Driving a modern Ferrari is easy. It may look and sound intimidating, but it is no more difficult to drive than a Ford Focus. Providing you exercise a little bit of restraint with your right foot, the car will do everything it can to keep you out of trouble – electronic systems work full-time to make sure you are pointing in the right direction, while convincing you that this is all down to your skill as a driver.
A Ferrari Formula 1 car, on the other hand, is a very different story. The modern F1 car may be a bewildering blend of cutting-edge technologies, but the aim of all this wizardry is to extract the maximum performance within the strict rules on engine capacity, fuel efficiency and so forth; it is not designed to make it idiot-proof. You might fancy yourself as a bit handy behind the wheel, but if you tried to drive an F1 car around a track, the very first corner would see you pirouetting red-faced into the barriers.
The company’s racing cars and road cars are, therefore, completely different beasts. But it was not always like this. Enzo Ferrari founded the company purely as a racing team, and the first roadgoing cars he sold were slightly modified versions of the race cars, sold to finance the team and keep it competitive.
In 1953, however, Ferrari started making the 250 series, its first volume-produced road car. This set Ferrari on new path in which it would stay true to the founder’s wishes of constantly striving for success on the track, but also build cars for people who enjoy driving but are not primarily focused on shaving hundredths of seconds off their lap times.
This meant that buyers of a 250GT, like the one pictured here, got a car that came with little luxuries like a synchromesh gearbox, and a cabin that was quieter and more comfortable than the Ferrari’s racing siblings. But underneath the refinement it was still a racing car.
The following decades would see road cars become the core of Ferrari’s business. And while the difference between road and racing cars is now far more pronounced than it was in the 1950s, the 250 was the first step towards the modern roadgoing Ferrari – a car that benefits from everything learnt on the racetrack, but does not demand that you know how to drive around one.
The 1956 Ferrari 250GT Berlinetta is Lot 77 in the Bonhams Quail Lodge sale in Carmel, California, on Friday 18th August 2017. Estimate $1.1m – $1.4m.
Source: The Telegraph UK