1960s: Ferrari 250 GTO

Legend has it that Enzo Ferrari started building road cars as a necessary evil. He loved racing, but it cost a lot of money, hence the road car business. One of those necessary evils was the Ferrari 250 GTO, the first Ferrari to bear the hallowed three letters that would grace other legendary models such as the 288 GTO and 599 GTO. The acronym stands for Gran Turismo Omologato, or Grand Touring Homologated. This meant the only reason it exists is because Ferrari needed to make a small number of roadgoing models so it could compete in a race series. The 250 GTO came equipped with a 300bhp three-litre V12 mated to a five-speed gearbox.

In the interest of minimising weight (it was a thinly disguised racecar, after all), carpeting was omitted and the gear shifter had exposed metal gates. The latter element would go on to become a defining feature in all production Ferraris. The 250 GTO is rare, with a total of only 36 examples ever made. Adding to the 250 GTO legend is how it holds the distinction of being the most expensive car sold at auction, with chassis 3851GT going for US$38.1 million in 2014.

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