250 GT California

The 250 GT California Spider is, without any doubt, one of the most beautiful Spiders ever produced.  “Dressed” by  Carrozzeria Scaglietti from Modena, its fascinating story have overseas’ origin, where John von Neumann (owner of a concessionaire in Hollywood) asked the first official USA Ferrari dealer Luigi Chinetti in New York, to persuade Enzo Ferrari for creating an “open-air” car on the chassis of the legendary 250 Tour de France. Chinetti succeeded in convincing Ferrari that a Spider would be tempting the wealthy American customers, who could drive it for a sunset stroll in Hollywood’s boulevards and also for racing at the weekend.
In late 1957 the first prototype was assembled on chassis type 508C #0795, borrowed from 250 TdF Berlinetta production line – it was a long-wheelbase chassis of 2600mm. It took about six months to “adjust” the car with the essential supports to guarantee rigidity to the body, and, first California left Maranello’s factory in June 1958.
During the production period of the model the styling remained mostly the same, with early cars in the series being essentially a 250 GT TdF minus the roof. From 1958 to 1960 were produced 50 examples of what we recognize as California LWB, the first series with a long wheelbase. At 1960 Geneva Motor Show has been unveiled the prototype of the second series, which featured a 2400mm wheelbase – SWB (Short Wheel Base). Until 1962 were built 56 examples of 250 GT California SWB, for a total of 107 units, both LWB and SWB.
From 1959 Scaglietti bodywork started to produce a glass fibre hard-top, which made extremely versatile and elegant the Spider. However, this optional haven’t had reception, probably because hold to be true in conflict with the sporty and sheer soul of this beautiful car. Seeing as how were sold only a few pieces of this element, today reached a high price as a sought-after optional.
Even though California was basically a high-speed touring car, ideal for a “wind in your hair” drive or to make a splash on the roads of the exotic shore, someone today called “gentlemen-driver” put it into competition use, and to good effect! Indeed, with the “ad-hoc” engine’s specifications, one of those (chassis #201GT) entered the 1961 12h Sebring, finished second in class driven by Newmann/Publicker/Andrey.
After all, as mentioned, racing wasn’t the prime raison d’etre for the California Spider that – whether in LWB and SWB form – captured the hearts or stars of stage and screen. Regarding one of those who owned one, in 2015 has been sold a 1961 SWB example by Artcurial Auction House for a record-breaking price of 16.3 MLN euros. This Short Wheel Base has been discovered on a barn in West France, forgotten for half a century – actor Alain Delon owned it for two years (pictures from the era illustrate him with Jane Fonda and the 250).
Born thanks to the urgent request from an influential voice on the USA market as that one of Luigi Chinetti, the 250 California Spider remains just a dream for few people, esteemed and sought-after object in America and in the World, which contributed significantly to grow the Ferrari name.


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