Clearly it isn’t a Porsche, but it must rank as one of the best looking sports cars of its era. The Ferrari 250 LM is this writer’s most favourite non-Porsche sports car, it just looks stunning, even when standing still.
Back when the world was still sane, motor racing was a sport that offered enjoyment and a wide variety of cars that could win at the highest level. There were the main players such as Porsche, Ford, Jaguar, Lola, Ferrari, Aston Martin and many more, but integrated into this mix was an armada of privateer teams that had the capability of upsetting the manufacturer teams. The result was a glorious display of different cars and the racing was varied, of the highest standard and above all, entertaining.
What was so attractive during these years was that race teams and manufacturers were allowed a generous degree of freedom to tune their cars, and to try out different modifications, all in the name of competition. A good example was Ferrari, who ruled the circuits of the world with his beautiful race cars crafted by Pininfarina. Ferrari had shown that if your car looked good, then it probably was a good car, and he had the record books to support this view.
Ferrari had the Le Mans 24 Hour race pretty much to himself during the first half of the 1960s, with his GT cars in the form of the 250 SWB, 250 GTO and the 250P/275P. The 250 GTO (front-engined) won races around the world almost at will, but when Ferrari moved the engine to behind the driver, as he did with the 250 LM, and argued that it was a modification of the earlier 250 GTO, the race organisers turned him down flat. Ferrari wanted this compact mid-engined coupe to qualify as a GT car for world championship racing. But the FIA, motor sport’s rule-makers, disagreed and this new model, of which just 32 were made, was forced to run as a sports-prototype in 1964 and 1965.
As a result, the new 250 LM had to run in the same class as the bigger-engined Fords. But even here, the 250 LM was in a league of its own, with the ever-reliable 3-litre V12 engine and excellent aerodynamics, thanks to the classic work by the Pininfarina craftsmen. One of the most memorable wins by the 250 LM was in the 1965 Le Mans 24 Hours, when one of these cars won the race outright. The winning car that year was chassis #5893, but the car which is the subject of this book (chassis #6313), and which raced under the banner of the Belgian Ecurie Francorchamps team, did finish second in that same race. Drivers Pierre Dumay and Gustave Gosselin in fact led the race for almost ten hours through Saturday night and Sunday morning until a puncture on the Mulsanne, and the resultant bodywork damage, cost the team five laps on the Sunday morning. In that 1965 race, Ferrari 250 LMs finished first, second and sixth.
Motor racing is a cruel sport in the sense that there is no place on the trophy for those who came second in the race. For that reason, the story of chassis #6313 has been unjustly overlooked, but author James Page has now unpacked this car’s record of achievements. And what a story it turned out to be, as the identity of chassis #6313 was for many years confused with that of chassis #6023. Fortunately, with the help of Ferrari expert, Keith Bluemel, consultant on this book, the mystery has been solved.
In the first section of the book, the author covers the genesis of the model and the technical analysis, including design, engine, bodywork and more. The second section in the book deals with the major international races in which this car participated in the ’65 season. There were six main races including the Le Mans 24 Hours described above, but its debut race was unsurprisingly the Monza 1000 Km followed by the Spa 500 Km, and then the Nürburgring 1000 Km in May of that year. Next on the calendar was the Le Mans 24 Hours and came the Reims 12 Hours which proved a disappointment for the Belgian team. The sixth international race that year was the Angolan finale in November of that year. Each of these races is given a good deal of space in the book and is well explained by the author.
Section three of the book deals with the car’s later life, and it is here that consultant Keith Bluemel uncovers the mystery of the car’s mistaken identity. The story of chassis #6313’s rebuild (following a shunt in the Goodwood Revival) is also covered here as is its more recent busy historic racing career. A glorious photo gallery rounds off this excellent book.
This is the seventh in the Exceptional Cars series published by Porter Press International. The presentation and layout of the book is top notch and the text is well supported by a rich selection of images that portray the life of this iconic racer in the best possible light.
Motor racing in the ‘60s offered perhaps the most memorable decade in recent years, and a car like the Ferrari 250 LM was just one of the best. Priced at just £30, this book represents great value for money and comes highly recommended and is an affordable way to build a great library covering some of the best race cars ever produced.