1959 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder Competizione

1959 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder Competizione
Brian Henniker ©2016, courtesy of Gooding & Company

The Ferrari 250 California Spyder is unquestionably among the most recognizable and beloved sports cars of all time. While the origins of the legendary model have been well established and the entire production run carefully documented by devoted historians, the exceptionally rare competition variants were built to highly individualized specifications and do not fall into a single, all-encompassing category.

By 1950s standards, all that was required to transform a California into a serious racing car was a tuned engine and a lightweight aluminum body. Only nine LWB Californias were constructed with alloy coachwork, and few of those got competition features.

Chassis 1603GT is among the last LWB Californias produced. It was the first example supplied with disc brakes. It was specified with a competition gearbox, a limited-slip differential, and an oversized 136-liter fuel tank with competition-style external fuel filler.

1603GT was also equipped with a Tipo 168 engine developed from a 250 Testa Rossa sports racing car. Just four of these engines were fitted in LWB Californias. This engine developed between 275 and 280 horsepower — approximately 50 hp more than a standard LWB California.

Throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s the car was seen at the Bahamas Speed Week and SCCA events. It also raced at the 1960 12 Hours of Sebring, where it achieved an incredible 5th Overall and 3rd in Class.

Steve Ahlgrim

SCM Contributing Editor

Steve taught high school auto shop before moving to Atlanta, GA, where his love of sports cars led him to FAF Motorcars, the former Ferrari dealer where he served as General Manager and Vice President. He has been a self-proclaimed “one-trick pony,” coveting the Ferrari marque. He has been involved in concours judging for over 25 years and is a member of the IAC/PFA, an international committee overseeing high-level Ferrari concours judging. He is chief judge of the Celebration Exotic Car Show in Celebration, FL.

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