Ferrari 330 GTO: The prancing unicorn

Think the 250 GTO is the rarest, most valuable Ferrari? There’s an even more exclusive Prancing Horse you might not know about – the ‘mythical’ 330 GTO

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Every petrolhead knows about the Ferrari 250 GTO. Not only is it an outrageously desirable and exceptionally valuable classic now, but this rare machine was a serious racer back in its day. Famed drivers and historic wins have helped put it consistently among the most valuable cars to ever be sold at auction. However, there’s a variant of this coupé that is even rarer; the ultimate incarnation was the Ferrari 330 GTO.

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The 250 GTO was in essence a Testa Rossa with a closed cockpit and the boot space that made it eligible for GT racing. It retained the Le Mans-winning Tipo 168/62 3.0-litre V12 engine from that car, which made it good for 296bhp. The model was an unqualified success, but progress marches on.

Ferrari began to develop a 4.0-litre GTO based upon the 250 GTO chassis. The cars looked virtually identical, except for the bonnet bulge needed to fit the larger engine into the new machine. The 4.0 unit was also a proven Le Mans winner in the 330LM racer, and so hopes were high for this new 330 GTO that now produced close to 400bhp.

Racing in the prototype class, the 330 GTO’s first outing was the Nürburgring 1000km, where it finished in a respectable second place. However, before it reached Le Mans the car was damaged, and later it was repurposed with the regular 3.0-litre engine. Chassis 3673SA was replaced by a 330 GTO built on chassis 3765LM, but the car eventually retired due to overheating during the 24-hour race. The 330 GTO didn’t have the shining career of its 250 sibling.

There’s been plenty of debate over just how many 330 GTOs were produced. The answer is three, but only two left Ferrari as 330 GTOs. As previously mentioned, the original was damaged and a replacement built to race in its place. The third and final 330 GTO was a customer car ordered by Michel Paul-Cavalier. At his request, Ferrari modified it for road use, giving it an increased wheelbase, stronger brakes and covered headlights. It retained its racing 4.0-litre engine.

Today, some 250 GTOs have been converted to host a 4.0-litre engine, but the two original cars are very rarely seen in public and have somewhat faded into myth. There is speculation that one will attend the 2018 Goodwood Revival in a grid worth over £200 million. We will see…

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