The White GTE Cooling Modifications

Tom Wilson’s GTE came to my shop a couple weeks ago with a list of things he wanted done on his car. This car was restored out in the West Coast, but had a bunch of little things that needed to get addressed.

One item was to install a modern cooling fan to help with cooling behind the grille. I installed one on my 330 America years ago, and it fit right between the front cross member and the radiator. I knew the nose on the Ferrari 250GTE changed from Series I and II cars when they redesigned the front face for the Series III cars, so clearance also changed. Since the white car was a SIII car, I assumed it would be the same as my 330 America which has the same body. WRONG!

I was determined to make the electric fan fit even though the space was tighter than what my car, so I started by grinding down some of the fan.

After several test fits, I was forced to keep removing material to allow for more clearance.

It reminded me a folklore story where in order for Colin Chapman to build his Lotus race cars, he would start with a strong race car chassis, and then start removing structure to lighten the car. When a chassis tube was removed and the whole car fell apart, they welded that previous piece one back on, and that was the car they raced! Unfortunately, I couldn’t weld the parts I was grinding off, but I really wanted to make this fan work.

Too stubborn to give up, I wasted a lot of time trying to make that electric fan fit in a space that was smaller than what was on my personal car. The only solution was to mount the fan on the engine side of the radiator, but the original engine driven fan would have to be removed. I would have to get a shorter belt to drive just the alternator, but that would clear up tons of space.

The original cooling fan has an electromagnetic clutch that engages when the car gets hot, and free wheels when it’s not needed. This set up was perfectly fine for the traffic of the 60s, but does not keep up with modern day traffic jams. After discussing it with the owner, we decided to remove this part, put it in a box that will stay with the car, and install a modern fan on the back side of the radiator. I tried by best to make a stealthy cooling set up, but sometimes, hand made cars will beat you down!