This 1958 250 GT LWB California Spider, bound for auction, has all the right moves
When discussing rare, collectible Ferraris, the 250 GT California Spider is bound to come up. Just 106 examples of the voluptuous roadster were built between 1957–1963. Of those, 50 were constructed to the original long-wheelbase (LWB) specification, while the remaining 56 received a short wheelbase (SWB).
In just a few weeks, chassis 0937 GT, the seventh LWB car produced, will be crossing the block at Gooding & Company’s 2020 Amelia Island sale in March. These vehicles don’t come up for sale very often, so when they do, we take notice.
Ferrari, in part, concocted the 250 GT California Spider to meet the desires of American Ferrari buyers who wanted all of the panache of the 250 GT Tour de France Berlinetta but in a roadster format. The open-top element was tailored to drivers enjoying the highways and byways snaking along the California coastline, and the end result from Carrozzeria Scaglietti is breathtaking—a long, gently arcing beltline from headlight to just aft of the doors and strong, purposeful hips out back. It was a masterpiece.
Power came from a 3.0-liter Colombo V-12 capable of 240 horsepower at 7000 rpm and 195 lb-ft of torque at 5000 rpm. The whole thing oozed mid-century Ferrari deliciousness—symphonic V-12, beautiful bodywork, and a timeless appeal backed by undisputed racing pedigree.
Chassis 0937 GT has a lot going for it. For starters, it’s one of the super-desirable covered-headlight configurations, which, although more common, are widely considered prettier than their open-headlight siblings. In addition to covered headlights, 0937 offers a matching hardtop from the factory.
This car underwent a restoration in 2005, at the hands of California-based Tillack & Co., to bring it up to concours standards. From there it immediately began to bring home the hardware, from Judges Cups to class awards in the competitive Ferrari GT class. Along with the fancy trophies the car carries the always-important certification from Ferrari Classiche.
It last sold at Pebble Beach in 2009 for just $2,750,000 which at the time was just inside the low end of Gooding’s pre-sale estimate. (Remember, this was just as the world was beginning to climb out of a massive economic recession.)
According to Hagerty senior valuation expert John Wiley, the fact that this 250 GT is a LWB model bodes well for its prospects at Amelia Island. “Among 250 Cal Spiders, the LWB appears to be where it’s at,” he said. “While a California Spider doesn’t come up for public sale very often, the LWB has sold 3 out of 3 times it has come to auction since January 2017. In that same span, the SWB is 0-for-2.”
Of course, even if a car doesn’t meet reserve, a final high bid can still represent an instructive data point. Relative to its pre-sale estimate or perceived current value, what a car actually commands on the block oftens says quite a bit about the health of its respective market.
Racing history, unsurprisingly, matters in this realm. “Typically, competition history adds another $8 million to the price tag. For a car without competition history, they have typically sold for $9–$10 million,” notes Wiley. For reference, an aluminum-bodied ’59 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione (chassis number 1451 GT) which secured a third-in-class finish in the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans sold for an eye-watering $17,990,00 at RM Sotheby’ 2017 Icons sale in New York.
While it might not have the race pedigree, don’t expect savvy collectors to turn their nose up at 0937 GT. All told, this Cabernet-covered beauty is probably worth somewhere right around that $9M–$10M million mark, which matches up with Gooding’s $9M–$11M pre-sale estimate. It seems to have the right mix going for it (the aforementioned closed headlights, plus, on average, a hardtop adds $50,000 to SWB variants, and this is likely similar for the LWB models, too.) On top of that, Amelia is a suitable venue for this sale compared to, say, Scottsdale, where there are more distractions.
As long as nobody minds buying a California in Florida.