Sold for $6,160,000 at 2014 Gooding & Company - The Scottsdale Auction.Sold for $5,720,000 at 2015 RM Sotheby's NY Auction : Driven By Distruption.Sold for $5,679,619 (€4,719,000) at 2017 RM Sothebys : Ferrari - Leggenda e Passione.
Though from the same family, the same blood coursing through the veins, Ferrari's California Spyder and Cabriolet would approach their lives, their callings from two completely different points of view. The California would be the wild child; all about the experience. The Cabriolet would be the refined one, preferring to enjoy life in luxury. However, the Cabriolet would share one important thing in common with its California sibling—it still liked to let its hair down from time to time.
Immediately comparisons bear out the differences. The California, which would be built by Scaglietti, would bear similar lines. The DNA was obvious. However, a look inside revealed a simplicity, a nominal existence meant to enable freedom of movement and of being able to feel the elements.
The Cabriolet, on the other hand, would only be built by Pininfarina, a type of private school for the elite. While the California's heart would beat in time with the common man, the Cabriolet would be graced by only the very finest. Each of the Cabriolets would be built to the particular interests of the clientele. As a result, Pininfarina would keep the Cabriolet in-house in order to more adequately care for the specific details. This would already give the Cabriolet an aura of exclusivity.
But to say that while the California would be right at home amidst the grease and oily-grime of the racetrack and that the Cabriolet would only be found amidst linen and grand castles would be something of a prejudiced notion concerning the Cabriolet. Though much more refined and reserved in its styling, the Cabriolet would still boast of a 3.0-liter V12 producing some 240hp while revving to 7000rpms. Such power would give the Cabriolet the ability of going from zero to sixty in just seven seconds and reaching a top speed in excess of 140mph.
In either case, the convertible versions of the 250 GT would be some of the most coveted of all Ferraris. However, to put into perspective the Cabriolet, many would consider the car to be the most illustrious example of partnership between Ferrari and Pininfarina.
The 250 GT Cabriolet would be first produced in 1957. Some 40 examples would be built and would prove so popular that another 'series' would be planned. Of all the series of Cabriolets to be built, the Series 1, those that would be built in 1958, would be considered the most striking and memorable.
The car itself would not be flashy or overtly gaudy. Instead, Pininfarina would rely upon the lines of the car itself to tell the story, to arrest the attention of the onlooker. The rest of the car would be replete with small detail features meant to accent those gorgeous lines.
The 250 GT Cabriolet would based, as was the California, on the 250 GT Coupe. The Cabriolet would make its first appearance at the 1957 Geneva International Auto Salon. The clientele for the first series would be none other than some of the most influential. Among them that would become an owner of a Series 1 Cabriolet would be Ferrari's race driver Peter Collins.
Peter Collins would receive his example in 1958. Unfortunately, his time with the car would be short as a result of him perishing from head injuries suffered in the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring in August of that year.
And while such details as disc brakes would be slow to make their way onto Ferrari's Formula One cars, the 250 GT Cabriolet would have discs on all four corners. They would be hidden behind the beautiful Borrani wire wheels. Costing some $3,000 more than a California Spyder, the Cabriolet certainly exuded a whole different level of opulence and eminence.
There were just 40 of the Series 1 Cabriolets built. One of those would be 0791 GT. This particular chassis would be completed at the Ferrari factory in October of 1957 and then would be sent to Carrozzeria Pinin Farina in Torino. It would be there, at Pininfarina, that the chassis would receive its own specific body. 0791 GT would be fitted with a stylish Cabriolet body complete with a white finish and a blue Connolly leather interior. With the covered headlights fitted, 0791 GT would become just the 14th Series 1 Cabriolet completed.
The Cabriolet would be completed in February of 1958. One month later, the car would be delivered to Parauto S.r.I. in Genoa. The car would remain there but for a short time before it would be on its way to New York City and Luigi Chinetti Motors.
John Fulp was from Anderson, South Carolina and a sportscar enthusiast. He would become 0791 GT's first owner purchasing the car shortly after it arrived in the United States. Fulp's family was in the textile manufacturing business and this enabled him to have the money to purchase the pricey new Cabriolet fresh off the boat from Italy.
Fulp was well acquainted with products from Maranello. About the same time he would purchase the Cabriolet he would buy a pontoon-fender Testa Rossa in addition to a 410 Superamerica Series III. Fulp was certainly a gentleman racer in the traditional sense. Having the means, he would also be found behind the wheel of the latest Ferrari and would also drive for the North American Racing Team, or NART, on many occasions.
Mike Hawthorn would be known to take the disc brakes from a Ferrari road car and put them on his Formula One mount. Well, Peter Collins would have the same experience, and, when he took delivery of his own Cabriolet, he would elect to have such an upgrade applied to his own car. Fulp had many years of racing experience. His Cabriolet would originally come with drum brakes, but it wouldn't take too long before he too would grow tired of the lack of braking performance. Then, in 1962, the car would be shipped back to Maranello to have disc brakes fitted to the car.
Dunlop disc brakes would be attached to the car. But that wouldn't be the only change made to the car. Instead of the Borrani wheels, the new RW 3526 wheels would be fitted to the car. Not long after, the car would return to the States and Fulp.
Having upgraded his Cabriolet, Fulp would keep the car for only a couple more years before he would sell back to Chinetti Motors. Chinetti would hold onto the car for a year but would end up selling it to James Harrison.
Harrison was familiar with the finer lifestyle having homes in Paris, Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida. Harrison knew what he wanted and would make changes to the Cabriolet. Soon after taking ownership of the Ferrari he would have the car refinished in silver with red upholstery. He would also employ Charles Pozzi to update the layout of the dashboard. His desire was to have an instrument panel similar to that of the 400 Superamerica.
In 1969, the car would suffer an engine failure. Harrison would take delivery of a new engine. This particular example would make use of an outside-plug arrangement, as well as twin distributors and Weber 40 carburetors. As this engine had not been issued to any other car, Chinetti had the engine stamped 0791 GT.
In 1970, 0791 GT would make an appearance at the Broadmoor Hotel on Cheyenne Lake. Harrison had driven the Ferrari from his home in Palm Beach to Colorado. It would be an eventful trip as Robert Donner Jr. would end up buying the car while out to lunch with Harrison.
Donner was yet another gentleman racer. Competing behind the wheel of MGs, Jaguars and Porsches, Donner was well respected within the racing community. He had been successful, winning races with Porsches. He would also be successful in hillclimbs and would be noted for taking part in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb a number of times. In fact, he would earn class victories in the event three years in a row. This was a suiting event for the Colorado Springs resident.
Though he never competed behind the wheel of a Ferrari, Donner appreciated their performance and quality and would come to collect examples starting in the 1960s. Chassis 0791 GT would be just one in a growing collection that, by the early 1970s, included a 330 GTC, 330 GTS, Dino 246 GT and even a Daytona. But those would just be the street cars in his collection. But Donner wouldn't just be an owner that had others look after and maintain them. He would often be seen behind the wheel of one of his Ferraris. And if he wasn't driving one he was busy working on them.
Donner appreciated the Cabriolet for what it was. Yes, it was a luxurious convertible, but its luxuries were for the specific purpose of taking to the road for mile upon mile. Therefore, when the car's restoration was completed in 1975 Donner would use the car often in such events as the Colorado Grand. And, over the next 20 years, he would take part in the long-distance event no less than eleven times proving the car's reliability and performance on the road.
In addition to long distance events, 0791 GT would also make a number of appearances at concours events all over the country. One of the last and more memorable events in which Donner would display the Cabriolet would come in 2007 at the Quail Motorsports Gathering in Carmel Valley, California. This event was specifically assembled to celebrate Pininfarina's Series 1 Cabriolet, and 0791 GT fit right in.
Robert Donner Jr. would pass away in 2010. Not surprisingly, 0791 GT would be sold. It would come into the hands of its current owners and remains one of the most beautiful examples of the Series 1 Cabriolets. Sporting a tan Connolly leather interior and striking other touches, like the Veglia gauges, 0791 GT helps to explain why some consider the Series 1 Cabriolet to be one of the most beautiful and important Ferraris of all time.
At the 2014 Gooding & Company auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, 0791 GT, the 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Series 1 Cabriolet would be made available for purchase. Befitting of its place in Series 1 history, the car would be drawing estimates prior to the auction ranging from $4,000,000 to $5,000,000.Sources:
'All Models: 250 GT Cabriolet', (http://www.ferrari.com/English/GT_Sport%20Cars/Classiche/All_Models/Pages/250_GT_Cabriolet.aspx). Ferrari.com. http://www.ferrari.com/English/GT_Sport%20Cars/Classiche/All_Models/Pages/250_GT_Cabriolet.aspx. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
'1959 Ferrari 250 GT News, Pictures, Specifications and Information', (http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z11118/Ferrari-250-GT.aspx). Conceptcarz.com: From Concept to Production. http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z11118/Ferrari-250-GT.aspx. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
'Lot No. 39: 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Series 1 Cabriolet', (http://www.goodingco.com/vehicle/1958-ferrari-250-gt-series-1-cabriolet/#tab2). Gooding & Company. http://www.goodingco.com/vehicle/1958-ferrari-250-gt-series-1-cabriolet/#tab2. Retrieved 15 January 2014.
'Ferrari 250 GT Coupe', (http://auto.howstuffworks.com/ferrari-250-gt-coupe.htm). HowStuffWorks. http://auto.howstuffworks.com/ferrari-250-gt-coupe.htm. Retrieved 15 January 2014.By Jeremy McMullen