I recently had the chance to drive a 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso, which is a rather exciting vehicle, sort of like how the Coliseum is a rather exciting sports stadium. This opportunity came courtesy of Tomini Classics in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, which has a truly amazing collection of exotic and vintage cars. They offered me the chance to drive basically anything in their inventory, and I chose the Lusso because, well, it’s a Lusso. See the used Ferrari models for sale near you
For those of you who don’t know the Lusso, allow me to catch you up: Surely you know the 250 GTO, which is an ultra-rare race car Ferrari made in the 1960s — and has attained fame in the modern era for being the most expensive vehicle in the world, with nice examples selling around $40 million. Well, the Lusso is effectively a road-going version of the GTO; it doesn’t have the same performance, but it was built on the same platform, with the same basic powerplant, at the same time.
Of course, as you might guess from the fact that I’ve told you the Lusso is "only" worth $3 million, it’s a lot more common than the 250 GTO. Of course, in the 1960s Ferrari world, that’s a relative term: Ferrari built just 39 units of the 250 GTO, compared to 351 units of the Lusso. So there are only 351 of these things in the world, each valued at $3 million — and I was tasked with driving this gorgeous red example around Dubai, trying not to hit anything. Fortunately, I succeeded.
I also succeeded at discovering why the Lusso is such a truly amazing automobile. It starts with the exterior styling, which is gorgeous. From photographs, I’ve always kind of wondered why so many people think the Lusso is such a beautiful car; I’ve always found the rear end to be a bit long and droopy, and the overall car to be a bit too long. But in person, it looks the "vintage Ferrari" part nearly as much as a 250 GTO or a similarly prized 250 GT SWB. The Lusso is, summed up in a word, beautiful — and someday, when we’ve run out of fuel and cars change hands like art in today’s world, the Lusso will be a must-have piece for every collector of automotive art.
Then there’s the driving experience. Climbing behind the wheel of the Lusso is intimidating, but of the five cars I filmed at Tomini Classics — the Ferrari Boxer, the Lamborghini Espada and the Lamborghini Jarama, which you’ve already seen, and the Maserati Ghibli, which is coming soon — the Lusso was the easiest and most rewarding to drive. It wasn’t too loud or too fast or too aggressive; driving it simply felt like I was enjoying a beautiful experience, which, if I’m honest, I was. It’s not about the speed when you get into a car of this era; it’s about the feel of the wood steering wheel and shift lever and the look of the interior and the smell of the leather and the sound of the V12.
The sound of the V12, oddly, was the only real disappointment for me; I know the race cars are louder than the road cars, but the Lusso didn’t have much sound to it at all. In fact, when I was following behind the Lusso, it had decidedly zero sound — you could barely hear it over a modern Ferrari. Then again, this engine wasn’t exactly gasping to put out power; the 250 Lusso uses a 3.0-liter V12 that makes just 240 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque. It was the fastest passenger car on earth when it came out, but its top speed — 150 mph — is eclipsed today by virtually everything that’s even slightly sporty.
Interestingly, the interior was roomy. Most later Ferrari models feel tight — at least up to the 1980s — but the Lusso proved Ferrari knew a few things about ergonomics, before apparently forgetting them later. The clutch was easy to work; the shift lever was simple; and the steering wheel — though gorgeous — was far too large for a sporty vehicle. Inside, the quality was excellent; the Lusso I drove had been restored, like most of them, but restored to an original standard. The craftsmanship proves just how much attention Ferrari paid to ensuring its cars were beautiful, even back in the 1960s. Watching the speedometer climb is a true joy — slowly, of course, as you accelerate through the gears.
But, of course, it isn’t about the speed. You don’t drive a vintage Ferrari because you think it’s going to get you going quickly; you do it for the experience, and the Lusso provided me with exactly the experience I wanted from a 1960s Ferrari. Worth $3 million? Hey — they’re not making them like this anymore. No one is. Find a used Ferrari for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.
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