Ok, you've got the money. These are incredibly cool and beautiful. But what could you do with a hard-driven car without a speedometer, heater, insulation, bumpers, or soundproofing in Manhattan? Get real!" That was rational me, talking to myself in 1967. Tucked under a ramp at Garage Mon Repos in Lausanne, Switzerland, were two several-year-old Ferrari 250GTO coupes, either one $3500 -- my choice. I passed, dismissing owning one as preposterous. Twenty-odd years later, the better-looking but harder-used of the pair brought more than $15 million from a Japanese collector. Some years after, I told that story at dinner on the Riviera. The man across from me, Jean Guichet, said, "You can't imagine how happy I am to hear that. That was my car, and my wife made me sell it -- for $4500! -- if I wanted to buy another racing car." Guichet had a lot of success with GTOs, including finishing second overall at Le Mans in one of his two personal examples, and he did quite well racing three others, but he took particular pleasure learning that the man who bought a GTO from him for "almost nothing" sold it for even less.
I love the idea of Ferraris and have thoroughly enjoyed driving a few over the years, but the only model I've ever really wanted was the GTO. I surely missed the absolute bottom of the market forty-four years ago, when a GTO was just a clapped-out, no-longer-competitive racing car. At that time, there was no such thing as vintage racing, and the investment/collection frenzy hadn't begun. FIA rules for racing cars mandated that 100 examples be built, but only thirty-six (or thirty-three? Or thirty-nine? In any case, not 100) of Giotto Bizzarrini's 3.0-liter, V-12 hot rod were ever produced. Never mind Enzo Ferrari's deception, as I'm pretty sure there are more than 100 250GTOs around today; it's a pretty easy car to counterfeit. True, you can't fake provenance, at least not very easily, but the car itself is really quite simple: a tube frame, a supertuned engine pushed back and down in the chassis, and a live rear axle.
Obviously, racing history is important, but I think the GTO's real attraction lies in the fact that this may be the best-looking Ferrari "road car" ever. It still has some of the raw, rugged look of the earliest closed Ferrari GTs, leavened with exquisite feminine forms that Italian designers mastered long before others even tried to combine function and beauty. Sergio Scaglietti's fine hand and eye shaped the GTO with plenty of Pinin Farina influence, and in the long-nose, pulled-in-corners aerodynamics, there's even a bit of Bertone's Franco Scaglione in the design, not to mention strong Jaguar E-type overtones. GTOs are powerfully attractive, and the list of its various owners and drivers gives you a history of racing and collecting of the last fifty years...and the next fifty.