Revving V-12 engines will be making plenty of mechanical music as Gooding & Company brings a trove of classic Ferraris to its annual Amelia Island Auction being held on March 2 and 3 at Florida’s beachfront Omni Amelia Island Resort. Headlining an embarrassment of Ferrari riches that includes a 250 GT Tour de France Berlinetta, a 250 MM Spider, a 275 GTB/4 and a 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spider, the crown jewel for this year’s sale is certainly this 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider.
Put in context, Ferrari’s 250 GT SWB California Spider is a top-tier collector car eclipsed by few in value and, arguably, none as respects its beauty. Sure, a 250 GTO or 275 GTB/NART Spider will always be coveted, but when it comes to pure automotive sculpture, the “Cali Spider” sits atop a pedestal all its own. The evolution of Ferrari’s 250 series is a story of fascinating inventions, from Testa Rossas to Lussos. All 250 variants—about seven competition and 14 road-going models—were made from 1952 through 1964 and used a 3.0-liter V-12 engine designed by Gioacchino Colombo. By the late 1950s, the new outside-plug, SOHC Tipo 168 V-12 engine was developing about 240 BHP in street-legal tune.
The 250 GT California Spider was launched in 1957, based on the 250 GT Berlinetta (coupé), and fitted with a body designed by Pininfarina and built by Scaglietti. As its name suggests, the model was conceived and built specifically for stateside drivers and the welcoming west-coast climate. The first 50 examples are referred to as the LWB (Long Wheelbase), which was superseded by an even more beautiful version called the, you guessed it, SWB (Short Wheelbase) that was unveiled at the 1960 Geneva Motor Show.
With a wheelbase reduced from 2,600 mm to 2,400 mm—almost eight inches—handling was improved; further aided by four-wheel Dunlop disc brakes that bolstered stopping power. The car was lower too, and eye-catching side vents in the front fender embellish the profile with elegant brightwork. Of the 56 examples of the SWB California Spider built through 1963, only 37 feature the more elegant covered-headlight design. This specific car was also equipped with larger 42 DCL6-model carburetors and wider Borrani model RW3690 wire wheels.
Some cars—like some people—are just born lucky. Lucky is a Ferrari rolling out of the factory painted a singularly striking color that captivates in a way no Rosso Corsa presentation can. This California Spider was finished in a one-off Azzurro Metallizzato with an interior dressed in Naturale Connolly Vaumol leather.
Built in February of 1962, it was displayed on US Ferrari importer Luigi Chinetti’s stand at the New York International Auto Show the same year. It then went to California and become a daily driver before being sidelined with minor damage and sold to Rudi Klein in 1971. It traded hands again in 1972, this time acquired by Ferrari collectors Charles Betz and Fred Peters. They completed a fastidious restoration in 2004, and the car subsequently won prestigious awards at numerous concours, including Pebble Beach and Cavallino. Ferrari Classiche Red Book certification from 2008 attests that chassis No. 3099 GT retains its original chassis, coachwork, engine, gearbox, rear axle and ancillary components.
In 2008, another SWB California Spider, a 1961 example formerly owned by actor James Coburn, became the first automobile to sell at auction for more than $10 million ($10,894,900). With an estimate of between $18 million and $20 million for this unique and pristine example, it’s clear that the intervening years have been very good ones for owners of these rare cars.
Click here for more photos of the 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider on offer through Gooding & Company.