Motoring royalty at Blenheim Palace as Salon Privé welcomes Ferrari 250 GTOs

Thanks to its peerless combination of competition success, beauty and rarity, the Ferrari 250 GTO has become the jewel in the crown of any collection. Seeing one up close is always a thrill for any enthusiast, but during this year’s Salon Privé Week there will be two of these iconic machines on display at Blenheim Palace.

Introduced in 1962, the GTO was the ultimate development of Ferrari’s 250 GT Berlinetta series, which stretched back to 1956 and helped to lay the foundation of the Ferrari legend. The 250 GT Berlinettas dominated motorsport’s GT class and were particularly successful in the Tour de France, winning this most gruelling of events no fewer than nine years in a row.

Following on from the fabled 250 GT Short Wheelbase, the GTO was developed by Ferrari’s Gestione Sportiva under the leadership of Giotto Bizzarrini. When he left Maranello after the infamous ‘Palace Coup’ of late 1961, it fell to the young Mauro Forghieri to finish the job. Although the chassis was based on that of the Short Wheelbase, among the many upgrades were all-new bodywork – which was built by Scaglietti – a five-speed gearbox, and dry-sump lubrication plus six carburettors for the latest version of the Gioacchino Colombo-designed V12 engine.

The result was a beautifully engineered car that reigned supreme in everything from hillclimbs and road-rallies to circuit racing and endurance events. In 1962, the International Championship for GT Manufacturers was the de facto World Sportscar Championship – and the GTO was rampant, picking up a maximum score and sweeping aside rivals from Jaguar and Aston Martin. It won the title again in 1963, and completed the hat-trick in 1964 despite growing competition from Carroll Shelby and his brutal Cobra.

The two GTOs that will be gracing Salon Privé Week have both got exceptional histories. Chassis number 3767GT was the first of two GTOs to be owned by renowned British privateer David Piper. Finished in his distinctive shade of green, 3767GT made its competition debut at Brands Hatch in August 1962, and the following month Piper – along with his good friend Dan Margulies – took it to fourth place in the Tour de France.

In November, Piper made the first of many trips to South Africa, and took 3767GT to victory in the Kyalami Nine Hours, then third place in the Angola Grand Prix. In early 1963, he shipped the GTO over to the US, drove it from New York down to Florida, and raced it at Daytona and Sebring. While he was there, he sold 3767GT to Ed Cantrell, who continued to compete in it through 1963 and into 1964, before selling it to Tom Fleming, with whom this GTO finished its period competition career.

Joining it at Salon Privé will be chassis 4399GT, which was supplied new in 1963 to the famous Maranello Concessionaires equipe of Colonel Ronnie Hoare. It won its first two races – at Goodwood and Silverstone – with Mike Parkes at the wheel, and in August 1963 it was driven to victory in the Tourist Trophy by Graham Hill, the reigning Formula One World Champion.

Ahead of the 1964 season, 4399GT was one of four existing GTOs to receive the revised bodywork that Ferrari had developed for that year – three more were built with the 1964 bodywork from new. Its shape may have changed, but its form hadn’t. Graham Hill took 4399GT to victory at Goodwood and Silverstone, Mike Parkes did likewise in the Spa 500km, and Innes Ireland and Tony Maggs took it to sixth overall, and second in class, at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

‘Values of GTOs mean that they rarely come out,’ said Salon Privé Director Andrew Bagley, ‘so for us to be welcoming not one, but two of these amazing cars to Salon Privé is an honour and a privilege. Few cars have the charisma of a GTO, and it will be a special moment to see them lining up together in front of Blenheim Palace. It’ll be particularly exciting to have David Piper as our special guest on Wednesday 1 September – we’re looking forward to reuniting him with 3767GT and hearing all about his adventures.’

There will be more Italian greats on display elsewhere during Salon Privé Week, courtesy of a brand-new feature for 2021 – The Red Collection, which will be presented on Blenheim Palace’s famous cricket pitch. The exclusive curated display will be kept under wraps until being unveiled on the opening day of the event, but will include last year’s Best of Show 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza Zagato Spider, plus a Ferrari F40 – one of the greatest of all supercars.

With a programme that includes Ladies’ Day presented by Boodles on Friday, the Salon Privé Club Trophy presented by Lockton on Saturday, and Sunday’s Classic and Supercar event, all the elements are in place for another unmissable Salon Privé Week.

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