1957 Ferrari 250 GT Ellena Coupe
Location: United States
The 1950s was a pivotal decade for Ferrari. Leading virtually every European competition in their class, besting top competitors at premier racing venues, and garnering world press, Ferrari was at the top of their game. But behind closed doors, the company was struggling to earn the money they desperately needed to compete against larger companies where racing programs were highly funded by sales of production cars. To survive, Ferrari had to cultivate a series of volume production road cars to appeal to wealthy clientele. Producing serious road cars was not only fiscally important, it was also a big part of showcasing proven racing technology, especially in the rapidly growing North American market. To meet the high-end market, Ferrari’s cars had to be elegant, understated, and luxurious. Ultimately the first of these volume production road cars, the Europa would yield only twenty examples of this period, but it was an important start.
It would take several additional years before the first refined Ferrari 250 GT road cars would arrive. Eventually these would come to define the quintessential Ferrari; powerful Colombo-designed 3-litre V-12, beautiful Pininfarina body design, and competition inspired interiors. As demand grew however, Pininfarina was unable to supply the volume needed to meet production demands. Reluctantly, Ferrari moved the project to Boano, who agreed to take on the line after only a few Pininfarina prototypes had been built. Under the name Boano, 82 cars were built before Boano founders, the father Mario Felice Boano (himself an ex-Farina designer) and son Gian Paolo departed to join Fiat at the end of 1957. Ezio Ellena, son-in-law to Boano, took the helm, renaming the firm Carrozzeria Ellena. Under his name, approximately 50 cars were completed before production closed.
Among the many changes incorporated into the Ellena series cars, the roof was raised 2” to accommodate taller drivers, the vent windows were eliminated, a standard 4 speed shift pattern gearbox was adopted, larger brakes, a ZF steering system, and the engine converted to single distributor ignition. The results were stylish and sporty with an elegant appearance that appealed to a wide range of buyers. The Ellena also offered softer suspension, lighter steering, and synchromesh gearboxes, delivering unrivaled road performance in part because these refined GT road cars utilized essentially the same components as Ferrari competition cars. With 4.57 gears, 0-60 times were under 6.0 seconds with an impressive 157mph top speed. Celebrated in period press and ultimately setting the stage for Ferrari to become recognized as a new leader in volume sports car manufacturing, the Ellena would become critical to establishing the Ferrari brand as an international icon. Although marketed as the premier luxury performance offering for road use, several of this series competed successfully in various races including running in the Mille Miglia, scoring an Alpine Rally GT Class win, and an overall victory in the 1957 Acropolis Rally.
This beautifully restored Ellena was originally constructed in 1957. According to the owner, in his discussions with Ferrari historian Marcel Massini, this car is believed to be one of 47 cars built in this configuration, of which approximately fifteen remain today. Although early history has not been uncovered at this time, the car was discovered in North America after long term storage and prepared for restoration. The car was very complete but without its original 0727 engine. The engine had been installed in #0391, a Ferrari Europa GT. While under restoration a correct inside-plug Ferrari 250 engine, #1483, was installed. The restoration was fully documented with multiple photos and numerous detailed invoices depicting the car fully disassembled and stripped to bare metal for comprehensive metal preparation and finish work. In addition to the body work, every detail of the car was evaluated and rebuilt or restored to the highest standards. The car was refinished in black with a beautifully contrasting gold roof and trimmed with tan leather interior. The interior was finished by premier Ferrari interior experts at Tappezzeria Luppi Sas Interiors, Modena, Italy, trimmed in the finest leather with matching finishes complimenting the exterior colors. The Colombo V12 engine was rebuilt using new forged pistons and new bearings, new ignition, new correct spark coils, and correct 38DZ Weber carburetors. The transmission was rebuilt, a new clutch installed, a new wiring loom installed, and all major mechanical components were refurbished to correct original standards including the suspension, shock absorbers, brake system, and steering mechanism. The Borrani wire wheels were all rebuilt by Route Borrani in Italy, all chrome was refinished, and all polished finishes prepared to show quality level. The restoration was completed in 2017. Invoices accompanying the car along with an expense chart tallying restoration costs indicate over EU$250k was spent on the restoration.
Today, this Ferrari 250GT Ellena presents as a stunning example of original design and premier restoration. The paintwork was done to very high standards with excellent gloss and depth, a challenge in any color, but beautifully rendered in black. The body is beautifully formed and displays excellent panel fit with crisp closures to the hood, trunk, and both doors. The chrome, headlights, lenses, and glass are in excellent condition even upon closer examination, with various glass panes showing Securit brand etching. The chrome trim throughout is in exceptional condition including the door handles, the sculpted trunk handle, and beautifully scripted “Ferrari 250 Granturismo” trunk lid emblem.
The body design is pure and clean, void of any fussy trim or excess features one might expect to find given the typical designs of the late 1950s. The linear body contours are gracefully softened, while the gold metallic roof visually drops the height of the car against the sweeping black surfaces. The correctly finished 16” Borrani wire wheels are the perfect performance accent, shod with 185 VR Pirelli tires, the gleaming wire wheels, rebuilt by Route Borrani, Italy, are mounted against the large cast aluminum brake drums, giving the wheel design a prominent visual signature from profile view. A pair of Marchal fog lamps are a handsome touch to the front of the car, nestled inside the polished elliptical aluminum grille opening.
The interior is elegant and handsomely trimmed, displaying high quality workmanship and a consistently fresh appearance throughout all leather surfaces. The tan leather, carpeting, and door panels were reportedly retrimmed by Tappezzeria Luppi Sas Interiors, Italy. The soft tan leather lends an understated elegance to the two-seat cockpit, particularly against the gloss black dash and upper door trim. The seats are perfectly constructed with correct foam, perimeter piping, and accurate pleats. The dashboard is wonderfully laid out with beautifully finished Veglia instrumentation and supporting gauges nestled inside the wide instrument panel. The instruments feature high contrast dial faces, crisp lettering, and correct needles. The speedometer indicates 72,943 miles. The interior finishes are heightened by a rich wood rimmed steering wheel and yellow Ferrari center emblem. The interior effect is both elegant and performance oriented, capturing both driver and passenger with distinct visual accents and vintage appeal. Finishing off the interior, the contrasting black carpets and light toned headliner give an open-air feeling to the space, further enhanced by the wraparound rear glass, gently curved windshield, and uninterrupted single pane side glass. Most importantly, the interior seating room is spacious even for taller drivers, an important and distinct feature of the Ellena design.
Under the hood, engine number 1483, while not originally installed when first delivered, has been faithfully restored to a very high standard. Both the engine and engine compartment are beautifully detailed, accurately refinished, and correct in presentation. The engine finishes are remarkably accurate including proper finish and texture to the Ferrari head castings and associated mechanical components. Numerous correct details include original specification hardware, proper fasteners, correctly painted triple Weber carburetors, and distinctive yellow fuel lines. During the restoration, the engine was reportedly rebuilt with forged pistons and the gearbox was also rebuilt. The trunk has been restored using high quality materials, lined with piped black carpeting, while a full-sized spare tire with Borrani wire wheel remains stowed directly beneath the fuel filler neck. The underside of the car reflects a high level of attention to detail, consistent with efforts performed in the engine compartment. Finishes on the brakes, engine castings, and hardware is very accurate with very little evidence of use showing. There are no areas of structural compromise evident in the floor pan or suspension mounting points.
Entering the car, the additional 2” roof height featured in the Ellena design is immediately appreciated as entry and seating is easy even for taller drivers. Seating position is excellent with all controls at hand. The thin pillars and near panoramic glass offer sweeping views of the front and side of the car, uninterrupted by side vent trim. The rear glass wraps around, inviting daylight into the interior and easing tension when driving or parking in reverse. The car starts easily and warms up with a smooth idle and crisp throttle response. Once at speed, the car pulls strong, making very good power over a wide RPM range, and virtually no smoke from the quad tipped dual exhaust. Acceleration is brisk, understandably so as this is the same engine that powered so many of Ferrari's top competition cars. The transmission shifts smoothly, with good synchros, both warm and cold. The four-wheel drum brakes are effective, pulling the car down evenly. The suspension is in good order offering responsive cornering in part due to the lightweight construction, and nimble proportions of the Ellena design. This car is accompanied by a spare Borrani wire wheel and a car cover.
This is an exceptional opportunity to acquire a Ferrari 250GT Ellena in elegant colors. A beautiful and recent restoration which has seen minimal miles since completion, this is a handsome and rare car exemplifies the excellence Ferrari achieved in their earliest refined road cars. This Ferrari Ellena is ready to deliver joyful ownership to those who enjoy important sports cars from Ferrari’s prominent and ground-breaking history. At home on the concours field, participating in vintage tours, or simply taking two fortunate passengers on a delightful sunset drive, this Ferrari 250GT Ellena is sure to delight the next enthusiast of vintage performance cars.