January 1962 saw the debut of the Ferrari 250 GTO, the sole front-engine model among its sportscar competitors that year, including Maserati, Jaguar, and Porsche, to name a few.

The 250 GTO Berlinetta ruled its class in the GT category. It won the Tour de France in 1963 and ‘64; the GT class in the Targa Florio in 1962, ‘63 and ‘64; the same class at Le Mans in 1962 and ‘63; the Nurburgring 1000 km in 1963 and ‘64; and the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood in 1962 and ‘63.

Only 36 of these beauties were ever produced, despite the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) regulations that specified that 100 were to be built for homogulation purposes.  Homogulation is a term meaning “approved,” and establishes a link between the racing world and the production-car models that are legal for road use. Strict rules governed most areas of motorsports: engine size, power output, the car’s weight and other dimensions.  These rules existed to ensure that super-cars weren’t being built solely to win races: the grand touring class’s genesis were regular street cars modified for racing purposes.

A governing body such as FIA required that a certain number of “production-derived” vehicles had to be built before models could compete in touring car racing or rallying. Apparently, Ferrari eluded the requirement by numbering chassis non-sequentially. When officials visited the factory to inspect the production run, they saw the same 25 or so cars in different parts of the factory, the cars being quickly repositioned while inspectors were moving from one room to another. 

The 250 GTO may have been the last true road and race car. If you drove the car on a regular highway, you could legitimately fantasize that you were outpacing the competition at Le Mans! 

By the numbers, the 250 GTO specifications:

2-seater Berlinetta TYPE
300 hp at 7400 rpm MAXIMUM POWER
A single overhead camshaft per bank, 2 valves per cylinder VALVE ACTUATION
6 Weber 38 DCN carburettors FUEL FEED
5-speed + reverse TRANSMISSION
130 litres (34.34 US gal) FUEL TANK CAPACITY
4325 mm (14.19 ft) LENGTH
1600 mm (5.25 ft) WIDTH
1210 mm (3.97 ft) HEIGHT
2400 mm (7.87 ft) WHEELBASE
1354 mm (4.44 ft) FRONT TRACK
1350 mm  (4.43 ft) REAR TRACK
880 kg (1940 lbs) (dry) WEIGHT
280 km/h (174 mph) TOP SPEED

Given the rarity of the car, and its racing pedigree, it is not surprising that sales are seldom recorded. In 2018, one 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO previously owned by car collector Greg Whitten became the priciest race car ever sold, with a price tag of US$48.4 million.

Whitten said he was happy with the sale. “My journey with the 250 GTO has come to an end, but I am excited to see how this fantastic car is enjoyed by the new owner,” he told AutoClassics.com. “The [buyer] will have seen the seemingly unbelievable list of superlatives that are used to describe it – legendary, historic, “holy grail”—but I can assure them that once they get behind the wheel, they will understand that every one of them is true.”