Tracing the history of any 250F requires some detective work
There is a quip that goes, ‘of the 26 250Fs originally built, around 35 survive’. And not without reason. Tracing the history of any 250F is a fraught process – some have been rebuilt, others recreated and many shared and swapped chassis numbers both during and after the factory years. So while collectors and enthusiasts cling to chassis numbers as the means of identifying a car, at the time they were treated in a more cavalier fashion and changed frequently for a number of reasons, though usually to avoid paying money to one authority or another. The 250F seen here is no different. It has carried at least four different chassis numbers and its current ‘2526’ is not the one with which it started life.
The first 2526 was one of two later ‘offset’ cars with the transmission tunnel running beside rather than below the driver in order to get his weight lower in the car and reduce its frontal area. The car pictured here started its official life in March 1956 as 2522, carrying that plate to victory at Monaco in May with Moss. But it is said also to have been the car Stirling retired with engine failure in Argentina at the start of the year, wearing chassis 2516. Stirling then used it to beat Archie Scott Brown’s Connaught to the Glover Trophy in April. It was rebodied in August, given a 2523 chassis plate and used as the muletto for the V12 engine programme that promised so much but yielded so little. For this purpose, it is said to have been driven by Fangio.
In 1957 ‘2523’ was sold to Scuderia Centro Sud, reunited with a straight six engine and then given its 2526 identity. Evidence of its V12 heritage can be seen in its enlarged posterior – necessary to house a bigger fuel tank – which it has retained. In later life it was raced by, among others, Jo Bonnier, Masten Gregory and Hans Herrmann.
If this seems a chequered history, then welcome to the world of the 250F. But while this example’s past is complicated it also seems reasonably clear, and our own Doug Nye believes its identity as the ’56 Monaco winner is not in doubt.