1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder CompetizioneSOLD

RM Auctions - Monterey Sports & Classic Car Auction - August 16-18

See all the Images for this Car
AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of $4,950,000

RM Auctions is honored to present the ex-Bob Grossman, 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Spyder California Alloy Competizione, chassis no. 1451 GT. It is offered on behalf of its private owner who acquired the car over 26 years ago and is one of only seven original alloy-bodied examples built. Bob Grossman piloted 1451 GT to 5th overall while finishing first in class at the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans. It remains one of the most important and desirable open Ferraris in existence.

260bhp, 2,953cc single overhead camshaft V-12 engine with triple Weber 40DCL6 carburetors, , four-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension using parallel A-arms and coil springs, solid rear axle with trailing arms and leaf springs, Houdaille lever action dampers all around, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 2,600mm (102.4")

The 250 GT Series With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that the brilliant 250 GT series is the foundation upon which the modern Ferrari legend was built. Imagine a single car that was capable of winning thousands of races - earning international sports car championships. Imagine a platform upon which a vast array of stunning coachbuilt cars would be built, earning the company worldwide acclaim among the social and financial elite. And of course, imagine the 250 GT becoming the basis for the most beautiful and wildly successful production models the company had ever seen, earning Enzo Ferrari the he cash needed not only to survive, but to pursue – and win – a host of championship titles.

In the beginning, the 250 GT was derived from dual-purpose cars that offered little in the way of luxury and creature comforts, emphasizing light weight and high performance. Cars like the 250MM performed admirably in the long distance open road races of the fifties. Before long, the 250 GT evolved into two lines – those intended primarily for the street, and the dual purpose road/race berlinettas, which sacrificed comfort for performance, but proved highly capable on the track.

The first of the more luxurious road-going Ferraris to achieve some semblance of series production was the second series of 250 GT Europa. Fitted with the same 3-liter Colombo engine and bodied by Pininfarina, some 36 were built, with most enjoying life as spirited road-going cars. The Europa was followed by the Boano/Ellena- bodied coupι road cars, and still later, by the Pininfarina coupes and cabriolets.

The dual purpose line evolved into the 250 GT Coupe, and utilized a lightweight racing berlinetta body built in limited numbers by Scaglietti to a Pininfarina design. After an early victory in the legendary race, the car became known as the 250 GT Tour de France. Built on the same 2600mm wheelbase chassis as the Boano/Ellena, the 250 GT TdF dominated gran turismo competition; its combination of exceptional performance and good looks has made it one of the most desirable Ferraris of the period.

At the same time Ferrari and Pininfarina cooperated to create the first series of 250 GT coupes and cabriolets, the successors to the Boano/Ellena coupιs. These luxurious and individually custom-built cabriolets were created for gentleman drivers who wanted open air Ferraris to cruise the boulevards of sunny resorts with style and flair.

Ferrari in America
With affluent enthusiasts, vast networks of open roads, and a growing sports car racing scene, the American market was always very important to Ferrari. By the middle 1950s, largely through the efforts of importer Luigi Chinetti and racers like Chinetti himself, Johnny von Neumann, Tony Parravano, and many others, Ferrari ’ s reputation on the track was at least as strong in the U.S. as it was in Europe.

The better teams enjoyed factory support at some level – even if it was only in terms of access to the latest and hottest cars. The factory-affiliated teams ’ success generated sales both of new racing cars and recycled team cars. Ferrari developed specific models, such as the 2-liter Monzas and Mondials, for the North American market and the racing classes that attracted wealthy amateur (and in some cases professional) drivers who could afford to buy and race the very best.

Most of these were dual purpose cars – capable, in theory at least, of driving to the track, winning, and driving home. This racing success – and the aura it lent the brand, resulted in a growing demand for Ferraris intended purely for the street. As with the racing cars, Ferrari built special models more attuned to the tastes of its American clients. Chinetti and his dealers identified market niches and Ferrari built cars to fill them, small series of cars that brilliantly integrated design and performance, and capitalized on the synergies between Ferrari and its gifted designers and coachbuilders - Pininfarina, Touring, Ghia, Vignale, Scaglietti, and others.

Luigi Chinetti loved the 250 GT TdF coupes – their light weight and crisp handling gave them a delightful character on the street – but their power and superb chassis had what it took to win on the track.

However, Chinetti saw a market for something more. Unlike Europe where tradition and moderate climates dictated a preference for closed cars, Americans lived in hotter climates, like Florida, Arizona, and particularly California – and preferred both the good looks and the cooler nature of open cars.

The 250 GT Spyder California
Ferrari responded by commissioning Pininfarina to built a new open car based on the chassis of the 250 GT TdF. Dubbed the Spyder California after its intended market, the new design was a masterpiece – widely regarded by collectors today as the prettiest open Ferrari built to that point – and perhaps since. As good as the 250 GT TdF chassis was, it was the exquisite lines of the coachwork that has made the Spyder California an icon among Ferraris.

The first thing any observer notices is the windshield. How such a simple shape can be so elegant is a testimonial to the designer ’ s art, but it manages to be both clean and graceful, with just enough rake to make its performance heritage clear. It sets the tone for the rest of the car, where long lines and gentle curves eloquently define the shape of the car, alternating between smooth convex panels and crisp edges, striking the perfect balance between simplicity and complexity.

Many consider this original version, built on the longer 2,600mm wheelbase, to be in some ways more attractive than the later SWB design, as it allows these graceful lines to spread out over the longer chassis. Either way, there is no doubt that the Spyder California is the single most desirable dual purpose open Ferrari of all time.

Production began in 1958, and some eleven examples had been built by the time it became a separate model in December 1958. One of the earliest Spyder Californias was entered by Luigi Chinetti ’ s NART at Sebring early in 1959, driven by Richie Ginther and Howard Hively. It finished ninth overall (behind four Testa Rossas and four Porsche RSKs) and won the GT class. Chinetti even found a way to make an impression upon American drag racers with a sub-14 second quarter mile result from a steel bodied Spyder California.

1451 GT: Provenance and Condition
This Ferrari Spyder California was ordered through Luigi Chinetti Motors and delivered to Bob Grossman at LeMans during the third week of June 1959. Grossman was a Nyack, New York, car dealer who had taken to racing. An aspiring professional singer, he started selling cars after Wold War II to finance voice lessons. By the mid-1950s he had franchises for Jaguar, Alfa Romeo and Volkswagen and was racing his own XK120 at area events with considerable success. In 1958 he took the SCCA G Production national title with an Alfa Giulietta Veloce. Grossman had been racing another long-wheelbase Spyder California, purchased used from Chinetti, but was having trouble beating the Corvettes in SCCA competition. He complained to Chinetti, who promised to come up with “ something special ” , and s/n 1451 GT was the result.

One of 51 long-wheelbase Spyder Californias, and one of nine alloy-bodied competition models, s/n 1451 GT was sent from the Ferrari factory to Sergio Scaglietti ’ s new workshops on Modena ’ s Via Emilia Est on May 18, 1959. Meanwhile, engine and gearbox were assembled, completing tests on June 14th. The car was then, according to Grossman, driven to LeMans.

The first Spyder California with the new “ outside plug ” 128F engine, it was also fitted with Testa Rossa cams with an extra millimeter of lift and larger 40DCL6 carburetors, giving at reported 262 horsepower at 7,300 rpm. The factory had installed an oil cooler within the radiator, stiffer suspension and an oversize fuel tank with filler cap through the trunk lid. A tall 3.55 to 1 final drive ratio was installed especially for Le Mans. Grossman, co-driving with Fernand Tavano, finished fifth overall, placing third in the GT class.

Having been hastily assembled for Le Mans, the car was returned to Ferrari for final completion after the race, at which time the interior was finished and a final paint job administered in metallic silver.

Upon completion, s/n 1451 GT was imported to the U.S., where it was raced by Grossman for the remainder of the 1959 season, placing first at SCCA National races at Montgomery, New York in August, then sixth overall and second in class at Thompson, Connecticut, in September. At Montgomery he was protested for the oil cooler, said to be “ non-standard, ” after which he ran in the D Modified class.

He failed to finish at Watkins Glen at the end of September, due to a blown engine. Driving the car to Florida with an engine borrowed from Luigi Chinetti, Grossman went on to the Sixth Annual International Speed Weeks at Nassau, Bahamas, in December. In five races over three days, he managed one first-in-class, one first-overall, and won the Governor ’ s Cup for both five-lap and twelve-lap races.

The 1960 season was even better. Grossman ran first overall at Marlboro (in April and again in July), Bridgehampton SCCA Nationals in May, and the Vanderbilt Cup revival at Roosevelt Raceway in June. He placed second overall at Thompson in September, a feat repeated at Watkins Glen later in the month. Toward the end of 1960, someone at SCCA got wind of all the other factory “ tweaks ” on the car, and he was warned not to enter any more club events. When the new 250 GT short-wheelbase competition berlinettas became available, Grossman sold s/n 1451 GT, and didn ’ t see it again for more than 20 years.

Its history in the 1960s is largely unknown. By the early 1970s, it was owned by a banker in Maryland. A few years later, it turned up in Florida. Gerald Sutterfield, the West Palm Beach Porsche dealer, found it languishing in the garage of a wealthy resident. He called Ferrari authority Stan Nowak, who quickly identified it as Grossman ’ s old car and set about looking for a buyer. He offered it to Grossman, who turned it down because he already had too many old Ferraris. It was then bought by Sidney Stoldt, a VSCCA member from New Jersey, who drove it back north. Nowak found it in excellent shape, needing very little except some spirited driving to “ blow out all the cobwebs. ”

In 1981, the car was acquired by the vendor, a noted California collector. He then commenced a painstaking two year restoration. The intention was to create nothing less than the most accurate Ferrari restoration ever completed – with one notable exception.

Most competition cars sacrifice appearance for utility, with the resulting car often described as “ aggressive ” , or “ purposeful ” . In this case, s/n 1451 GT began life as one of the most beautiful open sports cars ever built, and the vendor could not bear to spoil its lines in any way. The decision was made to allow minor historical variations so long as they could be easily reversed in the future, and then only if they could be justified in terms of normal Ferrari production.

Included Spares & Documentation
Correct and complete Tool Kit
Cold Air Box (unrestored)
Roll Bar (aftermarket installation without altering the car)
4 Dunlop Racing Tires (lightly used)
4 Borrani Wire Wheels (excellent condition)
Complete set of Factory Build sheets (no longer available from Ferrari)
New windscreen (made to-order from original in car)

Bidders are advised that these items are supplied FOB Long Beach, CA.
Shipping and packaging are the buyer ’ s responsibility.

A restoration faithful to the car ’ s Le Mans configuration would entail decals, lights and a bug deflector that the vendor felt would detract from the purity and beauty of the car ’ s original shape as it had been crafted by the artisans at Scaglietti. Instead, he chose not to include these in the restoration.

However, on the other hand, things like the external fuel filler had been removed. A key identifying feature, the decision was made to restore the car to this configuration during the restoration.

Another difficult decision was that of color. While metallic silver would be authentic, it was decided that a racing red would accentuate the lines of the coachwork. As a result, a stunning – and completely correct - 1959 Ferrari red was selected, and the paintwork entrusted to the legendary craftsmen at Southern California ’ s Junior ’ s House of Color.

A virtually flawless tan interior was installed to complete the combination. While the trim on a Spyder California is quite simple, that very simplicity requires that the interior be executed with meticulous attention to the straightness of the stitching, proper padding, and flawless welting to ensure that the result does justice to the restoration.

Perhaps the most difficult – and the most outstanding – aspect of the restoration is its attention to detail. At a time when few were restoring cars to this standard, a great deal of research was required to ensure the authenticity of the smallest parts. From engine compartment finishes to hoses, lines, and wiring, everything imaginable was restored to as new finish and condition, as possible.

The quality of the restoration is attested to by a long list of concours victories. The first, and perhaps the most impressive was at Pebble Beach in August 1983, where s/n 1451 GT placed First in Class, against rigorous competition. Perhaps equally impressive was the Phil Hill award for Best in Show at the 1984 Ferrari Club of America National Meet.

Six more first place awards followed, including Santa Barbara, Le Circle Invitational, Long Beach Grand Prix, Meadow Brook Hall, and a repeat at Pebble Beach in 1994 – ten years after the first. Other notable achievements include a Judge ’ s Award at the Classiques Concours d ’ Elegance at Parc de Bagatelle in Paris, Best in Show at the Newporter Invitational, the Chicago Historic Races and Palm Springs Concours.

No trailer queen, s/n 1451 GT has also participated in the Colorado Grand, the Shell/Ferrari Challenge, and the Laguna Seca Historic Races. Although the restoration is now an older one, the quality of the workmanship and the care the car has received is evident in its current condition. Little would be needed to return to the concours field – though perhaps the most enjoyment can be had by driving this lovely Spyder California. It is, after all, uniquely suitable for both grand touring events and historic racing.

Some argue that the ultimate Ferrari is one with a racing history, whose track record has made important contributions to the lore of the Prancing Horse. Others feel the ultimate Ferrari is about beauty and shape, a car whose lines are achingly beautiful. Still others insist that rarity is the key. Consider, then, the ex-Le Mans Bob Grossman Spyder California Competizione. One of just nine alloy-bodied examples built, it is certainly rare – and few would argue that it is among the most beautiful Ferraris ever built. As one of a handful of LeMans Ferraris, and with its stellar record in American sports car racing, s/n 1451 GT ’ s historical importance is undeniable.

It is perhaps the most important of all the surviving Spyder Californias, and for that reason it has remained with the vendor for nearly thirty years. Remarkably offered for sale for the first time in a generation, it may well represent an unrepeatable opportunity to own one of the rarest and most beautiful racing Ferraris ever built.

Reference Number 11427

as of 7/19/2007

Car 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder Competizione
VIN 1451GT 
Exterior / Interior Color      Red /      Tan 
Configuration Left Hand Drive (LHD) 
Transmission Manual Shift 
Options Exterior: Wire wheels
Interior: Leather interior, Wooden steering wheel 
More Images
See all the Images for this CarSee all the Images for this CarSee all the Images for this Car