A CAR FOR ALL SEASONS
An Appreciation of this Unique Double-Bubble Coupe
“Timeless appeal. Pure essentials. A true landmark. The ultimate Ferrari.”
These expressive and descriptive phrases are all wonderful qualities that go well with Carrozzeria Zagato’s sensational 250 GT LWB Berlinetta, s/n 0515 GT.
In essence, Carrozzeria Zagato had applied its well-known trademark, the spectacular double-bubble roof, to one of Ferrari’s famous sports cars, and the results are spectacular. Making this feature even more relevant, it should be stated that it wasn’t mere decoration on this and other special cars, but was actually a design inspired by the needs of motor sport, as we shall see. The result was not only a singularly unique and beautiful body shape, but one that was also a resounding aerodynamic success.
The man behind Carrozzeria Zagato was Ugo Zagato, and the man behind Ferrari was, of course, Enzo Ferrari, and as often happened in Italian automotive circles, they knew each other quite well, even if they didn’t have occasion to actually meet very often. From the 1920s era, there is only one known photo taken which shows both men together. They were in Modena and they posed, with friends, for a souvenir snapshot, this in 1924. Another group photo with Zagato was taken during the year end luncheon of 1930, which Scuderia Ferrari used to host for its drivers, its employees, and the local racing authorities.
Zagato was one of many talented people in that era who did work for Alfa Romeo and their sporting activities. Ferrari was another, first as a race driver and then later as head of the racing team. Zagato’s talent lay in metalwork, and he designed and constructed many of the delightful bodies seen on Alfas at this time. When Ferrari went back to Modena in 1939, after his departure from Alfa, he and Zagato didn’t see each other for almost a decade.
In 1949, Zagato tried his hand on one of the first cars of the Commendatore, a 166 Mille Miglia (s/n 0018 M). It was a charming design with a remarkable domed cabin, which came to be called Panoramica. It is interestingly to note that while the car’s body was designed by Zagato, it was not as a result of any agreement between the two men. In actuality, the chassis was supplied to Carrozzeria Zagato by race driver Antonio Stagnoli, the Piaggio motor scooter concessionaire for Brescia. Another Ferrari 166 MM was realized for Luigi Bosisio in Milan, and it was a further transformation of a Touring bodied barchetta into a peculiar but pleasing coupe, called the Elaborata. That was in January of 1953.
After an interlude of three years, in 1956 therefore, Zagato received an unexpected commission. Two of Ferrari’s paramount clients, Vladimiro Galluzzi of Milan and Camillo Luglio of Genova, had specifically requested Ferrari to supply two 250 GT chassis to be bodied directly by Zagato. In these years, Ferrari had several other privileged carrozzeria -- Ghia, Touring and primarily Pinin Farina – performing nearly all of his coachwork, but due to the old friendship with Ugo Zagato, Enzo Ferrari accepted the offer. In addition, he was wise enough not to disappoint two of his most important customers.
The car, therefore, shown on these pages is the car commissioned by Vladimiro Galluzzi. Interestingly, while this s/n 0515 GT was the first 250 GT LWB Berlinetta on which Zagato began actual construction, it was finished seven days after completion of the other chassis, s/n 0537 GT, the one for Camillo Luglio. This latter car had a due date, and Luglio received it in time for the Vermicino-Rocca di Papa Hillclimb on June 24, 1956. Zagato was even pushed to supply this first car without paint, since there wasn’t enough time before the race to finish it up. But Luglio did arrive, and did race, and he took a second place.
The bodies of the two cars were designed to be similar, and they were remarkably related except for some small details, but the cars themselves had different goals, and therefore different and diverse histories. Galluzzi ordered his 250 GT for use in both racing and on regular roads, while the one for Luglio was destined mainly for racing, and was, therefore, much more spartan. This resulted, in fact, in two cars with very similar lines, but each with a different execution and finish. The one for Galluzzi was exceedingly elegant, with a pleasant Lancia Blue color on the main body and a white roof. Galluzzi’s car was a purposeful gunmetal grey (once it was painted), with less finishing details to insure a super light weight. Both cars were built within a very short time frame, just slightly more than two months, but the final results were nevertheless convincing and satisfying. The speed of the whole project was possible because Zagato had already used another prototype as a mule, a Lancia Appia Sport. The two bodies, of the Ferrari and the Lancia prototype, are quite similar, apart from the dimensions (although the final version of the Appia looks quite a bit different from its prototype).
These two Ferraris bodied by Zagato brought a great deal of publicity and notoriety to the small Carrozzeria in Via Giorgini in Milan, and it also allowed old Ugo Zagato to demonstrate to Ferrari that he was still one of the best. It also brought income, in that each body was billed to the clients at 900,000 Italian Lire, whereas the rest of the car – engine, chassis, drive train, suspension, interior, etc., as supplied by Ferrari was billed at 3 Million Lire each.
The car of Luglio, the gunmetal grey s/n 0537 GT, won the 1956 Italian Championship, and outclassed all the other competing Ferraris. The car of Galluzzi, s/n 0515 GT, became something of a Queen of the Concours circuit, with showings at many events, including the prestigious Cortina d’Ampezzo and Campione d’Italia shows. But Galluzzi also entered his 250 GT in many races. Together with Elio Zagato, he came second in class at the Dolomite Gold Cup in July of 1956. It was here that the two 250 GT Zagatos actually met each other in competition, but it was Luglio in s/n 0537 GT who won the event.
All together, Carrozzeria Zagato built the bodies for five 250 GT LWB Ferraris. Camillo Luglio received his second car, s/n 0665 GT, in April of 1957, and this was the third and last 250 GT bodied by Zagato with the double-bubble roof. The two subsequent 250 GT LWB Berlinettas clothed by this coachbuilder had regular roofs (s/n 0689 GT and s/n 1367 GT).
At the end of the first year, Galluzzi’s building company SILE Srl (Società Impresa Lavori Edili) sold s/n 0515 GT to Scuderia Sant’Ambroeus in Milan. In July of 1957, this well known Scuderia sold it to dealer Orlando Palanga in Genova, and the car was re-registered on Genova plates. On loan from Palanga, Luigi Taramazzo raced s/n 0515 GT at the September 1, 1957 Garessio-San Bernardo Hillclimb and placed a fine first. The following weekend, Taramazzo raced it in the XI Coppa Inter-Europa at Monza and placed third. There is a wonderful photo of this car and its competitors at this event, on the cover and on pages 76 and 77 of Michele Marchiano’s excellent book “Ferrari by Zagato”. (We recommend the book highly.) In October of 1957, Taramazzo entered s/n 0515 GT in both the Trieste-Opicina and Pontedecimo-Giovi Hillclimbs. Thereafter, the car was repainted all white and owner Palanga finally sold it in February of 1958 to Luigi Taramazzo.
However, the 54 year old Taramazzo didn’t keep it for long, and re-sold it in April of 1958 to the fifth owner, Luciano Ravina, a dealer in Genova. At the end of the year, Paolo Lena used s/n 0515 GT in the Molino-Cocconato Hillclimb and placed first in the GT class, which was not bad for what was now a two year old car. The 1958 Ferrari Yearbook has a good photo of this event. The car was then purchased in February of 1959 by Roberto Sorcinelli in Southern Italy, but it soon changed hands again. It landed in the inventory of official Ferrari dealer Vittorio Malago in Rome. Through Emilio Goldoni, Edwin K. Niles acquired the car in October of 1960, and had it shipped to the U.S. west coast. It was sold to Shirley Geringer for Cary McQuoid in Palos Verdes, and at this time it was still painted white.
During the next twenty two years, Ed Niles sold and bought back s/n 0515 GT at least five times. It must have been a real love affair! In 1965, the Zagato Ferrari was repainted red, and by 1971 it was now rather tatty and in need of a restoration. Therefore, in 1973 Niles had the body stripped of its paint, and then partnered with Bud Pessin, the then owner of Archway Motors in St. Louis, Missouri, in the restoration. In 1983 and 1984, Steven Tillack of Redondo Beach completely restored the car again, with new dark blue paint and a white roof done by specialist Bill De Carr. In August of 1985, Niles showed the car at the 35th Annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and won the important Hans Tanner Trophy for the Best Ferrari. Shortly thereafter, in February of 1986, it was sold to a Swiss collector, but by 1991 the car belonged to Lorenzo Zambrano’s fabulous stable in Mexico. Finally, in December of 1999, the Ferrari was acquired by its current owners, David and Ginny Sydorick of Beverly Hills, California.
David Sydorick is a great Zagato collector (with examples of Zagato bodies on Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Ferrari, Maserati, and Aston Martin), and had s/n 0515 GT painstakingly prepared and detailed for Concours showing by the specialist David B. Smith of Bellevue, Washington. Early in January of 2003, Andrea Zagato inspected the Ferrari very carefully in Beverly Hills. It was then shown at the Palm Beach Cavallino Classic XII at The Breakers, where it not only achieved a Platinum Award in Class 12 for Limited/ Speciale cars, but also won the prestigious Coppa per Dodici Cilindri for the most outstanding twelve cylinder Ferrari. Because of the poor weather during the 8th Annual Amelia Island Concours, the Ferrari, along with many of the other Concours cars, had to stay in the underground car park of the Ritz Carlton hotel.
In April of 2003, s/n 0515 GT returned to Italy where it won the influential Corrado Millanta Press Award at the highly recognized Villa d’Este Concours d’Elegance. Thereafter, s/n 0515 GT was driven by its owner to a successful finish in the historic Mille Miglia, and in July of 2003, it was shown at the Cartier Style et Luxe Concours during the Goodwood Festival of Speed in England.
Today, Carrozzeria Zagato’s customized versions of normal production Ferraris hold a special place of honor in the history of Italian motoring. 0515 GT is, therefore, instantly recognizable for its undeniably beautiful lines, and its first class sporting character.
Marcel Massini maintains one of the largest and most thorough of databases on Ferraris, especially the earlier cars. He is also a consultant for many owners who are researching the history of their Ferraris. He has also written several books on the subject, most notably on the 250 LM, and on the Vignale bodied chassis.
Copyright © 2005 Cavallino Magazine.