1956 saw the real beginning of the 250 GT Berlinetta’s racing career. When Ferrari’s first 250 GT Berlinetta left Maranello in March 1956, one can could imagine that it inaugurated the most sucessful and legendary sporting line of road/race cars ever. With their Pinin Farina body (built by Scaglietti at Modena) and their V-12 cylinder 3.0 Colombo engine, they combined beauty, prestige and performance.

For four years, the 250GT “long wheelbase” berlinettas would achieved many victories on roads and race tracks not only across Europe, but also in the United States and Argentina.

The first significant victory was the win of
Alfonso de Portago and his friend co-driver Edmund Nelson at the 1956 Tour de France, on French blue #0557GT. Following this victory, the 250GT was given the “Tour de France” nickname, unofficially.Then, when the Belgian pair Olivier Gendebien / Lucien Bianchi will have achieved three consecutive overall victories in the three following editions of the TdF (1957-58-59), the nickname was more than justified and became quite official in the annals of motor sports history. There would be five other overall victories at the TdF scored by the successors of the 250GT, three by 250GT SWB (short wheelbase) berlinettas in 1960-61-62 and two by GTOs in 1963-64. Note than Gendebien/Bianchi finished at the second place in 1961 on their SWB, behind Willy Mairesse / Georges Berger, another famous Belgian pair, on a sister SWB.

Taking place each year in autumn, the Tour de France was a 5-day épreuve, for Touring and GT classes, covering around 5.000 kilometers around France and sometimes extending to Belgium or Germany. The race combined liaison journeys on open roads, hill climbs and races on various circuits (Monthléry, Reims, Rouen, Pau, Le Mans, Clermont-Ferrand, Spa Francorchamps,). A very demanding épreuve for cars as well as for drivers, a GT category win at the TdF was quite probative and unquestionably a reference. For the 1958 edition, the cars started from Nice to arrive at Pau after a loop of almost 6.000 kilometers, in four stages.

The car illustrated here is #1033GT, a 1958 1-louver (louvers are slots in the sail panel) model, with cover headlights (later 1959 Italian regulations will lead to open headlights for the ramaining models). It is the one that
Olivier Gendebien / Lucien Bianchi drove to victory at the 1958 TdF, ahead of four other 250GTs, after battling hard with Maurice Trintignant / François Picard who finished at the second place. No less than eleven 250GTs were entered that year, of which eight did finish the race.