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Just trying to keep all of the different varieties of the Ferrari 250 straight is a fairly daunting task. There were 23 different varieties, but each of these is usually further subdivided and there are versions of the car that were only produced in single-digit numbers. But even among those incredibly rare versions of the car, this one still manages to stand out. It is a 250 GT short-wheelbase from 1962 with special one-off bodywork by Bertone for Nuccio Bertone himself. The car belonged to Nuccio, but he used it extensively as a show car, showing off the coachbuilding abilities of his company.

The car has changed hands a number of times, and at one point was used as a daily driver in California for a full 13 years. It has since been fully restored and is in absolutely pristine condition. It was recently auctioned by Gooding and Co., where it became one of the most expensive cars ever sold at public auction. Enzo Ferrari was so impressed by the car that when Bertone sent him a Christmas present that year, he sent back a letter praising the bodywork of the Speciale and signed it “Your – if you will permit me – friend, Enzo Ferrari.”

Continue reading for my full review of this one-off Ferrari.

  • 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale by Bertone
  • Year:
    1962
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale by Bertone Exterior AutoShow
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1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale by Bertone Exterior AutoShow
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1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale by Bertone Exterior AutoShow
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As I mentioned before, every Ferrari 250 is special, but it is the bodywork of the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale that makes it so amazing. The design was penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro, a Bertone designer who was still new, but who had impressed Bertone with designs for coachbuilt versions of the 1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT Jet and the Maserati 5000GT.

He was chosen personally by Nuccio Bertone, and it seems that this was the right call, because the design is absolutely stunning. Giugiaro used the “shark nose” Ferrari race cars of the ’50s as an inspiration, an idea that translated into a road car surprisingly well. The car is still recognizable as a 250 GT though, as the intention was never to show up Ferrari or the other coachbuilders that had penned versions of the car, but simply to give it a unique spin.

Interior

1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale by Bertone Interior AutoShow
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Not many cars have interiors more attractive than the one in this car. In much the same manner that the body was tweaked and improved, the interior got a going over that made the already amazing 250 that much more impressive. The seats are burgundy leather, with quilted black vinyl on the transmission tunnel and foot wells. There are power windows, and the metal dash is painted to match the body color. Even the steering wheel is unique to this car, complete with a black Bakelite rim. It’s altogether quite beautiful, and fits with the exotic bodywork.

Drivetrain

1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale by Bertone Exterior AutoShow
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Mechanically, the 250 is the same as any other 250 GT SWB Berlinetta, a version of the car that was launched in 1959. Central to this is the 3.0-liter V12 from which the car takes its name. Ferraris in those days were named for the specific displacement of each cylinder, in this case 250 cc. Different versions were tuned to produce different amounts of power, and the one used for the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta made between 237 and 276 horsepower. That was a lot in 1959, a whole lot, especially for a car as light as this one. This was also the first Ferrari GT car to have disc brakes. Altogether an amazing machine.

Prices

1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale by Bertone Exterior AutoShow
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Here is where the story gets really insane. The car sold at auction at Pebble Beach this year for $16.5 million. That exceeds even the $14 million - $16 million estimate that Gooding and Co. had originally predicted for the car. The 250 GT SWB Berlinetta in genarel isn’t nearly as rare as, say, the California versions of the 250 GT, and this is by far the most that any of them has ever sold for. In fact, not many cars have ever sold for more, at least not any that have had the sale price disclosed. Of the prices that we know of, this is the sixth most expensive car ever sold, or the eighth if the figures are all adjusted for inflation. And most of those that have gone for more have been other Ferraris, particularly 275s and other 250s. And since the car’s competition is primarily other special version of the 250, the competitor cars listed here are the couple of similarly valuable classics that aren’t Ferraris.

Competition

Bugatti Type 41 Royale by Kellner

1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale by Bertone
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With only six ever made as an ultimate expression of luxury in the years immediately prior to WWII, all Royales are extremely valuable, but the most ever fetched ($20 million in adjusted dollars) was for the Kellner car. Bricked up in the Bugatti family home to hide it from the Nazis, it was sold after the war, along with another Royale, to Briggs Cunningham for $571 and two refrigerators. It has gone up in value "slightly" since then.

1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K

1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale by Bertone
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One of the gorgeous art deco cars to have a shortened production run due to WWII. This one also had a supercharged straight-eight engine that made 180 horsepower, and a tube chassis derived from the Mercedes race cars of the era. But for all of its racing touches, the 540K was big on style, and the good looks are surely part of why one sold for $12 million.

Conclusion

1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale by Bertone Exterior AutoShow
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There simply is no way to ever say enough good things about this car. The 250 commands the kind of money that it does by virtue of its having been an amazingly good car, even by the standards of many years later. This one is an exceptional example of the breed as well, as you would expect from a car custom made for the owner of an Italian coachbuilding firm. Racing versions of the 250 have fetched higher prices, but I honestly don’t understand why.

  • Leave it
    • you can’t afford it
    • even if you can afford it, you can’t have it because someone else bought it
    • too terrifying to ever take it out of the garage
Jacob Joseph
Jacob Joseph
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