This Ferrari 250 GT SWB sold for $902,000, including buyer’s premium, at the RM Arizona Biltmore sale, held January 18, 2002.
As the ’50s came to a close, Enzo Ferrari found he needed to do something to improve the cornering speeds of his sports racers. He shortened his current chassis about eight inches to 2400 mm, and the short-wheelbase chassis was born. Pininfarina was selected to dress the chassis and the result was the impressive 250 GT Berlinetta, commonly called the SWB or Short Wheelbase.
Few Ferraris have the desirability of a SWB. They have a handsome profile that draws attention even when surrounded by more exotic machinery. They are comfortable and can effortlessly handle the duties of a vintage tour. They are also extremely potent and capable of running in the front of most vintage races. The SWB is a car you can take to any event and know you brought the right car.
Terry King, a ballroom dance instructor in Atlanta, Georgia, bought this particular car when he was in his early 20s and it was the love of his life. He drove it through college and, as it became a little tatty, he started taking it apart for refurbishing. One thing led to another and the project became a full-blown restoration. As the paint was removed, a seriously distorted front fender-a remnant of a previous botched repair—proved to be a financial hurdle that moved the restoration to the back burner. Over the next 10 years, as his salary allowed, Terry collected parts and restored pieces in preparation of the eventual reassembly. Unfortunately, as the bodywork was finally being performed, Terry succumbed to cancer and never got to see his beloved SWB in its finished state.
The auction text does an excellent job of portraying the unique virtues of SWB S/N 2549GT but, at a price so close to the million-dollar mark, a very special car is expected. 2549GT is just a steel-bodied car without competition history. It was built at a time when special features were not uncommon and its performance is unproven. Its condition and pedigree brought a price just over the high end of the SCM price guide, but $100,000 less than a more worn steel-bodied car with some competition history brought at the Bonhams Gstaad sale a month before.
However, this was a smart purchase. The car has been out of circulation for decades and was relatively unknown, so the exposure it will get in the next few years will embellish its provenance. Purchased by an SCM subscriber who uses his cars, we can expect to see the car at future historic events. I think Terry would be pleased. Steve Ahlgrim