- Among the most desirable and evocative classic open-top Ferrari models
- The 14th made of 50 LWB California Spider examples
- Coachwork by Scaglietti represented the legendary carrozzeria’s vision for a convertible 250 GT
- Powered by a 3.0-liter V-12 “Colombo” engine fed by triple-Weber carburetors
- Owned by the consignor for more than two decades
- Offered with color-matched red hardtop and accompanied by a report by Ferrari historian Marcel Massini
Given the eminence and weight carried by the Ferrari nameplate in the present day—it is widely regarded as one of the world’s most powerful brands, an accomplished manufacturer of many of the finest cars ever made—it is remarkable to consider that the first Ferrari-badged car did not break cover until 1947. For a company to achieve so much in 75 years marks a phenomenal ascent to the pinnacle of luxury automotive production, success that came first from the track.
Ferrari’s enduring presence at the forefront of motorsport shaped its road car output throughout the decades that followed, combining incredible race-derived engineering with stunning roadgoing designs marked by their beauty and poise. Nowhere were these values better reflected than in the 250 GT platform of the 1950s—the series that surely represents the point that Enzo Ferrari accepted that his company’s road car output should be taken just as seriously as its endeavors on the track.
A SPIDER FOR AMERICA
In 1956, the introduction of the 250 GT Berlinetta, known by its “Tour de France” nickname due to its participation and success in the eponymous French motor race, sparked ideas for greater application of the 250 GT platform. The United States-based Ferrari importers, Luigi Chinetti and John von Neumann, combined to convince Enzo Ferrari to instigate a Spider model especially for the North American market. While it was made concurrently alongside an existing open-top Ferrari, the 250 GT Cabriolet, the California Spider was in essence a roofless version of the pacesetting 250 GT Berlinetta, sharing its race-honed driving dynamics and powered by the same 3.0-liter V-12 “Colombo” engine. The efforts of Chinetti and von Neumann to bring a new car to the US reflected the strong desire for open-air motoring at the time, and so the California Spider was born.
The coachwork design brief fell to Carrozzeria Scaglietti, and most of the 250 GT LWB California Spider models were built in steel with aluminum opening panels. A small number constructed entirely in aluminum signified Ferrari’s intent for these cars to be used in motorsport, but they were just as likely to be deployed by wealthy clients for cruising on sun-soaked West Coast promenades. The “LWB” element—again, shared with the 250 GT Berlinetta—meant that the wheelbase measured 2,600 millimeters; the chassis bore the factory reference “508 C” and later, “508 D,” as is the case with the example offered for sale here.
Visually, the earliest 250 GT LWB California Spider models inherited much of the “Tour de France” Berlinetta’s design, but as time progressed the Spider would accrue its own details. Notably, the shape of the front fender air vents would change, as would the rear fender line and boot, lights, and tail profile. Some examples were fitted with covered headlights, others with an open style, at the discretion of the customer—except with cars sold in Italy in 1959, which were forced to use open headlights. All told, 14 LWB California Spiders were built during 1958, with the remaining 36 cars being built between 1959 and 1960.
CHASSIS NUMBER 1077 GT
The example offered for sale here, chassis number 1077 GT, is likely the final example to be made in 1958, as it is recorded by Ferrari historian Marcel Massini to the be 14th of 50 LWB California Spiders manufactured. Completed by the factory on 3 December 1958, a Certificate of Origin was issued two days later. The Spider was sold to its first owner, a publisher residing in Milan, Italy, and was registered on Italian license plates in February 1959. It is understood that—as a result of this car’s registration in Italy in 1959—this example was built with mandatory open headlights (headlight covers have since been fitted).
The first owner retained the car for barely a year before selling to another Milan resident in October 1959, who would hold onto the Ferrari until May 1961, again keeping the car in Italy’s fashion capitol. Its following two owners—first changing hands in September 1962, then again in May 1964—allowed the car to remain in Milan. In September 1965, the next owner relocated from Milan with the Ferrari, moving around 35 kilometers south to Pavia. They would retain ownership until July 1981, after which the car was rehomed in a new city northeast of its roots, in Bergamo, before heading back to Milan in the city’s Desio suburbs, when it was bought by its next owner in December 1981. They would keep the car for the next 13 years.
In January 1995, chassis 1077 GT is noted to have been bought by Modena Motorsport GmbH, a workshop based near Düsseldorf in Germany. At that point, the car was recorded to have not yet been restored and was finished in red with a tan interior. The same year, the Ferrari was sold to a resident of Paris, France, and shortly after it is noted to have been displayed during the VIII Louis Vuitton Automobiles Classiques Concours d’Elegance in Bois de Boulogne, near Paris. Later, in 1997, the Spider appeared on display at the 22nd edition of Retromobile in the French capitol.
The consigning owner bought the Ferrari at auction in June 1997, and has since enjoyed the car between residences in London, England, and Miami, Florida. Chassis 1077 GT is presented for sale in red, over a tan leather interior. The hood fabric is black, and the car is accompanied by a colors-matching hardtop, in addition to a tool roll with other selected tools. A history file accompanying the Spider includes a report by Ferrari historian, Marcel Massini, further to maintenance receipts from the consigning owner, many of which were issued by Motorvation of Rickmansworth, England.
The 250 GT California Spider is a model coveted by Ferrari enthusiasts, rightfully deserving its status as one of the most desirable open-top models to have ever originated from Maranello. Offered for sale with a rich history of Italian ownership, and most recently staying with its consigning owner for over 20 years, this Spider is now ready to embark on the next chapter in its storied life.