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History of the 1956-1959 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France
Ferrari never actually named his 250 GT Gran Turismo of 1956 to 1959 the Tour de France. The public took care of that after the model won four straight victories in the celebrated 3,600-mile race. In fact of all Ferrari’s series-produced Berlinettas, none matched the competition record of this the TdF, as it became known. Introduced at the 1956 Geneva Motor Show, this dual-purpose road/race model won more races than either of its successors, the 250 SWB and 250 GTO. The TdF was designed by Pininfarina and built by Scaglietti in several variations. Fitted only with two-barrel carburetors, it was aimed at the new GT category, which the FIA hoped would be less dangerous than the rules which resulted in the 1955 Le Mans 24 Hours disaster.
The TdF began by winning the Giro di Sicilia in April 1956, and then took a first in class at the Mille Miglia. The Marquess Alfonso de Portago won the 1956 Tour de France, which was an eight day marathon designed to punish cars, drivers, navigators and support crews with a series of hillclimbs, circuit races, and high speed rallies. In one day, entrants might face a timed hillclimb – usually on a gravel road, without any safety barriers – followed by a high-speed stage through daily traffic to get to a checkpoint. The next day could be a road rally, followed by a circuit race. Meanwhile, the support crew had to leapfrog ahead. After Portago’s success, Olivier Gendebien won the TdF in 1957, 1958, and 1959. He also scored a third overall in the 1957 Mille Miglia.
It’s generally agreed there were four separate series of the TdF, which are most easily recognized by their vents on their sail, or C-panels. Of the 77 cars built, the first series of 14 had no louvers. Nine second series cars had 14 vents, followed by 18 cars in mid-1957 which had 18 vents. A final series, in 1958, had only one vent on the sail panel and there were 36 of these.
Transition to the next model began in 1959, with modifications to the final 12 cars. Italian rules required that headlights no longer be covered. Nine cars were so built, while the remaining three were export models with covered lights. In addition there are believed to have been five Zagato models built. As usual with Ferraris, the exact numbers are disputed and depend on the source.
These road racers were the swansong of the gentleman driver school of racing, where one left a five star hotel, drove to the track, won the race and returned to his dinner reservation. Almost all TdFs have thorough provenance, and values depend on that provenance.
1957 Ferrari 250 GT TdF Info
12-cyl. 2953cc/240hp 3 Weber Carbs
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