1957 Ferrari 250 Ellena high roof coupe
220 bhp, 2,953 cc single overhead-cam alloy block and head V-12 engine, four-speed manual synchromesh transmission, independent front suspension with A-arms and coil springs, solid rear axle with trailing arms and leaf springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,600 mm (102 in.)
The early Ferrari road cars were produced in very small numbers but by 1955 a publicity brochure described a new model as “the first series-produced vehicle benefiting from the experiences of the race track”. The new model that this brochure described was the second series of Ferrari 250 GTs, which became known as the 250 GT Boano Coupé and 250 GT Ellena Coupé.
The first series was the Ferrari 250 Europa GT and was significant in that for the first time Carrozzeria Pinin Farina was Ferrari’s preferred coach builder, producing the vast majority of 250 Europa GTs built. Unveiled at the 1956 Geneva Salon, the new model, designed again by Pinin Farina, had more graceful proportions, with a slimmer front grille and clean, straight lines stretching the length of the car from the wings to the upright tail lights.
Pinin Farina only produced the first few cars as they did not have the capacity to put this car into production. Instead, manufacture of the car was given to a new company owned by former Stabilimenti Farina and Carrozzeria Ghia employee Mario Felice Boano, his son Gian Paolo and Luciano Pollo. The Pinin Farina design was nearly unchanged but it would be the Boano name that became synonymous with this car.
Boano built at least 66 of the Pinin Farina-designed coupés, which was considered a large number in Ferrari’s early days. When Mario Felice Boano was asked to head the design department of Fiat, the company was handed over to his son-in-law Ezio Ellena, still partnered by Luciano Pollo, and the company became Carrozzeria Ellena, the third to produce the same design.
Although the design was essentially the same, all three coachbuilders had subtle differences. The Pinin Farina-built cars had a slightly higher wing line. The Boanos had a lower roofline, which prompted the commonly used terms “high roof” for the Ellenas and “low roof” for the Boano-built cars. The Pinin Farina and Boano cars had quarter lights in the side windows while the Ellenas did not. (The first few cars built by Ellena were identical in appearance to the “low-roof” Boanos, but the aforementioned differences are evident on the remaining cars.) Ellena had produced 50 cars when Ferrari ended the production run. A new 250 GT model had been designed by Pinin Farina and they would produce it themselves.
The example presented here, chassis 0819 GT, is the 26th of the 50 total units produced by Carrozzeria Ellena, originally finished in dark red with a tan interior. Delivered new to Ferrari Representatives of California in Hollywood in November 1957, its ownership trail reappears in the early 1970s, when it was sold to John Hajduk’s MotorKraft in Bensenville, Illinois. Hajduk was deciding whether to restore 0819 GT when two local youngsters expressed strong interest in the project. Hajduk therefore sold the car for $2,550 to Larry A. Sansbury and Russ Johnson, then aged 25 and 22. Both were quite technically proficient; Sansbury being an electronic technician with Motorola and Johnson working in his family’s body shop business. For the two friends, 0819 GT was a long-term restoration project to be worked on in their spare time and when both moved to Washington state in the fall of 1977, they took the Ellena with them. In 1990, after fifteen years of restoration and little if any road use, they sold the car to a collector in California.
After brief ownership in Japan, the car was sold at auction to noted German Mercedes-Benz collector Helmar Broich of Mönchengladbach, who drove it in the 1993 Mille Miglia Storica. In the late 1990s, following another entry in the Mille Miglia, the car became part of the small collection of Manfred Hellwig of Bad Homburg, Germany. The noted breeder of racehorses entered 0819 GT in the Mille Miglia Storica another three times. In January 2006, Helmut Eberlein of Kassel bought the car as his personal gift for his 55th birthday. Eberlein, a franchised Ferrari dealer and Germany’s exclusive Ferrari Classiche partner, sent 0819 GT to Maranello where the suspension was rebuilt in 2007 to original specifications while the leather was re-trimmed by specialist Hagen Kruse of Uder, Germany.
In January 1958 Sports Cars Illustrated performed a detailed test of one of these cars. The editors wrote, “The design, detailing and execution of every part of its chassis and body reflect the builder’s determination to put together a perfect machine.” This car represents a very rare opportunity to own an exquisite example of one of these beautifully proportioned “perfect machines”.