The last Ferrari to nearly win Le Mans - an extra special 250 LM

A prototype in GT clothing The 250 LM was introduced during a golden period for Ferrari. Only once between 1958 and 1965 was the legendary Scuderia beaten at the Le Mans 24 Hours, and during that same period its drivers Mike Hawthorn, Phil Hill and John Surtees all claimed the Formula One World Championship. The 250 GT series dominated the Grand Touring category and the 250 LM was launched towards the end of 1964 at the Paris Motor Show, with the intention that it would race in the following year’s International Championship for GT Manufacturers, superseding the GTO and countering the ever-increasing threat from Carroll Shelby’s Cobras. In order to avoid having to build 100 cars so that it could be homologated as a new model, Ferrari argued that the 250 LM was the latest variant of 250 GT – a bloodline that could trace its history back to the mid1950s. It was an argument that was swiftly rejected by the sport’s governing body. Although it shared the GTO’s 2400mm wheelbase, in pretty much all other respects the mid-engined 250 LM was actually a 250 P with a roof. The vast majority were right-hand drive, as per the prototypes. Only the very first LM was fitted with the 3L version of Colombo’s fabled V12 engine. All subsequent cars were fitted with the 3.3L unit. Strictly speaking, that made them 275 LMs rather than 250 LMs, and even the first car was retrospectively given the larger engine early in its life. Ferrari’s sales brochure for the LM celebrated its link with the 250 P: ‘The outright winner of Le Mans 1963 can truly be called the parent of this latest Berlinetta Competition model. It embodies all the experience and features of the cars which have been the most successful in recent world long-distance competitions…

The reliability and power of its 12-cylinder engine have become legendary, and the rigidity and strength of the chassis have been amply demonstrated.’ When motor racing’s governing body refused to homologate the LM as a continuation of the 250 GT line, it was forced instead to race in the prototype division for which Ferrari already had faster, purpose-built machinery. Even so, the 250 LM won all over the world during that first season of racing, from the Kyalami Nine Hours and Coppa Inter Europa, to Road America 500 at Elkhart Lake. Not bad for a car that wasn’t racing in the category for which it had been intended. The homologation controversy dragged on into 1965, when the 250 LM was once again forced to run as a prototype. The governing body then refused to homologate Ferrari’s latest GT contender – the 275 GTB – due to an apparent discrepancy in its recorded weight, and Enzo announced that he was withdrawing from GT racing completely. His decision left Shelby virtually unopposed and the American team duly won that year’s International Championship for GT manufacturers. Into this maelstrom came 6313, which in chassis-number terms is the 30th of 32 LMs that were built. 1965 and was campaigned throughout that year by the famous Ecurie Francorchamps outfit.

Founded in 1950 as Ecurie Belgique by Jacques Swaters and friends. Among the many successes for that team was a class win at Le Mans in 1957 with the car you can see behind me – the Ferrari 500 TRC that has been owned by David Cottingham for more than 30 years. In 1958, Swaters left in order to restart Ecurie Francorchamps, which would go on to become synonymous with Ferrari. Swaters had been fascinated by the marque since watching Luigi Chinetti’s 166 competing in the 48 Spa 24 Hours, and in 1954 his Garage Francorchamps business became the official Ferrari agent for the Benelux countries of northern Europe. Ecurie Francorchamps played a huge role in Ferrari’s competition success in the late 1950s and 1960s. Along with the other main distributors – NART, Maranello Concessionaires and Scuderia Filipinetti – the Belgian team proudly carried the Prancing Horse into battle during a fiercely competitive period. Nowhere was it more successful than on the Tour de France – between 1957 and 1961, it scored five consecutive victories in this gruelling and prestigious event. The team had come achingly close to overall victory at Le Mans. In 1962, Jean Blaton and Léon Dernier finished third in a 250 GTO. The following year, Blaton and Gérald Langlois van Ophem were second, with Dernier and Pierre Dumay fourth. Then, in 1965, Dumay and Gustave Gosselin came a heart-breaking second in the 250 LM.

The race debut for 6313 came in the Monza 1000km in5 April 1965. Its next appearance came on home ground at Spa on 16 May, by which time it had been repainted in the full yellow livery that was synonymous with Ecurie Francorchamps; as Willy Mairesse romped to victory in another Ecurie Francorchamps 250 LM, Franck stayed out of trouble and reached the chequered flag in eighth place overall. The following weekend, 6313 was in action again, this time across the border in Germany at the Nürburgring. It would be one of five 250 LMs. In terms of outright victories in the biggest races, Ferrari’s focus that year was on the new quad-cam 275 and 330 P2 prototypes, which between them would chalk up victories in the Monza 1000km, Targa Florio, Nürburgring 1000km and Reims 12 Hours. The most important race of them all, however, was the Le Mans 24 Hours. Ferrari had reigned supreme at La Sarthe for a number of years but the challenge from Shelby and Ford was growing ever more serious. In the end, it was the 250 LM that would uphold Maranello honour one last time – and 6313 was right in the thick of the action. Part two 1965 Le Mans 24 Hours The fact that a Ferrari won the 1965 Le Mans 24 Hours was not a surprise – after all, Maranello had not been beaten at La Sarthe since 1959.

Few people, however, had predicted that it would be a pair of 250 LMs that would be fighting it out at the front come Sunday afternoon. The expectation had been that the ever-growing threat from Ford would be countered by a trio of works prototypes – 330 P2s. Instead, as the clock ticked down towards the end, all eyes were on 6313 – driven on this occasion by Pierre Dumay and Gustave Gosselin – and the NART-entered 5893, which had been entrusted to Masten Gregory and a young Austrian hot-shoe by the name of Jochen Rindt. Hopes had been high after Shelby American cars had filled the first four places at Daytona in February. Come the 24 Hours itself, Shelby American entered thunderous new 7-litre MkIIs for Ken Miles/Bruce McLaren and Phil Hill/Chris Amon. They were backed up by five 4.7-litre GT40s, plus a quartet of Cobra Daytona Coupes. The pair of MkIIs roared into an early lead, but both were soon struck by terminal gearbox troubles, three of the 4.7-litre GT40s also dropped out, and it took until only the third hour for Ferraris to fill the first five places. During the night, however, all three works P2s started to have trouble. While everyone else hit trouble in what was then still very much an endurance race, 6313 ran perfectly and was leading by the early hours of Sunday morning. As a warm sun appeared over the horizon, the yellow 250 LM continued to tick off laps at a consistent rate. It was being chased by the NART LM of Rindt/Gregory, plus the Ecurie Francorchamps 275 GTB of Willy Mairesse and Jean Blaton. By late morning, 6313’s advantage was half a lap over the charging Rindt and Gregory.

Next the yellow LM when the race’s defining moment took place – 6313’s rightrear tyre exploded on the Mulsanne Straight, badly damaging the rear wing and forcing the car to limp around the pits. Minutes were lost before Dumay climbed aboard to complete a slow lap before he stopped again to hand over to Gosselin. It took a number of stops and repairs until the yellow LM was able to lap with any sort of consistency, by which time the Rindt/Gregory car had gone past into an unassailable lead. There was a little bit of late drama when the leading 250 LM had to be nursed to the chequered flag due to a failing differential. After being delayed by various problems early the race, Gregory and Rindt had driven it flat-out through the night and into Sunday morning, and only Gregory’s gentle touch near the end ensured that it reached the finish. Having played a starring role in a memorable race, 6313 crossed the line second, with the Ecurie Francorchamps 275 GTB of Mairesse and Blaton completing the podium in third and winning the GT class. The privateers had saved the factory’s blushes, and Ferrari had again held off Ford’s challenge – but not for long as we all know how the Blue Oval struck back in 1966, and the historic 250 LM one-two of 1965 remains Ferrari’s most recent overall victory at La Sarthe and therefore this car was very nearly the last Ferrari to win Le Mans Part three A life in competition Following its heroics at Le Mans, 6313 had two more outings in 1965 at the Reims 12 Hours, and then at the Grande Premio de Angola. That proved to be its final outing with Ecurie Francorchamps, and for many years afterwards its identity was entwined with that of the other yellow 250 LM that the Belgian outfit had been running during 1965 – chassis 6023.

In period, it was relatively common practice for a team to swap identities between cars, depending on which one was ready to race at any particular moment. In those days, a lot of paperwork was needed in order to travel between different countries. If all of that paperwork had, for example, been filled out for chassis number 6023 and it was decided at the last minute to take 6313 instead, it was much easier to swap the chassis plates between the two cars than it was to apply for new travel carnets at short notice. This is exactly what happened with the two Ecurie Francorchamps 250 LMs, so for more than 30 years 6313 wore a chassis plate stating it to be 6023 – and vice versa. But in 1999 its real identity was uncovered shortly afterwards via the smallest of details, which was picked up by renowned Ferrari historian Keith Bluemel. Pictures taken of 6023 in 1964 – before 6313 had been built – show that it had a single windscreen wiper arm and drive spindle. There was a slightly different arrangement on 6313 – it had a single windscreen wiper arm, but also featured a second wiper drive spindle.

Although Ecurie Francorchamps swapped chassis plates between the two cars, Bluemel noted that it was ‘inconceivable’ that the team would also have altered the wiper drive spindles. Identifying the cars became simple: if it had a single wiper spindle, it must be 6023; if it had two wiper spindles, it was 6313. This discovery cleared up any confusion surrounding the 1965 Le Mans 24 Hours. With the mystery over its identity having been well and truly solved, 6313 was sold by ourselves and embarked on a busy life in historic racing with new owner Juan Barazi during which time, in 2002 following an accident at Goodwood, the car was fully restored by DK Engineering. The work was carried out to typically exacting standards and the car was ready for Goodwood the following year having been rebuilt to absolute perfection. Its subsequent and current custodian continued to race 6313 in the most prestigious events, and in June 2009 it won the Le Mans Legends race, 44 years almost to the day since it had so nearly won the 24 Hours itself. In the same race two years later, the LM pipped the Lister of Alex Buncombe to take its second victory at La Sarthe. In 2014, 6313 was returned to Ferrari’s Classiche Department for a full restoration and Red Book certification.

They were in agreement with the research of Bluemel, and contact was made with the owner of 6023 so that the respective cars could be reunited with their original identities. After many years of wearing the incorrect ID of 6023, this car now bears the correct ID of 6313 The 250 LM stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the GTO and the series of P cars that achieved so many top-level victories in the mid-1960s, and its place in history is secure as the model that superseded the 250 GTO and delivered Ferraris most recent outright victory at Le Mans. The combination of its Colombo V12, Pininfarina-designed, Scaglietti-built bodywork, and a mechanical layout derived from the all-conquering 250 P meant that it neatly bridged the gap between the GT cars of the early 1960s and the sports-racing coupés that ruled La Sarthe at the end of that decade. Little wonder that it remains one of the marque’s most revered models, and few 250 LMs boast the history of 6313 – a car that played a starring role on the biggest stage of all.

Specification

  • Engine all-aluminium, single-overhead-cam-per-bank, 60-degree, 3286cc V12, six twinchoke Weber 38DCN carburettors
  • Power 320bhp at 7,500rpm
  • Torque 231lb/ft at 5,500rpm
  • Transmission five-speed non-synchromesh manual transaxle
  • Clutch dry single-plate
  • Steering rack and pinion
  • Suspension Front: double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar.
  • Rear: double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar
  • Brakes hydraulically operated discs, inboard at rear. Front 314mm, rear 298mm
  • Wheels 15in Borrani RW 3770 wires at the front, RW 3807 at the rear
  • Tyres 5.50-15 (front), 7.00-15 (rear)
  • Wheelbase 2400mm (94.5in)
  • Track, front/rear 1350mm (53.1in)/1340mm (52.75in)
  • Length 4270mm (168in)
  • Width 1700mm (67in)
  • Height 1115mm (43.9in)
  • Weight c850kg (1874lb)
  • Maximum speed 220-295kph (137-183mph) depending on rear-axle ratio
  • One of only 32 Ferrari 250 LMs built
  • Spent its entire period competition career with the legendary Ecurie Francorchamps team
  • Finished second overall in the 1965 Le Mans 24 Hours, having led for most of Sunday
  • Exceptional race history makes it one of the most famous 250 LMs
  • Classiche certified and once more presented in its iconic yellow livery
  • A proven winner at the highest level of international historic racing

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