1961 Ferrari 250 GT California news, pictures, specifications, and information
SWB Spyder
Chassis Num: 2903 GT
Sold for $15,180,000 at 2014 Gooding & Company.
What does a farmer's daughter dream about to enjoy her last summer? Certainly, a Ferrari 250 GT California Spider packing all of the right stuff.

The moment the Ferrari 250 GT California Spider made its first appearance, the evocative lines and the gorgeous soundtrack from its three-liter V-12 made it coveted by some of the biggest names. It was more than a status symbol for the elite of society and Hollywood. It was an indulgence that was not to be passed-up.

Chassis 2903 GT would be completed in September of 1961 and would be among a rare breed in and of itself. Sporting the short-wheelbase chassis of the Berlinetta, the Scaglietti-clad California Spider would be aggressive in its proportions and every bit the exclusive sportscar.

When completed, 2903 GT would become one of the most desirable of the California Spiders. Being one of just 56 SWB examples, the car is certainly in rare company to begin with, however, it goes even further than that.

Among the 56 examples that would sport the Scaglietti body on the shorter wheelbase there would be just 37 that would be fitted with covered headlights. Chassis 2903 GT is just such an example. Furthermore, it was one of an even smaller number to have been fitted with an optional hardtop.

Given the car's elite status, even among other California Spiders, it would find its way to the 48th Salon de l'Automobile held in Paris in 1961. Finished in a striking black livery with natural leather interior, the car was certainly the stuff of dreams. Not surprisingly, the first recorded owner would not come along until the late 1960s.

After having been sold to Geneva's Garage de Montchoisy following its debut in Paris, the car would make its way into the hands of Alain Cheuvrie, a resident of Geneva. The car would remain with Cheuvrie until 1970 when the car made its way to the United States and the very state for which it had been inspired.

Arriving in California in 1970, 2903 GT would make its way to its next recorded owner, none other than a young Barbara Hershey. Hershey had gotten her acting career rolling with appearances on The Farmer's Daughter, Gidget and The Monroes television series. Her roles in movies like Heaven with a Gun and Last Summer meant she was a star on the rise and certainly in need of a ride truly befitting her growing fame. The exceedingly rare California Spider was the ideal choice.

Throughout the two years in which Hershey owned the 250 GT it would be a part of many adventures and a few legends. This would include of period of about a month when the Ferrari went missing. How such a car could disappear for a month, especially with the plates that read 'HUNNY', is a little beyond belief. Not long after being recovered the car was sold.

Following a period with Hollywood Sports Cars in Beverly Hills, the California Spider would make its way into the hands of Spencer Stillman. The car would remain with Stillman for more than a decade before it would begin to change hands with great regularity.

Upon being sold in 1992, 2903 GT would be owned by such people as Bob Biase, Charles Wegner and Gary Schaevitz. While with Wegner, the car would undergo restoration and would make appearances at the Monterey Vintage Ferrari Concours and the Cavallino Classic. Being acquired by Schaevitz, the car would join an impressive collection of sports and racing cars and would, by no means, lead a quiet life. Three consecutive years Schaevitz would drive the 250 GT in the Colorado Grand Rally.

Such a rare breed of prancing horse, 2903 GT would remain a highly coveted example of the California Spider and the current owner would not pass up on the opportunity to own it. It would be purchased in 2000 and would continue to be a presence in concours events throughout the east coast. The car would achieve a number of prestigious awards and would also take part in the Copperstate 1000 and Nova Scotia 1000. Then, in 2014, the owner applied for certification with Ferrari Classiche. The certification was subsequently approved though the 'Red Book' Certification is still pending.

This 250 GT California Spider has it all. It has the breeding. It has the rare blood lines flowing through its veins. It also has the awards and the achievements to back up its value. But then, it also has the legends; the legends that make any great collector car much more than a car, but a piece of history.

By Jeremy McMullen
SWB Spyder
Chassis Num: 3099 GT
Engine Num: 168/61
Gearbox Num: 539/61
The 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder with chassis number 3099GT is a left hand drive vehicle. It is constructed of steel with covered headlights and a competition engine.   [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2010
SWB Spyder
Chassis Num: 2561 GT
This short wheelbase California Spyder, chassis number 2561 is the 19th of 55 built. The car was originally sold in Paris at Franco-Brittannic Autos. This car was ordered with many desirable options by Nano Da Silva Ramos, which included covered he  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2009
SWB Spyder
Chassis Num: 2467GT
Engine Num: 168
Gearbox Num: 539
Ferrari 250 GT SWB (Short Wheelbase) California Spyder with chassis number 2467GT was constructed by April 24th of 1961. It is the 15th constructed and is a left hand vehicle. It is constructed of steel with covered headlights and has a 9.3:1 compr  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2007
The 250 GT SWB was designed by Pininfarina and built by Scaglietti. It was designed for the race track and the road. This two-seater had an aggressive stance and a wheel base 8 inches shorter than the LWB edition. The street versions were called 'Lusso' (luxury) and contained a Colombo V-12 producing as much as 280 BHP and propelled the vehicle to a top speed of about 150 mph. Modifications had been made to the engine to make it easier to work on during competition events. For example the spark plugs were moved to make them more accessible. The competition models had their body entirely made of the weight-saving metal aluminum. Also, plastic side windows were used to help keep the weight to a minimum. By shortening the wheel base, the chassis became more solid and the vehicle more agile.

The Berlinetta (litle coupe) Lusso (luxury), more commonly known as the 250 GT/L was also designed by Pininfarina and debuted at the 1962 Paris show.

There were vents located under the front head lights. These were used to cool the disc brakes. There were also vents behind each wheel which served the same purpose.
SWB Spyder
Chassis Num: 3059GT
Ferrari began building the 250 GT SWB California Spyder in 1960 and would continue until early 1963, with production totaling 54 units. The design was by Scaglietti and was close to the long wheelbase 'TdF' Berlinetta but on a shorter wheelbase. Thes  [Read More...]
SWB Spyder
Chassis Num: 2935GT
Sold for $18,553,009 (€16,288,000) at 2015 Artcurial.
This unrestored Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California was shown by the Ferrari importer Franco-Britannic Autos at the Paris Motor Show in 1961. During the second week of the show the Ferrari was bought by the actor Gerard Blain and then just six days afte  [Read More...]
SWB Spyder
Chassis Num: 3095 GT
Engine Num: 3095
Sold for $16,830,000 at 2015 Gooding & Company.
Lord Laidlaw is one of Scotland's premier car enthusiasts boasting of a collection that is both rare and exceptional, a collection that would be the envy of just about anyone. In 2015, he would make one of the rarest pieces of his collection go free,  [Read More...]

By Jeremy McMullen
SWB Spyder
Chassis Num: 2871 GT
Engine Num: 2871
Sold for $17,160,000 at 2016 Gooding & Company.
The high-performance 250 GT California Spider wore coachwork by Carrozzderia Scaglietti and was aimed at a very specific segment of Ferrari's American clientele: young, well-heeled enthusiasts who wanted a stylish, thoroughbred sports car that was su  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | May 2016
Production of the 250 Series began in 1954 and continued on through the early part of the 1960's. There were numerous variations of the 250 and would ultimately become Ferrari's most successful line of vehicles to date. The 250 is also recognized as the first Ferrari to ever receive disc brakes. This did not take place until the end of the 1950's. Also, the 250 was the first four-seater.

Ferrari's were custom built cars. They were not mass-produced. Ferrari provided the engine and chassis while Italian coach builders provided the body. This meant the specifications varied. Engines also varied in horsepower rating, torque, and displacement. This was no different for the 250 GT which saw many different variations in body style and body types.

Ferrari built the road-going Ferrari's to fuel his passion for racing. Many of the vehicles he built for the road had a competition model. That is, a modified version of the road-going model. An example of this was the 1959 short-wheel base (SWB) Berlinetta (Berlinetta which means coupe) and given an aluminum body. It was debuted in October 1959 at the Paris Salon. GT cars were road-legal vehicles that could also be taken to the track and compete without the need for modifications. Although this was their purpose, Ferrari realized that many customers would not race their vehicle, but rather wanted the power and performance that sports cars offered. To comply, Ferrari built these cars to be powerful and luxurious. The vehicles could still be run on the track, mostly on requiring the adoption of stickers and complying with any safety requirements.

The 250 road-going vehicles mostly shared two wheelbase sizes, a 2400 mm and 2600 mm. The 2400 wheelbase were referred to as the SWB (Short wheel base) while the other was the LWB (long wheel base).

The base engine was a Colombo 60-degree, single-over-head cam, 'vee' type 12-cylinder, with aluminum alloy block and heads, and cast-iron cylinder liners. The displacement was 180 cubic inch (2953 cc). Horsepower production was around 220-260. The front suspension was independent with double wishbones and coil springs. The rear suspension was a live axle.

The first 250 introduced was the 250S and available in either berlinetta or spider configuration. Introduced in 1952, they were powered by a 3-liter Colombo engine producing about 230 horsepower.

At the 1953 Paris Motor Show, Ferrari introduced the 250 Europa and Export. These were the only models in the series that were powered by a Lampredi v-12 engine also seen in Formula 1. The 250 Export had a 2400 MM wheelbase, similar tot he 250 MM. The 250 Europa had a larger, 2800 mm wheelbase which allowed more interior room. During their short production lifespan, only 18 examples were produced. Pininfarina and Vignale were tasked with creating the coachwork.

In 1954 four specialty built 250 Monza were built for racing. They shared many similarities with the 750 Monza's, but were equipped with the 3-liter Colombo engine.

At the 1957 Geneva auto show, Ferrari displayed their 250 GT Cabriolet. Coachwork was courtesy of Pininfarina; the wheelbase was 2600 mm in size. In 1959 the second in the 250 GT Cabriolet series production began after only 36 examples being produced.

From 1957 through 1959 Ferrari produced the 250 GT Berlinetta 'Tour de France' (TdF). The name had been given for the 10-day automobile race. Originally the engine produced 240 horsepower but was later modified to 260 horsepower. Carrozzeria Scaglietti was responsible for creating the bodies based on Pinin Farina's design.

Scaglietti was responsible for constructing the 1957 250 GT California Spyder. These sat atop a long, 2600 mm chassis and aluminum was used throughout the body in efforts to reduce the overall weight. In total, around 45 examples were created before they were replaced by the SWB version in 1960.

There were 250 examples of the 250 GT Berlinetta SWB produced. Production began in 1959 and used the shortened, sportier wheelbase. Giotto Bizzarrini, Carlo Chiti, and Mauro Forghieri were responsible for the development. Some were built for racing while others were meant for daily transportation. Horsepower ranged from 240 to 280. Steel or aluminum bodies were used. The steel bodies were suited for the road-going vehicles, also known as Lusso. The racing trim vehicles were powerful and had low weight. They were vary competitive and are regarded as the most important GT racers of its time. In 1961 the SWB Berlinetta captured the GT class of the Constructor's Championship.

In 1960 a Scaglietti 250 GT Spyder California SWB was shown at the Geneva Motor Show. Built as a replacement for the LWB and based on the 250 GT SWB, around 55 examples were produced.

The Ferrari 250TR was produced from 1957 through 1958 during which only 19 examples were created. The 'pontoon' fender body was designed by Scaglietti and the power was supplied through a Colombo 12-cylinder engine mounted at a sixty-degree angle and outfitted with six Weber 38 DCN carburetors. Power was sent to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual gearbox. With 300 horsepower, the 800 kg vehicle was able to achieve a 168 mph top speed. From 1958 through 1961, the 250 TR was entered in 19 championship races where they emerged victorious ten times.

The 250 in 250 TR represented the unitary displacement while the TR was an acronym meaning Testa Rossa. Testa Rossa translates to 'red head' which referred to the color of the engine's cylinder head.

The 250 TR series was built to capture the world championship which was experience questionable times. During the 1955 24 Hours of Lemans a fatal accident occurred and the Commissione Sportiva Internazionale (CSI) began investigating ways to make the sport safer for the drivers and the spectators. Their efforts were escalated in 1967 when another fatal accident occurred at the 1957 Mille Miglia. The committee decided upon a displacement limit but they were in disagreement on the size; the proposed figures ranged from 3 to around 3.5 liters.

1958 was the introductory year for the new regulations, which had been announced during the later part of 1957. Ferrari had been building, testing, and racing the 250 GT which had performed well during the 1957 Mille Miglia. The Colombo V12 260 horsepower engine received a larger bore, camshaft, and other improvements resulting in a 3.1 liter displacement and 320 horsepower. Testing continued throughout the 1957 season in both body configuration and mechanical components.

Ferrari had anticipated the new engine size regulations and thus had been sufficiently prepared to capture the world championship. Due to the potential of negative publicity caused by the fatal accidents, other manufacturers, such as Aston Martin, Lotus, Cooper and Jaguar, were hesitant to continue racing. Ferrari believed their closest competitor would be the powerful and technologically advanced Maserati 450 S which featured a quad-cam eight-cylinder engine.

Ferrari quickly began capturing victories during the 1958 season. The 250 TR was a solid vehicle thanks to the preparation and testing. The steel tubular ladder frame was of traditional Ferrari construction; a DeDion rear axle was used on the works racers. Customer cars were outfitted with a live axle. Drum brakes were placed on all four corners of the car. The engine had been modified to comply with regulations and to fit in the engine bay. In reality, the vehicle was an outdated car having only the benefit of proper planning and proven technology. Most cars featured disc brakes which provided superior stopping power. The Colombo engine dated back to the beginning of Ferrari and was antiquated in comparison to the modern power-plants.

Nearing the close of the 1958 season, the competition began to rise. Aston Martin had a lethal combination, a 3 liter DBR1 racer and Stirling Moss as the driver. Even though the Aston Martins did score a victory at Nurburgring 1000 KM, Ferrari was able to capture the World Championship. The legendary Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien easily capture a third victory for Ferrari at the grueling 24 Hours of Lemans. The 250 TR works cars were referred to as TR58, to distinguish them from the customer TRs.

For the 1959 season, the vehicles received slight modifications which made the vehicle lighter and more powerful. The big news was the use of Dunlop disc brakes. The engine received coil valve springs and the horsepower increased slightly to 306. A Colotti designed five speed gearbox replaced the four-speed unit. Pininfarina was tasked with designing a new body and the construction was handled by Fantuzzi. As a result of the improvements, the name was changed to TR59. At their inaugural race, the TR59 finished first and second. This streak did not last and at the end of the season, it was Aston Martin who emerged as the world champion. The TR59 was plagued with reliability issues mostly due to the gearbox. The vehicles were forced to retire early from races, including Le Mans.

For the 1960 season, the TR was modified slightly to comply with new regulations and to rectify the transmission issues. These vehicles are commonly referred to as the TR59/60. Aston Martin had withdrawn from the championship which left no factory opposition for Ferrari. Porsche and Maserati provided competition, especially at Targa Florio and the Nurburgring 1000 km where they scored victories. At Le Mans, Ferrari finished first and second and captured the word championship, beating Porsche by only four points.

For the 1961 season, Ferrari introduced the mid-engined 246 SP. The TRI61 was given a new spaceframe chassis and was able to capture victories at Sebring 12 Hours and Le Mans. With victories between the 246 SP and the TRI61, Ferrari once again captured the world championship.

The CSI implemented stricter rules for the 1962 season which meant the TR was unable to score points for the factory. It was still allowed to race for the overall victory.
By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2007
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