First presented to the public at the 1959 Paris Auto Salon, the Pininfarina designed 250 GT Berlinetta Passo Corto (SWB) would prove to be a faster, lighter and even more competitive successor to the highly revered 250 Tour De France. Built at the Scaglietti works in Modena, it would go on to be one of the best known and most competitive road going Ferraris. The 250 SWB was the first production road car to be fitted with disc brakes as standard equipment. Unlike the preceding LWB series, the new car was offered in both left and right hand drive configurations. Available too in two basic specifications, the aluminium-bodied competition cars left the factory with lightened trim, reduced sound deadening and the revised Colombo V12 with a higher power output, the later ‘Lusso’ (Luxury) cars were given a steel body by default. As with all Ferrari’s of this time period, there are some examples of Lusso cars with aluminium bodies and vice versa.
The designations “passo lungo” or “LWB” for the long-wheelbase 2600mm chassis, and “passo corto” or “SWB” for the short wheelbase 2400mm chassis, are subsequently adopted terminology to distinguish between the two series of cars. The overall design changed very little during the three year production run from 1960 to 1962. However, there are a number of detail diff erences that identify the period of production of a specifi c car. Visually they related to things like the addition of front and rear wing vents, the shape of the door window glass, the location of the fuel fi ller, size and shape of the radiator grille and myriad smaller details, further separating these from the earlier ‘interim’ 250 GT Berlinettas with the rear 3/4 window. Designed with motorsport in mind, the 250 GT “SWB” Berlinetta continued on the successes of the preceding “LWB” models, dominating the 1960 and 1961 seasons with consecutive wins in the Tour de France, Goodwood Tourist Trophy, the GT category at Le Mans and the Nurburgring 1000km. These were just a few of the numerous class and overall wins achieved during its reign as the queen of the GT category. Chassis #1995GT was the second of only nine right hand drive versions of the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta imported into the UK by Col. Ronnie Hoare of Maranello Concessionaires Ltd. It was one of very few cars to feature competition options on a steel bodied car.
Delivered new in 1960, 1995GT was supplied in Rosso Corsa, with a red leather interior, red carpets, a steel body, 3.77 rear axle ratio, Dunlop RS4 tyres and a limited slip differential. The factory build sheets detail the engine was to delivered in semicompetition specification with a 9.5:1 compression ratio, 10mm lift camshafts, triple Weber 40 DCL6 carburettors with intake trumpets and cold air box, rather than an air filter box, as well as an Abarth competition exhaust system. The factory engine test sheet shows that it produced 252bhp when new on their dynamo-meter, verifying the use of competition components in the engine. This special motorcar was collected from the factory by a Mr R.E. Horning of Hampshire on behalf of its first owner, the proprietor of Sea Corner Garage, a Mr Eyre.
Upon its arrival in the UK, it was registered as RU 20. Fascinatingly as the first customer car supplied by Maranello Concessionaires, and such were Ferrari’s motorsports intentions at the time, early cars had specified luxury options ignored at build by the factory. It is understood that all preceding and subsequent competition SWBs were alloy bodied cars built to full ‘Competizione’ specification. Clearly Colonel Ronnie Hoare wanted to collate the best features of a competition SWB and assemble them in a street car. Whilst Scaglietti granted Ronnie Hoare’s wish for steel bodies on #1993GT (his demonstrator) and #1995GT respectively, the factory ignored his wishes for the pair to be fitted with road going 22-gallon fuel tanks. Instead, they received long range, racing specification tanks.
Similarly, surviving Maranello Concessionaires paperwork shows that they contacted Ferrari on 25th October 1960 seeking a ‘windscreen washer pump assembly for #1995GT omitted in production’. Expecting mass production quality from his new SWB, the first owner Mr. Eyre, had several queries regarding the hand built nature of the car, returning it to Ferrari during March 1961 with the expectation the factory would attend to several panel fitment issues! However, Mr. Eyre would go on to retain #1995GT until at least December 1965 by which time it had covered 19,500 miles. After his ownership, #1995GT would pass through the following subsequent owners; Mr K. Wilson, Mr G. Sinclair, Mr Brian Classic, Mr John Broad, Mr David Mulvaney and Mr David Brook, before being purchased by the legendary Richard Colton from Maranello Concessionaires Ltd in March 1976. At the time of his purchase, it was reported to have just received an engine rebuild by Graypaul Motors Ltd, with the mileage showing 49,000 miles on the odometer.
The car would remain in his custody for nearly 40 years, up to the time of his passing in March 2015. Richard would go on to cover just over 50,000 miles in the car, extensively using it on the road, attending rallies and gatherings all over Europe. He also took part in Ferrari’s 50th anniversary celebrations in Maranello in 1997. Using the car less frequently in his later years, the odometer 01805 at the time of the H&H auction in 2015. During the course of his ownership, Richard would carry out a number of changes and modifications to make it more suitable and safer for modern driving conditions. The most visible deviation from originality at the front; the removal of the bumpers and aluminium side trim strips, allowing for the provision of sleeved front brake cooling ducts. At the rear, the light flaring of the rear wheel arches and added “SNAP” exhaust extractors, giving it the stance of the competition version of the model. The changes that he made were rarely aesthetic, instead focusing on performance upgrades, such as upgrading the braking system to four-pot AP racing callipers in place of the original Dunlop units, with braided stainless steel hoses replacing a number of the copper tubes, and the provision of a booster, thus providing a braking system more in keeping with modern day standards.
In 1996, Richard had the original 10mm lift cams replaced with milder 9.5mm lift units, which he described as making the car smoother and more user friendly, with more low down torque. Lastly a stainless steel competition exhaust system was added, which provided a fitting soundtrack to such a charismatic car. With the assistance of Ferrari Classiche one can be certain that the chassis number stamping “1995 GT” is in the correct location on the forward part of the left main tube in the engine bay, and of the correct cyphers, with no sign of having been tampered with. The engine Numero Interno “510 F”, the gearbox number “539/39” and rear axle number “249F” with ratio 9 x 34, have all been checked and verified as correct and original to this car, thus it is a totally matching numbers example which also still retains its original red/red exterior/interior colour combination. Richard Colton’s decision to lose the bumpers, flare the rear wheel arches, uprate the brakes and fit a freer-flowing exhaust was only ever an iteration of the SWB’s essence and original intentions of the team who would go on to build the legendary 250GTO.
Even many of the things that Mr. Eyre complained about, especially when it came to asymmetry, are still present on the car. However, unlike many SWBs, chassis 1995GT has never been restored to the point of being a digital rendition of an analogue creation. The two-seater remains fundamentally as Ferrari built it. In 2015, after Richard’s passing, 1995GT was sold by H&H auctions with the RNLI as the sole beneficiaries of the sale. Having known and serviced the car for several years, DK Engineering acquired 1995GT on behalf of the current custodian, a long-standing customer, collector and friend of the business.
Making contact with Mr. Eyre in 2019, DK Engineering heard numerous fascinating tales during his ownership, from the police motorway stop on the drive back to the UK, to the long-range fuel tank making shopping trips a struggle - and the resulting 250 GT that joined his collection in 1961 to solve that issue! Mr. Eyre had retained the original number plate for his whole life, running the car on his Porsche 911 Turbo until he stopped driving and as such today, we are extremely fortunate to be able to reunite the car with its original number plate, 60 years after it was delivered.
One of the first two cars supplied to the UK by Maranello Concessionaires optioned with a multitude of competition features including high-lift cams, long-range fuel tank, competition gearbox and seats; #1995GT is one of just 11 RHD steel-bodied examples. Owned and used almost daily by Richard Colton for over 40 years, and sold to benefit the RNLI in 2015, this extraordinary example is seen today for the first time after its comprehensive in-house restoration by DK Engineering.