Ferrari 250 GT SWB
250 GT SWB
Registering to Bid on the Ferrari 250 GT SWB from the Richard Colton Collection:
- All Registrations to Bid either In Person, via Commission or on the Telephone must be made by 5pm on Tuesday 13th October 2015
- We require passport identification and a bank reference for the total amount, including commission, which you anticipate bidding to
- A _5,000 refundable deposit will be taken upon registering and placed in our Client Account, which will be refunded after the auction
- Internet Bidding will not be available on either vehicle
For further information, please contact Colette McKay on +44 (0) 1925 210035.
H&H are indebted to Ferrari historian and author Keith Bluemel, who has recently inspected chassis 1995GT at first hand, for the following report:
'The 1960 version of the 250 GT berlinetta was designed by Pininfarina and built at the Scaglietti works in Modena. It was first presented to the public at the 1959 Paris Salon, and bore a body style very similar to that of the late series (which are now termed "Interim" for differentiation purposes) berlinettas produced during that year, apart from the omission of the quarter window in the sail panel behind the door glass. The new model was built on a 2400mm wheelbase chassis, with factory type reference 539, and later 539/61. The designations "passo lungo" or "LWB" for the long wheelbase 2600mm chassis, and "passo corto" or "SWB" for the short wheelbase 2400mm chassis, are subsequently adopted terminology to distinguish between the two series of cars. The chassis construction followed the familiar practice of twin large oval section longitudinal members, with substantial cross bracing and a rectangular section front cross member. Suspension was independent coil spring and wishbone at the front, with a rigid rear end featuring semi elliptic leaf springs and radius arms to locate the axle, and hydraulic shock absorbers all round.
This model was the first Ferrari production road car to be fitted with disc brakes as standard equipment, and unlike the preceding "LWB" 250 GT berlinetta series, which were all left hand drive, it was available in both left and right hand drive configurations. It was also available in two basic specifications, competition with an aluminium body, lightweight interior trim, and the engine in a higher state of tune, or in "Lusso" (luxury) road trim, when it was normally fitted with a steel body with aluminium opening panels. However, there was a great deal of overlap of the two basic specifications, dependent upon a specific client's wishes, therefore it is not unusual for some road cars to have full aluminium bodies, and/or a higher state of tune engine.
The power unit was a further development of the original Colombo designed single overhead camshaft per bank V12 engine, with a capacity of 2953cc, via a bore and stroke of 73mm x 58.8mm, and factory type references 168B, 168, and 168 Comp/61, all with wet sump lubrication. The spark plugs were outside the vee of the block, and there was a bank of three twin choke Weber 38 DCN or 40 DCL/6 carburettors, and Solex C40 PAAI carburettors were also homologated, with a twin coil and rear of engine mounted distributors ignition system, to produce a claimed 220bhp to 280bhp, dependent upon specification. Weber 46 DCF/3 carburettors were a further homologated option, and these were used on the special 1961 competition engines, which together with bigger valves, special exhaust manifolds, and other fine tuning details, achieved the upper levels of power outputs quoted above. The engine was coupled to a four speed + reverse all synchromesh gearbox, which drove through a propeller shaft to the rigid rear axle, for which a range of ratios were available. The gearboxes of the competition cars had ribbed alloy castings, and the road cars normally had plain faced cast iron casings with a ribbed base.
The overall design changed very little during the three year production run from 1960 to 1962. However, there are a number of detail differences that identify the period of production of a specific car. Visually they related to things like the addition of front and rear wing vents, the shape of the door window glass, the location of the fuel filler, size and shape of the radiator grille and myriad smaller details.
In competition the 250 GT "SWB" berlinettas continued the run of success of the preceding "LWB" models, with three consecutive wins in the Tour de France Auto between 1960-62, winning the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood in 1960 and 1961, winning the GT category at Le Mans in 1960 and 1961, and in the Nurburgring 1000km in 1961 and 1962. These were just a few of the numerous class and overall wins achieved during its reign as the queen of the GT category.
Chassis # 1995 GT was the second of only nine right hand drive versions of the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta imported into the UK by Maranello Concessionaires Ltd, and was ordered by them, unsurprisingly, on their order # 2 from the factory in March 1960. The invoice details to the original purchaser indicate that it was supplied in Racing Red, with a red leather interior, red carpets, a steel body, 3.77 rear axle ratio, Dunlop RS4 tyres and a limited slip differential. From the factory build sheets the engine was to semi-competition specification with a 9.5:1 compression ratio, 10mm lift camshafts, triple Weber 40 DCL6 carburettors with intake trumpets and cold air box, rather than an air filter box, and an Abarth completion exhaust system. The factory engine test sheet shows that it produced 252bhp when new on their dynamometer, verifying that it had some competition components in the engine.
It was collected from the factory by a Mr R.E. Horning, the manager of Sea Corner Garage, Highcliffe, Hampshire, and transported to the UK on the Milan-Ostend sleeper train on 18 September 1960. He had collected the car on behalf of the new owner, the proprietor of Sea Corner Garage, a Mr E.R.W. Eyre, and upon its arrival in the UK was road registered on UK licence plate WRU 1. The invoice price to the client was _6,376-2s-6d, less a 10% discount, giving a sales figure of _5,926-2s-6d, in pre-decimal currency days.
It is not known how long he retained the car, nor how long it was retained by subsequent owners, who included a Mr K. Wilson, a Mr G. Sinclair, Mr Brian Classic, Mr John Broad, Mr David Mulvaney and Mr David Brook, before being purchased by Richard Colton from Maranello Concessionaires Ltd in March 1976, when it is reported to have just had an engine rebuild by Graypaul Motors Ltd, and was showing 49,000 miles on the odometer. The car was owned by him for nearly 40 years, up to the time of his passing in March 2015.
The car is no concours queen, but being the second of only nine RHD examples of the model originally imported into the UK, and having had a single owner for such a lengthy period of time, it has great provenance. In Richard Colton's own words "The car has never been "restored", but has always been well maintained on an "as necessary" basis. When you have had a car for so long you know all the things that need doing and you do them when they need doing." Between the time of him buying the car with 49,000 miles on the clock, and 2008 when it had 99,999 recorded miles, he clocked up over 50,000 miles, not only in general road use, but attending rallies and gatherings all over Europe, including Ferrari's 50th anniversary celebrations in the car's birthplace, Maranello, Italy, in 1997. The odometer currently reads 01805, so it has clearly not done many miles in the recent past.
During the course of his ownership, he carried out a number of changes and modifications to suit not only his own requirements, but also to make it more suitable and safer for modern driving conditions. The most notable deviations from its original appearance are the removal of the bumpers and aluminium side trim strips, plus the provision of sleeved front brake cooling ducts, together with light flaring of the rear wheel arches and the addition of reproduction "SNAP" exhaust extractors, giving it the stance of the competition version of the model. This "competition look" has been further enhanced by the substitution of the original 16" x 5.5" Borrani RW 3526 wire wheels with wider and smaller diameter 15" x 6.5" Borrani RW 3801 wire wheels (including the spare wheel). These feature polished aluminium rims and painted spokes, as one would expect to find on a competition car. The tyres are Michelin 185 HR15 XVS, with good tread, although they are probably past their "sell-by" date. To complete the "competition look" a 250 GTO style aluminium gear knob replaces the original black plastic item.
The changes that he made were not only aesthetic, but also related to practicalities, including upgrading the braking system by installing four pot AP racing callipers in place of the original Dunlop units, with braided stainless steel hoses replacing a number of the copper tubes, and the provision of a booster, thus providing a braking system more in keeping with modern day standards. In 1996 he had the original 10mm lift cams replaced with milder 9.5mm lift units, which he described as making the car smoother and more user friendly, with more low down torque, i.e. an easier car to use on the road. A stainless steel competition style exhaust system, with a single silencer box is fitted, which provides a fitting soundtrack to a charismatic car.
The original windscreen washer bag has been discarded, and replaced with a larger capacity plastic bottle, whilst an oil cooler radiator has been installed on the front face of the water radiator, necessitating the removal of the original radiator blind assembly, although the operating handle in the cabin and control cable are still in place. On the security side, all the glass has been etched with car's registration number, and some sort of immobiliser/alarm system has been added to the coils.
The red paintwork is in reasonable order with some blemishes and cracks. The satin black paint on the inner surface of the bonnet is flaking in places. The red leather upholstery, interior trim and carpets are in generally good condition. It is recorded as having been re-trimmed in 1997, and it is still in good unmarked order nearly 20 years later. It is apparent that the car has not received much attention in recent years, as the underside is generally dirty and has a good coating of oil from unspecified leaks, but at least that keeps the rust at bay! There is some untidy wiring, notably to the rear lights and number plate light in the boot, and the fresh air hoses in the front wings are in need of repair/replacement. The under-trays are missing, as is the radiator shroud to the front valance.
The front lights have been replaced at some stage, as although they are the correct style, they are later manufacture units inscribed "SEV Marchal" instead of just "Marchal", which is period correct. Also, the fog/driving lights are normally vertically mounted through the lower grille surround, but these are rear mounted through the grille itself. The grille bars have what appear to be pop studs around the perimeter, which one assumes was to fit some form of shroud for winter motoring. When new the car was not fitted with indicator repeater lights on the front wings, but these have been added at some stage in its life. The rear lights and reflectors are the correct pattern Carello units.
The chassis number stamping "1995 GT" is in the correct location on the forward part of left main tube in the engine bay, and of the correct ciphers, with no sign of having been tampered with. The engine Numero Interno "510 F", the gearbox number "539/39" and rear axle number "249F" with ratio 9 x 34, have all been checked with Ferrari Classiche, and are confirmed as original to this car, thus it is a matching numbers example, still retaining its original red/red exterior/interior colour combination. With safety checks and maintenance/servicing to rectify any defects, like the oil leaks, the car is ready to be used as it is, or is a prime candidate for a sensitive restoration back to its original configuration'.
A less objective perspective
There is an argument to say that the UK would not be Ferrari's biggest right hand drive market today had it not been for the existence of Maranello Concessionaires. Certainly, Colonel Ronnie Hoare did much to inspire the British public's love affair with the Prancing Horse via his racing activities and courting of celebrities and as the first Maranello Concessionaires' customer car, chassis 1995GT deserves no small credit too.
The 250GT SWB had few peers in 1960. Engineered by a team of 'young guns' at Fiorano namely Giotto Bizzarrini, Carlo Chiti, and Mauro Forghieri, it was the first model in the 250 series to really concentrate on, or at least emphasise, chassis dynamics. Occupying a unique sweet spot in automotive evolution by being equally as accomplished on road and track - who can forget the tale of Stirling Moss winning the 1960 Tourist Trophy at Goodwood with Raymond Baxter's radio commentary for company - the Ferrari offered a unique motoring proposition.
Yet for all its speed and handling finesse, Ronnie Hoare had his work cut out tempting wealthy British enthusiasts away from the likes of Bentley, Aston Martin and Jaguar. Perhaps that is why he ordered 1995GT (and its sister car 1993GT which served as Maranello Concessionaires' demonstrator) with a 'semi competition' engine and more resilient steel coachwork. After all, 'his' SWBs still had to be capable of showing a clean pair of heels to an Aston Martin DB4GT.
Then again he may have had little choice in the matter. From what we can gather all the preceding SWBs and many of those which immediately followed chassis 1993GT and 1995GT were alloy bodied cars built to 'Competizione' specification. Scaglietti acceded to his wish for a steel body but Ferrari - which had something of a 'you'll get what you're given' attitude to customer service at the time (as experienced by Ferruccio Lamborghini) - may have fitted a 'hot' engine because SWB production was then focused on 'Competizione' rather than 'Lusso' cars.
We know that the factory ignored Hoare's wishes for 1993GT and 1995GT to be fitted with road going 22-gallon fuel tanks. Instead, they received long range, racing specification tanks (the fuel gauge on 1995GT is inoperative at the moment and it is the only car we have ever encountered where you can dip the tank with your arm!) Similarly, surviving Maranello Concessionaires paperwork shows that they contacted Ferrari on 25th October 1960 seeking a 'windscreen washer pump assembly for 1995GT omitted in production'.
It perhaps says something about how much the British motor industry has changed over the past fifty-five years that the first owner of 1995GT, Mr. Eyre, was a Morris dealer. Used to the uniformity engendered by mass production, he was taken aback by the SWB's hand built nature returning it to Ferrari during March 1961 so that the factory could: 'prevent water entering body through the doors, attend to fit of doors and frames, check on differential in size of nearside and offside doors and pillars and attend to defective paintwork on roof, offside front wing, nearside door and area immediately above boot lid hinges. Respray complete car'.
For all his fault finding Mr. Eyre seems to have learned to prioritise performance over panel gaps keeping 1995GT until at least December 1965 by which time it had covered 19,500 miles (as chronicled by the numerous surviving Sea Corner Garage invoices on file). Passing through the hands of K. Wilson, George Sinclair, Stephen Pilkington, Brian Classic, John Broad, David Mulvaney, David Brook and Martin Johnson before entering Richard Colton's ownership in March 1976 for _7,000, the SWB had never been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair.
We know from George Sinclair's friend Geoff Hill that the Ferrari was used as a course car at the Sandtoft sprint circuit during the mid / late 1960s and also that Stephen Pilkington had to agree to a package deal involving a Mercedes-Benz Pagoda when buying it from JCT600 in 1971. Mr. Pilkington also recalls that his son's carry cot was a snug fit behind the front seats! Ever with an eye for detail Brian Classic was responsible for switching the car back onto 'black and silver' number plates.
Some might look askance at Richard Colton's decision to lose the bumpers, flare the rear wheel arches, uprate the brakes and fit a freer flowing exhaust but he never altered the SWB's essence. Indeed many of the things that Mr. Eyre complained about, especially when it came to asymmetry, are still present on the car. However, unlike many SWBs, chassis 1995GT has never been restored to the point of being a digital rendition of an analogue creation. The two-seater remains fundamentally as Ferrari built it, warts and all. Besides, Mr. Colton's modifications seem decidedly modest when compared to a letter on file from a fellow SWB owner who advocates the fitting of fibreglass opening panels!
As well as its original factory build record, the Ferrari is accompanied by a Certificato di Identificazione, history file, MOT certificate valid until May 2016 and tool kit. Put simply 1995GT is a great car being sold for a great cause. An important part of British Ferrari history it is up to you ladies and gentlemen to ensure that it sells for a great price!
Our thanks go to: Tony Willis, Keith Bluemel, John Sykes, Dudley and Sally Mason Styrron, Russell Smith at Bob Houghton Ltd, Joe Macari and Andrew Gill at Joe Macari Performance Cars, Stephen Pilkington, Geoff Hill, Brian Classic and Martin Johnson.
Imperial War Museum Duxford