Built in 1962, this Ferrari 250 GTE 2+2 is the only Ferrari 250 GTE to be used by the Italian police force
3 June 2020
It's 1965. A getaway driver is rocketing through the streets of Rome in his modified Alfa Romeo, only to be greeted in his rear-view mirror by a police officer in a flashing Ferrari. “Comandante," exclaims the would-be thief, once the police officer has caught up with him. "It would be an honour to be arrested by you. Can we take your car to the station?”
The Comandante in question is the flying squad’s top dog, Armando Spatafora, one of Rome’s most revered and successful police officers. The car he's driving? A 1962 Ferrari 250 GTE 2+2 Polizia, chassis no. 3999.
The need for Spatafora's Ferrari ironically came out of necessity. In the 1950s, Italian police cars were predominantly made up of Alfa Romeo 1900s, which were then replaced by the nippier Alfa 2600 Sprints – nicknamed Pantera, presumably because of their black paint jobs. The problem was, hot off a heist, thieves in modified vehicles were often able to outrun the woefully inadequate police cars, not dissimilar to scenes in The Italian Job. The need for a rapid response vehicle was clear.
In late 1962, Spatafora was asked by central command how it could provide him with tools to make his job easier. The Italian officer is reported to have said, “what could be better than a Ferrari?” to which he was told, “a Ferrari you will have then.” Later, Spatafora was one of only a handful of police officers chosen to attend a high-speed driving course held in the grounds of Ferrari's Maranello factory. The Italians have a phrase fare la bella figura which translates roughly in English as 'keeping up appearances'. The Ferrari did more than that for Rome's police department.
The 250 GTE was powered by the glorious Colombo V12, generating an adequate 240 brake horsepower. Completed by Ferrari in November 1962, chassis 3999 was finished in black with resilient tan leatherette inside. With its capacious interior (the GTE chassis was elongated and the engine mounted slightly forward) and a top speed in excess of 140 mph, it made the perfect recruit for the police force of Rome. Two were built by Maranello, although one of them met a rather unfortunate end within its first few weeks of service – fortunately, not at the hands of Spatafora, who became a legend among the underworld of Rome. Patrolling at night, criminals considered it the ultimate accolade to outrun Spatafora, which of course, was a feat difficult to achieve.
Spatafora's pace was so renowned that following a reunion with the car in 1984 at the Coppa delle Dolomiti street race, the retired policeman managed to secure the second-fastest time overall. Not bad for a seventy-something grandfather. With its mythical status as the only Ferrari used by the Italian police, the 3999 is expected to sell for more than half a million euros. Who thought panthers and stallions could make such a perfect match.
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