Glen Smale, Haynes, July 2014
ISBN: 978 0 85733 384 1
Some years ago Haynes reinvented its famous workshop manual series as feature books on notable aeroplanes, boats, submarines and…..motor cars. The latest issue on the last-mentioned covers perhaps the most famous Ferrari of all time, the 250 GTO. Last of the dual purpose road and racing Ferraris, a mere 36 were built between 1962 and 1964 and reportedly sold only to individuals or teams approved of by Enzo Ferrari. During this period all the top flight GT drivers competed in it and the 300bhp coupé was consistently successful, being straightforward to drive and maintain, also extraordinarily reliable. Subsequently this ruggedly handsome Ferrari has never fallen from grace and become the most valuable sports car of all time.
In separate sections author Glen Smale recounts the development of the 250 GTO, its technical specification and in further chapters details not only its competition history, but the individual lives of each of the 36 cars built. The book has clearly been meticulously researched and follows in detail (for example) the preparation of one of the best known GTOs, Nick Mason’s, for a season’s racing. Footnotes on such items as those trademark Borrani wire wheels are quite fascinating, but what really brings the work alive is the author’s series of interviews with the 250 GTO’s drivers both in the 1960s and especially in today’s classic racing scene. Some of these descriptions simply lodge in the memory such as Gregor Fisken’s frank admiration when he could only watch as Surtees’ GTO passed his lightweight (and theoretically faster) E type Jaguar at a very wet Goodwood in 2001, “in a beautiful drift, catching both apexes absolutely perfectly. I realised I had just had the benefit of seeing something that very few people could experience. I had been able to travel back in time and actually seen a world champion show me what a 250 GTO could do in period. All the years rolled back… that is the joy of this amazing car – whether it is wet or dry, the GTO just handles.”
It is hard to find fault with this well laid-out and illustrated manual which transmits so well the passion the 250 GTO generates. Are there perhaps too many similar contemporary Goodwood photographs? Against that the author has searched deep in LAT and other archives to produce a wonderfully evocative range of period pictures. Haynes’ workshop manual on the Ferrari 250 GTO is a fine piece of scholarship which transforms the passingly interesting into a completely absorbing and informative read.