My Car Quest

April 15, 2024

Unexpected Memories of a Ferrari 250 GTO

by Mike Gulett –

It is such a terrific moment when someone unexpectedly gives you a gift of a memory forgotten.

Ferrari 250 GTO

I am talking about photos of Stephen Mitchell’s Ferrari 250 GTO. The photos were taken and saved all of these years by Larry Crane who gave them to Stephen without warning.

Ferrari 250 GTO

These pictures were taken at Riverside Raceway, I am guessing in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Notice the GTO is in the parking lot and not on the track. It is parked between a Shelby Cobra and a Ferrari 275 GTB.

Ferrari 250 GTO

Above people walk by like it is a routine event to see a Ferrari 250 GTO in the parking lot.

Ferrari 250 GTO

Then the car catches the eye of a young car lover.

This Ferrari 250 GTO is now owned by Ralph Lauren and spent the summer of 2011 at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. This is Stephen below at the museum reunited with his former Ferrari GTO.

Ferrari 250 GTO

Stephen is on the right, in the middle is Jeanetta Dumouchel, a producer, with Stephen, on the Carrera Panamericana documentary film and Marc Sonnery on the left, author of Rebel Rebel: Breadvan: The Most Recognizable Ferrari in the World.

What a contrast between the car in the museum and the car in the parking lot of a race track about 40 years earlier. Amazing changes have occurred over the years.

The dirty, driven and well used Ferrari 250 GTO of Stephen Mitchell is now a museum piece owned by Ralph Lauren.

In the close up pictures below it can be seen that someone made some design changes to this car. Notice the lower air intakes have gone from two to one per side, the fog lights have appeared where an air intake once was, the three openings on the front of the hood have been covered and the air intakes near the windshield are either gone on the Lauren version or they are different, maybe plexiglass.

Stephen Mitchell writes,

It was very gracious of Larry Crane to send these extraordinary photos to me. They, more than seeing 3987 at the Paris exhibition, made me want the car back.

You write of contrast and I agree. I view the car I saw in Paris as a replica of a GTO (using original parts) rather than a restoration of 3987.

The two vent scoops on the hood near the windshield are still there and are made of clear plexiglass as originally provided on a GTO.

Larry Crane writes,

The aluminum hood scoops were likely done for a specific reason by the original owner/racer. Also note that the three interior vents that came up from the dash are now gone. They were originally transparent plastic. During Stephen’s ownership they seem to be white. Under Ralph Lauren’s fastidious stewardship they are gone. Curious that Ralph wants the car to be exactly like many GTOs he’s seen in photographs. One suspects the fog lights were replaced by vent holes prior to Stephen’s ownership. Probably to cool an oil cooler or some other specific direction. The brake ducts remained on the outside. Sad that this individual car’s history had to be lost to “build-sheet originality.” Many of these changes from standard might actually be on the build sheet as ordered by the buyer. Fun to find out.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Ferrari 250 GTO

Ferrari 250 GTO

Ferrari 250 GTO

Summary
Unexpected Memories of a Ferrari 250 GTO
Article Name
Unexpected Memories of a Ferrari 250 GTO
Description
These pictures were taken by Larry Crane at Riverside Raceway, I am guessing in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Notice the Ferrari 250 GTO is in the parking lot and not on the track.
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Comments

  1. Trevor Gaunt says

    As Stephen Mitchell says towards the end of this video, no two GTOs are identical. In the era these cars were made, Ferraris were still hand-built; there was no Ford-style production line. So perhaps it is a pity Ralph Lauren chose to alter 6987 to his own interpretation of a “standard” GTO. It’s much more of a shame that the car now spends most of its time in a museum, very different from when Stephen owned it.
    https://youtu.be/U-5JNxVVkDA
    This article will also be of interest:
    https://velocetoday.com/ferrari-gto-sn-3987/
    If you search hard enough, you may find the YouTube videos referred to of the car during Stephen’s ownership being ragged around Willow Springs and also (illegally) around the canyons and hills North of LA, although the quality is very poor by today’s standards.

  2. It’s sacrilege to modify the nose – the chrome ring around the grille area, fog lamps in reshaped ducts, and especially elimination of the three iconic scalloped air ducts on the hood, which, along with the scallops behind the wheel openings on the rear fenders, are arguably the most defining design details on this car. These mods might not matter to a French museum or to Ralph Lauren, but they would to most enthusiasts and certainly would to a concours judge. To be clear, I get that anyone can do what they want to their cars, but to restomod an iconic car like this seems nutty. If I recall correctly, there used to be a Ferrari GTO replica that was built on a Datsun Z-car chassis; if authenticity and provenance aren’t important, why not buy one of those?

  3. Eric Cashdan says

    The three air ducts should be there, as I recall seeing dzus fastened closures in period. Very racy.

  4. wallace wyss says

    I agree that he shouldn’t have removed the three air ducts, because they are part of the original design of the car and part of the character of it. If the car was built with them it should have them. If the car had been used for racing and modified for a particular race, say LeMans, and had various accoutrements for that race, it would be OK by me to
    keep those for-that-race look so you can explain “It’s the way it ran at LeMans in the year so-and-so.”
    By not having the three ducts he has made it too genteel. I did see one dark blue GTO in Beverly Hills only used on the street, so I know there were some never modified for track use

  5. I just happy Ralph did not acquire the Mona Lisa.

  6. The Loren GTO nose vents are not eliminated. The “D” covers are just installed, which is not the way most people have seen these cars. Three quick turns on the Dzus fasteners, and voila … nice holes in the nose!

  7. Eric Cashdan says

    A larger look, on a better monitor, and the closed openings are discernible.

  8. wallace wyss says

    OK Ralphie, I’ll blame it on the photographer

  9. Mike Clarke says

    In the parking lot pic you can see two red Mangusta’s. Onetime front the other the tail light

    • Yep I see that – what a parking lot – 2 Mangustas, a Cobra, a Ferrari 275 GTB and oh a Ferrari 250 GTO all in a dirt and grass parking lot – those were the days.

  10. Thanks for the memories

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