Icons On Icons: Six Legendary Ferraris And Their Timepieces
Cars & motorsport

Icons On Icons: Six Legendary Ferraris And Their Timepieces

Enzo Ferrari – Il Commendatore – once famously said, “I don't sell cars. I sell engines. The cars I throw in for free since something has to hold the engines in.” 

By Bryan Campbell

Now, for anyone who has ever laid eyes or hands on a Ferrari, I think we can agree Mr. Ferrari was selling his work a bit short. His engines were, of course, works of mechanical and sonorous art, but the cars Enzo jokingly claimed to throw in for free were themselves nothing short of masterpieces. 

Where automotive history is concerned, Ferrari owns a seat in the pantheon of greats, without question. Auction records prove classic Ferraris are the most coveted cars in the world, and people are willing to pay tens of millions of dollars to own them.

But to pick the best, the most legendary? Attempting to distill a list of six out of every Ferrari ever is no easy task. Then again, poring over dozens of the most beautiful cars in the world for a few hours and listening to the occasional sound clip of a high-revving Italian engine sounds like a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. An even more enticing proposition is daydreaming about the watches which might be found on the wrist of the owners of these legendary cars.

1957 250 Testarossa

The 250 series engine is one of, if not the most successful lines in Ferrari history, and the 250 Testarossa is chief among them. With wins at the Sebring 12 Hours, 24 Hours of Le Mans, Targa Florio, and World Sportscar Championship titles in ‘58, ‘60, and ‘61, the 250 Testarossa is a certified icon of motorsport. The mid-engined 3.0-liter V12 race car’s long list of famous wins only adds to its mystique. The last time an unrestored example crossed the auction block, the gavel dropped on a final bid of $39.8 million. Worth every penny. 

Perfect Timepiece Pairing: Rolex 4113 Split-Second Monopusher

When form and function work in perfect harmony, the success of the symbiotic relationship is undeniable. Much like the purposeful, yet beautiful curves of the Testarossa doubled as a race-winning aerodynamic profile, the design of this split-seconds chrono lends itself to incredibly accurate timekeeping, not to mention is comes together to make one handsome watch. Both the car and watch also share unparalleled rarity and command eye-watering but well-deserved price tags.

1962 250 GTO

In recent years, the 250 GTO has become famous for stealing headlines as the most expensive car ever sold, privately or at auction. In 2018, chassis number 3413 GT sold for a record-breaking $48.8 million at RM Sotheby’s in Monterey, California. And later that year, a private sale of another 250 GTO reportedly occurred for around $80 million – quite an appreciation for a car that originally sold for $18,000.

Just thirty-six 250 GTOs were built between 1962-1964 to meet homologation regulations requiring a certain number of road cars for a race car version to compete. Hence the “GTO” moniker, which is short for Gran Turismo Omologato, or Grand Touring Homologated.

In the hands of Phil Hill, the 250 GTO finished second overall on its debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring in ‘62, beating the entire field save for the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, which was racing in a faster class. The GTO went on to dominate and win the FIA GT Championship in ‘62,’63, and ‘64.  

If you want a racing pedigree, you found it.   

Perfect Timepiece Pairing: Patek Philippe ref. 1518 Steel

There is rare, and there is 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO rare. Then there is Patek Philippe ref. 1518 Steel rare.

Only a handful of examples of the Ferrari have crossed the block in a single lifetime, while watch collectors will struggle to remember each time a 1518 Steel surfaced at auction. The two machines are superlative-laden icons in their respective worlds and deserve to be in each other’s company. 

1971 365 GTB/4 Daytona

Ferrari will be the first to admit the name “Daytona” is not the official name of the car. Rather it’s a media-given nickname after Ferrari took a 1-2-3 finish at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1967. That’s right. As great as Ford vs. Ferrari was, it was only half the story. While the Ford GT40s took a 1-2-3 finish victory at Le Mans, Ferrari did the same in Ford’s own backyard.

The 365 GTB/4 was powered by a 4.4-liter V12 mounted up front, good for just shy of 350 horsepower. That in itself is nothing out of the ordinary for Ferrari at the time, but the 365 GTB/4 was the last front-engine V12 two-seater from Marinello until the 550, 23 years later. And if that didn’t make the 365 GT/4 BB famous enough, Dan Gurney and Brock Yates completed the New York-to-Los Angeles Cannonball Run with a ‘71 Sunoco Blue example in a time of 35 hours and 54 minutes.

Perfect Timepiece Pairing: Rolex 6263 Daytona

The names Rolex and Daytona are just as synonymous today as Ferrari and Le Mans were in the early ‘60s. However, what some don’t know is Rolex initially referred to the first Daytona model as the “Le Mans.” It may be just a coincidence, but the Ferrari Daytona’s and Rolex Daytona’s intertwined history seem to make the two a natural match for each other. 

1973 365 GT/4 BB

Enzo Ferrari was a famously stubborn man. It took what we imagine to be countless heated arguments with his engineers to convince Ferrari that shifting the engines midship was the way to success. The mid-engine architecture was proving itself in motorsport, but Ferrari was hesitant to bring it to his road cars. He argued customers would neither appreciate nor understand its nature. The 1973 365 GT/4 BB, then, is the result of a rare acquiescence from the old man.

The 365 GT/4 BB was the first mid-engine car from Ferrari to wear the badge (because the history books don’t consider the Dino 206 a true Ferrari). Not only did it replace the Daytona as the first mid-engine Ferrari, but it was also first to sport a flat-12 engine rather than a V configuration. 

Perfect Timepiece Pairing: Heuer Carrera ‘Ferrari’ Reference 1158CHN In 18k Gold

If there was ever a truly perfect pairing, it is without a doubt the Heuer Carrera ‘Ferrari’ Reference 1158CHN in 18k Gold and the 365 GT/4 BB. The 365 GT/4 BB was the cream of the crop when it came to Ferrari’s road cars while the Reference 1158CHN in 18k Gold was given to F1 drivers – the best of the best – racing for Ferrari in that era. The best deserves the best.

1984 288 GTO

Just like the 250 GTO, the 288 was destined for racing and needed a certain number of road-going examples built. While the 250 competed in road racing, the 288 was meant to be Ferrari’s first foray into the World Rally Championship, competing in the revered Group B class. The only problem? Group B was disbanded before Ferrari could finish building the 300 examples required by the regulations, so only 272 GTOs were built. 

There were, however, five 288 GTO Evoluzione development cars that sat idle with no race series to enter. These would eventually directly influence the development of another hallmark Ferrari, the F40. 

Perfect Timepiece Pairing: Bvlgari Bvlgari 

What’s in a name? The Bvlgari Bvlgari (read HERE) made its mark by prominently displaying the brand name on the bezel. It was the first watchmaker to make such a brazen design choice, but the bold lettering proved a success and is now instantly recognizable. The “Omologato” in GTO might be in name only, but those three letters together instantly conjure up images of the wedge-shaped Ferrari that eventually led to the F40, F50, Enzo, and LaFerrari. Both the Bvlgari Bvlgari and the 288 carry monikers worthy of their preceding reputations.

1987 F40

Widely regarded as the last of the analog supercars, the F40 was an engineering masterpiece. The twin-turbocharged V8 sent 471 horsepower through a six-speed manual gearbox to the rear wheels and did so without the help of any electronic driver aids – traction control was down to the driver’s right foot. 

Even though the F40 was a fire breathing high-performance vehicle using relatively rudimentary machinery, it still went toe-to-toe with the technology-laden Porsche 959. The F40 is automotive excellence distilled into its purest form, and that’s why it has stolen the hearts of so many people around the world. 

Perfect Timepiece Pairing: Audemars Piguet - A Series Royal Oak

Both the A-series Royal Oak and F40 are spartan, no-nonsense machines. There is brilliance in each machine’s straightforward design that house mechanical complexities designed for top-of-the-line performance. These two deserve each other. 

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