<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT

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Lot 64Ω
The Brussels Motor Show
1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER

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The Brussels Motor Show
1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER
Coachwork by Scaglietti - Design by Pinin Farina

Chassis no. 2277 GT
Engine no. 2277 GT

2,953cc SOHC V-12 Engine
280bhp at 7,000rpm
4-Speed Manual Transmission
Front Independent Suspension – Live Rear Axle
4-Wheel Hydraulic Disc Brakes

*The 11th of 56 short-wheelbase California Spiders
*Believed to have been featured in the 1968 Italian comedy Sissignore
*Well-documented, matching-numbers example of a Ferrari legend
*Accompanied by Marcel Massini Report, factory build records, toolkit and restoration invoices



THE FERRARI 250 GT CALIFORNIA SPIDER

Very few Ferrari road cars can claim the level of cachet and cultural fascination that has grown around the California Spider. Entering production in May 1958 on the then-standard 2,600mm wheelbase chassis, the 250 GT California was famously devised at the behest of American importers John von Neumann and Luigi Chinetti. Like Mercedes-Benz distributor Max Hoffman had done with the 190 SL before them, the Ferrari importers identified a potential niche in the American market for a roofless touring sports car. Unlike Hoffman's car, though, Chinetti and Von Neumann envisioned a stripped-down road-racing model that would still be comfortable enough for touring use.

Enzo Ferrari had already warmed to the idea of specifically marketing models to the United States, and furthermore, a gap existed in the Ferrari line-up for a competition oriented open 250 GT, what would essentially be a roofless version of the 250 GT Tour de France Berlinetta. The North American importers' cause was approved by late 1957, and Scaglietti was commissioned to create coachwork for the new car, which borrowed heavily from both his TdF Berlinetta design and Pinin Farina's 250 GT Cabriolet. The result was a sinewy racing version of the Cabriolet, with covered headlamps and haunches reminiscent of the Berlinetta, and dynamic styling details like chromed fender gills and a large raised hood scoop.

Mechanically, the 250 GT California shared the 2,600mm wheelbase chassis of the Berlinetta, while employing the latest iteration of the 3-liter Colombo V-12 engine. Later examples featured the tipo 128E motor that had been developed during the 250 Testa Rossa campaigns, a unit redesigned with spark plugs outside the engine's V to facilitate easier maintenance. The engine head also featured individual porting rather than the former siamesed intake arrangement, improving aspiration and lowering the risk of head failure.

Extolled by privateers like the renowned Bob Grossman, the California Spider made quite an impression during the 1959 racing season. Chassis no. 1085 GT made the California's racing debut at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March 1959, with Scuderia Ferrari drivers Richie Ginther and Howard Hively finishing first in class and 9th overall. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans three months later, Grossman and Fernand Tavano drove chassis no. 1451 GT to 3rd in the 3-liter GT Class, and 5th overall. Grossman would drive the same car to numerous victories on the SCCA circuit that year, at venues including Lime Rock, Bridgehampton, and the Nassau Memorial Trophy during the Bahamas Speed Weeks.

During 1959, the 250 GT Berlinetta underwent styling modifications that presaged a change in chassis dimensions. This transition became official at the Paris Auto Salon in October 1959 when Ferrari introduced a new 2,400mm wheelbase, 200mm shorter than the wheelbase that had been in production since 1954. The new configuration made its debut in Berlinetta form, wearing a distinctive body built by Scaglietti.

The new competition-geared 250 GT short-wheelbase, or SWB, offered more than just a shortened length. The updated chassis featured tubular shock absorbers from Koni or Miletto rather than the traditional Houdaille levers, as well as Dunlop disc brakes on all four wheels. Furthermore, the latest iteration of the Colombo V-12 now featured valve actuation via coil springs rather than hairpins. Given the implementation of the short-wheelbase on Ferrari's racing 250 GT Berlinetta, it was little surprise that the platform was soon integrated on the California Spider.

In March 1960, a 250 GT California built on the short wheelbase, chassis no. 1795 GT, was shown at the Geneva Salon, but unlike the Berlinetta, whose coachwork styling significantly diverged from its Tour de France predecessor, the SWB California Spider appeared nearly identical to its LWB forerunner. Closer scrutiny revealed that the short-wheelbase spider had lost much more than the 200mm wheelbase difference, with a total of 450mm shaved from the LWB's bumper-to-bumper length. This resulted in a squatter stance evoking a more menacing competition appearance, in a sense perfecting Scaglietti's original design. Several details also changed in barely noticeable ways, with the hood inlet now partially countersunk, the door handles no longer flush to the paneling, the grille shaped in a slightly more elliptical fashion, and the wire wheels reduced to 15-inch Borranis rather than the LWB's 16-inch wheels.

Though the short-wheelbase California was mechanically superior to its predecessor, even better suited for competition use, the later spiders were ironically raced less frequently. The California's cachet had advanced to the point where many buyers preferred to savor them as touring collectables rather than run them hard. Nevertheless, at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 1960, the SWB California chassis no. 2015 GT was entered by the NART, and Bill Sturgiss and Jo Schlesser guided the Spider up the grid as far as 5th in class and 11th overall before an engine failure on lap 253 forced them to retire early. Under the banner of the Scuderia Serenissima, the same car was driven by Gaston Andrey, Allen Newman, and Robert Publicker to 12th overall and 2nd in the 3-liter GT class at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March 1961.

Between March 1960 and February 1963, just 56 examples of the short-wheelbase 250 GT California Spider were built. Many were owned in period by luminaries such as actor James Coburn and French novelist Francoise Sagan. Today the model has evolved into one of the preeminent vintage Ferraris in the collectable automobile niche, routinely displayed and awarded at premium concours d'elegance like Pebble Beach. Among Maranello cognoscente, the model has increasingly become prized for its voluptuous Scaglietti coachwork (perhaps the Modenese coachbuilder's most successful design overall) and advanced chassis elements that are ideal for driving events (like tubular shocks and 4-wheel disc brakes). It is, without exaggeration, the quintessential vintage Ferrari Spider.


THE MOTORCAR OFFERED

Chassis no. 2277 GT is the 11th example of the 56 short-wheelbase California Spiders built. It is one of the earliest of approximately ten Spiders that feature open headlamps. According to the research of marque historian Marcel Massini, and as corroborated by original factory build sheets, this chassis was sent to Scaglietti for mounting of coachwork on October 24, 1960. On January 2, 1961, the engine completed assembly under the supervision of famed foreman Amos Franchini, and five days later the gearbox was similarly assembled. On January 11, the California was officially completed, finished in the unusual rust-colored factory paint shade of Nocciola, and trimmed with a tobacco leatherette interior.

The Ferrari was immediately shipped to Belgium for display by preferred factory client Garage Francorchamps at the 41st Brussels Motor Show. After the exhibition concluded on January 22, the Spider was returned to the Maranello factory and soon sold to its first owner of record, Dino Fabbri, a well-known publisher and repeat Ferrari customer residing in Milan.

There is evidence to suggest the California was used in the filming of Sissignore(known in English as Dismissed on his Wedding Night), a 1968 Italian film starring and directed by the comic actor Ugo Tognazzi (whose best known films included Barbarella and La Cage aux Folles). As the befuddled valet to a megalomaniacal businessman named L'avvocato, perhaps not so coincidentally the nickname of Ferrari customer and FIAT principal Gianni Agnelli, Tognazzi rides in a Lamborghini Miura as his boss aggressively overtakes slower cars. The Miura soon enters an extended series of passes with a California Spider driven by a beautiful blond woman, and the two cars proceed to dual through a ravine-hugging byway.

Described by some cine-philes as one of the most dangerous chase sequences ever filmed, the scene eventually sees both cars spin out when confronted by a large bus that then plummets down the ravine. There is much speculation that the red uncovered-headlamp SWB California Spider in the scene is 2277 GT, which is quite possible considering that it is one of but a handful that were in Europe at the time.

By late 1968 the Ferrari had been imported to the United States, where it came into the care of a used car dealer in Mineola, New York. Around this time the California was painted red and re-trimmed with a black interior, and the bumpers were removed for a sleeker, less adorned appearance (a choice adopted by several other spider owners, as well). In 1969 the 250 GT was purchased from the dealer by William Caldwell of Syosset, New York, who retained possession for over ten years while occasionally presenting the car at local shows. In September 1975, the Spider was displayed at the second annual FCA Northeast Region meet on Long Island, and three years later the owner purchased a matching hardtop for the car, providing a handsome roofline to the already dynamic Scaglietti coachwork.

In late 1980, Mr. Caldwell sold 2277 GT to Steven Kessler Motorcars in New York City, and two years later the car was purchased by Jerome Morici of Clifton, New Jersey (father of the well-known tifosi and Ferrari dealer Todd Morici). In 1987, Morici presented the 250 GT at the Greenwich Polo Club Car Show in Greenwich, Connecticut.

In 1993, after 11 years of care, Mr. Morici sold the Spider to John Edelman of Arroyo Honda, New Mexico, and after an auction of his assets in April 1995, the car was acquired by the esteemed Symbolic Motor Car Company in La Jolla, California. A month later the dealer sold the Ferrari to Dean Becker, the owner of a beeper company in Highland Park, Illinois. Symbolic continued to show the car, most notably at the 5th Annual Cavallino Classic in Palm Beach, Florida, where it was presented by Charles Arnot and George Carrick, the author of the widely respected monograph on the California Spider model.

Mr. Becker refurbished the Ferrari with a new tan interior and offered the car for sale in early 1996, eventually selling it back to Symbolic Motors. In May 1996 the Ferrari was purchased by Carlos Hank Rhon, a respected collector from Mexico City who returned the car to the Cavallino Classic in January 2002.

In January 2006, this breathtaking California Spider was acquired by the consignor, a London-based enthusiast and former racing team owner. The new owner undertook a sympathetic restoration that included significant mechanical work by the esteemed GTO Engineering. Among other measures, GTO refurbished the chassis with new brake cylinders, and refinished the suspension and undercarriage.

In July 2009 a more comprehensive mechanical overhaul was entrusted to Roelofs Engineering in The Netherlands, who fine-tuned the carburetors, the timing chain, and the valve clearances, and rebuilt the fuel pump. The rear brake lines were replaced and the rear axle was rebuilt with new leaf spring bushings, differential, and half shafts. More recently the car has been further tended by GTO and Joe Macari Servicing in London, who replaced the brake servo in June 2013.

The finely restored California was soon the subject of two magazine articles, a cover-car feature in the July 2012 issue of Thoroughbred & Classic Cars, and an article in issue #18 of the Belgian magazine Red Racing Green, which printed in the fall of 2012. As Richard Heseltine enthusiastically reported in the British magazine, "There's a momentary pause before [the V-12] fires with a thoroughbred growl. The four-speeder is a joy with no baulking or snatching. The steering set-up is similarly precise, and easy to guide. The pedigree bellow from the exhaust pipes as the three Weber carburetors clear their throats is utterly addictive. Power on and you can feel the rear end start to move. The engine is perfectly tractable, and the controls don't intimidate...You ache for [this car's] continued company. The Cal Spider is a real driver's car, albeit one where onlookers get almost as good a deal."Most recently, 2277 GT was prominently featured in Octane Magazine.

Accompanied by a toolkit and documented with restoration receipts, period photographs, copies of the factory build sheets, and a history report by marque authority Marcel Massini, this exquisite 250 GT SWB California Spider offers a unique opportunity to acquire one of Ferrari's most beloved and celebrated road cars. As a preeminent, matching numbers example of one of the marque's most legendary models, this car can expect a warm welcome at world-class concours d'elegance like Pebble Beach and Amelia Island, as well as FCA events like the Cavallino Classic. One of just 56 short-wheelbase examples built, and one of considerably fewer outfitted with standalone headlamps, this breathtaking Ferrari is a benchmark collector's item worthy of the finest assemblages of Maranello speed machines or sporting postwar roadsters.

Footnotes

  • Please note car is titled 1961
Contacts
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
<i>The Brussels Motor Show</i><br /><b>1960 FERRARI 250 GT SWB CALIFORNIA SPIDER</b><br />Chassis no. 2277 GT<br />Engine no. 2277 GT
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