The car defines the scene: a little playful, a little romantic, and a serious reinforcement of privilege
The 250 GT Cabriolet was conceived by Pininfarina as Ferrari's semi-luxury touring car and was thus given better interior appointments and more soundproofing than the California Spyder Series. The cabriolet appearance was also created to look different from the Spyder, relating strongly to the 250 GT Pininfarina coupe, which was also presented as a luxury Grand Touring machine. Mechanically, however, there was little difference between an early California Spyder and the first Pininfarina Cabriolets. Performance, too, was quite comparable. Powered by a 3-liter V12 engine, they were seriously quick, very stylish grand touring Ferraris. Offered here is a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet custom designed by Pininfarina. This Ferrari was treated to an older restoration, yet still looks quite presentable in its red finish and black interior, while the exceptional mechanical condition of this car attests to proper maintenance and care. The odometer now reads 72,000 miles. This car is reported as an exceptionally proficient driving car with a very solid four-speed synchromesh transmission with overdrive. The car still has the correct original headlights and retains the black soft top with only minor imperfections. The engine bay and underside of the car are well detailed, while exterior red paint shows well, having been resprayed from green to red some time ago. The interior is all original and shows a very nice patina throughout, without any rips or tears. Late Series II Cabriolets are truly one of the last undiscovered treasures of the Ferrari convertible world, especially when one considers that nearly identical LWB California Spyders now regularly top the million- dollar mark. For the collector of V12 Ferraris, this 250 GT PF Cabriolet would make an excellent driver that is eligible for many events around the world.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1961 Ferrari 250 GT Series II Pininfarina
Number Produced:202
Original List Price:$15,000
Tune Up Cost:$2,500
Distributor Caps:$450 (two required)
Chassis Number Location:Left frame member by steering box
Engine Number Location:Right rear above motor mount
Club Info:Ferrari Club of America, P. O. Box 720597, Atlanta, GA 30358

This 1961 250 GT Pininfarina Cabriolet Series II sold for $231,000 at RM Auctions on January 20, 2006, in Phoenix, Arizona.
I don’t remember if there was a 250 Cabriolet in Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita,” but if not, there should have been. Few images could convey the good life better than an Italian gentleman in a Ferrari 250 Cabriolet picking up his elegantly dressed date for a sunny afternoon drive. The car defines the scene: a little playful, a little romantic, and a serious reinforcement of privilege. The scene doesn’t work with a 250 SWB or even a California Spyder. Only a 250 Cab could define the scene by becoming part of it.
Ferrari had made its mark as a racing machine and the Cabriolet was big step away from its roots. Extremely large by Ferrari standards, the Cabriolet was a better grand touring car than a sports car. Then again, its open-top configuration limited its usefulness as a European touring car, so its true calling was somewhere in between. As time moved on and the era of well-dressed gentlemen and elegant ladies passed, so did the popularity of the Series II 250 Cabriolet.
While undeniably elegant in its time, the Series II styling was not inspired. The first-series 250 GT Cabriolets were lovely cars with aggressive protruding noses capped with beautifully covered headlights, and a rear fender line that ended with stylish taillights. The styling combined some relatively sharp lines with some trademark Pininfarina curves. The resulting car was large in size but appeared light and delicate. This first S1 built ended up with Ferrari driver Peter Coltrin. Restored, it hit the show circuit a couple of years back and is still arresting in appearance.
The Series II Cabriolet inherited the basic genes but not the beautiful lines of the Series I cars. Perhaps in an intentional effort to separate the 250 Cabriolet from the 250 Spyder California, the styling evolved away from delicate lines in what one author described as “heavy-handed fashion.”
The Series I nose gave way to a blunt, open-headlight design. The sharp lines were toned down, resulting in what Ferrari historian Dick Merritt called “pleasing but sober lines.” Dean Bachelor, also a Ferrari historian, probably best sums up the look: “The Cabriolet is an elegant and understated design that if you like it at all wears well and withstands the test of time.”
Paralleling the evolution in styling was an evolution of mechanical technology. First, the inside-plug engine of the early Series I Cabriolets gave way to the more service-friendly outside-plug engines. Dual distributors then replaced the single unit, tubular shock absorbers replaced the outdated Houdaille lever shocks, and electric overdrive was added. Finally, progress overcame tradition and the drum brakes were discarded in favor of discs. While your choices of Cabriolets are usually limited, a late model with all the updates is preferable.
The Series II Cabriolet was a popular car in its day. The 202-unit production was only exceeded by the Coupe version of the same car. Unfortunately, time has not been kind to the model. As it was replaced by the 275 GTS, 330 GTS, and the Daytona Spyder, the Series II 250 Cabriolet fell to the bottom rung of the open-top Ferrari ladder.
$250,000 seems like a lot of money for a Series II Cabriolet, but it’s the current price of admission. Excluding the recent 550 Barchetta, only about 1,000 open-top V12 Ferraris were ever built. All the other open-top Ferraris sell for more money than the Series II Cab, and the other 250-based convertibles start at $500k. You might say the Series II is a bargain, but that’s probably a stretch.
Condition is everything when it comes to old Ferraris and the Cabriolet is no exception. Many of these cars were “rode hard and put away wet.” They languished for years as entry-level Ferraris and received maintenance appropriate to their price. Like most convertibles, they were prone to leaking and suffered from rusty floorboards and sun-dried interiors. Until recently, restoring one was prohibitively expensive in relationship to their value.
S/N 2381 did not sound like a gem but it was a late-series 250 GT Pininfarina Cabriolet Series II in sound condition. I doubt the buyer could find a much better car for less money, and the seller certainly didn’t undersell. Both parties should have gone home happy.

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