There are some designs that just don't go out of style. While other cars lose their freshness and appeal, some of them never seem to age, maintaining a modern and unique look even after decades. We made selection of the timeless classics we believe to be the most representative and every two week we are going to talk about the history of one particular model.
We would like to start this trip down memory lane with a 60's icon made in our home country: the Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta.
By 1959, Ferrari had established its dominance in sports car racing on a global scale. Those cars adorned with the Prancing Horse were handily taking home trophies at races around the globe and at the highest levels of motorsport. Enzo Ferrari was looking to keep his cars at the top of the podium for the next decade and to continue to do battle with the likes of Aston Martin and Jaguar.
In the GT category, Ferrari was truly second to none, and its 250 GT long-wheelbase Berlinetta was regarded as the finest dual-purpose GT car money could buy. It was versatile enough to be driven on public roads to an event, raced in anger to victory, and driven back home all in the same day. Of course, with a design by Pininfarina and coachwork by Scaglietti, these cars looked just as good stationary as they did at speed. Ownership of a 250 GT Berlinetta was the dream of any motoring enthusiast.
The newest competition-ready Berlinetta took the reins from the aging LWB “Tour de France” and was introduced in 1959 at the Paris Salon. This new car boasted bodywork similar to the outgoing TdF and “interim” Berlinetta, but its new chassis had a wheelbase 200 millimetres shorter than its predecessor, leading the cars to be differentiated by enthusiasts as passo lungo, or LWB, for the long-wheelbase examples, and passo corto, or SWB, for the new Berlinettas.
The 250 GT SWB Berlinetta was the last true dual purpose grand turismo built in quantity by Ferrari and was in all respects a fitting milestone to mark the end of a legendary age. It was immediately successful in racing and remained so until its place at the head of the GT pack was gradually assumed by its successor, the illustrious 250 GTO. In fact, its list of competition successes is so long as to be pointless to recount in detail. Suffice to say, however, that it includes GT category wins at Le Mans in 1960 and 1961, Tour de France wins in 1960, 1961 and 1962 and, of course, Stirling Moss’ pair of Goodwood Tourist Trophy wins in 1960 and 1961.
To this day, Ferraristi from all over the world consider it one of Maranello’s finest and most desirable GT cars to date, not only because of its extraordinary racing potential, but also its achingly beautiful design. The Pininfarina body, as executed by Scaglietti on the 2,400 mm short wheelbase chassis, excels in all aspects. It is unmistakably Ferrari, executed in a very restrained way with a purity of shape that is not compromised by unnecessary trim or faux scoops. The driver’s visibility from the ample greenhouse is also excellent, while the corners of the car are tightly wrapped around the wheels and its gently rounded masses speak unambiguously of potency and power. As one of Ferrari's most significant models, it is eligible for nearly every important motoring event on the planet, will never be denied entry into any Ferrari club event and will outperform nearly everything in its class with ease at the hands of a skilled driver.
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