This is a Colombo V12 from a 1960 Ferrari 250 Series II Cabriolet, it’s a 3.0 liter version of the legendary engine with a single overhead cam per bank, two-valves per cylinder, and approximately 237 bhp.
The extraordinary four-plus decade production run of this family of V12s is one of the longest in history, and it’s a testament to the man who designed it in the years just after WWII for former racing driver and up-and-coming sports car manufacturer Enzo Ferrari.
The Colombo V12
The Ferrari Colombo V12 engine was designed by Gioacchino Colombo and first introduced in the 1947 Ferrari 125 S, the engine has undergone numerous transformations and refinements over the years, with its displacement rising up to almost 5.0 liters and its power output almost quadrupling.
Gioacchino Colombo, an Italian engineer, was tasked with designing an engine that could catapult Ferrari to the forefront of sports car racing in the 1940s. Colombo, having previously worked at Alfa Romeo, set out to create an engine that was compact, lightweight, and capable of producing significant power for its size and weight.
The result was the engine that went on to become known as the “Colombo V12,” a 1.5 liter engine with an initial output of 118 bhp. With its single overhead cams and intricate design, the engine has been likened to a Swiss watch.
Engine Developments + Upgrades
The Colombo V12 underwent numerous modifications and refinements over the years, with each iteration offering improved performance, additional power, and oftentimes, better reliability.
In 1953, the Ferrari 250 series of automobiles was introduced, almost all powered by a 3.0 liter Colombo V12. The 250 series included some of the most historically significant Ferrari models ever made including the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, the Ferrari 250 GTO, and the Ferrari 250 GT SWB.
The 250 GTO in particular became a legendary race car that won the World Manufacturer’s Championship three years in a row (1962 through 1964). This success solidified the reputation of the Colombo V12 as a force to be reckoned with in the cut-throat world of international motorsports.
The Colombo V12 saw further developments throughout the 1960s and 1970s, with increased displacement and power outputs to match the growing demands of performance car enthusiasts. In 1964, Ferrari unveiled the 275 series, featuring a 3.3 liter version of the V12, in 1967 the 275 GTB/4 received a modified Colombo V12 now with double overhead cams, while later in 1968 the 365 series was launched with a 4.4 liter version of the engine.
The Colombo V12 engine’s impact on the automotive world cannot be overstated. It played a pivotal role in establishing Ferrari as a dominant force in racing and helped cement the company’s reputation for producing high-performance sports cars.
The engine was a testament to the craftsmanship of its designer, and today it remains one of the most famous engines of the 20th century, having remained in production from 1947 until 1988 – a remarkable 41 year run.
The Ferrari 250 GT V12 Shown Here
The engine you see here is a 3.0 liter Colombo V12 that was originally fitted to a 1960 Ferrari 250 Series II Cabriolet by Pininfarina. It’s a Tipo 128 engine that carries the number 1865 GT, with the internal number 326F.
Exactly what happened to the car that this engine was originally fitted to isn’t known, however there are likely to be no shortage of interest parties as the V12 comes up for sale, as original Colombo V12s are always in high demand.
If you’d like to read more about this engine or register to bid you can visit the listing here. It’s due to roll across the auction block with RM Sotheby’s on the 29th of March and it has a price guide of $90,000 – $185,000 USD, and it comes on its own engine stand.
Images: Tom Wood ©2022 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
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