1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder

In 1959, Ferrari debuted the shorter California Spyder on their stiffer short wheel base (SWB) chassis. These cars were superior as they had disc brakes, a more powerful engine, and a less bulk. Like the LWB model that preceded it, the SWB benefited from a competition-bred chassis and engine.

The California Spyder was motivated by U.S. distributors Jon von Neumann and Luigi Chinetti who convinced Ferrari to create a performance convertible named after their best market. The California Spyder emerged with supercar performance and became highly desirable due to its limited availability. Each car was special too, and some examples came with competition-spec engines or the very rare factory hard top.

Sharing its drive train with the legendary 250 GT that won the Tour de France, the California Spyder was a car to get excited about. It had the same 140 mph performance and the same competition chassis as the Ferraris lapping the race tracks. Therefore, it only made sense to equip some examples with competition engines and aluminum bodywork to race at Le Mans and Sebring. These Spyder Competiziones did well in the GT class and tied all California Spyders to a sporting pedigree.

California Spyder bodies were hand crafted by Carozerria Scaglietti who built most of Ferrari’s competition bodies at the time. Their design was largely based of Pinin Farina’s 250 GT Cabriolet Series I but used a new upright rear headlight treatment. Some cars featured more functional uncovered, rather than fared-in, headlights. The overall design, especially with covered headlights, was often described as more rakish than the much more subdued and luxurious 250 GT Cabriolet.

Inside, each Spyder car had a no-frills interior and a small heater was the only luxury. Behind the seats, a fabric top was installed which was tidy, and well proportioned when upright, but was made with no inner liner.

Our feature example pained in black, 2377GT, made history when it sold to Chris Evans for €7,040,000 at RM Auction’s 2008 Leggenda e Passione auction. Having being owned by Ex-James Coburn and serviced by Max Balchowsky at Hollywood Motors it is one of the more historied SWB California Spyders.

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