competition chassis features with innumerable
refinements that successfully tame the basic inner beast… The design, detailing
and execution of every part of its chassis and body reflect the builder’s
determination to put together a perfect machine.” American magazine Sports Car Illustrated reviews a
$10,975 250 GT Boano Coupé in January 1958. And likes it.
The line of Ferrari’s stripped-bare competition
berlinettas that started with Marquis ‘Fon’ de Portago’s 1956 Tour de
France-winning 250 GT is the stuff of legend.
By the mid-1950s, Ferrari’s focus was not only on
racing. The famous Maranello company was also interested in selling road cars
in more than ones and twos to the world’s wealthiest, the way it had done in
A prototype of a new 250 GT Coupé, bearing the immortal
Colombo 3.0-litre Tipo 128 V12 and using the classic 2,600mm
wheelbase, was in development at Pinin Farina’s Turin plant in September 1955.
Intended for limited-series production, the delicate, yet masculine design was
shown at the March 1956 Geneva Salon. In the fashion of the day, it bore no
Although this was a model intended to be built in
numbers, however limited, Pinin Farina could not manufacture the bodies at its
new Grugliasco plant. It was not yet ready, and the 30,000sq mt factory was
geared up to producing 1,000s of cars for Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia and others.
So production was outsourced to ex-Ghia employees
Mario-Felice Boano and Luciano Pollo whose company,
Carrozzeria Boano, had been formed in 1953. Later, Mario-Felice Boano went
to Fiat to run its central styling office and management reverted to Pollo,
joined by his son-in-law Ezio Ellena. As a result, the 250 GTs made during this
time, though mechanically similar, are referred to as either ‘Boano’ or
The Boanos are distinguished by their elegant
‘low roof’, and 68 cars were built before production switched to the
‘high roof’ Ellena, of which some 50 were made. Although small
changes in transmission, braking and steering came in as production went on,
the cars’ performance was identical: 220-240bhp at 7,000rpm; ca. 125mph
maximum; standing ¼ mile of 16 seconds. The interiors were better finished than
the Scaglietti-built, pared down berlinettas, but each one was still ‘classic
Ferrari’ – a cockpit that meant serious driving for two.
Inevitably, several were raced and rallied, scoring
creditable results on the Mille Miglia, the Tour de France Automobile and
serious long-distance events.
At least one car was entered for the world-famous
Monte Carlo Rally – the car illustrated.
This motor car
According to research by Swiss marque
authority Marcel Massini, chassis 0645 GT was purchased new by Giancarlo Ori of
Modena in July 1957. He may have been a ‘man of straw’ intermediary, as he sold
the car almost immediately to Italian Monaco resident Guido Caruto – likely
another sales agent – before it passed to fellow Monégasque Jean Bonnet. As
confirmation, Ferrari Classiche stated to Kidston SA in 2021 that its records
show the car sold new to Monaco. Bonnet registered it ‘3258’ in the
principality on 31 December 1957. Massini indicates the car was initially painted
in Marrone 1115 (a dark brown) but around the time of its sale to Bonnet
– as an effectively new Ferrari – this was changed to Verde Riviera
1160, the colour it has worn since 1957/8 and in which it raced. The interior
was trimmed in leather, Grigio Arbo Tan 682. To confirm the sporting
intent of this 250 GT, it was delivered on Michelin Pilote 6in x 16in racing
tyres and had powerful Marchal fog lights in the front grille.
Bonnet, who competed as ‘Jean Lucienbonnet’, was a
speedboat and sportscar dealer in Monaco and enthusiastic amateur rally driver.
Born in Nice on 7 January 1923, he was also an occasional racer with one F1
Grand Prix entry to his credit: Monaco in 1959. He died on 19 August 1962
competing in a Formula Junior race in Sicily. He usually shared his 250 GT with
fellow Frenchman Maurice Parucci, a veteran of many Mille Miglias at the wheel
of a Panhard Dyna.
In Bonnet’s hands the Boano was campaigned throughout
- 21-29 January. Rallye de Monte Carlo, Lucienbonnet, #330 (result
- 9 March. Rallye Marseille-Provence, Lucienbonnet/Parucci, #103, 1st
- 12-13 April. Rallye de la Lavande,
- 7-12 July. Criterium Internationale de la
Montagne – Coupe des Alpes, Lucienbonnet/Parucci, #422 (result unknown)
- 21 September. Tour de France Automobile, Lucienbonnet/Parucci, #170 (did not
Period photographs of the elegant Ferrari competing
during the 1958 rally season show it looking as it does today, down to the
enamel Monaco badge on the boot.
After Bonnet’s death in 1962 the Boano was probably
sold to Guy Gravier (26 September 1925 – 6 September 2019) of 53 Avenue Aime
Martin, Nice. A French registration title was issued on 18 February 1966, and
on 4 February 1969 it was allocated the mark ‘302 Q P06’in Gravier’s
name. M. Gravier’s only known outing with the Ferrari was at the Modena
Ferrari Days meeting in September 1983. He kept the car until 1986, when it was
sold via pioneering Monaco-based dealer Massimo Colombo to noted
Italian collector Massimo Sordi of Milan. It joined his extensive,
60-car collection that included a 250 GT California Spider SWB and modern F1
and sports-racers from Maranello. On 19 June 1986 Ferrari historian
Antoine Prunet wrote to Dr Sordi, informing him that his “green 250
GT Boano” had won the 2nd Rallye Marseille-Provence on 9
March 1958, enclosing a photograph and adding that he believed the car had
spent all its life on the Côte d'Azur.
During Sordi’s ownership, chassis 0645 remained
unregistered and probably unused, though on 11 May 2004 it received Ferrari
Classiche red book status. In a discreet sale handled by Kidston SA the
car passed in May 2014 to a new owner, being officially imported to Switzerland
in July 2014. In December that year it was inspected by restorer Markus
Scharnhorst and given FIVA A2 certification (2= original, A= standard, ie
unmodified). At the same time, its first Swiss roadworthiness inspection was conducted
in Bern, at which point the odometer read 61,445km. In June 2015, having
covered 61,454km, ‘0645’ was serviced by French specialist FB Motors of
Saint-Jeoire near Lake Geneva. The following year – at an odometer reading of
61,864km – the owner sent the car to Ferrari expert Officina Bonini in Italy.
The service work cost €11,500, and since then FB has overhauled the clutch
Registered in Switzerland with local taxes paid,
this beautiful green Boano is a preservation example of an early Ferrari
bearing that oh-so beguiling and thrilling name, ‘250 GT’. It has been
certified by Ferrari Classiche as ‘matching numbers’, and their red book is
with the car, as is Massini’s detailed report dated 13th March
2021. The bodywork is steel with aluminium bonnet and boot (most were all
steel). All glass appears original and is either dated 3 November 1955 or
stamped Securit Plate AS2. The interior appears untouched, with patinated but
largely intact grey leather complimented by matching cloth on the central
seat/door panels. The transmission tunnel is covered in faded beige carpet and
includes a bespoke map holder, probably a relic of its rally career. The
painted dashboard matches the exterior colour and there is the usual full array
of Veglia instruments, the speedometer reading to 300km/h. The odometer now
shows 63,033km which is commensurate with the car’s condition. The floor is
covered by plain rubber mats. The boot lining also appears original and the
spare Borrani is housed inside, next to the fuel filler. A Nardi steering
wheel, Marchal Equilox lights and four painted Borrani road wheels complete the
typical mid-1950s Ferrari look.
A benchmark Ferrari from the period, still in the
elegant and understated green livery in which it was campaigned in 1958, this
largely unknown 250 GT by Boano deserves the often-misused ‘time
capsule’ label: it has hardly been seen in public since 1958, spent half a
century in the hands of just two owners, and has never before been offered for
public sale. Each chip, scratch and worn surface could probably tell a story.
It takes you back to a time when Ferraris were largely unknown to the general
public, bought by real gentleman drivers, and rarely red. It should be
preserved just as it is.