Thursday, February 10, 2011

Stephen Mitchell - A Cherished Auto Upbringing (Jalopnik)

The Ferrari 250 GTO was the third car I ever owned

Filmmaker Stephen Mitchell has been fortunate enough to own a few Ferraris in his lifetime, even spending a moment in the pits at Monza with Enzo Ferrari and Juan Manuel Fangio. Here he recounts daily driving a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, at age 19. — Ed.

The 250GTO #3987 was the third car I'd ever owned. The first was a 3.8 E-Type Jaguar. It was a beautiful car, but featured a low-revving six cylinder with an unsynchronized first gear that was like a granny gear off a truck. The car was more at home on the open road than negotiating the beach canyons of Los Angeles. The second was a Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso. It was very different from the Jaguar with its V12 redlined at 7000 rpm. The Lusso loved the canyons as much as it did the highway.
Just as the Lusso was a world apart from the E-Type, so was the GTO an advance over the Lusso. It was a high-revving V12 with six Webers and the gearbox was a 5 speed compared to the Lusso's 4 speed. I don't recall which final drive ratio it had, but upon entering a freeway, I would be passing the fastest traffic before needing to shift to second gear. This was worlds apart from the E-Type that would barely get you to 25 mph before requiring a shift to second.
Seen in the context of its time, there was nothing quite like the GTO. From 1967-70, 3987 was my principal form of transportation, though I also had an Alfa-Romeo Giulia Veloce spider and the family Cadillac as back up.

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