Unless you were brought up in a cave, or raised on a desert island, you likely spent small parts of your childhood and adolescence donating fragments of your thought life to the fantasy of having a Ferrari to drive around in and show off to your friends. Ferrari's are what dreams are made of: Futuristic fantasy rides with curves and lines that rival those of any world famous actress or supermodel, and the power under the hood to match. Males and females alike find themselves coveting these cars; you don’t have to be a dirt-under-the-nails motor head to appreciate a car like that.
Well, the 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso is that car. First made famous by Steve McQueen as being the first Ferrari he ever owned, it was purchased for his 32nd birthday as a gift from his wife, Neile. Mostly, Lussos were sold in black, silver, or red, but McQueen’s was a metallic brown called ‘Marrone’, coupled with a beige-colored interior that seemed to set it off perfectly. It is likely a good bet that his car began America’s love affair with all things Ferrari.
Today, the Ferrari brand is synonymous with both high speed and high class, with a price tag to match both. While the 1963 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso was expensive for the times, it seemed to be created to capture the hearts and imaginations of people all over the world, and it succeeded beautifully. So, instead of just sitting here fantasizing about being Steve McQueen, let’s find out a bit more about this amazingly stylish automobile. It will give us a bit more detail to inject into our dreams.
A Brief History of the 1963 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso by Ferrari
First off, it is important to know that the Lusso was a 250 GT that had been put through a luxury makeover, and in 1963 that was saying a lot. Not only did it have a Nardi steering wheel, it had a Nardi steering wheel made of aluminum and wood. The dashboard was lined with premium black leather; it rolled along on Borrani wheels that featured a high-shined polish. It also offered owners more trunk space than a car of its size was expected to ever have. But those perks were just the beginning, and that was as it should have been. Considering the fact that Ferrari only produced a total of 351 Berlinetta Lussos in a year-and-a-half, the designers likely figured that the auto should have everything they could possibly offer it. Well, they did a good job.
The ’63 Berlinetta Lusso was actually designed and manufactured as a replacement for the 250 GT ‘Tour de France’ Berlinetta. Featuring modernized engine specs and a brand new design, it was also equipped with other new features that made it ideal for competition. The many changes proved this model to be a winner, as it managed to win races again and again. According to Gooding & Company, it was the original race model that sparked private owners’ desire when it came to making one of the Lussos their own, which in turn motivated Ferrari to design and produce the street model that we have only seen in movies, or heard rumors about. To put it in real-time perspective, the rest, of course, is history.
But what, aside from this car’s breathtaking aesthetic, was the attraction for the general public? Certainly there had to be more to it than the status-symbol price tag, or the ‘It will make me feel like Steve McQueen’ effect it seemed to produce. Well, there is really only one thing left: The way it ran. So, what was beneath all the polished exterior? Let’s find out.
Specs & Features of the 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso
Not only will we break it all down for you here as far as what made this beauty run, but we’ll also take a look at a few of the extras that made those that drove it feel like Rockefeller's.
- Manual 4-speed gearbox
- Rear-wheel drive
- Top speed of 149 mph (240 kp/h) factory-declared
- 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds (0-100 kp/h in 7.1 seconds) with a ¼ mile drag tim
- Base curb weight of 2,888 lbs (1310 kg); Gross Weight (GVWR) at 3,527 lbs (1600 kg)
- Gasoline engine
- Fuel consumption estimated at 13.6 US mpg/ 16.4 Imp. Mpg/ 17.21/100km
- Body style: 2-door fastback coupe
- 4-stroke spark ignition engine
- 2 valves per cylinder
- Triple carburetor
- Weber 36 DBS
- Class: Grand Tourer sport car
- V12 cylinder alignment
- Bore @ 2.87 inches (73mm)
- Stroke @ 2.31 inches (58.8mm)
- 247 horsepower @ 7,500 rpm
- Fuel capacity at 30.1 US gallons
As with any vehicle, the 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso came with standard features, but extras could be specified and purchased when ordering the vehicle new. Here are some of the interior features available on this vehicle.
- Bucket seats
- Leather-lined upholstery
- Round, center-dash-situated gauges aimed at driver (speedometer and revolution counter)
- Supplemental gauges situated on dash directly in front of driver
- Luggage space behind seats equipped with leather straps and quilted cover panel
- Chrome-plated vertical over-riders and quarter bumpers
- Plexi-glass covered sunken headlamps
Those are just a few of the interior features which could be enjoyed with this Ferrari, but there were many more available with this incredible machine. The MSRP when the car was new with standard features was $12,950. The price, of course, varied greatly depending on extras. As for current values, one recently sold at an auction held by Gooding & Company for more than $7 million with full and complete provenance.
Putting It All Together…
Such a beautiful and popular vehicle is not made every day, yet Ferrari has managed to produce several that have not only captured instant attention from the public, but have stood the test of time as well. The 1963 250 GT Berlinetta Russo was one of their first, but it was certainly not their last. When all things are considered, the reasons for falling in love with this model are obvious; after all, Steve McQueen recognized them, and it was hailed as his favorite. It was easy for countless others to feel the same way, then and now.
Most of us will only be able to enjoy this vehicle by looking at photos or watching films. We can become familiar with its beauty and inner workings by reading up on it. Unfortunately, owning one for ourselves isn’t as feasible a reality as it was for celebrities and race car drivers of the day. But if you get a chance, if someone happens to come into your life looking to sell one for the right price, well, what you should do next is obvious…
…pick up the phone and call me right away.
Until then, have a long, safe life on the road.
Written by Benjamin Smith
Read more posts by Benjamin Smith