1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder Competizione

If you could justify paying too much money for a car, this was the one

Luigi Chinetti loved the 250 GT TdF coupes and saw a market for an open top version. Many Americans lived in warm climates like Florida, Arizona, and particularly California, and so preferred the good looks and the cooler nature of open cars. Chinetti persuaded Ferrari to commission Pininfarina to build an open car based on the TdF. Dubbed the Spyder California, the new design was a masterpiece, and the Spyder California has become an icon among Ferraris.

This Ferrari Spyder California was ordered through Luigi Chinetti and delivered to Bob Grossman in June 1959. Grossman, an aspiring singer, started selling cars to finance voice lessons. By the mid-1950s, he had franchises for Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, and Volkswagen. Grossman raced another long-wheelbase Spyder California, but was having trouble beating the Corvettes. He complained to Chinetti, who promised to come up with “something special,” and s/n 1451GT was the result.

One of 51 long-wheelbase Spyder Californias, only nine of which were alloy-bodied, s/n 1451GT was completed on June 14, 1959, and, according to Grossman, immediately driven to Le Mans. It was the first Spyder California with the new “outside plug” engine, and Grossman, co-driving with Fernand Tavano, finished fifth overall, placing third in the GT class. Having been hastily assembled, the 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Competizione was returned to Ferrari after the race, at which time the interior was finished and a final paint job administered in metallic silver.

This car placed First in Class at Pebble Beach in 1983, then won Best in Show at the 1984 Ferrari Club of America National Meet. Six more first place awards followed, including Santa Barbara, Le Circle Invitational, Long Beach Grand Prix, Meadow Brook Hall, and a repeat at Pebble Beach in 1994-ten years after the first.

Other notable achievements include a Judge’s Award at the Classiques Concours d’Elegance at Parc de Bagatelle in Paris, Best in Show at the Newporter Invitational, the Chicago Historic Races, and Palm Springs Concours. Number 1451GT has also participated in the Colorado Grand, the Shell/Ferrari Challenge, and the Laguna Seca Historic Races.

It is perhaps the most important of all the surviving LWB Spyder Californias, and for that reason it has remained with the vendor for nearly 30 years. Remarkably offered for sale for the first time in a generation, it may well represent an unrepeatable opportunity to own one of the rarest and most beautiful racing Ferraris ever built.

Steve Ahlgrim

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.

Posted in Ferrari