The Ferrari 250 GTO's influence in world-class sports car racing rapidly declined after 1965, when the rules regarding production sports cars became even more vague, and purebred mid-engine racing cars arrived on the scene. By that time, the GTO had itself evolved into a number of variants. A total of 36 250 GTOs were built. Three of these cars were constructed in 1964 with the sleek Pininfarina-designed Series II bodywork inspired by the mid-engine 250LM, while four of the Series I cars were re-bodied in similar style. Three 330 GTOs with 400-bhp, 4.0-liter V12 engines also were built in 1963 to compete for overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
It's fashionable today to think that the Ferrari 250 GTO became a bargain-priced cast-off when its competition days ended in the mid 1960s, as if any of us might have reaped the financial rewards of investing in one had we only been prescient enough. But the reality is, the GTO never lost its value the way that the Cobra, Corvette and Jaguar racing cars of that era did. You have only to read the ownership data for each individual car (information now lovingly collected by current GTO enthusiasts) to see that the car has always attracted the most famous and discriminating sportsman. The only "barn-find" GTO ever recorded is chassis #3589, which was purchased by Tom O'Connor for Team Rosebud, a Texas racing outfit. The car's engine was removed and installed in a mid-engine Lotus 19 sports-racer, but the experiment ended when Innes Ireland crashed the car. Team Rosebud subsequently disposed of all of its racing cars by donating them to an auto shop program at a local high school (presumably as a tax write-off), where the GTO sat from 1964 until 1972 before being purchased and restored.
In truth, the Ferrari 250 GTO never lost its aura. When the GTO's 20th anniversary was observed in France in 1982 by a group of European enthusiasts, it signaled the car's stature as the foremost automotive collectible in the world. A Ferrari 250 GTO set the record for the highest price ever paid at auction for a car at $17 million in 1989 during the Ferrari mania that followed the death of Enzo Ferrari.
The Ferrari 250 GTO still determines the corporate strategy of Ferrari. In the GTO's history, we can see the gradual evolution of an automobile into something like a four-wheel Faberg egg, a jewel of artistic collectibility that has a value which far exceeds simple utility. The GTO has style, history and rarity, the three essentials in the art world. Ever since the creation of the 1984 Ferrari 288 GTO, its production limited to 272 examples (each now valued at $250,000), Ferrari has tried to recapture the allure of the 250 GTO by artificially managing the scarcity of certain models in order to enhance their value to the company. Although the 1987 F40's production numbers soared to 1,315 examples (each now valued at about $350,000) when the factory's greed overcame its propriety, the 1995 F50's production was successfully suppressed to just 349 examples (each now valued at about $700,000). The forthcoming introduction of the $670,000 Enzo Ferrari, with production limited to 349 cars, follows the same pattern.
The truth is, every supercar of the last 20 years, from the McLaren F1 to the Porsche Carrera GT, owes its existence to the Ferrari 250 GTO. Not bad for what is really, when all is said and done, just an Italian hot rod developed in a rush by men who were simply searching for a little more speed.