Ferrari Fifties to Sixties
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This guide features some of Ferrari's finest models of the 1950s and 1960s.
Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California 1958-1962
The Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California was created in 1957 on the 250 GT long wheelbase chassis. An open sports car version of the successful Tour de France competition car, it was produced with the encouragement of Luigi Chinetti and Johnny von Neumann with their American markets in mind. The improved short wheel-base version was built from 1960-1963, though only about 55 SWB California were produced in total. The details of the 3-litre V-12 engine evolved throughout the years of production, but he chassis was completely revised in the short wheelbase cars. Both the LWB and the SWB were designed for high-performance Grand Touring, yet only the long wheelbase version saw significant competition in the US as well as in Europe.
Ferrari 250 GT SWB 1959-1964
The short wheelbase 250 GT is considered by many as Ferrari's most perfect expression, and the reason is that it emerged at the time of transition when the production side was establishing sensible standards yet was still tied to racing. The chassis layout remained as before but the shorter and stiffer frame endowed the car outstanding road holding and balance. Its most famous win in the UK was at the hands of Stirling Moss in the 1960-1961 Tourist Trophy. Moss won the four-hour race at an average speed of 87.73mph/141.15km/h. There were two versions of the SWB, the steel-bodied Lusso for the road and the alloy-bodied Competizione for the racetrack. Total production - 167 cars.
Ferrari 250 GTO 1962-1964
Derived from a prototype which had run at Le Mans in 1961, the GTO is perhaps the best-known and best-loved of all classic Ferraris since it is a racing car which was used on the road. A 250 Testarossa with a roof, with 300bhp, a five-speed gearbox, and lighter than the 250 SWB, the GTO was formidable on the race circuits although, technically it was not legal because Ferrari did not build the 100 examples required for homologation. A 4-litre version was occasionally run by the works and 1964 cars were lower and wider, with "notch" back (like the 250 LM) Total production: 39 cars.
Ferrari 275 GT Berlinetta 1964-1968
Ferrari launched the successor to the 250 dynasty at the 1964 Paris Motor Show. Powered by the last of the successful line of "Colombo" V12 engines, now in 250bhp, 3,286cc form, the 275GTB was the first Ferrari to feature the famous "Tans-axle" layout that is still a layout to be found in cotemporary Ferraris. Standard coachwork was of steel construction with some aluminium panels although a lightweight version was also offered for competition use. From 1965 there was a Series Two car with a longer nose and smaller air intake and from 1966, the 275 GTB/4. This was the first Ferrari road car to have a four-cam engine.
Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 1964-1967
The 330GT was a fine example of a luxury Grand Tourer in the truest sense. Powered by a 3,967cc V12 engine the 330 used a four-speed overdrive gearbox in a conventional layout (late cars had a five-speed box). The 330 GTs were well equipped with air-conditioning, power steering and alloy wheels (Borrani wires as an option). Produced between 1964 and 1967 Ferrari made around 1,000 cars (625 Series I, 474 Series II) and most still survive today. Between 1966 and 1968. Ferrari produced the 330 GTC, which was a higher performance, short chassis version of the 330GT. It came with a 300bhp twin cam 3,967cc V12.
Ferrari 365 GTC 1968-1970
Essentially a revised short chassis 330 GTC fitted with the 320bhp 4.4-litre version of the single overhead camshaft engine, which added little to performance but made for more relaxed driving due to improved torque. Like the 330 it was smooth rather than exciting and was one of the first signs that Ferrari could make useable road cars, for the fine performance and superb handling were allied to comfort and new levels of build quality. Always overshadowed by the much quicker Daytona, the 365 GTC was intended to be sophisticated and elegant rather than exciting. Only 20 examples of the convertible 365 GTS were produced.