I thought that I would take a little time to recount the story of one of the most exciting-looking (and -driving) cars it’s ever been my privilege to own, albeit briefly.
In about 1991, I bought the remains of the Drogo bodywork that had adorned the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB, chassis number 2735 GT, when Chris Kerrison had owned it. This was after he had bought it from Rob Walker, Stirling Moss’s entrant. Stirling had won the 1961 TT with it.
How the Kerrison Drogo Ferrari Found Its Way to Me
Chris Kerrison’s co-driver, Don Benson had had an accident with it in the 1962 TT at Goodwood, and Kerrison then sent the crumpled car to Drogo to Carozzeria Sportscars in Modena, who clothed it in a fantastically low aluminum body—something like a GTO but lower(!). Chris Kerrison then raced the car with some success, and later, when it had passed through several owners, David Cottingham in England got it and re-bodied back to SWB shape.
So I bought the cast-off Drogo body, now re-gone through again with new aluminum where necessary, and it was now mounted on a 250 GT 2 +2 chassis, 3611 GT. I’ve recently discovered that this GTE was originally given to John Surtees, then a Ferrari Works driver, when it was new in 1962.
Working on the Kerrison Drogo Ferrari
I gave the unfinished project to my dear friend Allen Goodall, a very underrated body man in England, where I lived at the time—and then I bought a 275 GTB engine, number 07677. Allen installed it and I went racing.
I entered Brands Hatch for a one-hour race and did the Coppa Inter Europa at Monza—and also raced her at Spa. Then I sold her in about 1994 to Dan Ghose, who raced it too. I remember also that Ghose’s co-driver crashed it (at Imola, I think). It was rebuilt and is still around.
It was a great car, though I could only drive it with my head cocked on one side when I had a helmet on, so low was the roof! I can remember that Allen had had to notch the chassis cross member that ran beneath the cockpit to slot the seat back into—there was no adjustable driver’s seat!
The handling was terrific and very confidence-inspiring, so good was the balance of the chassis. Drogo had taken pains to mount the engine as far back in the chassis as possible and I can’t remember how short the propshaft was, but there wasn’t much of it. I had a good dice with an Aston DB4GT at Brands and won that one but can’t remember Monza and Spa now (though I think we finished both races well).
Incidentally, the Berlinetta was also incredibly tractable, and I used to drive her down to the local pub—where she quite stole the show from all the modern Porsches, Ferraris, and assorted sports cars that used to go there at Sunday lunchtimes.
A while after I had bought the Drogo, Mick Wheeler wrote to me:
“It must have been sometime in the 1960’s when it came to the garage of our local spannerman Bill Basson. I was car mad at the time and would work for Bill Basson at weekends and holiday times just to be near racing cars. Dear Alan Stacey used to get his works-supported Lotus’s fettled there, and I was sometimes allowed to touch it.
When the Drogo came in for some minor bodywork repairs, I fell in love with it. I still think it’s the most beautiful car body ever. If ever the lottery comes up for me I will seek it out and buy it (I must start doing the lottery)!”
The photo below shows me with the car outside the farmhouse that I lived in at that time. Happy days!
I remember seeing this at Goodwood in the 1963 and 1964 Tourist Trophy races with Chris Kerrison and David Prophet as drivers. Spectacularly beautiful and unique but not on the pace with the GTOs, Lightweight E Types, Low Drag Coupe, Cobras and Project 212/214/215 Astons. The other special bodied Ferrari that was there was the infamous Breadvan and I was there with Zourab Tchkotua in his 250 GTO, who was a very close friend of Giovanni Volpi and later drove for his Scuderia Serenissima. A friend of mine now owns the Serenissima Spyder which Zourab drove. Lovely to see this beautiful historic coachbuilt Ferrari again and thank you John for bringing this unique piece of bistory back to life.