The tradition of custom coachbuilding died in the 1960s as new technology made "frames" obsolete. Ferrari was among the last constructors still building automobiles with separate frames, and this accounted for the pre-eminence of Italian coachbuilders. The carrozzerie prospered, supported by sporting chassis and powerful drivetrains and nurtured by the Italian passion for design. Such supremacy drew the best talent from Italy and around the world. Californian Tom Meade went to Italy to realize in metal the shapes in his mind. Meade penned a series of cars, both mainstream and extreme, and temporarily became a leader in the Italian community of automobile stylists. In 1964 Meade made a series of three similar designs, echoing the elements of the 1964 GTO. Executing Meade's concepts was the establishment of Srs. Giorgio Neri and Luciano Bonacini, mechanical specialists serving the Ferrari market. The three Ferrari 250 GTs were called Nembo, a neat contraction of Neri & Bonacini and the name of an Italian cartoon character with Superman-like powers. This 1960 Ferrari 250 GT Nembo Spyder was built for Italian Sergio Braidi. He kept the car just three months before it was sold, through Meade, to Los Angeles Ferrari dabbler Ed Niles. In the next decades it passed through the hands of Carl Hedden of Pennsylvania, Chris Waldron of Florida, Dr. Earle Heath of Pennsylvania, Mike Schudroff of Connecticut, Rick Cole of California, and John Colling of Hong Kong before selling to the vendor's husband at a Christie's Monaco auction. The Nembo spyder is a wonderfully flamboyant motor car. The spyder design is perhaps best summed up by authorities Warren Fitzgerald and Richard Merritt in their definitive book Ferrari: The Sports and Gran Turismo Cars. They write: "The Neri & Bonacini spyder combines the best of GTO and GTB lines.Neri & Bonacini is one of the most beautiful Ferraris of all time and looks good from any angle." It certainly does, and in our opinion is ideal for fair-weather cruising or show display.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1960 Ferrari 250 GT Nembo
Years Produced:1964-66
Number Produced:3 (Nembos)
Original List Price:$12,000
SCM Valuation:$675,000-$900,000
Tune Up Cost:$2,000
Distributor Caps:$450, two required
Chassis Number Location:On frame tube near right front top wishbone anchorage
Engine Number Location:Right side of block above starter flange
Club Info:Ferrari Club of America, P.O. Box 720597, Atlanta, GA; Ferrari Owners Club, 8642 Cleta Street, Downey, CA 90241
Alternatives:Ferrari 250 Series I cabriolet, Jaguar C-type, 250 TR reproduction

This 1960 Ferrari 250 GT Nembo Spyder sold for $895,000 at the Christie’s Monterey auction, held August 18, 2005.

The Nembo Spyder was my Bigfoot, my Yeti, my Loch Ness monster. I had heard about “the most beautiful Ferrari in the world” from my earliest days around Ferraris. I had seen pictures of it and knew I was within hours of it, but it took over twenty years of Ferrari swapping and show hopping before I finally met my myth.

There are three 250 Nembo Speciales: one coupe, S/N 1623 GT, and two Spyders, S/N 1777 GT and S/N 3771 GT. The Spyders are similar in styling but different in profile. S/N 1777 GT is based on a long-wheelbase 250 Pininfarina cabriolet chassis, and S/N 3771 GT is built on a short-wheelbase 250 GT SWB chassis. They are somewhat obscure vehicles that have a surprisingly well documented history.

While nearly universally recognized as important cars, the Nembos are controversial. Calling them coachbuilt is a bit of a stretch. They all started out as completed production cars and were rebodied only after some age and probable trauma. S/N 1777 GT, the first of the series, had gone through two owners and was four years old when it was rebodied. Neri & Bonacini was primarily a mechanical concern; they may have had a talented panel beater but they weren’t really coachbuilders. Despite their beauty and notoriety, the Nembos’ dubious pedigree would disqualify them from many top Ferrari concours. The water is further muddied by musical chairs with their engines. The coupe, S/N 1623 GT, has engine #1777 from Spyder S/N 1777 GT, and Spyder S/N 1777 GT has an engine transplanted from 250 GTE S/N 2271.

The finished Nembos were extremely attractive but impractical. Edwin Niles, the first U.S. owner of S/N 1777 GT, said, “The car suffered from some of those niggling problems that one-offs frequently fall victim to.” He noted the top was “ill fitting and hard to work,” and the seats were not very comfortable, but his major issue was the top corner of the windshield, which was swept back and pinched so much that it nearly poked the driver in the eye. Niles noted the problem was so serious that a couple of potential buyers backed out of buying the car after driving it.

But the Nembos have one feature that trumps their shortcomings: They are beautiful. The phrase “one of the most beautiful Ferraris in the world” usually accompanies any discussion of the Nembo series. They are so admired that there are actually two Nembo clones.

Beauty is a great equalizer when it comes to automobile values. Performance is important, rarity plays a part, but give me a beautiful car and I’ll show you a money maker. Like Pamela Anderson, the right curves made S/N 1777 GT a star. As a 250 Pininfarina cabriolet with the wrong engine and no competition history, it’s a safe bet we wouldn’t be talking about it here, but add an incredible body and it’s on the stage with the big boys.
The final bid of $895,000 was at the low end of the Christie’s estimate but several times more than it would have brought in its original configuration as a Series II PF cabriolet. The SCM Gold database records it was previously sold at a Christie’s U.K. sale in May 1984 for $280,618. It was a no-sale at $564,000 at Bonhams’ 2002 Geneva sale, with the auction reporter citing the raked windshield as a deal-killer.

I finally got to see the 250 GT “Nembo” Spyder a couple of years back. Walking through the pits at the Cavallino Classic, an unfamiliar shape caught my eye. It took a few moments to recognize the Nembo and a few minutes more to survey the car. Like an old girlfriend at a high-school reunion,
it didn’t quite measure up to my imagination, but I’ll have to agree, it’s one of the most beautiful Ferraris in the world.

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