Famous Ferrari Comp TdF offered at RM Monaco
Perhaps no other competition sports car of the 1950s looms larger than Ferrari’s 250 GT Berlinetta, which so dominated the multi-stage Tour de France rally from 1956 to 1959 that the model was nicknamed for the event. Produced in four discreet series before being succeeded by the 250 GT SWB, the Tour de France was built in a modest quantity of 72 examples.
This mid-production TdF is the 15th of 17 examples built in the 1957 body style, featuring three louvers and covered headlights. With production beginning at the end of 1957, the engine was equipped with competition camshafts tipo 130 and high-compression pistons. The transmission was the competition ribbed gearbox, paired with a limited-slip differential and an 8 × 32 final drive ratio. The body was fitted with sliding windows, and a third windshield wiper was mounted, later replaced by a Perspex hood deflector, and finished in dark red paint with a beige leather interior.
The 250 GT was immediately sold to Wolfgang Seidel, a German racing driver nicknamed ‘The Golden Bear’ who campaigned a 250 TR for the Scuderia Ferrari during 1958. Seidel entered his new TdF, 0879 GT, in about 22 events over the next few years, claiming 11 victories along the way. The car’s record in major events during this period was nearly as impressive, including a 2nd overall at the Grand Prix of Spa-Francorchamps in May 1958, 4th overall at the 12 Hours of Reims in July 1958 (while co-driven by von Trips), 3rd in class at the Grand Prix de Paris at Linas-Montlhery in May 1959, 5th overall at the Gran Premio della Lotteria in Monza in June 1959 and 4th overall (and 1st in class) at the Coupe de Paris at Linas-Montlhery in September 1959.
In 1964, chassis 0879 GT passed through a short succession of German-based owners and then to Gary Schmidt, an American in Germany. He commissioned an engine rebuild in Switzerland with the support of the Ferrari Factory, as we can read in a letter of 1968, before selling the car in 1973 to Christer Mellin, a Swedish marque enthusiast and founder of the Ferrari Club Svezia.
Mellin was also in close contact with the factory and started to restore the car in 1974, sourcing parts at the factory, travelling dozens of times to Maranello, as we can see in all the invoices on file. It took close to 20 years for Mellin to complete the restoration, as he commissioned a meticulous refurbishment by some of Sweden’s finest craftsmen that stressed originality, taking hundreds of pictures to keep along with all invoices a rare mandate for a restoration of the mid-1990s.
The completed car was soon tested by writer Marc Sonnery for a feature in the April/May 1997 issue of Cavallino magazine.
In May 1997, Mellin sold the Tour de France to the current owner, who has dutifully maintained the fabulous restoration while entering the car in a number of niche events, including Ferrari’s 50th, 60th and 70th anniversary celebrations in Rome and Maranello, the Ferrari Shell Historic Challenges in 1998 and 2000, the Tutte le Ferrari in 1999 and 2000 and the Mille Miglia Storica in 1999. 0879 GT has recently been authenticated by Ferrari Classiche.
With a colorful history including a successful career with a celebrated German driver, 0879 GT claims a short and well-documented chain of ownership, including period use by a Ferrari factory driver.
Offered on Saturday, May 12, at the Grimaldi Forum, 10 Avenue Princesse Grace, Monte Carlo, Monaco 98000. Information from RM Sotheby’s. Images courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.
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