The cars we loved.
Whats the most beautiful Ferrari ever? For most people it would be difficult to single out just one, but the general consensus points to the golden age of Ferrari designs that started vaguely in the late 1950’s and continued into the early 70’s. Many of the pre-Nixon era cars built sometime after the mid 50’s embody all the traditional Ferrari virtues, with just enough technology to make them almost dependable as daily drivers or fit for the occasional autoshow/ parade appearance.
One of the most beautiful 60’s era Ferrari is the Pininfarina designed 250 GT Lusso Berlinetta. The Lusso was the end of the line for the crazy popular 250 series that had been scorching race tracks and showrooms alike. The line started in 1959 with the GTO, essentially a race car for the street. Since then, many variations including the Spyder, Monza and Tessarossa have been produced and have all had their special attributes on either a short or long wheelbase. The first Lusso appeared at the 1962 Paris Auto Salon, with production starting in 1963 due to positive public response. The Lusso was special in that it may have been Ferrari’s first luxury GT car by design. The word Lusso itself meant luxury in Italian and the term Berlinetta is often used in Italy to describe coupes.
As a luxury GT coupe, the 250 Lusso had no equal in its day (in the looks category). Mechanically, it was rather simple, but had plenty of luxury features like wood trim and leather seats, all to be expected for around $12,000 in 1964. A small space behind the seats accommodated luggage. A four speed manual transmission was the only gearbox officially available. A few cars were said to have been fitted with air conditioning, competition carburetors and a five speed manual transmission. These were rare, as most cars came from the factory equipped alike. The heart of the Lusso was a slightly de-tuned version of the SOHC 3.0 litre V12 used in the GTO. At 250 hp in standard trim, it was designed to accommodate up to Webber three carburetors. An astonishing number in a road going sports car for the 60’s. The lightweight Lusso weighed only 2249 lbs and could reach 60 mph in under 8 seconds and go all the way up to 150mph. It came equipped with power assisted disc brakes all around when it needed to be slowed down.
Only 350 or so Lussos were produced by Scaglietti before production ended in 1964. The Lusso had established a reputation for being a fast and comfortable touring car preferred by the rich and celebrities. Famous actor Steve McQueen owned one, a rare dark brown 66 model. Despite the fron independent and ridged live rear suspension, the Lusso was a comfortable highway crusier due in part to the 15 inch Borannio wire wheel/tire combination.
Like many sports cars the Lusso was not perfect, but it was insanely beautiful. Problems with smoking and overheasting were said to mar the owner experience, but these issues were reserved for the playboy or occasional actor who would push the car to its limits for extended periods of time. The Lusso was replaced by the technically more impressive 275 GTB, but it arguably was not as successful a design from an aestethic point of view. The Lusso would later be called one of the 10 best sports cars of the 60’s by Sports Car International magazine, securing its place as one of Pininifanari and Ferrari’s best.