1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder
- Ex-Prince Alvise Hercolani and Wolfgang Seidel
- Special features including hardtop and Superamerica side vents
- Matching numbers and Ferrari Classiche certified
- Extensive recent detailing work and motor and suspension rebuild
- Shown at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
- Known provenance, documented by Ferrari historian Marcel Massini
In the pantheon of desirable open Ferraris, the 250 GT California Spyder, in both long- and short-wheelbase form, stands head and shoulders above the rest. It has all the elements Ferraristi look for: the perpetually desirable Colombo V-12, considerable rarity and a successful competition pedigree to match its sporting Pinin Farina lines.
The California Spyder, in contrast to the luxurious custom-built 250 cabriolets that preceded it, was intended for the client in search of a fast, sparsely-equipped cabriolet Ferrari sports car, an open counterpart to the Tour de France berlinetta, perfect not only for spirited driving along the Pacific Coast or Cote d’Azur but also all-out racing.
California Spyder production began in 1958, and some 11 examples had been built by the time it was announced as a separate model in December 1958. One California Spyder was entered by N.A.R.T. at Sebring early in 1959 and driven by Richie Ginther and Howard Hively. It finished ninth overall (behind four Testa Rossas and four Porsche RSKs) and won the GT class. Le Mans in 1959 conclusively demonstrated the performance of the California Spyder as the N.A.R.T.-entered, alloy-bodied car driven by Bob Grossman and Fernand Tavano finished fifth overall.
Chassis no. 1307 GT
The spectacular Ferrari offered here is the twenty-third of the total 50 long-wheelbase California Spyders built and is unique among them for several desirable and distinctive features, including the unusual Superamerica-style front fender vents and an insert air intake on the hood. Delivered on 27 March, 1959 to Prince Alvise Hercolani of Bologna, its certificate of origin was issued by Ferrari on 3 April, 1959.
Hercolani retained 1307 GT for about six months, selling it to the racing driver and car dealer Wolfgang Seidel in October 1959. In fact, Seidel drove the car to the V Grand Prix de Bruxelles in Belgium, as pictured in Jean-Paul Delsaux’s book Les Grand Prix de Bruxelles. Seidel in turn sold the car in 1961 to the car’s third owner, Rolf Helm of Germany, before it was acquired by the fourth owner, William Morgan of Phoenix, Arizona. Morgan, who at the time lived in Wiesbaden, drove 1307 GT to Marseille, then put it on a boat to Corsica where he spent a two-week vacation with his wife. From there, the car boarded a boat for Genova before Morgan drove it to Modena.
Mr. Morgan would own the car for several more years. It was serviced at the factory in September 1963 and shipped to Pleasant Hills, California in 1965, as Morgan had since relocated back to the United States. 1307 GT was finally sold on 22 September, 1966 to Mr. Edwin K. Niles, an attorney from California.
The car then passed through two other known owners before it was acquired by the 29-year-old Jim Swartout, who would own the car for the next 30 years. In 1999, next owner Jonas Liden of Sweden commissioned a full restoration at Carrozzeria Autosport, Bacchelli & Villa in Bastiglia, Italy. Following a showing at the Ferrari Owners Club UK National Concours in 2001, the current owner acquired the car in 2003.
After participating in the Texas 1000 and New England 1000, the car was stripped down to bare metal and refinished in a very attractive deep blue, the way it was during Seidel’s ownership. In fact, the owner believes the attractive silver hardtop was modified and adapted to this car during Wolfgang Seidel’s ownership. In addition to being shown at Meadow Brook in 2005, the car was also displayed at the 58th Annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the special California Spyder category. As presented, it retains its original, matching-numbers type 128 D engine.
Most recently, the owner invested an additional $115,000 to bring the car to the Platinum Award-level standards mandated by the Ferrari Club of America. To that end, a complete motor and suspension rebuild were carried out by noted marque specialist Greg Jones. The convertible top and bows were restored, and the entire car was detailed appropriately to Platinum standards. As such, everything from restoring the instruments to fitting the correct inside mirror and replacing the exhaust tips was necessary. Furthermore, the side vents, which at some point were replaced by California Spyder side vents, were replaced with the correct 410 Superamerica pieces.
This exhaustive work has been documented with bills, receipts and photographs and, most importantly, was rewarded with certification by Ferrari Classiche, confirming the car is presented precisely the way it left the factory.
1307 GT is unique in several important respects. Most apparent is the switch box placed over the driveshaft tunnel just behind the shift lever. It contains the ignition switch and other controls which normally would be mounted on and below the dashboard and instrument panel, giving taller drivers more leg and knee room. As mentioned, 1307 GT also has distinctive Superamerica-style front fender vents formed from bright-finished aluminium. Fitted from new with the desirable and more reliable twin Marelli distributors, its three Weber carburettors breathe through factory-fitted velocity stacks and are contained within a cold air box, both highly desirable performance options fitted to only a few California Spyders.
As a long-wheelbase example, the trim, low lines of its topless coachwork are elegantly balanced by the placement of its wheels and tyres. The overall effect is long, low, sleek and decidedly sporting. The California Spyder is as close as Ferrari came to building a sports car since the early Barchettas, and only it and the later 275 GTB/4 N.A.R.T. Spyders have the elemental high-speed, open-air attitude that sets these cars apart from their more common cabriolet counterparts. 1307 GT is distinctive among even these rare and highly prized automobiles, the ideal mount for a variety of tours and events, or even, in the tradition of the late Bob Grossman, a competitive entry in the many historic racing and Ferrari club events where its participation would be welcomed.
Please note that this car is eligible for import into the UK at 5% VAT.