1964 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso

1964 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso

Any list of the greatest cars ever has to include a Ferrari 250 GT. Trouble is, almost all are stratospherically expensive, up to and including the world’s most valuable car, the 250 GTO. Within our £1.5 million price cap, there’s a choice of just two 250 GTs: the GTE 2+2 or the GT Lusso. Considering it’s possibly the most beautiful Ferrari ever made, the GT Lusso seems unfairly undervalued. In fact, we’d go as far as to say it’s our favourite road-going Ferrari GT of all time.

Ferrari 250 GT Lusso Dressed to Thrill

The 250 GT Lusso was the very last pure road-going model in the legendary 250 GT series that started in 1954. The ‘GT/L’ made its debut at the 1962 Paris Salon and lasted in production for less than two years. As its ‘Lusso’ tag implied, this was essentially the street version of the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta. Other than lacking a competition pedigree, the GT Lusso has absolutely everything going for it. It starts with that shape. Approach it from any angle and you’re rewarded with curves that glide seamlessly one into another; it’s worth walking right around the car to admire how it evolves like a masterful Shakespearean plot. It has harmony and balance, for sure, but also keen drama thanks to its wide, low-set, racing-derived front grille, Kamm tail and aerodynamic boot lid lip.

1964 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso

Underneath, the Lusso benefits from sharing essentially the same specification as the legendary 250 GT SWB. That includes the 2400mm wheelbase tubular steel chassis, albeit with the engine mounted a little further forwards to increase cabin space. And what an engine: Colombo’s ‘short’ block 2953cc V12. Fitted with three twin-choke Weber 36 carbs, it was good for 240hp – almost as much as the SWB.

The suspension, brakes and steering are basically shared with the 250 GT SWB, too: coil springs and wishbones up front, rigid rear end with leaf springs and radius arms and four-wheel Dunlop disc brakes. But two rear suspension upgrades were taken straight from the 250 GTO racer: a Watt’s linkage and concentric springs around the dampers, endowing it with great surefootedness. Today we have the pleasure and privilege of driving James Needham’s stupendous example, beautifully cared for by Barkaway’s. Open the door and you’re enticed into a cabin that looks and feels amazing. Nestling into the deep bucket seats, you’re struck by the unusual dash layout: speedo and rev counter nestling in large binnacles in the centre of the facia, angled deliciously towards you.

1964 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso - interior / engine V12

Grasp the wood-rimmed aluminium steering wheel, turn the key, press the black start button and the sound of the V12 instantly transports you to some Tuscan dreamscape. A super-short stroke of 58.8mm endows the V12 with supreme smoothness and a free-revving feel. It’ll go all the way to 7500rpm, ever evolving as the revolutions rise, the exhaust note becoming deeper, the carbs more vocal, before it hits a super-sweet zone at 4500rpm, when everything gels into one intoxicating, symphonic, mechanical delight. The Lusso can reach 60mph in 7.5 seconds and top out at 150mph – and it genuinely feels fast, even today. A real highlight is the four-speed all-synchromesh gearbox, which feels so positive from first right through to fourth, the mechanical action of the lever so tactile. Considering the unsophisticated leafsprung rear axle, the Lusso’s handling is beautifully engaging. That short wheelbase and even weight distribution make it innately balanced; there’s mild understeer at low speeds, but as the pace increases, so does the handling neutrality. Tickling the throttle, oversteer is superbly predictable. The worm-and-sector steering is hefty but accurate. You instantly understand why contemporary racing drivers loved this car so much, despite its ‘luxe’ marketing. Like we said, this is our favourite Ferrari GT of all.

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