Ferrari established itself as an endurance racing powerhouse in the 1950s and early 1960s. It won the 24 Hours of Le Mans outright eight times between 1954 and 1965, six in a row from 1960 to ‘65. It hasn’t won Le Mans since.
For many, that last win in 1965 embodied the Italian car maker at its peak, entering a variety of red racers to ensure better odds of winning. And then there’s a bit of a mystery as to who actually drove that car to Ferrari’s last win. The tale is interesting.
And so is IXO’s latest 1/43 model of that 1965 Le Mans winner. IXO does its usual fine job while keeping its model modestly priced.
But here’s what you should know about that car, and that race.
Officially the winning Ferrari 250 LM (sometimes called the 275, but Ferrari never officially changed its designation to 275), won the race, completing 348 laps, five ahead of a similar Ferrari. That’s the easy part.
It’s also easy to note that the winning car, packing a 3.3-liter V12, was not a direct Ferrari entry, but was entered by NART (the North American Racing Team), an American team run by former Le Mans winner and Ferrari dealer Luigi Chianetti. Ironically, this entry was not driven by an Italian driver, but by American Masten Gregory and Austria’s Jochen Rindt. That’s the official account.
But in recent years it has been rumored that Ed Hugus, a reserve Le Mans driver who had run Le Mans nine times previously, took a stint in the winning car. It’s said that during the night Gregory brought the car into the pits for relief, but Rindt could not be found, likely sleeping somewhere awaiting his next turn at the wheel. So, some say, Hugus jumped in and took over for several hours.
That would be fine, except rules at the time would not allow the driver who was relieved by the reserve driver to re-enter the car for another stint. However, Gregory did drive again later. If true that Hugus relieved Gregory, the car would have been disqualified at the time. However, this interesting twist of history only became known in recent years.
Ford’s soon-to-be all-conquering GT-40s had led the 1965 race early and the winning Ferrari fought early ignition problems. But ultimately it was ahead when it counted as another Ferrari, which had been leading, suffered tire trouble and fell to second place. Either way, a Ferrari would have won.
IXO’s model is of the No. 21 car that we know at least Gregory and Rindt drove. It’s also quite similar to the second-place 250 LM, with the exception of the number and a few other markings. Of course it’s Ferrari red and the number is black on a white circle on the doors, hood and trunk.
Details that make this a fine, yet affordable, model include Goodyear branded treaded tires, headlight lenses with silver trim, silver painted exterior hood hinges, air scoops, and door handles. Plus there are twin chrome gas caps on the rear bonnet, atop the rear fenders.
There are big air scoop openings back there too, aimed at helping cool the rear-mounted engine and brakes.
The Ferrari also has two sets of twin exhausts in back, black mesh just above that and mesh under the car’s nose. Wheels are silver wired numbers with knock-off spinners on them. Oh, and there’s a single chrome wiper on to clean the giant curved windshield.
Inside is a black three-spoked steering wheel, black race seats and red shoulder and lap belts that look racy. The dash is simple but if you look through the back window you can see two large round gauges just above the steering wheel.
This is another nicely executed Le Mans winner from IXO, and at a cost most collectors can easily manage.
Vital Stats: Ferrari 275 LM 1965 Le Mans winner
Stock No.: 127594