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Coachwork by Pinin Farina
*Please note that this car is titled as a 1960.
The 1961 London Motor Show Car
The fascinating history of this one-of-a-kind 250 GT begins in June 1961, when Ferrari sent 2821 GT – a highly developed 508E chassis – to the Pinin Farina factory in Torino. Consistent with its mid-1961 build date, this chassis was equipped with all of the latest advances introduced for the 250 GT series, including four-wheel Dunlop disc brakes, an outside-plug Tipo 128E engine, and a central gearshift location.
Though the factory build sheets indicate that “2821 GT” was originally commissioned as a “Cabriolet Specialé,” when the bare chassis arrived at Pinin Farina, the decision was made to create a unique Coupe Specialé that combined the basic elements of the 250 GT Coupe and the recently introduced 400 Superamerica Coupe Aerodinamica.
In designing this one-off body, Pinin Farina retained the handsome front section of the 250 GT, with its clean, unadorned flanks, sporting hood scoop, and auxiliary driving lights located behind the classic eggcrate grille. From the windscreen back, the coachwork was virtually identical to the Coupe Aerodinamica, carrying over the model’s curved A-pillars, stylish fastback design, and distinctive rear-end treatment. The overall result is a particularly elegant Ferrari that strikes an ideal balance between the understated 250 GT Coupe and the extravagant 400 Superamerica.
When time came to outfit the cockpit, Pinin Farina complemented the standard 250 GT dashboard arrangement with several bespoke appointments, such as an ample luggage shelf, an armrest with locking map compartment, and a Superamerica-style center console.
As completed in September 1961, 2821 GT was beautifully finished in Celeste, a lovely pale metallic blue, and upholstered in blue Connolly leather – a color scheme perfectly suited to the sophisticated Ferrari.
Eager to promote their latest custom-bodied 250 GT, Pinin Farina took a number of staged photographs with the Coupe Specialé around the parks and piazzas of Torino, several of which appeared in Style Auto: Architettura Della Carrozzeria, the influential Italian review of automotive design.
From there, the Coupe Specialé was shipped to England – along with a new 250 GTE and 250 GT SWB Berlinetta – aboard the Silver City Airways Bristol Superfreighter and unveiled to the public at the 46th London Motor Show held at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre October 18, 1961, through October 28, 1961.
In his London Motor Show report for Sports Car Graphic magazine, famed automotive journalist Bernard Cahier reported that, “Farina had a beautiful new 3-liter GT Ferrari with a low front and sweeping streamlined back which had been made especially for an English customer who will have to pay for it, in England, the tidy sum of $34,000! Americans can’t complain that cars are expensive in the New World!”
Later in the issue, 2821 GT was pictured in Cahier’s “1962 Forecast” alongside the latest top-of-the-line models from Abarth, Aston Martin, Lotus, Porsche, and Maserati.
In November, official UK Ferrari dealer Maranello Concessionaires Ltd. sold 2821 GT to its first owner, a Mr. Mason who maintained residences in both Jersey and in Portugal. Though little is known of the Coupe Specialé’s first owner, records indicate that the car was maintained at the Ferrari Factory Assistenza Clienti in Modena through 1966, by which time it had accumulated 28,000 miles.
In 1977, after passing through the ownership of British dealer Brian Classic, 2821 GT was sold to William Kidd of Woodland Hills, California. In fall 1978, Mr. Kidd offered the Coupe Specialé for sale, describing it as completely original with 49,000 miles. The following year, 2821 GT was sold to Ferrari collector Lorenzo Zambrano through Dutch broker Rudy Pas.
In 1982, the Coupe Specialé was sold to John W. Mecom Jr. of Houston, Texas. Heir to one of the great Texas oil fortunes, Mr. Mecom Jr. founded the New Orleans Saints football franchise, sponsored some of the most successful American racing teams of the 1960s, and amassed a remarkable collection of exotic animals, Tiffany glass, guns, yachts, planes, and exclusive properties. At its height, his stable of classic cars included a variety of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Rolls-Royce as well as important racing cars such as Graham Hill’s 1966 Indy 500-winning Lola T90.
After two years in the Mecom Jr. collection, 2821 GT was sold to Leonard Blamock of Dallas, Texas, and subsequently passed through several US collectors including Ferrari enthusiast Stan Makres of Grosse Pointe, Michigan.
In 1988, Karl Schaffrath of Cologne, Germany, acquired the one-off Ferrari. However, the Coupe Specialé did not remain in Europe for long, as it was sold to Don Young of Santa Barbara, California, in May 1989. For the next three years, 2821 GT remained in Mr. Young’s collection, sharing the garage with another Italian thoroughbred – an Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS.
In 1992, Lorenzo Zambrano reacquired 2821 GT and displayed it at that year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. During the 1990s, the Coupe Specialé was selectively displayed, with an appearance at Concorso Italiano in 1994 and a starring role in the Petersen Automotive Museum’s Ferrari at 50 Exhibition.
In the late 1990s, Mr. Zambrano commissioned marque specialist Tillack & Co. in Redondo Beach, California, to perform a complete restoration of the Coupe Specialé. Though the Ferrari had never before received a comprehensive restoration, it remained in very presentable condition and even retained its complete original interior and undisturbed sections of the factory-applied Celeste paint.
The Coupe Specialé made its post-restoration debut at the 2001 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it was displayed in Class M-2, Ferrari Grand Touring. After being judged by a panel of leading experts, 2821 GT was selected as First in Class from an impressive field of Pinin Farina-bodied Ferraris. Following its outstanding result at Pebble Beach, the Coupe Specialé was shown at the Ferrari Club of America National Meeting and Concours in Los Angeles, where it received a prestigious Platinum Award.
Over the past decade, this marvelous coachbuilt Ferrari has been shown on rare occasions, most recently at the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the hands of the current owner.
In total, Ferrari built just five 250 GTs with custom coachwork in the style of the 400 Superamerica Coupe Aerodinamica. There is, of course, the incomparable 250 GT Sperimentale, a Scuderia Ferrari-prepared competition car that served as the prototype to the legendary 250 GTO. The remaining examples – 2429 GT, 2613 GT, and 3615 GT – were each custom built for an important client and incorporated competition features, to varying degrees. Unlike the vast majority of one-off 250 GTs, all of these cars, including 2821 GT, were built on Ferrari’s improved, late-production chassis, with Dunlop disc brakes and the more robust outside-plug V-12.
Among this most rarified breed of 250 GTs, 2821 GT is the only example that was displayed at a major international auto show. Over the years, 2821 GT has been featured in almost every book on Ferrari road cars and Carrozzeria Pinin Farina, a remarkable testament to its harmonious design and singular status.
Beyond its exceptional show-car pedigree, the Coupe Specialé boasts an impressive provenance that includes famed sportsman John Mecom Jr. and two decades with Lorenzo Zambrano – one of the great collectors of custom-bodied Ferraris. Thanks to a limited chain of responsible stewards, 2821 GT remains in superb order, complete with its numerous bespoke features as well as its factory-delivered, matching-numbers engine.
In its current condition, it would be quite a challenge to fault the overall presentation of 2821 GT. Finished in its splendid original color scheme and restored to an exceptional standard by one of the leading marque specialists, this marvelous Pinin Farina show car has a visual appeal and preparation that would be difficult to improve upon. Highly regarded among knowledgeable Ferrari enthusiasts, the Coupe Specialé is supported by a file of important documentation, including copies of the factory build sheets, archival images, an album of restoration photos, and a history report compiled by marque historian Marcel Massini.
With the quality, credentials, and style to impress the most discerning connoisseur, this exceptional 250 GT demands serious consideration.