Some might suggest that all Ferraris are icons but few would argue that any are more iconic than the classic Ferrari 250 LM Berlinetta. Called the quintessential Ferrari by Road & Track, the 250 LM was the mid-engined successor to the legendary 250 GTO,
Introduced to the public at the 1963 Paris Motor Show, it was designed by Pininfarina but its coachwork was produced by Carrozzeria Scaglietti. Just 32 LMs were built, making it even rarer than the vaunted GTO.
Still as spectacular as it was back then, the ninth car of that exclusive production run is on display at the 2019 Canadian International Auto Show, in Toronto, which is open to the public from February 15 through 24.
It is part of the fifth-annual ‘Art and the Automobile’ classic car exhibit, called ICONS, which is organized by the Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The Ferrari is one of 15 iconic models comprising the exhibit, ranging in origin from the nineteen-teens to the 1970s.
As the 250 LM’s name implies, it was designed to compete at Le Mans, in the GT class, as well as in the World Sportscar Championship. But the FIA, the governing body of motorsports, deemed that the 32 cars built were too few to qualify for the class, which required a minimum of 100 cars produced.
As a result, the LM had to compete for outright victory against the (slightly) more exotic prototypes of the day. It did so to great effect, taking the overall win at the 24-hour of Le Mans in 1965, defeating Ferrari’s own prototypes and Ford’s GT juggernaut in the process. Significantly, it was the last Ferrari to win the fabled 24-hour race.
Make no mistake: despite its nominal GT-class intentions, the LM was designed as a pure race-car, as a close look at the version on display makes clear. There’s nothing even remotely oriented towards comfort, convenience or the usual amenities of a touring car in its raw interior, for example.
In fact, it shares its chassis and running gear with the Ferrari 250 P prototype, with just minor modifications and an enclosed cockpit. That chassis features fully independent suspension with front and rear unequal length wishbones and coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers, anti-roll bars and four-wheel disc brakes, on a 94.4-inch (2,398-mm) wheelbase.
While all LMs were designated 250, all but one, including this one, were actually 275s, powered by a 320-hp, 3.3 litre, aluminum-block V-12 engine (275 cc per cylinder), with six Weber 38 DCN carburetors, driving through a five-speed transmission.
True to its intent, this car has an extensive and thoroughly-documented racing history. Designated chassis number 5899 GT, it was completed by the factory on June 3, 1964, finished in Rossa Cina, with Panno Blu seats. Six weeks later, according to Ferrari historian Marcel Massini, it was sold by the factory, destined for Switzerland’s most storied racing team, Scuderia Filipinetti.
It won its first outing, the Sierre-Montana Crans Hill Climb, driven by Ludovico Scarfiotti, one of Ferrari’s top Formula One drivers and the winner of the 1963 24 Hours of Le Mans. A week later, Nino Vaccarella, another Ferrari Formula One driver and the winner of the 1964 Le Mans race, drove it to victory at the XV Coppa Inter-Europa at Monza.
The following season, 5899 was sold off the stand at the Geneva Motor Show and continued its long racing career, which included a later period reskinned with Porsche 906 body-work.
It was restored to its original configuration during the 1977-81 period and changed hands several more times, before being subjected to another restoration to meet the rising standards of the day, in the late 1990s.
In 2005, 250 LM chassis 5899 GT was granted Classiche certification by the factory, with its revered Red Book confirming the quality and authenticity of its restoration and repairs. Soon thereafter, it was proudly on display at the factory’s Galleria Ferrari in Maranello.
Today, this rare treasure is owned by Ferrari of Ontario and it's on display for all to see at the auto show. Fast, beautiful, and highly successful, it is the screaming essence of Ferrari.