The Ferrari 250 GTO was as focused a car as has ever been built. Designed by Giotto Bizzarrini, everything about it was geared to speed. Seductively styled though it was, its cabin was conspicuously spartan. The GTO - Gran Turismo Omologato - was made to win races, not comfort contests! Specifically, races in the World Sportscar Championship. Ferrari's '250 GT' had been struggling - mainly, because of its poor aerodynamics. Which is where Bizzarrini came in! His brief was to draft a more slippery shape. More than 150mph slippery, at any rate - which was what the GT was currently mustering. Bizzarrini delivered! The grille was made smaller - and the headlights faired in. The foreshortened rear end now sported a spoiler. Top speed leapt to 173mph!
But, Bizzarrini's bodywork was just for starters. The GTO had other tools in its kit. Like a 3.0-litre V12! Its 300bhp took the car from 0-60mph in 6.1s. That needed a stiff chassis! An alloy-tubed frame obliged. The aluminium V12 was suckled by six twin-barrel Webers. Because it was dry sump, the motor sat lower - and so did the car, as a whole. A 5-speed gearbox turned the rear wheels. Only suspension let the side down a tad - being far from state-of-the-art! Saying that, it obviously did not hamper the GTO too much. In 1962, it won the World Sportscar Championship. And again, in '63 and '64! At Le Mans, in '62, it came second overall - but took the coveted 'GT' class.
The GTO, then, was a searing blend of styling and speed. Among the all-time great race-cars, as a roadster its looks were sublime. Ferrari played a bit fast and loose with the facts, however - passing the GTO off as merely a streamlined GT. That got them off the hook, homologation-wise. Otherwise, they would have had to build 100 GTOs, to go racing. In the event, just 39 were built. The truth, though, was that the new car was unique. While the GTO - and its GT forebear - did share many components, there was enough that was fresh about the GTO to set it apart. Certainly, it was a 'streamlined GT' - Bizzarrini's wind-cheating wizardry saw to that. But, should there be any doubt that the GTO was special in its own right, a couple of numbers are telling. When Ferrari launched the 250 GTO - in the 1960s - it cost £6,000. In 2014, one sold for £22,843,633. The GTO was a one-off, all right!