Many odd pieces, and low production cars, have been an integral part of Ferrari history. Some became icons of their period, but the destiny of others was to be forgotten or lost. One of the latter is the 250 GT Boano, s/n 0531 GT, which has not been seen or heard of for decades.
The name Boano is mainly associated to the production model of the 250 GT, which had been produced from 1956 to 1958, but in fact, these cars were not designed by Mario Felice Boano, but by Pinin Farina. Carrozzeria Boano of Turin only manufactured them, because Pinin Farina did not have enough capacity at that time.
However, it would be very unfair to reduce Mario Felice Boano to only “just” a car builder, which he “just” assembled on behalf of Ferrari, but which he had not himself created. It would be unfair, because he styled his own Ferraris too, and that was something that he could do very well, as he had been working for Ghia before starting his own business. For that traditional "Carrozzeria", he had already created some Ferraris, as well as mass production cars such as the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Coupé. Also, his subsequent professional background is additional evidence of his design skills, for in 1958 he became the first Director of Fiat’s Centro Stile, and thus he was responsible for styling for Italy’s largest car manufacturer.
During the short period when Boano owned the Carrozzeria of his own name, he designed a few one off Ferraris. The most famous may have been the 250 GT Cabriolet, s/n 0461 GT, which was shown at the Geneva Salon in 1956. One year later, Dottore Fortunato Gosce from Milan bought s/n 0531 GT, a 250 GT Coupé fitted out by Boano, which Ferrari records refer to as a “Boano Speciale Aluminio”. It appears it was Dottore Gosce’s intention to compete in some of the popular Concours d’Elegance of that time, because the car he received was anything but the standard 250 GT. It was unquestionably an attractive car, but apparently not unusual or stunning enough to win favor in a beauty contest. Dottore Gosce is pictured with s/n 0531GT in the 1958 Ferrari Yearbook at an untitled concours, the picture being captioned “Uno sfondo maestoso per la Ferrari del dottor Fortunato Gosce.” (“A majestic background for the Ferrari of Dottore Fortunato Gosce.”)
As can be seen in the accompanying pictures, s/n 0531 GT is very much influenced by America’s automotive design of the Fifties. It begins with the traditional egg crate front grill, which has been provided with a mighty chrome rim, and a “Cavallino Rampante” mounted in a circular trim ring. The chrome accent theme extends to the hood air intake surround, and to the special headlight rims with their distinctive peak that dictates the rib along the top of the front fenders, which melts away into the cabin section. Also, there are trim strips along the body sides, with further ones across the tail panel. The flanks of the body display a low swag line that steps in an elegant curve at the door handle to form the top edge of the rear fender line, running to the prominent tail fins, possibly the largest ever seen on a Ferrari with the exception of the infamous 410 Superamerica, s/n 0473 SA made by Ghia, or the Pinin Farina rendition on s/n 0483 SA. The tail fins of s/n 0531 GT display the name Carrozzeria Boano in cursive characters together with a crown, the rarely used logo of the short-lived company.
The cabin section has much larger windows than a production 250 GT, with an abundance of heavy chrome trim to the front and rear screens, with lighter chrome trim to the door and side glass.
From the rear, s/n 0531 GT looks a little bit like the DKW Junior, a small two stroke saloon from Auto Union, the predecessor to the current Audi company. The little DKW was presented during the very period when Dottore Gosce took his car to the concours. The similarity of both cars – regardless of their different sizes – might prove that car designers become inspired while visiting car exhibitions. The rear lights appear to have been made specifically for this car, or perhaps were adapted from an American model of the period, but there was certainly nothing in Europe that flamboyant at the time.
The dashboard is not painted in the car’s color as was normal, but plated with aluminum panels. A period Nardi steering wheel is fitted with abnormal circular holes in its spokes, which were more a British characteristic at that time. The spokes of an Italian “Volante” normally had longitudinal slots. The huge stopwatch on the center tunnel is most likely a later (and perhaps the only) modification. It is not known if Dottore Gosce was in personal contact with Mario Felice Boano, but it seems very likely, because his car was so very different, and probably the result of long discussions between designer and customer.
Dottore Gosce must have been satisfied with the way that s/n 0531 GT turned out, as he kept it until July, 1960. During the three years of his ownership, he changed the registration plate once, from MI 339101 to MI 443302. The latter plate was still used by the second owner of s/n 0531 GT, Dino Fabbri, who was also obviously from Milan, who only kept it for three months before selling it to Horten Italiana S.r.l., also in Milan.
In March of 1962, racing driver Wolfgang Seidel from Germany purchased the car. 1962 was Seidel’s last year of racing, and he was already trying to establish himself as an exclusive car dealer in Düsseldorf. Seidel had raced Veritas’ and Porsches, before switching to a Ferrari 250 GT LWB in 1957. Another “Tour de France” and a 250 GT SWB followed. During the time he raced his privately entered Ferraris, Wolfgang Seidel built up good contacts with Enzo Ferrari, who occasionally let him drive his works cars. These few races include Le Mans in 1958, where Seidel teamed up in the Scuderia’s 250 TR, s/n 0726 TR, with fellow countryman Wolfgang von Trips.
When Seidel started to deal with cars in the early Sixties, he used, of course, his contacts in Italy. He imported quite a few Ferraris to Germany, including some California Spyders. It is not known where or why he bought the very special Boano Ferrari, s/n 0531 GT, but there was already a connection to Germany in its provenance, as the third owner of the car, Horten Italiana S.r.l. in Milan, was the Italian subsidiary of the German Horten department store chain, the headquarters of which was in Düsseldorf. It seems likely that Helmut Horten and Seidel knew each other, because Horten also owned several Ferraris.
For a long time, the information that Seidel had bought s/n 0531 GT and registered it in Modena on plate MO 74678, was the last evidence of its existence. 0531 GT seemed to be one of those cars that had completely disappeared without trace. Wolfgang Seidel, the only person who certainly would have known about the Boano’s whereabouts, had turned his back on the car business and later died from a heart attack in 1987, at the relatively young age of sixty.
Ten years after his death, two pictures from his estate appeared. They showed s/n 0531 GT with Italian export delivery plate 37649 EE, parked on the banks of the River Rhine in Düsseldorf. It was the first public confirmation that this one off Ferrari was indeed sold to Germany. One of these pictures was published in a German Ferrari magazine, with a perhaps optimistic appeal to its readers for information.
Often this type of request falls on deaf ears, but sometimes it can stir a memory just as intended, just needing to be seen by the right person. To the great surprise of the editor, there was a response to the request for information, and it was in the affirmative. The person who responded to the appeal informed the editor that he knew who had bought the car from Seidel in 1962. But that was not the end of his story. He was also able to arrange contact with the owner, who was still the same person that purchased it some forty plus years ago. The only proviso was that the owner wished to remain anonymous, but this much can be told – he is from the Frankfurt area in Germany. Even more importantly for lovers of old and rare Ferraris, he agreed to a photo shoot, the product of which you see here.
When Andreas Beyer arrived at the owner’s premises to photograph s/n 0531 GT, he found it stored under a dust cover with a liberal covering of dust, wedged between a variety of different machinery. It had not been driven since being laid to rest in the mid sixties, and has remained virtually untouched since then, so when the dust cover was removed and it was pushed into daylight, a very original and unusual piece of Ferrari’s history was revealed. A label in the engine compartment provided information that the oil was changed for the last time on May 10, 1962!
After the pictures where taken, the long lost Ferrari was pushed back into its resting place and leaves us with the question, when will s/n 0531 GT see daylight again? It is definitely not for sale, because the owner has had it for so long that he regards it as part of his being. So enjoy the pictures, you may not see the car again for a long time!
We give grateful thanks to Dottore
Miki Bellagarda, for the Italian registration/ownership history.
Gregor Schulz is the long time Features Editor for the German magazine Ferrari World, and he also contributes to classic car magazines and to the VW-Audi group magazine.