Vintage Ferraris. They comprise the realm of the heritage of one of the most acclaimed carmakers in all history. There is something unequivocal about the aura of a handmade car, and that it is Ferrari only enhances this condition. The smell of the mechanical components can be experienced both within and without the car, the oil and gas and rubber blending into a single complex intoxication. Yet there is a staggering simplicity in the moments of pure enjoyment standing before the car. And more still from behind the wheel.
Enter the Ferrari 250 GTO: Inside, the simplicity abounds. The stark interior awaits the pilot, all business but embellished sparingly with moments of luxury: The Nardi wheel, the gauge cluster, are fixtures shining and lush. Blue seats, spartan inner doors and floor pans greet the visitor. And it is clear: Work is done in here but it is an elite type of work, a driving ambition elevated to an artform.
The period atmosphere permeates the cabin despite myriad refurbishments and restorations. The car is from another epoch, yet its storied past emerges quite alive among the antique parts and structural elements. It is old enough to be a generation removed from younger enthusiasts, but modern enough in its timeless form and level of performance. Perhaps the most important and salient icon adorning the interior of the GTO is the object mounted atop the transmission tunnel –the gated shifter assembly.
Even within the handmade era, no other shift gate design is shared with the GTO. It is as unique to the car as each GTO is to each other. The chrome face of the gate beckons reverence as well as proper use. All six positions on the mechanism extend from the transmission beneath it, standing in a repose that pierces the silence with echoes of the V12 being taken through its paces, in races long run and celebrated. Thousands of shifts, thousands of gears, thousands of vignettes lost to time are released and flow through the gate.
And then ensconced in the driver’s position, firmly planted in the seat, with a turn and push of the key –the start of the engine heralds the next movement in the symphony. Hearing the "snick" with the lever going into first, a movement in the hips and leg gently brings the revs up from the 1000rpm idle. Hands on wood and polished aluminum, feet on pedals feeling the chassis –with this the car moves, and another chapter in history points the way to the road.