferrari Historic Races held at Lime Rock Park, Connecticut. Again the Ellena put on a perfect performance, finishing first in class, and was given “The Special Achievement Award,” a large silver and gold plate presented by Ferrari of America and Piaggio/Aero.
January 2005 found Blackie at Moroso Motorsports Park in Florida for another Shell Historics event, later that year earning another two “1st in Class” trophies at Lime Rock Park in the same series. No less than four first in class awards are listed for this Ellena’s 2006 Lime Rock Ferrari Historics, and in 2007 the Ellena was entered in the Lime Rock Park Vintage Festival, scoring a second in class and eighth overall in its feature race while setting a flat 1:15 lap time around this tight circuit. The wonderful “dual purpose” nature of these early 250 GT Ferraris is perhaps underscored by the fact that Blackie was driven to and from the events while all of the competition arrived in trailers.
In 2008 this Ellena GT completed the Colorado Grand in fine style, at one time being clocked at 130 mph, behind one of the event’s official motorcycle patrol cops astride his Harley!
Since this excellent adventure, Blackie has been occasionally driven on sunny afternoons with a service and check-over by the Ferrari experts at Bill Pollard’s Sport-Auto Inc. in Connecticut carried out in 2011. This splendid Ferrari is now absolutely “turn-key” and ready for further curve-straightening escapades of your own.
250 bhp, 2,953 cc V-12 SOHC alloy engine with triple Weber Type 36 DC13 downdraught carburetion, four-speed synchromesh transmission, front independent suspension with unequal-length wishbones, coil springs and tubular shock absorbers, live rear axle with leaf springs, Houdaille shocks with axle location by twin trailing arms, four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 102"
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From WikipediaThe Ferrari 250 is a sports car built by Ferrari from 1953 to 1964. The company's most successful early line, the 250 series included several variants. It was replaced by the 275 and the 330.
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