• The 'Other' Ferrari 250 GTO

    In 1960, New Zealand businessman and enthusiast racing driver Pat Hoare made a trip to Maranello to purchase a V12 engine for his Ferrari 625 (ex de Portago, Hawthorn and Gonzales) to replace its problematic 4 cylinder unit. Hoare was a personal friend of Enzo Ferrari, and it was Enzo who'd had Hoare's 'Tasman special' 625 fitted with its larger 2996cc engine when he purchased it in 1957.

    But rather than return to NZ with a V12 engine in 1960, Hoare returned with a whole car. He ended up purchasing a Dino 256, chassis 0007, the car driven to victory at that years Monza GP by Phil Hill, and the last front engined car to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix. The 256 (originally designated 246 when it was built in 1958, but modified in '59, and given a new designation) had raced with a Dino V6 engine, usually around 2414cc, throughout its GP career, but the Tasman rules, being those used in both New Zealand and Australia, allowed for engines up to 3000cc. Therefore, Ferrari had the 256 fitted with a 2953cc 60 degree V12 Testa Rossa motor, one of the engines usually used in the teams 250TR sports cars. Producing over 330hp, the V12 was around 50hp up on that of the smaller Dino V6.

    Hoare qualified the 256 14th for the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore in January 1961, and finished 7th behind a star-studded cast, including race winner Jack Brabham, Bruce McLaren, Graham Hill, Ron Flockhart, Denny Hulme, and Jim Clarke. The Ferrari was the first front engined car home. Hoare finished 2nd to Hulme in the Dunedin Road Race in a much depleted field that included few internationals. A 4th placed finish behind Jo Bonnier, Roy Salvadori, and Hulme at the Teretonga International, and victory in the Waimate 50 road race, against a New Zealand driver line-up, were other highlights of the 1960/61 season.

    For the 1961/62 season, Hoare was again the local star in the New Zealand Grand Prix, qualifying 11th, and finishing 6th, behind Stirling Moss, John Surtees, McLaren, Salvadori, and Lorenzo Bandini, and again the big Ferrari was the first front engined car home. He won the Dunedin Road Race, and placed 2nd in the Waimate 50 behind Jim Palmer, and emerged from the '62 season as the winner of the New Zealand Car Clubs Racing Gold Star, for New Zealand drivers.

    Sadly, Motorsport New Zealand introduced a 2.7 litre engine limit following the '62 season, deeming the magnificent 256 ineligible. No longer would the buildings of Dunedin and Waimate rattle to the sound of its booming V12. Hoare placed the car on the market, but unsurprisingly, there was little interest in the outdated racer with its over-sized engine, and it sat for some time before Hoare decided to convert the Ferrari for road use.

    He considered the different road going Ferrari options available, but there was really only one choice. Given the 256 was a race car, the logical option was that it be built into a 250 GTO, a close replica of the 1963 notchback models. Hoare had Enzo supply him with blueprints of the '64 GTO, along with some components including the large wrap-around windscreen. Firstly, the plans, which were in metric, were converted by an architect friend of Hoare's. They also had to be modified, as the 256 had a wheelbase 6 shorter than the GTO. At 6 foot tall, Hoare would struggle to fold his large frame inside a genuine GTO, so his shorter example would need to account for this.

    Hoare's long-time racing mechanic Ernie Ransley removed the single seater body-work from the Ferrari, which, fortunately, was kept and stored. Ransley then set about the task of converting the steering from central-steer to right hand drive, for the local NZ roads.

    Hec Green, a very clever New Zealand race car designer, was given the job of building the tubular framework on which the body could be shaped and mounted. The frame-work itself was a work of art, as it had to follow the exact contours of the curvaceous GTO lines. Once that was fitted to the chassis, the car was sent to a local coach-building firm, G. B. McWhinnie and Co, where Reg Hodder, a metal craftsman with over 40 years experience, shaped the body from sheets of16 gauge aluminium, over a 9 week period. G. B. McWhinnie and Co also applied the Ferrari red paint work.

    Once the bodywork was completed, the Ferrari was sent to 18 year old George Lee, who crafted the interior, which included semi-reclining bucket seats, and fully upholstered door cards, dashboard top, and transmission tunnel, all covered in leathercloth. Curiously, all the instrument gauges were mounted on the left side of the dashboard, the opposite to where the driver sat.

    From most angles, the Hoare 256 closely resembled a genuine GTO. From a side profile, the shorter wheelbase was more pronounced with the cabin side windows being extremely short, but overall, this was an extremely high quality conversion, and all New Zealand made. Indeed, this was part of Hoare's motivation for converting the 256, to showcase New Zealand craftsmanship.

    All the 256 running gear was retained, as well as the wheels, brakes, suspension, steering wheel, and even the clear perspex cover on the bonnet, that housed the 12 gleaming trumpets of the six Weber carbs.

    Weighing in at around 700kg, the Hoare Ferrari was around 200kg lighter than a genuine GTO, had around 30hp more, and with its independent rear suspension, was considered to be the fastest fully equipped road going Ferrari in the world, even by Enzo Ferrari.

    Hoare enjoyed the Ferrari for a few years until his death, at which point it was purchased by Logan Fow, who took part in a number of club racing events and standing sprints, recording a 13.9 for the quarter mile. It was later owned by Donald McDonald, who attempted to break the 3.0 litre New Zealand land speed record in 1969, coming up just short with 144mph (233kph) and 155mph (249.6khp).

    The Ferrari was eventually purchased by Neil Corner, along with all the original 256 bodywork, and restored back to its Tasman guise by Crosthwaite and Gardiner. The only original item that couldn't be used in the restoration was the perspex carburettor cover, which had discoloured with time.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: The 'Other' Ferrari 250 GTO started by Steve Holmes View original post