There are all kinds of things that dudes like. But few things get our pulse pounding and our adrenaline pumping like reaching for the unattainable. It’s the reason so many have laid their lives on the stones of Mt. Everest in pursuit of the summit. It’s the reason treasure hunters for more than two and a half centuries risked life and limb, often losing both or at best ending up destitute and alone in their dying days searching for lost treasure ships and pirate shipwrecks of myth and legend like the Whydah. The pursuit of the unattainable has driven teams to seek a perfect season, pitchers to dream of the perfect game, and jockeys to vie for the Triple Crown. It was that same dream and desire for the unattainable that drove John F. Kennedy to say at Rice University on Sept. 12, 1962, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade, and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…”
Seven years later, astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin were putting the first human footprints on the shores of a distant planet.
For me, the unattainable is best represented by the 1962 Ferrari Testarossa, better known as the ’62 Ferrari 250 GTO. The first time I encountered this unbelievable automobile was when my father came home from a long deployment on the USS Enterprise. Whenever Dad would go out for months at the time, he always brought back some token from the ports the ship would visit. Once he brought back a hand-painted boomerang and a stuffed kangaroo from Australia. When he returned from an especially long voyage from West Pac into the Mediterranean, he brought back two intricately detailed metal replicas of Ferraris for me and my brother. I can’t remember what my brother’s was, but mine was a cherry red 1962 Ferrari Testarossa 250 GTO at 1:16 scale.
The model was so detailed that the steering wheel turned the front wheels, the door handles worked, and there was a full spare tire in the trunk complete with wire spoke wheels and center wheel cap. When the hood was popped and raised, a full model of the Tipo 168/62 Comp. 3.0L V12 engine stared you in the face, complete with chrome topped cylinders and six matching 38 DCN Weber carburetors. That power plant, in the full-sized model, pushed out a consistent 300 horsepower.
The 250 GTO was born and bred on the racetrack, and that heritage showed in its Spartan interior. There was no active ventilation system, and fresh air was brought into the cockpit via open air vents in the frame. The seats were cloth, there was no carpet, and there wasn’t even a headliner in the roof. The ’62 Testarossa was hot, raw, and powerful down to its bones. In order to purchase one new you had to shell out a cool $18,000 in cash (equivalent to around $140k today) and be personally approved by both Enzo Ferrari and his North American dealer Luigi Chinetti. The driver was expected to know his business, and know it well. No speedometer was included in the instrument panel. I’m not sure why, but I like to think it was to force the operator to drive by feel rather than numbers. The 250GTO was a Lady, and she was to be led around the dance floor gracefully. Kind of the way a leopardess is graceful right up to the point where she growls and tears your face off.
When unleashed on a track, its powerful engine coupled with a wide, low wheel base and a stripped down frame weighing in at 880kg created a road racing monster. The 250 GTO could rip around corners and the launch down the straight-aways. Its power made it one of the most feared platforms on the GT racing circuit, and its rarity and beauty make it one of the most sought after collector cars today. The $18,000 cost for a new ’62 Testarossa was impressive, but today the price tag is much higher. An authentic ’62 250 GTO at auction today brings anywhere from $35-50 Million and it holds the current #1 and #2 spots for the most expensive cars ever sold in history.
In many ways, the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Testarossa is the absolute embodiment of the unattainable. Still, I have set my heart on it and plan to one day own one. That’s something that all Dudes can inherently understand… the deep seated thirst and hunger for the unattainable. But all Dudes also inherently understand the hidden truth that the unattainable is sometimes attained. After all, Sir Edmund Hillary an Tensing Norgay reached the summit of Mt. Everest on May 29th 1953. The Whydah was found in only 16ft of water and 5ft of sand in 1984, her holds packed with millions in gold, silver, and gems. Numerous pitchers have thrown perfect games, horses who win the Triple Crown become household and even movie title names, and in 1972 the Dolphins peaked with a true perfect season and the Super Bowl.
Sometimes, if you strive hard enough, and pour enough effort and determination into something, you wake up one day to find that what you once thought was unattainable is suddenly within your grasp.
** Use of images does not imply or indicate endorsement of this site, this post, or this author on the part of the original artists. Used under license.