1960 Ferrari 250 GT 'Nembo Spyder'SOLD
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Estimate: 700,000£ - 900,000£
Estimate: €1,017,000 - €1,307,000
Estimate: $1,400,000 - $1,800,000

AUCTION RESULTS: Lot was Sold at a price of £670.500

Engine No. 2271 GT

Specifications:
260bhp (est.) 2,953cc single overhead camshaft Colombo V-12 engine with six twin choke Weber carburettors, four-speed manual gearbox with overdrive, independent front suspension with coil springs and Houdaille hydraulic lever-action shock absorbers, rear live axle with semi- elliptical springs, parallel trailing arms and Houdaille hydraulic lever-action shock absorbers and four-wheel hydraulic alloy and steel drum brakes with dual master cylinders. Wheelbase: 94.5in. ( 2,400mm).

The Emilia Romagna region in and around Modena has an ancient tradition of craftsmanship born from peasant roots and shrewd, instinctive resourcefulness, a tradition of crafts honed to an amazing level; talent appears to ooze out of the ground.

40 years ago Modena was in its boom years, this talent pool was profiting from the growing popularity and sales at Ferrari, Maserati, and elsewhere, the autodrome just north of the city centre was used by all manufacturers for racing and road car testing, and starry-eyed clients descended on the old Fini Hotel where Enzo Ferrari might be found in gallant company in animated bombastic conversation with drivers, team owners, or visiting journalists.

Modena then truly was the vibrant racing and sports car capital of the world.

The Carrozzeria

In the heart of it all Giorgio Neri & Luciano Bonacini had their own carrozzeria. They had benefited from the closure of Maserati's racing department, which brought them more work in their villaggio artigiano warehouse section of Modena, replete with such shops, buzzing with activity, and it was there that they gave birth to the Nembo Ferraris.

‘Nembo’ was a contraction of the names of the two partners of the firm and a whimsical reference to an Italian cartoon character called Nembo, certainly appropriate since the Nembos are the incarnation of those wildly glamorous idealized Ferraris we all dreamed of in our youth!

The History of 1777 GT

1777 GT was the first and indubitably the most important of the Nembos. There was another less attractive spyder on a shorter chassis, 3771 GT, and the Nembo coupé, 1623 GT. There was a third spyder, possibly 2707 GT, with a shark nose, which left Modena for Lebanon when new, as a bare body shell, and vanished.

1777 GT was brought forth by two protagonists; the first was Tom Meade, a free-spirited Californian who settled in the villaggio artigiano to create his own interpretations of Ferrari bodies, most notably the Thomassimas (one of which graced a cover of Road & Track in 1970). He certainly had talent and an eye for flamboyant design – qualities noted by Richard Merritt, who was the founder of the Ferrari Club of America, and a regular Modena visitor. To supplement his cash flow Tom became a source of used Ferraris and Maseratis for clients in Europe and the US.

The second key figure in the creation of the Nembo Spyder was Sergio Braidi. Little is known about Braidi other than the fact that he wanted a spectacular Ferrari spyder along the lines of a 250 GTO 1964 version, but without the roof – and that aesthetically is what 1777 GT’s carrozzeria is. Indeed Tom Meade claims no design influence for it and actually almost used an actual GTO as the basis for the Nembo Spyder, since GTOs were then just obsolete racing cars and at least one or two passed through his hands. The pair eventually settled for a 1960 250 GT Pininfarina Cabriolet, Series II, whose was M. Moratti Jr. Meade recalls: ‘It had a normal 3 carburetor setup except that the air cleaner was cut way down to provide much lower hood clearance. The mannequino was unusual in that it was made of flat shaped strips of metal like linguini as opposed to the usual round spaghetti shape!’ With their experience and characteristic talent, the car was soon ready, seen in period photos first with Bonacini’s MO 103 Prova plate and soon after with MO 14 2381. It was at some point fitted with a replacement engine – 2271 GT – with six twin-choke Weber carburettors, probably by Neri & Bonacini, although it is also possible this change was made later.

Provenance

The resulting car, painted dark blue, was stunning, and as stated by the late historian Stan Nowak, ‘Of all the specials not authorized by the factory [no. 1777 GT], must be considered the most successful, or at least the most visually attractive. Luigi Chinetti did see it and it did inspire the creation of the NART Spyder which it resembles.’

Braidi however did not keep it long, as within three months of completion it was sold by Meade to Ed Niles in the western USA, who later sold the car to long-time Oregon Ferrari dealer Ron Tonkin. In 1972, Tonkin sold the car to Pennsylvania collector Carl Hedden, who kept it for three years before trading it to Waldron Motors of Fort Lauderdale in 1975.

Earl Heath of Pittsburgh bought the car from Waldron Motors, and changed the colour to the current beautiful dark red. Three years later, Michael Schudroff, owner of Carriage House Motorcars, had fallen in love with its lines and bought it in 1978, alternatively displaying it in his showroom to admire it or bravely driving it through Manhattan’s morass of dented yellow cabs to Connecticut at weekends. He quietly kept it for a decade. In 1987 Schudroff sold the car to dealer and auctioneer Rick Cole, who resold it at the 1988 Monaco Christie’s auction where it was acquired by an important private Swiss collection.

It was during this period in the ownership history of 1777 GT, that the writer, while researching the Nembos for a series of articles in the Ferrari Market Letter, had the opportunity to photograph and drive the car in 1998 in Geneva – a truly unforgettable day, especially since the Nembo drove as nicely as it looked. The car was taken to Ferrari events at Montreux and at Annecy in France; much later it participated in the Bagatelle Concours d’ Élégance in Paris, the only major event appearance so far of what is truly a closeted gem. It was kept in the Geneva airport museum when its owner travelled.

Following his death, his estate sold the car at the Christie’s 2005 Pebble Beach auction. The buyer, an American, shipped it to the UK where his favoured mechanic, expert Chris Greenwood, carried out significant work. This included rebuilding the gearbox, the Borrani wheels, the brakes, the suspension, replacing the tired springs, a partial engine rebuild, a redone interior, a proper repaint, a new custom-made exhaust system and tyres, and, last but not least, lowering the seats and moving them slightly towards the centre by narrowing the centre tunnel somewhat to reposition the driver’s head further from the wrap-around vent window.

Summary

Windscreens and stiletto heels have this in common: the steeper the angle the sexier the appearance. Of course there is a point, an angle where beauty too extreme becomes impractical, and the Nembo, with its striking looks, significantly contributed to by its steep 250LM windscreen, fortunately stops short of that point. An example of the major influence windscreen angle has on a car’s appearance is that according to Sergio Scaglietti, creator of Ferrari’s all-time classic 1962 250 GTO body, the only flaw in its appearance was caused by the racing regulations of the time, which mandated a much more vertical windscreen angle than he would have wanted. This is a flaw 1777 GT is devoid of.

No. 1777 GT was recently featured in Classic & Sportscar’s January 2007 issue, thoroughly seducing editor James Elliott. The same car has been recognized for decades by major Ferrari authorities such as Fitzgerald, Merritt, and Thompson in their books as one of the most beautiful Ferraris of all time.

The writer has agreed with them for 30 years, the essential point being that the lines of the Nembo Spyder very successfully integrate all the styling elements that characterized Ferraris of that era, but rather than caricaturing them as could so easily have happened, it managed to transcend them: a sublime standard of beauty had been reached, and thus 1777 GT stands alone as one of the most elegant of all, an unforgettable gem in the beauty pageant of Ferrari history.

Reference Number 13165

as of 9/14/2007

Overview
Car 1960 Ferrari 250 GT 'Nembo Spyder'
VIN 1777 GT 
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