Update: Jean-Pierre Grossier gave me permission to post a few pics from his site, reissorg.com, showing the number on the right rear of Oreiller’s 250 GT. See below...
My first Ferrari! And it’s blue! This was one of those impulse eBay purchases where the color caught my eye, as did the price, and I didn’t think much more about it until I began researching the car for my next LaLD post.
But first, the 1:43 model of a Ferrari 250 GT Berlinette, is by Groupe Jouef, part of their Serie Legende, and is of course Made in China. The French Blue color of the #147 1961 Tour de France car is absolutely fabulous, but some of the tampos, particularly the Ferrari logo on the passenger side, are either poorly applied or are coming loose already.
Surprisingly, the doors open, with just the frailest of etched metal forming the glass surround. As soon as I’m done shooting pics, this is going right back in the box!
The wheels sport some great detail for this price, with defined spokes and knockoff hubs. The interior features a chrome shifter, a wooden steering wheel, and painted door handles and window cranks. Overall I’m happy with the cast, but this article is really about the driver, Henri Oreiller, his fascinating story and how he fit into the mystique of the Ferrari marque. I’ll leave the history of the 250 GT to other, more knowledgeable posters.
Much of the information for this post came from reissorg.com, here. Henri Oreiller, a French downhill racer, schussed his way to two gold medals in the 1948 Olympics at Saint-Moritz.
In 1957 he started rallying in his own Alfa Romeo Giulietta Zagato GT car, with François Masoero as co-driver. When 1961 rolled around, he chose to race a Ferrari 250 GT SWB, festooned in French blue, topped with a white cross of St-André.
This 1961 photo, courtesy of reissorg.com, shows the rear number on the right side of the car:
Here’s a 1/18 model (not mine!) with the proper placement of the number:
Alas, the #147 Ferrari was a DNF in the 1961 Tour de France Automobile race. Undeterred, in 1962 Henri upgraded again, hoping to improve his results in the Tour de France. Driving one of the new GTOs (3851 GT) he placed second overall. And here’s where the story gets really interesting.
Shortly after the 1962 Tour de France, Henri raced the GTO in the Coupe du Salon, held at the Monthléry autodrome. Sadly, a rear tire blowout caused him to crash fatally.
The Ferrari factory rebuilt the car, then it was sold to a succession of owners, before Ferrari collector and vintage car racer Fabrizio Violati bought the car for $4,000. Violati drove the car in vintage races until dying in 2010 at age 74. At auction in 2014, the GTO sold for a measly $38 million, breaking the record for the highest selling price for a car. Henri is surely looking down at his formerly wrecked Ferrari in wonder.