The ex-Viscount Portman/ Jackie Epstein/ David Prophet/ Bob Roberts

1964 Ferrari 250 Le Mans Berlinetta

Coachwork by Pininfarina

Jackie Epstein was the son of renowned British sculptor, Sir Jacob Epstein. A motor racing enthusiast since childhood, he had established a garage business based in Dorking, Surrey, south of London, from which in the early 1960s he ran a series of competition cars up to and including an ex-works Formula 1 BRM which he campaigned widely in 1964.

In discussion with fellow racer Paul Hawkins, he then concluded that he could enjoy more racing miles, and perhaps achieve greater success – and therefore helpful financial return – by concentrating upon the endurance racing sports car world. Studying the market for available cars he decided that the choice lay between one of the new production-based Detroit V8-engined Ford GTs offered by John Wyer of Ford Advanced Vehicles, and one of the rather more exotic pureblood V12-engined Ferrari 250LM Berlinettas – which were being marketed within the UK by the Maranello marque's respected veteran importer, Colonel Ronnie Hoare and his company, Maranello Concessionaires Ltd.

Jackie Epstein opted for a low-mileage, one-owner ex-works Ferrari LM – chassis serial '6051'. This particular car had been supplied new to Col. Hoare's company on 8th September, 1964, fulfilling order no. 101 and invoice no. 1361/64, finished in Rosso Cina with blue cloth trimmed seats. The Colonel – a retired British artillery officer and Ford main dealer in addition to his Ferrari interests – supplied the car brand-new to one of his best customers, the Honourable (later Viscount) Edward Portman. 'Eddie' Portman used it hardly at all, and resold it to recently retired topline professional racing driver Roy Salvadori. After winning the Le Mans 24-Hours and the Goodwood Tourist Trophy races as an Aston Martin works team driver in 1959, urbane Roy had followed Aston's famous racing director John Wyer to the new Ford Advanced Vehicles operation to act in a test-driving role. He knew Col. Hoare very well, and in May 1965 when Jackie Epstein approached the Colonel for early supply of a Ferrari 250LM, Roy Salvadori provided the very car – '6051' now offered here.

Epstein had been encouraged to turn his attention from single-seater racing to the endurance arena by the rugged Australian racing driver Paul Hawkins. He was a talented journeyman driver who would aspire not only to the factory Porsche and Ferrari teams but also to Gulf-JW Ford – with John Wyer – and would also campaign his own Ford GT40 before dying tragically in his Lola-Chevrolet T70GT when it crashed during the 1969 Tourist Trophy race at Oulton Park, England.

Paul Hawkins, inevitably nicknamed 'Hawkeye', ran his own racing operation from a garage in Fortis Green, London, and when Jackie Epstein bought '6051' – with barely 1,600 kilometres recorded on its odometer – it was prepared at Hawkins' premises. Epstein intended to debut the car in the forthcoming Kyalami 9-Hours race in South Africa, in November 1965. He then planned to stay on in the Union for the subsequent races which comprised the Springbok Series tour. The Ferrari's Marelli electrics were replaced at this time by British Lucas systems.

After an early ten-minute pit stop to change spark plugs, the Epstein/ Hawkins Ferrari 250LM – running race number '5' - eventually finished a fine third overall in the 9-Hour race after completing 297 laps of the difficult course, beaten only by a Ferrari 365P2 prototype and a Ford GT40 roadster. In the subsequent Roy Hesketh Memorial 3-Hours on a slow and twisty course at Pietermaritzburg, Epstein drove solo, and achieved an even better result – second overall. Paul Hawkins drove a Lola T70 in that event.

Jackie Epstein then took the Ferrari into Rhodesia for the Bulawayo 3-Hours, but simultaneously Rhodesia's prime minister Ian Smith made his unilateral declaration of independence, and amongst political chaos the race ended in confusion – results unrecorded. Paul Hawkins finished third in the car in a minor race on the James McNeillie circuit, and by this time the 'Epstein Ferrari LM' had become a proven endurance race contender, and Bill France of NASCAR fame in Daytona, Florida, offered an entry for his 24-Hour race, scheduled for February 1966.

During its Southern African adventures '6051's' engine had ingested considerable dust and grit. It was shipped back to England where Maranello Concessionaires fitted fresh piston rings before the Ferrari re-embarked for the transAtlantic crossing to Daytona.

The car arrived, inevitably, late for practice – running only in the dark on the high-banked Superspeedway. Finding its standard Dunlop tyres unsuitable for such sustained G-loadings, Jackie Epstein adopted Firestone’s alternative products for the race, and signed a lucrative contract with the Akron company to use its wares for the rest of that season. Running race number '29' the Ferrari started the long race 17th on the grid, and despite progressive loss of gears Epstein/ Hawkins led their class during the opening stages. They ran as high as seventh overall in this world-class endurance classic before the final-drive pinion finally broke, causing the Anglo-Australian pairing's retirement. In 20 hours of racing they had covered a total 425 laps.

Thus far, the Ferrari 250LM had been classified by the International governing body – the FIA – as a sports-prototype. Mr Ferrari had always intended it to be FIA-homologated as a Gran Turismo, but his attempts to persuade the governing body to accept his factory's production of the preceding 3-litre V12-engined 250GT and 250GTO series cars as counting towards the minimum build figures necessary for GT qualification had become embroiled in bitter dispute and controversy through 1964. Not until 19th February, 1965, did the FIA relent (coincidentally the same day this car was UK road registered), but with the 250LM model redefined within the International GT category, luggage trunk space became mandatory, and the model's front-end bay now had to accommodate the regulation spare wheel. Ferrari '6051' was entrusted to the original body builder Scaglietti in Modena for the nose section to be re-profiled accordingly, and while there its Lucas electrics were removed and replaced by original-style Marelli components.

In early-May, 1966, '6051' reappeared in International competition at World Championship level – contesting the Targa Florio on the Piccolo Madonie mountain circuit in Sicily. Running race number '174' the car was severely handicapped by its Firestone tyres' lack of grip on the mud-covered mountain roads in a race affected by continual rain. After multiple tyre-change stops Epstein/ Hawkins finished 24th. Today the car still carries the faded 50th Targa Florio sticker on the upper left-hand corner of its windscreen. As a very sensible practical modification, the car had been fitted with a Bendix electric oil pump to ensure consistent lubrication of its transmission.

On 22nd May, 1966, Jackie Epstein/ Paul Hawkins shared the car yet again in the Spa 1,000Kms in Belgium. The car lay 8th in the race despite a real fright for Epstein after he took over when the mechanics left one of the LM's twin fuel filler caps open after refuelling, and as he plunged into the Eau Rouge ess-bend beyond the pits the car snapped sideways upon its own spilled fuel. Despite further gearbox trouble – which required the drivers to hold the car in gear – they succeeded in displacing the rival Ecurie Francorchamps 250LM to finish 7th overall, and 4th in class.

The globe-trotting Jackie Epstein then shipped '6051' all the way to Australia for the Surfers' Paradise 12-Hour race that August. There he and Paul Hawkins – the popular Sydneysider returning to home soil - faced none other than new young superstar Jackie Stewart behind the wheel of Australian private owner David McKay’s latest Scuderia Veloce-entered 250LM '6321'. Stewart's co-driver was to be young Australian Andy Buchanan.

Running as race number '4', the Epstein/ Hawkins '6051' went well until an oil leak smothered the alternator which stopped charging. The battery was replaced twice, and oil also caused the alternator belt to slip and require replacement. This was a fiddly job which demanded removal of the driver's seat and the firewall panel behind it to provide access. The Scuderia Veloce Ferrari LM was ultimately declared winner of the 12-Hour race, with the delayed Epstein/ Hawkins sister car 5th overall and 3rd in its class – having completed 441 laps.

Thus far, '6051' had relied upon Borrani lightweight wire-spoked wheels as specified by the factory, but due to constant spoke failures – overloaded by the grip available from Firestone's latest-technology tyres – Epstein now adopted Campagnolo cast-alloy wheels in their place. He finally sold the car early in 1967 to enthusiastic owner-driver and Birmingham garagiste David Prophet.

He had the Ferrari modified with the latest high-penetration nose bodywork hand-crafted by the artisans at Piero Drogo's Carrozzeria Sports Cars company in Modena. Front spoiler vanes and a rear air dam were added and the re-styled car was then painted in his silver racing livery.

Prophet planned a season's competition in the 1967 British Championship, commencing his campaign in late-March with consecutive 6th places at both Snetterton and Silverstone. Former Lotus Elan racer Jeff Edmonds entered '6051' for the relevant supporting race in the major International Trophy meeting back at Silverstone, and saloon car star John Fitzpatrick drove it – finishing a rousing fifth behind the winner David Piper's much more highly developed 250LM and three Ford GT40s (the second of which was actually Paul Hawkins's own). 'Hawkeye' later won the Martini Trophy race back at Silverstone in his GT40 while Prophet entered '6051' but was forced into retirement by piston trouble. On the tight Crystal Palace circuit in South London he finished 10th, and he then entered '6051' in the major Reims 12-Hour classic in France. His co-driver was John Fitzpatrick, but after qualifying 15th their race ended in another retirement. The GT race supporting the British Grand Prix at Silverstone saw Prophet finish 7th in '6051' and at the end of July in the major BOAC 1,000Kms at Brands Hatch Prophet co-drove with the South African star Piet de Klerk. After a troubled race – including a side-to-side collision which dented the car's left side panelling but none too seriously - they finished 18th.

Better followed on the similarly challenging and acrobatic road circuit at Clermont-Ferrand, France, where Prophet finished 5th in the Trophée d'Auvergne 300Km race.

Obviously, as a three-year old competition car, '6051' was now long in the tooth. Despite its hard and hectic racing career it had never been badly damaged, and in 1968 it was advertised for sale by David Prophet. It passed subsequently to Southall-based motor dealer – and sometime Formula 1 entrant and constructor – J.A. Pearce, who advertised it for sale over a considerable period with little apparent interest being shown. It appears that J.A. Pearce therefore retained the car into the early 1970s when it was finally acquired by enthusiast Hedley Gué.

In his hands the 250LM was fully restored and repainted in the original Ferrari red, and around 1973 it passed to T.A. 'Bob' Roberts – a luminary of the Vintage Sports Car Club who at that time was establishing the Midlands Motor Museum in Shropshire, England. Still retaining its Drogo nose – in slightly modified form – but with the aerodynamic excrescences of the Prophet ownership deleted, '6051' remained one of the Museum's prime exhibits until 1981, when Mr Roberts decided to sell.

The 250LM was acquired by Paul Chamberlain who quickly resold it – in 1982 – to René Roothooft in Belgium. A Mr Leiser – an Amsterdam diamond trader and car collector – subsequently acquired the LM which passed in 1987 to Dutchman Hans Hugenholtz, son of celebrated motor racing circuit designer (and father of the Zandvoort Grand Prix course) John Hugenholtz.

'6051' had been restored by Garage Francorchamps in Brussels, and as Hans Hugenholtz recalled, his business partner became anxious that the car's value as "an investment" might be harmed if it was put to serious use, and so they decided to sell.

It passed to Dutch Ferrari dealer Fritz Kroymans in 1988 and the ever enthusiastic Hans Hugenholtz came to an arrangement with the new owner in which he paid maintenance and running costs while racing '6051' in suitable historic and vintage sporting events. The LM was maintained for him during this period by Dutch specialist Piet Roelofs, and in a couple of demonstration events '6051' was also driven by mechanic Aart Bos. That the car was still very quick and competitive within relevant company was proved at that year's Nürburgring Oldtimer Meeting when Hugenholtz secured 3rd, 4th and 6th places during the weekend's competitions. A 4th place at Zandvoort and 2nd in class at Spa followed.

In the 1989 Oldtimer Grand Prix, Hans Hugenholtz enjoyed further success, while at Zandvoort he drove '6051' to first and second place finishes.

Ultimately, in 1992, the LM was sold to collector Norio Tsuzuki in Japan, from whom in 1996 it passed to American enthusiast Charles Arnott. In his ownership, the following year, it was driven by Brian Redman in a vintage race at Summit Point, West Virginia. At Moroso Motorsport Park in 1998 '6051' was demonstrated by Marc Sonnery, who subsequently published a comprehensive feature on the car in the June/ July 1998 issue of 'Cavallino' magazine. It was awarded the 'Ferrari Spirit Cup for Excellence' at that same Cavallino Classic meeting.

The LM also appeared in the 1998 Tour Auto crewed by Charles Arnott/ William Noon, the latter subsequently winning his class with '6051' in two Ferrari Challenge races at Road Atlanta, Georgia.

During the summer of 2003 the car was acquired from Mr Arnott by the present vendor, a private European collector with a particular interest in 1960s endurance racing cars, primarily the Ford GT40 in its carious incarnations which he races actively. In his hands '6051' has been maintained to the highest standards by his own mechanics, forming one of the centrepieces of his collection as an historic counterpoint to the GT40s and therefore spared from racing.

Upon its return to Europe all relevant EU import taxes were paid and the car's original UK road registration, 'DJJ 4C', re-issued. Resplendent in its original Rossa Cina, with trademark blue cloth seats, this is one of the few surviving Ferrari 250 Le Mans Berlinettas to retain its original chassis, body and engine whilst also boasting top level international race history. Of the 32 cars built, perhaps one third qualify on both counts. '6051' is fresh to the market, has no 'stories' to explain, is in excellent condition throughout and has European taxes paid: it is without doubt the best Ferrari 250 Le Mans available today or in the foreseeable future.