SWB California Spyder at RM Sotheby’s Monterey
It is a cliché to say that a special automobile needs no introduction - but the Ferrari 250 California, an open-top machine offering space for two people and their luggage on a performance-bred chassis, truly meets that criteria. Originally engineered as a convertible version of the 250 GT berlinetta “TdF,” it proved a tremendous success and was continued on that model’s short-wheelbase (SWB) successor chassis, now measuring 2,400 mm between the axles.
Celebrities such as Alain Delon, James Coburn, Peter Helm, Briggs Cunningham, Johnny Halliday, and Roger Vadim owned SWB California Spyders, but the car was happiest at high speeds, not purring around Beverly Hills. This was a car whose owners could and did drive it to the track, race it, and win - and then drive it home.
Completed by the factory on 28 December 1962, chassis 4131 GT was the 55th of the 56 SWB California Spyders produced and was equipped as a road car with steel bodywork, open headlights, front bumper guards, and the features of “teardrop” side marker lights and the latest tipo 168/61 engine. Finished in Rosso (10593), an elegant, slightly darker shade of red, with a beige leather (VM 3218) interior, it was delivered new by the famous official Ferrari dealer Automobile Monteverdi AG of Binningen-Basel, Switzerland, and its original owner was John Amborn, also of Binningen.
According to marque historian Marcel Massini, the car was enjoyed by a couple of subsequent Swiss owners, including former Olympic medalist skier Ralph Olinger, until 1971. It was sold that year through Rob de la Rive Box to George Carrick of Ontario, Canada, with approximately 55,000 kilometers accrued. Mr. Carrick enjoyed the car very much and maintained it for over a decade, during which time the car served as the inspiration and as the cover feature of Mr. Carrick’s own volume on the model, The Spyder California—A Ferrari of Particular Distinction, one of the first model-specific books written on a Ferrari. Mr. Carrick also exhibited the car at the Ferrari Club of America’s annual meetings in 1973, 1975, and 1977.
Mr. Carrick recently recounted a fascinating story in which he brought the car to Toronto dealer Maranello Motors for service and found himself building a relationship with a young mechanic named Remo Ferri. Shortly thereafter Mr. Ferri went into business on his own, and thus Mr. Carrick and his California Spyder became the first customers of what is today the modern R. Ferri Automotive, which includes Ferrari of Ontario and R. Ferri Motorsport, and one of Canada’s best-known, most respected Ferrari figures.
In 1983 the car, now with 80,000 km, was sold to a Swiss customer, Dr. Jurg Heer, but was destined to remain in North America when, shortly thereafter, it passed to Walt McCune of Modena Imports in Los Angeles. It passed in 1992 to Jim Wollisoff of Long Island, then in December of 1994 to the present owner, in whose collection it has now remained for nearly 25 years. The car now shows 88,491 km at the time of cataloguing and, according to former owner George Carrick, remains virtually as he left it in the early 1980s.
Recently the car was awarded its all-important Ferrari Classiche certification, recognizing that it remains as it was delivered from the factory, including the original engine, gearbox, differential, and other drivetrain components, down to the Borrani wire wheels. It is a California Spyder of the utmost distinction - a gentleman’s machine for those who yearn to drive.
Information from RM Sotheby’s. Images by Darin Schnabel.
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