There is something special about a 50 year anniversary. It's half a century, "Golden" for weddings and jubilees and one which most of us will live to see both ends of for something or other.
There have been quite a few this year. It wasn't quite 50 years ago today that Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play, but it was the year when The Beatles first entered the Hit Parade with "Love me Do". 1962 was also the year the Rolling Stones formed and they are still a) mostly alive. b) still touring. Sadly, at Goodwood, it also saw the end of Sir Stirling Moss's top-line racing career; but happily he was back there this year at 82 years of age.
The Prancing Horse has featured surprisingly little in the Bond films. The only significant presence is in the 1995 "Golden Eye" where Russian female assassin Xenia Sergeyevna Onatopp races Bond's Aston Martin DB5 in her F355GTS and loses! So we must look elsewhere for our Ferrari Golden reminiscences: how about F1? Ferrari went into 1962 full of confidence on the back of their dominant year with the iconic Sharknose 156 Dino. That they would finish sixth out of just eight teams who scored in the Constructors' Championship would not even have featured in their worst nightmares. The fact was that the Sharknose's success the previous year had largely been down to an overwhelming power advantage over the opposition.
In 1962, after years of struggle and derision, BRM finally won both titles with their 1.5 litre V8 powered P57 and P48/57, the drivers' going to Graham Hill. These Golden anniversaries were celebrated on October 7th in Bourne, the Lincolnshire town that was the home of the team from its foundation in 1945 until it petered out in 1978. In fact, of the teams competing in F1 50 years ago, Scuderia Ferrari is the only one left (obviously you can't count the current "Lotus" marketing gimmick).
This was the "250" era of Ferrari road/GT cars with tipi including the 250 GT Europa, Boano, Ellena, Pininfarina Coupé, Lusso and 250 GT/E 2+2. Most were powered by the Colombo-designed Tipo 125 V12 engine at 2,953 cc capacity. Launched in 1962 was one of the most famous GT cars of all time, the 250GTO. One of the 39 made (s/n 3505) is now the world's most expensive car. Ordered for Stirling Moss but never raced by him due to his accident it sold for $35m this summer. Such is the increasing popularity of the 250 that even the 250 GTE, unloved for many years and often the donor vehicle for replicas of the more "desirable" 250 variants, is now increasing in value. A "barn find" 1961 250GTE 2+2 'Series 1' Coupé was sold for £101,180 by Bonhams earlier this year.
The 250GTO and its predecessor the 250GT SWB led me on to an investigation of sportscar racing. The 1962 International Championship for GT Manufacturers was a series for Sportscars and Grand Touring cars. It featured 15 rounds and each of six classes had its own championship instead of a singular overall Manufacturers Championship. Not all the classes took part in all the rounds but the races themselves include the most famous and historic in the world such as the 12 Hours of Sebring, The Targa Florio, 1000km Nürburgring, 24 Hours of Le Mans, RAC Tourist Trophy and the 1000 km de Paris.
Ferrari won their class in all nine races in which GT class cars over 2000cc competed to become class champions. They also had a clean sweep in the three rounds in which Sportscars under 3000cc took part. Notable victories include a 1/2/3 at Le Mans, the Tourist Trophy and the Bridgehampton 440km. The TT was at Goodwood and won by Innes Ireland in the aforementioned Stirling Moss UDT-Laystall 250GTO.
The last round of the Series was the Paris 1000km held at the Autodrome de Montlhéry to the south of the city on 21st October 1962. The track was opened in 1924 as a banked high-speed oval similar to Brooklands; also like Brooklands a road circuit was later added. The 1962 Paris 1000km was won by a Ferrari, a 250GTO [s/n 3987] entered by N.A.R.T. and driven by the Rodriguez brothers, Pedro and Ricardo (the younger) who had raced for Scuderia Ferrari in F1 that year. Second were Surtees/Parkes - Ferrari 250GTO  (Maranello Concessionaires Ltd.). 3rd: Scarfiotti/Davis: Ferrari - 250GT SWB Drogo "Breadvan"  (Scuderia SSS Rep. di Venezia). 4th: Guichet/Noblet - Ferrari 250GTO  (Jean Guichet). 5th: Bianchi/Mairesse - Ferrari 250GTO  (Equipe Nationale Belge). 6th: Simon/Berger Ferrari 250GT SWB  (André Simon). The Equipe Nationale Belge 250GTO  of "Beurlys"/"Eldé"/"Remordu" was disqualified from fifth place for employing an unauthorized third driver. In addition the Vaccarella/Abate GTO , Berney/Bordeu GTO and the von Csazy/Hubert GTO  failed to finish.
So that's eight GTOs and two SWBs (one of them the Drogo Breadvan) What's that lot worth today? Classic car aficionados and auctioneers all over the world will be swooning just thinking about it! Incidentally David Piper entered his 250GTO  for himself and Jo Siffert but did not arrive.
Looking further down the results we note José Rosinski & Bernard Consten finished 11th in a Lotus 23. They completed 112 laps to the winners' 129. What must it have been like in the little Lotus as the mighty GTOs blasted past ? Guy & Claude Savoye completed 100 laps to finish 17th o/a in their Morgan Plus 4 ahead of Lorenzo Bandini & Tommy Spychinger in a works Abarth-Simca 1300 Bialbero. Jim Clark & John Whitmore DNF in the Essex Racing Stable (J. Ogier) Aston Martin DB4GT. Amazingly there is a video of the event!
Before everyone gets too nostalgic about the Good Old Days, scrolling further down the results we see that the 998cc René Bonnet Djet of Paul Armagnac/Gérard Laureau did not start due to a fatal accident. Paul Armagnac suffered a violent crash in the last practice session and succumbed to his injuries two days later. Two years before the Nogaro racing circuit had been inaugurated and was named "Circuit Paul Armagnac Nogaro" soon after his death. Attitudes to fatal accidents in racing were very different then; Armagnac's accident is not even mentioned in the contemporary Autosport report!
Tragically just over a week after the 1000kms, race-winner 20 year old Ricardo Rodriguez was killed in a Lotus 24 whilst practicing for the (non-championship) Mexican GP, his home race. Ferrari had not entered so he was driving the Lotus 24 of Rob Walker - Stirling Moss's long term team owner.
Racing stopped at Montlhéry at the end of 2005 but today, like Brooklands, it is the scene of the increasingly popular automotive "nostalgia fests". Last month saw 2012 70's LEGEND"commemorating the glorious years of motor racing in France" including a tribute to the "1000 km de Paris".
To end on a lighter note, believe it or not, I had got to this stage before it dawned on me that it is the 250GTO's Golden Anniversary! This was celebrated at the Goodwood Revival earlier in the year where 15 cars raced and paraded. Sadly this clashed with Ferrari Racing Days at Silverstone where many Club members gathered with their cars to set a new Guinness World Record for the largest parade of Ferraris. Hence the 250 GTO's anniversary passed by somewhat unnoticed in our Club, probably a sign of the times. Icon it may be, but one long-term Ferrari owner when asked what a GTO was like to drive replied: "300bhp Mk.1 Cortina"! Co-incidentally that very automotive icon is also 50 years old this year.