Book Review: Ferrari 250 GTE - The family car that funded the racing

Jim Weed

Volume 45 Issue 26

Dec 20, 2020

Book Review of Ferrari 250 GTE by David Wheeler's

 

    In 1960 Ferrari unveiled his latest model. It wasn’t a new sports car designed to win outright victories upon the racetracks around the world.

    It wasn’t a gentleman competition car designed for the man who wanted to compete in Gran Touring events held on many weekends throughout the year. He didn’t unveil a sporty boulevard cruiser designed for the one who wished to be seen in something with an air of sophistication while visiting clients or out to dinner.

    No, Ferrari unveiled an elegant four-passenger vehicle that would become the most popular model to date. This model would be Grand Touring for the one who wanted a useful everyday Ferrari that would be just as at home getting groceries as it would traveling at high speed and style.

    Sixty years later the 250 GTE has developed its own following and one of the people singing the praises of the car that helped Ferrari fund its racing aspirations is David Wheeler. Wheeler is relatively new to the GTE but has become totally immersed in research and all other aspects of this interesting model.

    He bought his 250 GTE in 2011 and through the preservation and restoration of his own car has taken a shine to this model that has spent most of its life maligned as a starter Ferrari, or even worse, a donor car for more expensive Ferraris and replicas.

    Wheeler took over as editor and publication of the GTE Newsletter in 2014 and has been in the center of all things related to the GTE and their owners. In that capacity he has seen many different 250 GTEs and is familiar with the variations within this interesting model.

    David Wheeler has published a comprehensive history about the GTE that should stand the test of time for all who are interested in this fascinating model and who may consider owning or restoring one.

    For its time the 2+2 project Ferrari envisioned was ambitious. The collaboration between Ferrari and Pininfarina to develop a four-passenger car using the existing chassis design was brilliant. Ferrari claimed early into the project that 1,000 would be built. Up to then Ferrari had not built anywhere near that many of any single model. Total production at the end of 1960 was near two thousand cars; to claim one model would be so many would be ground-breaking for such a small company.

    Wheeler brings the reader along the journey of Ferrari history. Chapters are a logical chronology of the Ferrari factory and early 4-place cars. We experience the start of the long-term relationship between Ferrari and Pininfarina and how the GTE came to be created.

    One of the wonderful stories is how the GTE got its name. I shouldn’t spoil the answer, but Wheeler explains the chronology of the 250 GT series beginning with the Tipo 508 chassis and the derivatives of Ferrari’s attempt to stay competitive. When it came time to create the new chassis the basic design had already been updated with the 508 B, C, and D variations. The next version naturally became the ‘E’!

 

 

    The same variation also applied to the engines. Early 250 GT engines were upgraded from the original Tipo 128 design to become 128/B, /C and /D, so of course, the next upgrade was the 128/E.

    There are chapters detailing the mechanical aspects including the wonderful 3-liter 250 engine used in the many different Ferraris of the era. The transmission, rear axle and frames are also explored in intimate detail.

    While it may seem the total number made was large, there are a number of significant changes during the production run. There are three distinct Series and Wheeler inspects each series with photos and details to help make identification easier.

 

 

    There are a number of other chapters detailing the prototypes and road test reports, famous owners and replicas made. In addition, there is an appendix with every GTE serial number with original colors and notes.

    At 430 pages this is a substantial book. The pages have a nice firm feel and the photography is excellent.

    The book is available from the publisher https://porterpress.co.uk/products/ferrari-250-gte.

    Prices range from £90 through Porter Press and may be found on Amazon for $150.00. Copies may be limited so consider purchasing soon.