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  • Chris R

Divided by Twelve

With our purpose-built engine shop, we have a wealth of experience with the legendary Colombo design in twelve-cylinder form. These together with Lampredi units and the Dino V6 and V8 engines form the backbone of our in-house engine shop work from engine re-builds through to supplying brand-new units allowing the original unit to be preserved.

The Colombo V12 in build at the GTO Engineering Engine Shop - Photo: Thomas Howarth

It is Gioacchino Colombo's original road car engine that provides the bulk of commissions and where we specialise in sourcing original components, along-side re-manufacturing original specification parts to create our unique specialist parts stock and supply to our engine shop.

Our engine shop means we are also uniquely qualified to undertake small, bespoke engine projects as well as larger production experimental work. We are building improved and developed 12 cylinder engines in batches of limited runs and can incorporate many subtle but progressive updates, such as invisible solutions for modern mappable ignition and fuel injection that significantly enhance efficiency, usability and performance.

250 Crankcase (SWB, GTE) in our parts stock. All 250 and 275 series specifications available.

We build a number of spare brand-new engines for our clients each year, using re-manufactured original specification parts from our specialist stock which allow clients to fully use of their car whilst preserving the original unit. These engines are built-to-order and can be configured to the client’s desired specification; 3 litre, 3.3 litre, 3.5 litre or 4 litre configuration and either road or competition specification.

Sensitive Modernisation

For our spare, brand-new engines, we have incorporated many subtle but progressive updates that significantly enhance efficiency, usability and performance:

Electronic Mappable Ignition

For clients who do not enter competition or ones where it is permitted, they can opt for our electronic mappable ignition which connects discreetly to the distributor to retain the original look, whilst giving full control over the characteristics for the conventional mechanical advance distributor. The option will calculate the required ignition advance based on RPM and the characteristic is matched to the individual engine's requirements.

The benefits are numerous and include improved driveability as well as fuel economy, and ultimately better all-round performance. For the purist look, we even create a dummy distributor condenser with the internal points intact.

'Dynator' Alternator

Additionally, a client can opt for an alternator that has been engineered to look the same as the original dynamos they are replace. The advantage is that they retain the original look whilst having a more powerful and reliable charging system along wih other advantages over the original that include increased output, simplified wiring with built in voltage regulators, all within a much lighter unit with increased reliability due to use of modern materials and processes.

Electronic Fuel Injection

In addition to the ignition system, a further development is updating the fuel system with Electronic Fuel Injection which we are currently developing for a clients' 6-Carburettor TR engine. The benefit here is much improved control and accuracy meaning the engine can be tuned for the best power and best fuel economy at any given speed without any limitations imposed by the more traditional carburettor and mechanical distributor.

The accurate computer control of fuel and ignition combined allow improvements in numerous areas including increased power, fuel-efficiency, a reduction in emissions, overall reliability that allow for peace of mind andsmoother driving to deliver increased driving pleasure.

Here, we introduce to you the road car history of the Colombo 12 Cylinder. We have categorised these into twelve parts, which are not intended to be a definitive guide, but an overview of the remarkable longevity and influence of the design.

The Colombo twelve-cylinder design has a history that no other engine can match in terms of pedigree or longevity at the forefront of the Ferrari brand. Here, we look at the evolution of the design that would be used for over forty years and fittingly we have categorised the road car units into twelve evolution stages albeit sharing a simplified viewpoint:

For the Ferrari 125, Colombo designed a lightweight silicon-aluminium sixty-degree V12. Even in it's infancy, Colombo designed the bore centres at 90mm (3.6 in) apart, despite the 55mm bore in the 125, that showed his planned capacity growth for the design. Amazingly it would be twenty years before the block would have to be modified for the 81mm (3.2 in) bore of the Ferrari 365.

In 1950 Colombo fell out with Enzo Ferrari. His last hands-on input was to increase in capacity for the Ferrari 195 Inter with a 65mm (2.6 in) bore while the stroke remained at 58.8mm (2.3 in).

The biggest legacy for Colombo's design would be the capacity increase to 2,953cc with a 73mm (2.9 in) bore and the Ferrari 250 incarnation. Sub-three litre was key to Enzo to conform to sports car racing regulations and suited to the idea that the 250 could have dual purpose as a racer as well as a road car with sales helping fund his racing ambitions.

The 400 Superamerica was the only 'America' of the period with a Colombo unit, the other all sported a larger capacity Lampredi design and were found in the 340 America, 342 America, 375 America and the 410 Superamerica.

A further Colombo large capacity unit was also found in the 500 Superfast introduced in 1964. The engine was a unique 4,9 litre which had the same dimensions as the Lampredi "long-block" engines of the 410 Superamerica, otherwise the design was based on the original Colombo "short block".

The Ferrari 330 was the first series to incorporate a lengthened block (by four inches) that not only allowed the bore centres to be now 94mm (3.7 in) apart, but also, again had an eye on future capacity increases.

The 275 GTB/4 is separated as it really was a major re-work with the introduction of twin-camshaft cylinder heads, still using two valves per cylinder. This new development allowed the valves to be aligned perpendicular to the camshaft.

The Ferrari 365 was the first to really take advantage of the 'long block' with an 81mm (3.2 in) bore coupled with the 71mm stroke (from the 400 Superamerica and Ferrari 330), to produce it's 4.4 litre capacity. The Daytona also saw the reappearance of the twin-camshaft cylinder heads as indicated in its GTB/4 suffix.

Finally the stroke was increased to 78mm (3.1 in) to increase torque for the heavier Ferrari 400 and the carburetors were replaced with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection in 1979.

It is also true to say that the evolution stages presented above are themselves a massive over-simplification of the Colombo Ferrari road car legacy. Taking the 250 as an example, many engine tipo were developed as a continuous development and adaptation for purpose, these too have been simplified into three groups below and only include the GT variants, the evolution of these showing an illustration of noteworthy developments.

Tipo 128

3 x Weber 36 DCL/3 Carburetors 240 HP / 179 KW @ 7000 rpm

1954 250 GT Coupé 128 1956 250 GT (Boano) 128B, 128C 1956 250 GT Berlinetta (LWB - TdF) 128, 128B, 128C, 128D, 128DF 1957 250 GT (Ellena) 128C 1957 250 GT Cabriolet 128C, 128F 1957 250 GT California (LWB) 128C, 128D, 128DF, 128F 1958 250 GT Coupé (Pinin Farina) 128C, 128D, 128F 1960 250 GT California (SWB) 128DF, 128F 1960 250 GT/E (2+2) 128F, 128E/63

There are no definitive model to engine type correlation. There are numerous examples of exceptions, for instance 250GT SWB with Tipo 128 units. This reflects the manufacturing processes, as well as, customer choice of the period.

Tipo 168

3 x Weber 40 DCL/6 240 HP / 177 KW @ 7000 rpm

B 6 x Weber 38 DCN 300 HP / 224 KW @ 7500 rpm

Comp 3 x Weber 36 DCZ/3 280 HP / 206 KW @ 7000 rpm

Comp/61 3 x Weber 46 DCF3 290 bhp / 216 KW @ 7000 rpm

1957 250 GT California (LWB) 168, 168/61 1959 250 GT (SWB) 168, 168B, 168 Comp/61 1960 250 GT California (SWB) 168, 168/61 1962 250 GTO 168B, 168 Comp/62 1962 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso 168/U

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