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One of the earliest – and most beautiful – collaborations of Pinin Farina and Ferrari, this rare 250 GT Boano began life with a Parisian aristocrat in 1956. A four-year labour of love sees it restored to magnificent life by the Classiche Department
Words: Alessandro Giudice / Photographs: Andrea Ceccarelli

Flawless elegance, expressed through an almost minimalist purity, and possessing an extraordinary formal balance. The 250 GT coachbuilt by Boano in 1956 was a bold declaration of intent by Battista ‘Pinin’ Farina, presaging what would become an almost symbiotic relationship between the designer and Enzo Ferrari, the technical excellence of whose cars would come to be expressed through an essential design style.

This creative relationship was forged back in 1951 during a, by now legendary, meeting at a trattoria in the modest little town of Tortona. There the two men laid the foundations of an alliance that was destined to go down in automotive history. The 250 GT Boano was the product of a perfect combination, the sleek forms which evoked a Grand Tourer intended for a sophisticated clientèle, and the technical characteristics and performance of a racing car.

The 250 GT Boano's upright flanks and narrow, unflared wings give the nose of the car a tall look, and allow for an oval grille broad enough to accommodate two supplementary spotlights

With the 250 GT in 1956 the elite coachbuilder made its first foray into the world of serial production – with ‘serial’ in this case meaning a batch of around eighty, practically identical, examples. At the time this was an unheard of number for high-performance sports cars, which were generally called ‘specials’ due to the very limited volumes in which they were produced. Since he had a number of other commitments and could not tool up an adequate assembly line quickly enough, Pinin Farina decided to use the services of Mario Boano, a former designer of his who by then was involved in a coachbuilding factory with Luciano Pollo, producing bodies for a number of different car manufacturers. This gave rise to the ‘Boano’ moniker, a practical way to distinguish this Ferrari from others.

Joining the 250 GT Boano's front and rear wings with a single line – a shoulder running parallel to the ground from the headlamps to the two soft-edged fins at the rear – resulted in the car's particularly elegant silhouette

From a styling perspective, the 250 GT Boano is a three-box ‘notchback’ coupé with a rather pronounced rear volume that makes the car seem longer than it actually is. The styling solution of joining the front and rear wings with a single line lends the car an elegance that is uncommon for its genre, while the ample glasshouse boasts generous glazing and slender pillars, creating a light and airy ambience in the cabin. In short, a Ferrari through and through for the client that appreciates beauty. Baron Élie de Rothschild, the original proprietor of the car, was just such an individual. Setting this particular specimen apart is the swage line on the flank which kicks up onto the rear fender immediately aft of the door handle. This was a muscular touch in Pinin Farina’s initial design which was later eliminated on subsequent ‘Boano’ models in favour of an uninterrupted shoulder line.

From left: the 250 GT Boano's four-year restoration – carried out by the experts at Ferrari Classiche – involved every aspect of the car, including the bodywork, engine and transmission, as well as a multitude of smaller details

Another unique feature was the steering wheel’s three aluminium spokes and smooth wooden rim. But the coupé commissioned by Baron de Rothschild also had another unusual characteristic: it had the same chassis number – 0367 GT – as the Parisian banker’s previous Ferrari.

To avoid cumbersome paperwork and repeatedly paying new registration taxes, drivers would often ask Ferrari to use the same chassis number as that of a previous car, so they could simply update the registration documents with the details of the new engine and bodywork. In this case, Baron de Rothschild asked Ferrari to replace the chassis number of his new ‘Boano’ (0511 GT) with the number of the 250 GT ‘Europa’ he had purchased two years earlier, in October 1954. The new chassis number was punched onto the chassis directly in the factory, as testified by period documentation that was recently discovered during the nuts-and-bolts restoration carried out by the experts at Ferrari Classiche, commissioned by the car’s new owner, a discreet Swiss businessman.

Once fully restored the 250 GT Boano looked exactly as it did on the day, in 1956, that it was delivered to Baron Élie de Rothschild in Paris

The four-year restoration project involved every aspect of the car, from the bodywork to the chassis, from the engine to the transmission, discovering a perfectly preserved original rear axle and differential. Its gearbox was one of the rare ‘Boano’ specimens whose gear shift pattern had its first gear positioned at top right. The painstaking restoration saw the car returned to its original glory, looking just like the day it was first delivered in Paris, in captivating pastel grey paintwork with unmistakeably French, yellow headlamps.