1947 saw the First Ferrari rumble through the streets of Maranello. Today the 70-year-old company has become one of the most prolific automakers around, a company with a rich back catalogue of stunning cars. To celebrate the 70th birthday of the Man from Modena’s motors, here’s our pick of Ferrari’s 7 greatest classic cars.
Often overlooked in favour of its iconic brother, the GTO, the LM is far from a car to be forgotten. One of the very few mid-engined 250’s, the LM, as the name suggests was built to conquer the 24 Hours of LeMans, specifically in the GT class. Enzo aimed to homologate the LM, though falling far short of building the 100 required, the LM was set to compete against the much quicker prototype cars. Despite such a handicap the LM won the 1965 24 Hours of Le Mans, the last time Ferrari would claim the title.
Bodied by Pininfarina, the LM’s form follows function design is surprisingly pretty, eyes instantly falling to the cars chopped off Kamm-tail and flanking air intakes feeding the LM’s fierce 3.3-litre V12. As with its Le Mans win at the hands of the North American Racing Team (N.A.R.T), the LM was popular with privateers, proving competitive during the 1964 endurance season at the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 12 Hours of Reims where a pair of LM’s placed 1^st and 2^nd . With just 32 of the road going racers built, the 250 LM is a full-fledged member of automotive royalty, regarded as not only one of the most illustrious classic cars of all time, but also as one of the greatest machines to wear the prancing horse.
Ferrari 330 P4
Look at it, just look at it. Can you imagine the creativity required to design a race car that looks this astonishing in 1967? Appearing simultaneously alien yet somehow human is a trait rarely pulled off in a car, especially one built purely to perform. With a body that achingly pretty the way the Ferrari 330 P4 drives almost seems irrelevant, though if you were to run for contenders of the best driving race cars the 330 P4 would probably rank right at the top.
Built to re-establish Ferrari on the endurance racing map in retaliation to the Ford GT40’s 1-2-3 finish at LeMans 1966, the 330 P4’s asserted its dominance with a 1-2-3 of their own at the 24 Hours of Daytona a year later. Of the 3 P4’s raced at Daytona just one survives to this day, the drop dead gorgeous body enveloping Ferrari’s howling race prepped 4-litre V12. Though despite the large, heavy engine the 330 P4 is said to be incredibly well balanced thanks to its perfectly set up chassis and suspension, allowing drivers to take full advantage of the howling V12’s 450 horsepower. Endlessly developed and perfected over its racing life, the 330 P4 stands today as a near perfect example of how a racing car should drive and feel; perfect throttle response, perfect suspension, perfect handling, perfectly short throw through its gated 5-speed and drop dead gorgeous looks, the 330 P4 is as pure as it gets.
Ferrari 250 GT California SWB
“Win on Sunday, sell on Monday”, that was the concept of the Ferrari 250 GT California. A car credited to Enzo’s American importer, Luigi Chinetti, Chinetti suggested a chic Spyder perfect for the Californian climate with enough power to please the gentlemen racer at the wheel. The result, simply one of Ferrari’s prettiest gems, the 250 GT California.
As the name suggests, the Cali was built for the export market, a refined, stylish Spyder perfect for blasting through the American sunshine. Far from a slouch, Cali’s came equipped with Colombo’s lightweight 3-litre V12, which cocooned in Sergio Scaglietti’s proportionally perfect body lent the Cali to one hell of a driving experience; gorgeous to drive, gorgeous to listen to and truly unbelievable to look at, the 250 GT California had it all. Unsurprisingly the approximately 50 Short Wheel Base California’s are incredibly collectable, so much so the patinaed barn find Cali plucked from the Baillon collection in Western France changed hand at auction in 2015 for $18.5 million.
Ask anyone of a certain age to name the greatest supercar of all time and you can put good money on their answer being the Ferrari F40. Built to celebrate the marques 40^th birthday, the F40 was the last car to be blessed by Enzo, and in true il Commendatore fashion, the F40 blurred the lines between road and track car.
Strictly functional, the F40 was as analog as a supercar could be. With over 500 horsepower fed to the rear wheels by a 2.9 litre twin-turbocharged V8, the punch the F40 packed wasn’t held up by any electronic limiting; no ABS, no traction control, no electronic stability program and a hell of a lot of turbo boost.
In pursuit of performance Ferrari bodied the F40 in a superlight carbon fibre and kevlar composite, throwing away anything adding weight to the F40. Carpets, a glovebox, door handles, electric windows, a stereo, proper upholstery and even paint (you can see the carbon fibre weave through the thin paint) were all removed; the result, the F40 weighing just a shade over 1,300kg. To this day it remains in the eyes of many as the supercar to end all supercars. The horrid fit and finish pale in comparison with their payoff, performance to light your fire 30 years down the track, the ultimate analog driving experience.
Ferrari 246 GT Dino
All Ferrari’s are created equally, though in its day, not the Dino. Named after Enzo’s son, Alfredo ‘Dino’ Ferrari, Alfredo may have designed the ‘Dino’ V6 on his deathbed, though the cars that would bear his name were rather surprisingly badged and sold as Dino’s, not Ferrari’s.
Dino’s legacy to the company saw the most successful Ferrari up to that point, the 246 Dino. Available as a coupe or Targa GTS, the 246’s were equipped with Alfredo’s gem of an engine, the 2.4-litre V6. Bodied by Pininfarina both inside and out, the man responsible for the Dino’s gorgeous curves, Leonardo Fiarovanti, penned both the Daytona and 288 GTO, so he sure knew his way around a pencil, his raw talent clearly on show with his pretty little Dino. Taking a new tack for Ferrari, the small, nimble Dino drove much more like a go-kart than Ferrari’s usual suspects of the time, the powerful V12 GT’s. Despite originally being badged and marketed as Dino’s rather than as Ferrari’s, customers were far from deterred, eager to snap up the new machine from Maranello with well over 3,000 246 Dino’s produced, the first produced in such high numbers. Today Dino’s are considered true Ferrari’s, the lightweight and nimble 246 GT Dino as sweet as a nut.
Ferrari 212 Barchetta
Despite the success of Ferrari’s first couple road cars, the 166 and 195, Enzo’s heart was set on racing, his road cars merely used to fund his racing teams. Regardless of the apparent lack of care put into his road machines, the 195’s successor, the 212 properly established Ferrari as the force to be reckoned with they remain today; on road, on track. Mounted under the 212’s endless bonnet sits Colombo’s 2.6-litre V12 kicking out around 150 horsepower, not much by today’s standards, but enough to outperform any car that had come before it.
Starting out as the company would go forward, in true Ferrari fashion the 212 blurred the lines between road and race car, winning both the 1951 Targa Florio and Tour De France Automobile. Built to target wealthy privateers, owner’s new Ferrari’s were delivered to the coachbuilder of their choice to be clothed. This resulted in 212’s being bodied by Ghia, Pininfarina, Vignale, Farina and the pick of the bunch, Touring, who’s 212’s were nicknamed Barchetta’s, Italian for ‘little boat’, a nod to the coachlines running down the sides of the cars. Penned in and out by Touring, the coachbuilt bodies were perfectly paired with the sparse, no nonsense interior built to race. A gorgeous car to drive, Barchetta’s found their way around the world, Henry Ford II even received a Touring Barchetta as a gift from Enzo Ferrari.
Ferrari 250 GTO
No list of greatest Ferrari’s is complete without the 250 GTO. Probably the most iconic collector car of all time, the GTO ticked all the boxes: V12 power, body by Pininfarina and wickedly fast. By far the most successful of the road racers, the Gran Turismo Omologato was built to compete with newer competition once the Short Wheel Base couldn’t. propelled with the Colombo 3-Litre V12, an engine throwing around 300 horsepower at the rear wheels through Ferrari’s timeless gated 5-speed shifter, GTO’s were far from slouches, proving very popular with private racing teams and works drivers.
Raced in the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Tour De France Automobile and the Targa Florio, the GTO proved near unbeatable, even taking the World Sportscar Championship three years running from 1962. Described by drivers of the time to be as near perfect a driving experience as was possible, with such credentials it’s no surprise the GTO went on the become not only incredibly famous for its collectability, but also for its immense racing success. Such provenance and the fact just 39 250 GTO’s were made, demand for the seldom sold road races have led to prices crossing £45 million.