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    / #1959-Ferrari-250-TR-Tribute / #1959-Ferrari-250-TR / #1959-Ferrari-250-Testa-Rossa / #1959 / #Ferrari-250-TR-Tribute / #Ferrari-250-Testa-Rossa / #Ferrari-250 / #Ferrari

    The sound is simply intoxicating. Crazy that it was in a wreck before it was first going to be on the show. He pretty much built his own Ferrari and you have to love a guy that will go to those lengths to drive his dream car.
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    FERRARI 250GTO RALLY The billion-dollar Tour de France Octane regular and #Ferrari-250GTO-Rally owner Nick Mason reports from an exclusive tour Photography courtesy of Dom Perignon

    Paris to the Loire Valley, France / #Ferrari-250GTO / #Ferrari-250 / #Ferrari /

    The #Ferrari-250GTO Rally has to have been one of the most prestigious noggin-and-natters in a world where ‘technical back-up’ means the sommelier being able to give an accurate description of the smarter end of the wine list. Some 23 of the 36 GTOs manufactured departed Paris and headed down to the Loire valley, the lovely Domaine des Hautes de Loire becoming our forward operating position. The first night was a little like being back at school. There were a few new boys (and girls) and a lot of old friends.

    As this was the 50th anniversary of the GTO, we visited many locations where the Ferrari celebrated its first victories. We enjoyed quite a photo opportunity at the Reims-Gueux pits and then motored on to the Hautvilliers Abbey for dinner with Luca di Montezemolo and Jean Todt.

    Although I frequently moan in a rather halfhearted way about the publicity given to the values of these cars, there was something quite attractive about throwing open one’s bedroom window to a car park occupied by a group of cars approaching the billion-dollar mark…

    Irrespective of value it’s the driving pleasure that counts, and the GTOs certainly got exercised accordingly, especially while doing a few laps of Montlhéry and the Le Mans Classic. No-one got badly lost and, thanks to the support of Monsieur Dom Perignon, a festive atmosphere prevailed. Despite all sorts of tales of cars being sold in the last year, I’m happy to report that most of the usual suspects were on parade. I remember 30-odd years ago when I was the rich kid. Now I’m the sad old sausage, but fortunately surrounded by a number of other friendly sausages to stave off depression.

    There was some drama. One accident – thankfully minor injury and a good opportunity for a bodyshop to show its worth. Then one owner, Bernie Carl, was hospitalised just before kick-off. All credit to Joan Carl for hosting a terrific lunch at their magnificent Loire property. Alarmingly, another couple received news of a domestic drama back in the USA. Fortunately another owner was leaving for America on his own jet two hours later, and he had them on board immediately. Not many other owner groups can offer this level of help. The final day was the road back to Paris and a magnificent dinner in Versailles Trianon Palace.

    After the intimacy of our Loire hotel we were a bit taken aback to find the Trianon car park awash with Bentleys, enjoying their own event, and GTOs shunted to various corners of a rather tight car park, but order was restored and the work of that Perignon fellow appeared again to keep our spirits up. And to keep everything thoroughly Euro, a sumptuous dinner was served in a French restaurant cooked by a British chef. We tried to settle the bill in drachmas but they weren’t interested.

    Top and above Pitlane of the historic Reims-Gueux circuit provides a photogenic backdrop for 23 Ferrari 250GTOs on the 50th anniversary tour; FIA president Jean Todt and Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo (in centre, Todt on left), flanked by former Microsoft president Jon Shirley and Michelle Yeoh, actress wife of Jean Todt.
    ‏ — at Loire Valley, France
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    CAR: #Ferrari-250-Testa-Rossa-Replica / #Ferrari-250-Testa-Rossa / #Ferrari-250 / #Ferrari / #Ferrari-V12 / #Colombo-V12 / #Ferrari-250TR / #1982 / #1963
    Year of manufacture: 1982, using ’1963 parts
    Asking price: £395,000
    Vendor: The Old Racing Car Company, north Norfolk; tel: 01692 538007;


    Price n/a
    Max power 300bhp / DIN
    Max torque 220lb ft / DIN
    Standing ¼ -mile 4.5 secs
    Top speed 168mph
    Mpg n/a

    This bespoke Ferrari was built in 1982 by Garnier and Billot (P3 Automobiles) for former Le Mans racer Régis Fraissinet, using a 1963 #Ferrari-250GTE as a donor – the identity of which it retains. Incorporating Fraissinet’s favourite Ferrari characteristics, it most resembles the 250TR raced by Phil Hill in 1960, and came to the UK in about 2004.

    After 35 years, it’s just taking on a sheen of patina; the paint is even and undamaged and the well-crafted aluminium body is straight, with no stars, pings or chips. There’s evidence on the rear deck that it’s had a roll-bar, where holes have been filled, neatly ringed in socket-head screws. The alloy-rim wheels are in good shape, shod in 2015-dated Michelin Pilotes, with plenty of tread. Inside, the leather is taking on creases and the crackle dash finish is perfect. Like the original, there’s no speedo or odometer.

    The motor, a correctly presented outside-plug Colombo-V12 , is a 4-litre from a 330, said to make 380bhp. It’s clean and dry, wearing an alternator plus a remote oil filter, and there’s an electric fan. Its carbs are 40DFIs. This car has evidently been loved, and on our visit was being chaperoned by GTB Restorations, so the fluids will be clean and to the correct levels. Push in the key, press the button and it fires with a deep, thunderous rumble from the four-megaphone exhaust system. Though the clutch is sharp, the car’s light weight makes it easy to conduct – but steering lock is limited. The engine feels well set up, too – tractable from 2000rpm and with minimal spitting and popping through the carburettors.

    Going harder, the agile chassis flows beautifully through bends with a delightful feel to the steering – the motor simply providing as much power as you ask for the more you prod it, with a linear delivery, revving eagerly to 6500rpm and probably beyond. The all-disc brakes pull up straight, plus it’s easy to heel and toe. The gearchange is heavy, with hard-sprung detents, and you have to be precise where you aim the stick. It shows 5bar oil pressure, right in the middle of the gauge in typical Ferrari fashion, water at about 70ºC and oil temperature well under control, having just cracked off the stop. Gorgeous and, with that sublime #V12 howl, a bit addictive.


    EXTERIOR Straight aluminium; nice paint
    INTERIOR Not much, though it’s all good
    MECHANICALS Well sorted; drives beautifully
    VALUE ★★★★★★★★★★

    For Like the real thing, but for a 30th of the asking price

    Against Wouldn’t get HTP papers, so it can’t run in FIA events


    If you want the proper ’50s Ferrari sports-racer experience delivered using the right bits, this is fantastic value and is lovely in its own right.
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    No ferries, said Ferrari, or racetracks, and no more than 356 miles / 500km. And 24 hours maximum. So, what to do with a 770hp / 574kW F12tdf for the day? 24 Heaven. / #Ferrari-F12tdf / #2017-Ferrari-F12tdf / #Ferrari-F12 / #Ferrari / #Ferrari-250GTO / #Ferrari-250 / #Ferrari-250-GTO /


    Twenty-four hours, 500km. That' s how long we can keep, and how far we are allowed to drive, this Ferrari F12tdf. What to do with it? Track use is off limits and the small print says that we must not cross the channel. There’s a brief thought of putting it on a trailer and taking it to the Scottish Highlands, but that would be a right faff and would leave us with about ten minutes at the wheel. So we’ll simply go for a nice drive in the country and pop in to see some friends for tea. Car-minded sort of friends.

    There’s some good history in Slough, apart from being the location for Ricky Gervais’s The Office. Ford Advanced Vehicles’ workshop was on the Slough Trading Estate (in a building that was later the home of JW Automotive, of Gulf GT40 and 917 fame) and so was Team Surtees before it moved to Kent. In the mid-’60s Lola was in premises on Yeovil Road, which is just around the corner from Ferrari’s main office. You go to the showroom at the old Maranello Concessionaires in Egham to buy your Ferrari but test cars are collected from a nondescript building in Slough.

    If I was Ferrari I’d get the council to re-lay the road outside its office. It’s bumpy as hell and even with the tdf’s suspension in the softest, Bumpy Road setting, it’s not doing my back much good. I might not be able to walk by the end of today. Thankfully, when we reach a better bit of blacktop the ride becomes acceptable. Stiff, but no need for the osteopath yet.

    What an engine. The tdf’s 6.3-litre #Ferrari-V12 produces 770hp / 574kW at 8500rpm (DIN power). It is the most powerful naturally aspirated engine I’ve ever experienced, and that includes the 8.2-litre Chevy in a McLaren M8F Can-Am car. But it’s not just the power output that’s staggering, it’s how refined those 12 cylinders are. Barely above tickover with the seven-speed dual-clutch ’box already in fifth along Slough’s Bath Road and today’s electronics act like an IV drip of Strepsils to prevent any coughing or hesitation. Twenty years ago an engine producing this amount of power per litre would have been cammy and agitated in traffic. Forty years ago it wouldn’t have ticked over under 2000rpm and would have oiled its plugs at the first set of traffic lights unless you sat there with the throttles wide open.

    The roads are rather damp this morning. This worries me. I have briefed myself by reading Jethro Bovingdon’s pilot’s notes from the F12tdf’s launch in Italy. He was only allowed a few laps around Fiorano and a few hours on local roads but gathered enough thoughts to give me the impression that this is a car that needs to be treated with utmost caution. No understeer, very direct steering and a rather unusual sensation provided by its rear-wheel- steering system. I think it unlikely that I will twiddle the manettino to the ESC Off position today, but to keep it in the Wet setting would show a lack of self-confidence that might worry photographer Aston Parrott, so Race will do, with the suspension still set to Bumpy Road. At least the interior ergonomics are superb – what you don’t need in a car that can do 0-100km/h in 2.9 seconds are distractions.

    We have a plan: we’re going to visit the Prescott Hill Climb course, near Cheltenham. I love the place and Parrott will be able to do some photography undisturbed. Stuart Webster, who runs Prescott, has said that when the hill isn’t used for competition it’s the driveway to several houses, so there’ll be no blasting up it in the tdf at full bore. This should keep us within Ferrari’s ‘no tracks’ rule.

    Prescott House and its hill were bought in 1937 by the Bugatti Owners’ Club, which was looking for its own hillclimb course having been kicked out of most venues because of noise complaints. Nothing new under the sun or in motorsport. The first meeting at Prescott was in 1938 and apart from the war getting in the way it has been used ever since. The original course was 880 yards long but in 1960 a loop was added, called Ettore’s, extending it to 1127 yards, or just over a kilometre. Today all meetings run on the longer course except for the annual Vintage Sports Car Club event.

    Unlike Shelsley Walsh, which has one significant corner to get wrong, Prescott is seriously technical with many sections and details to catch you out and ruin a time, and quite a few places to have a substantial shunt. I’ve driven it a few times in anger and it’s very challenging. Traversing it at a more sensible pace today, I’m glad I’m not against the clock. It would be a very serious challenge in the tdf, as apart from traction being an issue for virtually the whole length of the course, the Ferrari is not a narrow car. Accuracy would be key.

    For lunch I’m going to have to eat my own words. For the last few years I’ve been on a campaign against ridiculous power outputs in road cars. Hot hatches with 250kW and SUVs with 350kW are missing the point and in 2017 are totally out of step with reality. Of course, the F12 doesn’t need even the 545kW it has in standard form; with an extra 29kW the tdf is even more excessive, but I can’t help loving this engine, even though it only adds to the fear that one day all engines will have some form of forced induction. This V12 is up there with Lamborghini’s V12 and the 4.0-litre flat-six in the GT3 RS as one of the great engines of today. And it ranks above these because even the Aventador’s motor feels tame in comparison. The first proper trip I made in a Ferrari was in a 456 GT.

    Ferrari gave us a mileage limit with that car, too, but I was more of a rebel in those days and gave it back with an extra 5000km on the clock. It was a road trip of flat-out blasts and disregard for French speed limits. I’ve never forgotten it, or the car, and it started a love affair with front-engined Ferraris. Now the tdf is proving to be the most dramatic of the lot.

    We spot a plaque that celebrates the life of FitzRoy Somerset, 5th Baron Raglan. A Bugatti fanatic and chairman of the Bugatti Owners’ Club from the late ’80s and into the ’90s, he kept his Type 51 in the kitchen of his house. Yonks ago I was having a curry in Abergavenny when there was the scream of supercharged engine as a car pulled up outside. It was Baron Raglan in his 51 come to collect his takeaway. Class.

    Under Webster’s guidance Prescott has developed hill climbing at the venue to be more of a family day out, with a lot more entertainment than watching a weird and wonderful selection of cars blasting by. Not that I need much else apart from a loo and a picnic.

    We depart and set off to see my mate Vic Norman. He runs the Breitling wing-walking team that flies Boeing-Stearman biplanes with Lycra-clad girls up on their wings. The team is based near Cirencester – suitably close to Prescott for us to not commit an odometric crime and upset Ferrari.

    Four Stearman biplanes are sufficient to draw me regularly to the airfield. But like many of us, Vic’s into anything with an engine and as well as owning a 550 Maranello, a Porsche 356, an AC Ace and an ex-Stirling Moss XK120, he has a collection of motorbikes that includes a 1912 Flying Merkel. It was once used to power a generator in a gold mine previously owned by Bud Ekins, the stuntman and friend of Steve McQueen who performed the jump in The Great Escape.

    It’s not so much what he owns now that makes Norman interesting, it’s what he’s owned in the past. Particularly V12 Ferraris. For example, the 250 GTO that’s now owned by Nick Mason. “I bought it in the early ’70s,” explains Norman. “I’d heard on the grapevine that Peter Newens, whose family owned the Maids of Honour tearoom in Kew, was thinking of selling his GTO. I wasted no time and went around to Pete’s house and started negotiations. He wanted about 13 grand for the car [circa $22,000]. Anyway, while I was talking to him I saw Brian Classic, the racer and classic car dealer, coming up the front path. Guessing that Brian had also heard about the GTO, I immediately offered the asking price and shook on it. Brian was a bit peeved.”

    After keeping it for a few years, during which time it delivered young Normans to school and completed other domestic tasks, the GTO was moved on. “I got £16,000 [circa $27K] for it,” says Norman, “which I thought was amazing.” As well as the GTO, Norman has owned a couple of 275 GTBs, a 250 GT SWB and a Daytona. “Ironically my favourite Ferrari is the original 250 GT TdF. I never owned one but I’ve driven a few.”

    I’ve never taken the kids to school in a GTO but I’ve been shopping in Vic’s, now Mason’s, GTO. Cammy, as to be expected, but easy to drive and with as much soul as a car could have. Mason’s Ten Tenths, the company that runs and prepares his collection, is based at the same airfield. And since any excuse to fire up and listen to a classic Ferrari V12 mustn’t be missed, engineers Charles Knill-Jones and Ben de Chair (double-overhead surnames aren’t compulsory: the outfit is managed by Mike Hallowes) are persuaded to start the GTO and bring it outside for Parrott’s and my pleasure.

    Mason has just taken delivery of his own F12tdf. Unlike ours, it has lightweight carpets covering the industriallooking anti-slip material that’s standard and rather more comfortable seats. “That,” says Knill-Jones, pointing at the tdf, “is the best road car in the world. I drove Nick’s at Goodwood and it was doing 270km/h at the end of the Lavant Straight.” I didn’t need to hear that. I’d dearly love to drive this car on a track, particularly at Goodwood. I wish I’d risked being put on the naughty step by Ferrari.

    It is true that a 574kW Ferrari capable of over 340km/h is of limited practical use, but it is a very good thing that it exists. The tdf is one of the most dramatic Ferraris that I’ve ever driven (in fact it’s up there with a McLaren F1) yet it’s perfectly useable on the road and, if you’re damned careful, in any conditions, too. I’d like to hope that among the lucky 799 who have ordered one, there will be people like Baron Raglan and Vic Norman who use their cars. I suspect most will go into collections or heated garages.

    At least this one is getting some proper use. Back at Slough, with the Tour de Force in one piece, the trip meter reads 508km. Today was not the day to start obeying rules.

    It’s one of the most dramatic Ferraris I’ve driven, yet it’s perfectly useable on the road

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #2017 / #Ferrari-F12tdf
    Engine 6262cc #V12 , dohc, 48v
    Power 770hp / 574kW @ 8500rpm DIN
    Torque 520lb ft / 705Nm @ 6250rpm DIN
    Transmission #Seven-speed-DCT , rear-wheel drive, #E-diff-3 , #F1-Trac , #ESC
    Front suspension Double wishbones, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar
    Rear suspension Multi-link, coil springs, adaptive dampers, anti-roll bar, rear-wheel steer
    Brakes Ventilated carbon-ceramic discs, 398mm front, 360mm rear, #ABS , #EBD
    Wheels 20 x 10.0-inch front, 20 x 11.5-inch rear
    Tyres 275/35 ZR20 front, 315/35 ZR20 rear
    Weight 1520kg
    Power-to-weight 507 hp / 378kW/tonne
    0-62MPH / 0-100km/h 2.9sec (claimed)
    Top speed 212 MPH / 340km/h+ (claimed)
    Basic price $808,888 (sold out)
    Rating 4+

    Above: Goodwin guides the F12 up the technical Prescott course, being careful not to prang any carbonfibre bodywork. Below: tdf with Nick Mason’s #1962 250 GTO.

    Above and right: 110kg weight saving over the standard F12 plus an extra 29kW give the tdf a truly explosive power-toweight ratio of 378kW per tonne – more than enough for the Prescott hill climb.

    What you don’t need in a car that can do 0-100km/h in 2.9 seconds are distractions
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