Five Incredible Classic Ferraris from the Sonoma Speed Festival
There aren’t many places you'll see two genuine 250 GTOs doing battle.
As the values of vintage Ferraris have risen through the years—in some cases rather dramatically—it's only natural to assume that owners become more protective of their four-wheeled treasures. It's certainly true that there are plenty of rare, valuable cars that see little of the world beyond the warehouses they're kept in, but at the inaugural Sonoma Speed Festival we were delighted to see plenty of amazing cars doing what they were built to do: rip around a race track. Here are five of our favorite vintage Ferraris from the event, each of which went wheel-to-wheel on the track to relive the glory days of international sports-car racing.
Ferrari 250 GTO
Speaking of high collector-car values, if you want to know what the most valuable car in the world is, look no further. The Ferrari 250 GTO is the final and ultimate variant of the 250 GT series of cars, with production beginning in 1962. Values are in the tens of millions of dollars, with the most expensive having sold privately for a reported $70 million. Just 36 Series 1 250 GTOs were ever built, and two were on track at Sonoma Raceway for the crowd to enjoy, mixing it up with other race cars just as they had when new. The driver of car number 11 (serial number 3647 GT) is the owner's wife, Sandra McNeil, who has been racing since the 1970s. Her husband bought the car in 1967 after it had competed at such venues as Goodwood, Brands Hatch, the Nürburgring, and Monthléry, and in the Targa Florio road race.
Ferrari 500 Mondial Spyder
The 500 Mondial was a race car built by Ferrari and bodied by Pinin Farina (spelled in two words in those days), that carried a four-cylinder engine under the hood. The '500' in the car's name indicates 500cc of displacement per each of its four cylinders, giving us a 2.0-liter total capacity. This particular car was raced in the 1954 Mille Miglia by a pair of Italians, subsequently being sold to a Swedish owner who ice-raced the car until 1959, winning the Swedish national ice-racing championship in 1957. A similar car to this one (just 22 series one cars were made) just sold at auction for more than $4 million.
Ferrari 250 GT SWB
The 250 GT SWB (standing for short wheelbase) was Ferrari's successor to the 250 GT TdF, which true to its name, used a shorted version of the 250 GT chassis for more nimble handling. In the hierarchy of Ferrari race cars, these rank quite high and they are one of the last Ferrari racers that could be used nearly as well on the street as on the track. Two of these were present at Sonoma Speed Festival and car number 74 was even more special: a factory SEFAC hot rod, built to be raced by Ferrari at the 1961 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it crashed in practice. It was subsequently rebuilt by Ferrari and sold into private ownership.
Ferrari 312 PB
A 3.0-liter sports prototype first developed by Ferrari in 1969, the 312 P was the successor to the 4.0-liter 330 P4, which had been banned in international sports car racing. Borrowing heavily from Ferrari's 312 formula 1 car of the period, 312 P models were fast but not always reliable, failing to finish at such notable races as the 1000km of Nürburgring, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the 1000km of Monza. By 1971, the car had been refined as the 312 PB and in 1972, a 312 PB swept its class at the World Sports Car Championship, wining 10 of 10 races that season. This car was a factory development car and the primary factory entry in the '71 season.
Ferrari 512 BBLM
Two 512 BBLM race cars were on-hand at the Sonoma Speed Festival, a 1979 and 1981 example. Both were based on the 512 Berlinetta Boxer road cars and boast 5.0-liter flat-12 engines and the Pininfarina-designed second series bodywork, which began in late 1978. These cars were longer than the standard road versions for increased aerodynamic efficiency and lost their pop-up headlights in exchange for sleeker fixed units mounted in the front valance. Fuel injection upped power to 470 hp from the earlier carbureted versions. Some 25 of these cars were built and the number 72 512 BBLM was sold new to importer Luigi Chinetti's North American Racing Team (NART). It was the last car to be raced by NART, finishing ninth overall at the 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans.