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Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series I

250 GT Cabriolet Pinin Farina Series I

Although selling in smaller numbers compared to coupes, Ferrari has almost continually offered cabriolets for discerning customers that want an open-air experience. Before 1959, these were almost always custom made and the Series I was no exception. Costing $3,000 more than the California Spider, this model was aimed at the top end of the grand touring market.

The forerunners to the 250 GT Cabriolets include some smaller convertibles built on the 212 Inter chassis as well as a pair of very exclusive 342 America Cabriolets and a couple other special one-ofs, but the Cabriolet Series I has the distinction of being Ferrari’s first ‘production’ cabriolet.

By 1957, the successful 250 GT ‘Tour de France’ had been released and it was an ideal platform to to support Ferrari’s next cabriolet. It had a robust chassis, large finned drum brakes, double wishbone front suspension and the Colombo-designed 60º V12 engine.

Pinin Farina was commissioned to make the first design and started with chassis 0655GT. It was a prototype that was well decorated for the 1957 Geneva Auto Show and it also sketched the basic outline for forty more versions.

Traits of the Series I body style included a long hood, covered headlights, kicked up rear fenders, recessed rear taillights and a simple raked windshield without vent windows. By comparison, many of the the Series I cars usually had as many similarities as they did differences. For the most part these were differences in the side vents, bumpers, interior, mirrors and other more subtle variations.

The Series I Cabriolets were built in a special workshop at Pinin Farina’s facilities. Each body was made of steel and was exquisitely detailed both inside and out. By 1959, Pininfarina had changed their name and standardized the Cabriolet in Series II specification. This included the more staid uncovered headlights and revised rear fenders which began with chassis 1537GT.

As a high performance alternative , Luigi Chinetti convinced Ferrari to sell an sporting version of the 250 GT Cabriolet called the California Spyder. They were instead bodied by Scaglietti and some of the aluminum versions were periodically raced.

Individual Chassis

0655GT – Built as the prototype, 0655GT was well decorated for the 1957 Geneva Auto Show. It was one of the first cars to use Dunlop disc brakes. Unique details include a driver’s side cut-down door, a sculpted front grill, and a hood scoop with prominent chrome accents. The car has been part of the Bob Lee collection for some time.

1181GT-1959 Ferrari 250 GT Series 1 Cabriolet. 1959 New York Auto Show Car. Originally Racing Red with all-white Connolly leather interior. Last Series I with covered headlights. Owned by Bob McKelvy of Scuderia Bear and Bob Grossman. Sold in 1981 in original condition with 34,000 miles from new. Subsequently restored in black with red interior. Offered at Gooding & Co’s 2010 Scottsdale Auction and sold for $1,950,000 USD.


See full 1957 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series I Gallery here

1957→1959 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series I

Specs & Performance

type Series Production Car
production years 1957 – 1959
released at 1957 Geneva
built at Cambiano, Italy
body stylist Sergio Pininfarina
coachbuilder Pininfarina
production 39
price $ $ 14,950
predecessor 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Prototipo
successor 1958 Ferrari 250 California LWB Spyder
engine Type 128B 60º V12
position Front Longitudinal
aspiration Natural
block material Aluminum Alloy
valvetrain SOHC, 2 Valves per Cyl
fuel feed 3 Weber 36 DCZ3 Carburettors
displacement 2953 cc / 165.7 in³
bore 73 mm / 2.87 in
stroke 58.8 mm / 2.31 in
compression 8.5:1
power 179.0 kw / 240 bhp @ 7000 rpm
specific output 81.27 bhp per litre
bhp/weight 185.19 bhp per tonne
torque 264.4 nm / 195 ft lbs @ 5000 rpm
body / frame Steel Body over Steel Tube Frame
driven wheels RWD
wheel type Borrani Wires
front tires 6.00-16
rear tires 6.00-16
front brakes Drums
rear brakes Drums
steering Worm & Wheel
f suspension Double Wishbones w/Coil Springs, Houdaille Shock Absorbers, Anti-Roll Bar
r suspension Live Axle w/Twin Trailing Arms, Semi-Elliptic Leaf Springs, Houdaille Shock Absorbers
curb weight 1296 kg / 2855 lbs
wheelbase 2600 mm / 102.4 in
front track 1354 mm / 53.3 in
rear track 1349 mm / 53.1 in
transmission 4-Speed Manual
final drive 3.66:1
top speed ~239.74 kph / 149 mph
0 – 60 mph ~7.1 seconds

Auction Sales History

1957→1959 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series I

1959 Ferrari 250 GT Series I Cabriolet 1475GT – sold for $5,610,000 The Last of Only 40 Series 1 Cabriolets Built. Distinctive Late-Production Coachwork and Mechanical Features. A Very Correct, Authentic, and Well-Maintained Example. Proven Veteran of Numerous Long-Distance Tours. Complete with Original Logbook, Owner’s Manual, and Tool Roll. Auction Source: 2014 Pebble Beach Auctions by Gooding & Company

1958 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series I 0759GT – sold for $6,820,000 1957 Turin Salone dell’Automobile show car Open early Ferrari Pinin Farina Cabriolet – with detachable hardtop. Early central-American history in Venezuelan ownerships. Fresh from 23 years in the Collezione Maranello Rosso Museum. Auction Source: 2014 Quail Lodge Auction by Bonhams

1959 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series I 1181GT – sold for €4,704,000 The 1959 New York International Auto Show car. The 36th of 40 built; the final factory covered-headlamp car. Built on the superior 508D chassis. Formerly owned by Bob Grossman, William McKelvy, and Glenn Mounger. Ferrari Classiche certified as a matching-numbers example. Former Cavallino cover car. Auction Source: 2014 Monaco by RM Auctions

1958 Ferrari 250 GT Series 1 Cabriolet 0791GT – sold for $6,160,000 The 14th of Only 40 Series 1 Cabriolets Built An Undisputed Pinin Farina Masterpiece. Desirably Equipped with Covered Headlights and Bumperettes.Exceptional Provenance with Just Four Owners from New. Part of the Donner Family Collection for Four Decades. Auction Source: The Scottsdale Auctions by Gooding & Company


1958 Ferrari 250GT Series I Cabriolet 0979GT – sold for $1,622,500. 0979 GT was originally finished in red with black leather; each of the Series I Cabriolets were different, and this example is no exception. It is fitted with several of the most desirable features, including the striking front fender air vents, covered headlights, full width front bumpers and elegant small top-mounted taillights. One of the most attractive features is the slim windshield pillars, an effect created, in part, by the lack of door vent wings.
RM Auctions has had the pleasure of inspecting and test driving 0979 GT and can report that the vehicle performed well without any problems on the 40-mile test drive in Italy. In addition, a recent inspection at Ferrari’s Classiche center has confirmed that the engine’s internal number is correct for the car.

The paintwork is excellent with no apparent imperfections, and all of the brightwork presents extremely well. The contrasting red leather interior with red carpets is also very good and shows very little signs of use. Auction Source: RM Auctions’ 2010 Sports & Classics of Monterey