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California T Spyder History

The Storied Ferrari California History

Last week Ferrari revealed the new California T as the first turbocharged model in the Ferrari lineup since the 1980s.

The T has a much smaller engine than its predecessor, but uses a turbocharger to make up the difference and produce 552.5 bhp.

As the original California Spyder is among the most desirable cars in the world, we have assembled a page outlining the history of this fabled model.

1956 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Prototipo 0655GT – The California Spyder history really begins with this prototype built in 1956 and displayed on the Pinin Farina stand at the 1957 Geneva Motor Show. The basic shape is laid out but this car is unique with cut-down doors and built in fog lamps. Image by Robert Lee Trust.

1959 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series I 1211GT – Building on the Prototype, Pinin Farina made 39 Series I Cabriolets which are the direct predecessor to the 250 GT California Spyder. Some cars came with covered headlights and different bumper configurations. Image by Richard Michael Owen.


1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder 1307GT – When Ferrari went a more luxurious route with their Cabriolet Series II, U.S. distributors Jon von Neumann and Luigi Chinetti convinced Ferrari to build a sports convertible similar to the Series I Cabriolet. The first California Spyders were built on the long-wheel-base chassis from the early 250 GTs. Notable changes included new rear taillights and optionally-available hardtops. Image by Richard Michael Owen.
1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione 1603GT – Chinetti Motors encouraged customers to race the California Spyder and George Reed campaigned this car at the 12 Hours of Sebring, placing third in class. The competition cars have aluminum-alloy bodywork and have outside fuel-filler caps. Image by Richard Michael Owen.
1962 Ferrari 250 California Spyder 3099GT – In 1960 Ferrari released the short-wheel-base SWB Berlinetta race car and the California Spyder followed suit. These are easily spotted by their triple-vane fender vent. SWB Californias featured either open or closed headlights. This 1961 car is restored in its original Max Meyer Azzurro paint scheme. Image by Richard Michael Owen.
1960 Ferrari 250 SWB California Competizione Spyder 2015GT – Again some SWB California Spyders were built up for motorsport including 2015GT which raced the 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans with race number 20. Image by Richard Michael Owen.

1967 Ferrari 365 Spyder California 10077 – Ferrari and Pininfarina changed tracks with the 365 Spyder California and created a large grand tourer that did away with the earlier sporting ambitions. Only 14 of these 365 Spyder Californias were made and they were among the last large custom built Ferraris. Image by Richard Michael Owen.


1967 Ferrari 275 GTS/4 ‘NART Spyder’ 10691 – Not content with Ferrari’s luxurious offerings, Luigi Chinetti again had a sporting spyder built for the American market called the ‘NART Spyder’. This time only 10 examples were made and they are among the most desirable of 1960s Ferraris. Image by Richard Michael Owen.


Maranello 05/2008, Ferrari California 2008 © Ferrari S.p.A.

2009 Ferrari California – After 42 years, Ferrari revived the California name for their smaller roadster. It was the first Ferrari to have a fully-retractable hardtop. Image by Ferrari S.p.A..


2014 Ferrari California T – For 2014 Ferrari again re-envisioned the Ferrari California with a turbocharged V8 that could produce 412 kw / 552.5 bhp @ 7500 rpm from just 3855 cc. It was the first turbocharged model since the 1980s. Image by Ferrari S.p.A..