The California Spyder was a rarity in competition, but shared much with the Testrossas and other sports roadsters from Ferrari. The typical buyer was interested in a fully-equipped road car that could be occasionally raced at the track with success.
Alloy California Spyders won their class at events such as Sebring, Bridgehampton, Nassau and Watkins Glen. Bob Grossman and Fernand Tavano took the model’s most coveted victory at the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1451GT.
Our feature car, 1639GT was the 45th of 50 total LWB California Spyders. It was ordered new by Luigi Chinetti who was interested in promoting the Ferrari Spyders on the race tracks of North America. As such, it was ordered with Testa Rossa features such as the disc brakes, high-compression engine, 40DCL6 Weber carburettors and Dunlop racing tires.
Finished in Rosso Bordeaux Metalizzato with black upholstery 1639GT was displayed at the 1960 Chicago Motor Show by George Reed’s RRR Motors Inc. It was never put into active competition and in 1979 became part of the Sherman M. Wolf Collection. He had 1639GT restored by Classic & Sport Auto Refinishing, Inc. with its original engine and body.
1958 Ferrari 250 California LWB Spyder Competizione Gallery
Ferrari 250 California LWB Spyder Competizione Specs & Performance
1958 – 1960
Scaglietti & C.
Type 168 60º V 12
SOHC, 2 Valves per Cyl
3 40 DCL6 Weber Carburetors
2953 cc / 180.2 in³
73 mm / 2.87 in
58.8 mm / 2.31 in
201.3 kw / 270 bhp @ 7000 rpm
91.43 bhp per litre
195.79 bhp per tonne
body / frame
Type 508D Tubular Steel Chassis with Aluminum-Alloy Body
Worm & Sector
Unequal Wishbones w/Coil Springs, Anti-Roll Bar
Rigid Axle w/Semi Elliptic Leaf Springs, Radius Arms
1379 kg / 3040 lbs
2400 mm / 94.5 in
1378 mm / 54.3 in
1374 mm / 54.1 in
4200 mm / 165.4 in
1720 mm / 67.7 in
1370 mm / 53.9 in
508D 4-Speed Manual
2.54:1, 1.70:1, 1.26:1, 1.00:1
~233.4 kph / 145 mph
0 – 60 mph
Ferrari 250 California LWB Spyder Competizione Auction Sales History
1960 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione 1639GT – sold for $11,275,000. One of Only Nine Alloy-Bodied LWB California Spiders. Delivered New with Competition Specifications, Disc Brakes and Covered Headlights. Distinguished Show Car Pedigree. Participant in the First Colorado Grand. Exacting Restoration by Noted Ferrari Specialist David Carte. Matching-Numbers Example. First in Class at the 1994 FCA Nationals. Sherman Wolf’s First Ferrari and a Fixture in the Collection Since 1979. Documented by Ferrari Historian Marcel Massini. Auction Source: 2012 Pebble Beach Auctions by Gooding & Company
1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione 1603GT – sold for $7,260,000. A Ferrari Classiche Certification was issued for 1603 GT, confirming it as a genuine, matching-numbers car and a highly authentic example throughout. After nearly 40 years of racing, the Ferrari still retains its original grille, the vast majority of its original alloy and even small details such as the position marker light on the passenger door originally fitted for Sebring. Later that year, the current owner entrusted Dennison International to perform a complete engine and drivetrain rebuild, resulting in exceptional performance on the road and track.
On the road, the car feels completely different from the standard California. The aggressive cams and substantial carbs give it a rough idle that turns smooth with a stab of the throttle, the light alloy body makes the car feel nimble and direct, the Dunlop discs offer substantially more bite and, as the engine spins toward the red-end of the tach, it produces a hard-edged growl distinctly different from a standard, production California. The soundtrack emitted by the thin pencil-type exhausts as the car runs up and down through the gears is simply unforgettable.
This alloy-bodied California represents the end of an era of racing where one could drive to the track with luggage in the trunk and, after several days of preparation and tuning, go out and race against purpose-built sports cars. It was not the purposeful Berlinetta that the TdF was, but rather a sports car in the truest sense – a car equally suited for the amateur or the professional.
While many Californias were raced simply to capture the attention of fellow racers and wealthy spectators, 1603 GT was a car designed and built to contend with the highest levels of international racing. A significant car in every respect, it is held in high regard by collectors, racers, historians and enthusiasts alike. In his definitive study on the model, Ferrari historian Stanley Nowak went so far as to say, “In many respects, 1603 GT must be considered one of the most desirable competition Californias.” Auction Source: 2010 Gooding & Company Pebble Beach Auction
1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Spyder California Competizione – sold for $4,950,000. RM Auctions is honored to present the ex-Bob Grossman, 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Spyder California Alloy Competizione, chassis no. 1451 GT. It is offered on behalf of its private owner who acquired the car over 26 years ago and is one of only seven original alloy-bodied examples built. Bob Grossman piloted 1451 GT to 5th overall while finishing first in class at the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans. It remains one of the most important and desirable open Ferraris in existence. Auction Source: 2007 Monterey Preview