#0049 - Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta by Zagato, Chassis #0665GT, 1957
Photographed: Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, 2009. Owner: Lee & Joan Herrington
Numbers and Notoreity: Ah, the chassis number... This mundane detail appears when we have a specific example worthy of individual inquiry, much as the Maserati A6 GCS Pininfarina Berlinetta, which I've taken as something of a poster car for this project. Anyhow, that Maserati, like this Ferrari, sits itself in an auspicious historical niche. Ferrari and Zagato collaborated on only five 250 series cars which, considering the breadth of the species, is quite few. It was, in fact, the 250 Tour de France that leant chassis to these specially commisioned cars, and more than 75 of those particular models alone were built—with hundreds among the entire 250 family.
And so the story picks up when a few gentleman racers order Zagato coachwork for their new Ferrari mounts. Camillo Luglio is second to order his, right behind Vladimiro Galuzzi, but he is first to take delivery sans paint for want of competing in the Vermicino-Rocca di Papa Hillclimb of 1956. Camillo would win the Italian Sports Car Championship that year in the second Zagato chassis (#0537) and, having had his fun, redoubled his efforts by ordering a second competition derived car. That second car—the third of the Zagato Berlinetta—Camillo would take to a second consecutive national championship, and it is that car we have pictured here.
Perhaps most notably, chassis #0665 took a second place in class at the 1957 Mille Miglia, scoring the most notable racing performance for a 250 Zagato, claimed by virtue of the race's status as one of the most venerated public road races of the motoring age. But, beyond the competition, as with any classic era grand touring car, the style is just as important an inquiry.
Zagato Style: In a stroke of level-headed brevity, let's say that a Zagato car need not be extraordinary by virtue of wearing the Zagato badge. Many cars have worn the mark and, beyond this pedestrian observation, many of these cars have adopted the same styling traits as one another, only carried off in a particular way to match the character of the auto, and the practical constraints of the dimensions. For example, the Fiat 8V by Zagato that stood a few paces from this Ferrari at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours wears the same double-bubble hood, the same lengthened scoop on the bonnet, the same accentuated vent on the flank, and the same angular rear window. In this sense, it isn't so much the repetition of Zagato's iconic double-bubble roof that compromises stylistic integrity—for the word Zagato one expects to see it—but the inclusion of those smaller details on different marques that pulls into perspective the limits of creative genius.
To be fair, all coachbuilders had a signature style that was replicated on different cars. I have pointed out, for instance, that the design of the Cunningham C-3 Vignale Coupe is nearly identical to a design placed on the Ferrari 225 chassis by that same styling house. It was common practice and not dirty pool for Zagato to re-use these elements. But, to be discerning, some cars took the treatment much better than others, and indeed the Ferrari 250 LWB is among them.
Chassis #0665: Among the five Zagato Ferrari cars, this is the last to receive that great double-bubble hood. It further represents a departure from the overall aesthetic of the first two cars. These appear less together as a whole, with a distinct hitch in the coachwork just aft of the doors, and a more prominent rise of the glass house. The rear deck-lid of the two preceeding cars is also channeled, providing an odd placard at the rear for the identification plate. This 250, however, is smooth and flowing. When it was restored in 2004 it was coated entirely in metallic silver paint, making for a stunning, singular piece. But even in two-tone slate metallic and bright silver the car remains very much together. The tail is finished in a smooth, classic shape just as on the Maserati A6 GCS Pininfarina Berlinetta, and one gets a sense that after the first two cars, Zagato had a firm handle on how to spread its halmark styling cues across the 250 platform.
For my part, to see one of the rare Zagato Ferrari cars is a dream. As often happens, you know upon seeing the car that it is really something special, and then upon taking the time to figure out just how much so, the reward returns to you two-fold in the photos you've captured and the memories of coming across that wonderful surprise. Every show tends to have that car lurking in its midst, and at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours, I'd say this 250 Zagato fit that role exactly.
A Car for All Seasons: A piece by Marcel Massini for Cavallino Magazine featuring a history of these Zagato cars.
Supercars.net: Featuring many photos of the rare 250 Zagato cars, and also referencing the Cavallino article.
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