Why Spiders are good bellwethers

A 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider heads to Amelia Island

The presentation of 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider serial number 2871GT at Gooding & Company’s Amelia Island auction on March 11 is a reminder of how exciting the appearance at auction of a California Spider can be. It also is a chance to consider how Cal Spiders have appreciated over the years, always among the “1%” at the top of car collecting’s heap. Fortunately with 56 of them built, 37 with covered headlights, enough exist that they show up at auction relatively frequently.

They are, and always have been, avidly sought by collectors for their combination of Ferrari V12 performance, quick, responsive handling of their SWB chassis and the sheer joy of dropping the top and hearing the sound of all twelve cylinders shrieking away better.

Equipped with four wheel disc brakes and an updated chassis and suspension, as well as improved outside plug cylinder heads, the SWB Cal Spider has one other crucial asset: its gorgeous, seductive, aggressively voluptuous body refined by Sergio Scaglietti from Pinin Farina’s original design. It is the whole Ferrari experience distilled into a single superlative automobile.

At the turn of the century (the 21st, that is) a covered headlight 250 GT SWB Cal Spider was reliably a million dollar car, like 3119GT that brought $1,265,000 at RM’s Arizona auction in January 2000.

Following is the sales history of 250 GT SWB covered headlight California Spiders sold since the turn of the century.

Date  Auction Location Chassis Number Amount Condition
 January 2000  RM  Arizona  3119GT  $1,265,000  1
 March 2000  RM  Amelia  2903GT  $1,182,500  2-
 May 2000  Poulain-Sotheby  Paris  4125GT  $1,023,798  3
 December 2000  Brooks  Gstaad  3007GT  $1,309,970  2
 May 2008  RM  Maranello  2377GT  $10,976,163  2-
 The above was the ex-James Coburn car, a transaction so far off the radar it begged comprehension.
 January 2009  Gooding  Scottsdale  1963GT  $4,950,000  4+
 August 2009  Gooding  Pebble Beach  3163GT  $5,115,000  2-
 August 2012  RM  Monterey  3119GT  $8,580,000  3+
 August 2014  Gooding  Pebble Beach  2903GT  $15,180,000  2-
 February 2015  Artcurial  Paris  2935GT  $18,060,021  4-
 The above was the Ex-Alain Delon, Baillon Collection barn find
 August 2015  Gooding  Pebble Beach  3095GT  $16,830,000  3

In the short space of sixteen years these exceptional and fairly rare Ferraris have gone from a million dollars to over sixteen million, a representative sampling of the market’s progression in top quality front engined Enzo-era V12 Ferraris. After nearly doubling in value from 2012 to 2015, recent sales (aside from the barn find fascination of the Baillon Collection car at Rétromobile last year) have leveled off.

Gooding & Company’s offering of 2871GT (an unrestored example with only three owners from new, the most recent since 1985, and estimated at a reasonable $15-17 million) at their upcoming Amelia Island auction will tell us if the frenetic pace picks up again or if it reflects the more measured bidding seen in Arizona in January.

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