250 Europa (1953)
The 250 Europa GT was the immediate successor to the 250 Europa model and was presented to the public at the 1954 Paris Salon, initially also being called the 250 Europa. However, the GT suffix to the model title was soon added, to help differentiate it from its predecessor, and then it became known simply as the 250 GT. The overall shape of the majority of the series was virtually identical to that of the 250 Europa Pininfarina three window coupé that preceded it. In fact, unless you had a keen eye for dimensions, you would need a tape measure to tell them apart, the main difference being in the distance between the front wheel arch and the A-pillar.
Full uniformity of line for a complete series of a model was still to be achieved. One example had special Vignale coachwork for Princess Liliane De Rethy in Belgium, and seven cars had varying designs of berlinetta bodies constructed in aluminium by Pininfarina, that are often regarded as prototypes of the upcoming ’Tour de France’ berlinettas produced between 1956 and 1959. Even some of the standard coupés had some detail body modifications to suit a particular client's requirements, whilst some were bodied in steel and others in aluminium. As with the 250 Europa series, some examples had a rear seat, but in practice it was really an upholstered luggage platform.
The largest and most important differences between the 250 Europa and 250 Europa GT lay under the bonnet. By exchanging the long block Lampredi engine of the former model for the Colombo short block V12 engine design, as used in the 250 MM etc., it enabled the wheel base to be reduced by 200 mm to 2600 mm, without compromising cabin space, whilst concurrently the front and rear track were each increased by 29 mm. The chassis, with factory type reference 508, were numbered in the odd number road car sequence carrying a GT suffix, and comprised two main longitudinal tubes, with cross bracing, and outriggers to support the body, with the main chassis tubes now passing above the rear axle, as opposed to under it on the 250 Europa/375 America series. The suspension was independent at the front, initially with twin wishbones, lever type hydraulic shock absorbers, and a transverse leaf spring, which was superseded by individual coil springs during the production run, whilst the rigid rear axle was supported on semi-elliptic leaf springs, and fitted with lever type hydraulic shock absorbers. Hydraulically operated drum brakes were fitted all round, and the handbrake was cable operated on the rear wheels. Apart from one car, all examples were left-hand drive.
As noted, the engine, although still a 3 litre V12 unit, was completely different from that in the 250 Europa, being a development of the Colombo-designed short block V12 unit, with a capacity of 2953 cc, and a bore and stroke of 73 mm x 58.8 mm, fitted with a bank of three twin-choke Weber 36 or 42 DCZ carburettors, with twin coil and front horizontal mounted distributor ignition, to produce a claimed 220 bhp. This was coupled with a 4-speed, all-synchromesh gearbox, driving through a propeller shaft to the rigid rear axle, for which a range of ratios were available. Perhaps an explanation of the long and short block descriptions would not go amiss at this juncture. The Lampredi long block design featured cylinder liners that screwed into the cylinder heads, which needed greater bore spacing than the Colombo short block design, which had more conventional push fit cylinder liners and a standard head gasket arrangement, which is more compact.
This model was an important landmark in the Ferrari production car story, as it had the largest relatively homogenous model production run at that time, and it marked the point where Pininfarina became, with only one subsequent exception, the sole designer of Ferrari series production cars to date. Also the engine/chassis combination would, with upgrading and modification, form the backbone of Ferrari production car output, in the form of the various 250 GT models, for a decade.