Second-chance SWB

When Doris Blackwood arrived in Maranello and found that her promised car had been sold to someone else, she turned to Enzo Ferrari for help. A few months later, she was the proud owner of s/n 3113GT.

November 30, 2012
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At the 1959 Paris Auto Show, Ferrari unveiled its latest V12-powered two-seater. The company’s sales literature, brochures and factory manuals identified the car as a 250 granturismo berlinetta, but today it is commonly known as a 250 GT short wheelbase, or SWB, berlinetta, an eminently collectible car with an eminently escalating price tag.

In the early 1960s, Ferrari built 158 of them, a miniscule number by Detroit standards but a significant amount in Maranello. Sergio Scaglietti’s shop in Modena bodied 88 SWBs in steel for ordinary highway use, and wrapped the rest in lightweight aluminum alloy for track action.

Every one of these beautifully proportioned GT machines has a story to tell: many delightful, some tragic, but all fascinating. This is the story of one of those berlinettas, s/n 3113GT, the 46th of 88 steel-bodied SWBs (as well as the second one finished in 1962). S/n 3113 has flown low, under the radar, all its days: It has no race history, it’s never been on the field at Pebble Beach or Amelia Island and no famous celebrity hands have ever gripped its steering wheel. Nonetheless, it is as beautiful an example of a ’62 SWB as you’re ever likely to encounter—lovingly, exactingly and painstakingly brought to its current condition by long-term owner Jim Wickstead.

WICKSTEAD HAS OWNED s/n 3113 since September 1987, but the car’s history, and our story, begins several decades earlier, in the fall of 1961. That’s when Doris Blackwood of Metamora, Michigan, who was travelling in Europe at the time, decided to pay a visit to the Paris Auto Show. Of all the cars on display, the one that grabbed her attention was a silver-grey Ferrari SWB (probably s/n 2935).

An interest in Italian exotic automobiles might have seemed out of place for a woman in her early 60s, but Blackwood and her husband, James, had earlier owned an Aston Martin and a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. Following a conversation with the people baby-sitting the Ferrari, Blackwood understood that she had bought the car and could pick it up at the factory 10 days later. However, when she got to Maranello she learned the car was not there and had already been sold. As you might imagine, this did not go down well with her, so she demanded an audience with Enzo Ferrari—and got it!

The upshot of their meeting was a promise from Enzo that Blackwood could have the next silver-grey SWB berlinetta that wasn’t presold or destined for a Ferrari concessionaire. And so, the following February she returned to Maranello, accompanied by her nephew, a student at the University of Sweden, to pick up her new Ferrari: S/n 3113. The plan was to spend two weeks touring Europe in the SWB, then ship it back to her home, Redhouse Farm, outside Metamora. However, during a stop for some skiing in Kitzbuhl, Austria, her nephew broke his ankle, so he headed back to Sweden, leaving Blackwood alone with her new Ferrari.

Also from Issue 123

  • 550 and 575M Maranello buyer's guide
  • 308 GTB restoration
  • Koenig Specials' 650-hp 512 BBi
  • Driving a Ferrari in the movie "Le Mans"
  • Concours-preparation struggles
  • Extreme Speed's 458 GT wins Petit Le Mans
  • Formula 1: Fernando Alonso falls to second
  • Ferrari and AIM Autosport sweep Rolex GT
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