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I WINCE ONLY A LITTLE WHEN Ferrari CEO Benedetto Vigna calls the Purosangue a “sports car.” This latest Ferrari has four doors, one for each seat, a rear hatch, all-wheel drive, and weighs more than 2 tons. It’s no macchina tradizionale. Despite its pure blood/thoroughbred moniker, (with apologies to Ettore Bugatti’s pur sang), it’s a Utilità Sportiva, an SUV.
Don’t be ashamed, tifosi. Automakers the likes of Alfa Romeo, Bentley, Maserati, Porsche, and Rolls-Royce have their Stelvio, Bentayga, Levante, Cayenne, and Cullinan respectively. They’re all in the business of making money through selling cars.
Back in 1929, even Bugatti recognized that his Type 44 “gentleman’s carriage” would be popular. And in its two years of production, the Type 44 outsold all but one Bugatti model.
Fast Forward to 1962. In 1962 no less than R&T called the Ferrari 250-GT 2+2 “a not only grand, but glorious, touring car.” Here are tidbits on this car gleaned from that road test more than 60 years ago.
“Listing the good qualities of a Ferrari,” the magazine noted, “is not difficult, and just about the same story is told over and over by Ferrari enthusiasts and road test reporters; the visible finish, inside and out, is beautiful to behold…. The seating comfort and control layout obviously were designed, as we have said before, by someone who knows and understands the problems of driving a high-performance automobile.”
R&T observed, “The 250/GT Ferraris are among the most docile and, surprisingly, uncomplicated automobiles in the world. Smooth acceleration is possible even when applying full throttle in top gear at 10 mph.”
I am reminded of “Toujours un mètre en première,” as Ettore Bugatti would say, putting the car straight into top gear.
“Our data panel,” the magazine said, “tells the complete story in cold figures, but the thing that really surprised us was the absolute ease with which the car gets up to 100 mph (and this without using 4th gear).”
An Overdrive Caveat. The 250-GT 2+2 tested had a four-speed manual augmented by the optional Laycock de Normanville overdrive. “Overdrive problems,” the magazine analyzed, “are caused, primarily, by the fact that both the transmission and overdrive are lubricated from a common oil supply and the lubrication requirements for each are different. This incongruous situation means that either the transmission or overdrive unit is using the wrong oil…. This situation is inconceivable to us and until it is rectified we would not order a Ferrari with overdrive installed.”
Indeed, R&T noted, “We estimate the top speed under favorable conditions at 150 mph in 4th gear; this is equivalent to 6900 rpm and the car is definitely faster in 4th gear than in overdrive.”
Accommodations. “The ride seems to have been softened up somewhat over the 2-passenger coupe which could be caused by the little extra weight [3270 versus 3100 lb.] or it might be an illusion caused by the driver being farther forward and therefore closer to the axis of pitch. In any case, it is firm but not uncomfortable, and the more miles covered, the more one can appreciate the car’s superb roadability.”
Little is noted about accommodations for any hapless +2 occupant, other than a caption for the rear seats labeled “Pleated leather and close-coupled luxury.” I suspect it would have been fine for two kids. (I recall that photographer extraordinaire Jeff Zwart grew up in the back of a Porsche 356….)
Other Practicalities. R&T commented that “Service and parts problems seem to scare off some people, but because Ferrari has more or less standardized on the 3-liter, V-12 engine the situation is much improved.”
More than a little cavalierly, the magazine mentions the car’s price, $12,900 list, only in the Data Panel. To put this in perspective, other 1962 R&T test cars included the VW Karmann Ghia ($2295), Buick Skylark ($2548), Triumph TR-4 ($2849), Volvo P-1800 ($4140), AC Ford Cobra ($5995), and Porsche Carrera 2-Liter ($7595).
The CPI Inflation Calculator sets 1962’s $12,900 as equivalent to $126,363.80 in today’s dollar.
Oh, did I mention that the Ferrari Purosangue will have a starting price in Italy of €390,000 ($389,000)? To quote the August 1962 R&T, “Obviously they are now getting serious about the American market. And it’s about time—this car is (almost) every sports car owner’s dream.”
Dream. Yeah, they got that right, then and now. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022
Excellent choice to contrast with the new Ferrari SUV. I remember well that issue of R&T with its striking cover, and actually I still have it in my archive. The front of the 250 GT 2+2 was beautiful but it had a big, ugly butt that was useful for luggage, but an eyesore. It is one of two V-12 Ferraris that I’ve driven, in 1983. I was thrilled by the experience of the smooth, responsive engine but the body was a rust bucket. And my wife thought it looked like a Studebaker. We bought a 911SC instead, at a lower cost.