There’s an old saying that “nothing is less valuable than last year’s race car,” though it most certainly doesn’t apply to the 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Long Wheelbase California Spider that recently crossed the auction stage at the Gooding and Company sale in Pebble Beach, California. Club raced twice in the SCCA’s Florida Region during the 1962 season, the Ferrari sold for a fee-inclusive $9.9 million last Friday, earning the top spot in the auction’s results.
Designed for the American market at the request of Ferrari dealers Luigi Chinetti and Johnny von Neumann (and later made famous, ironically by a replica Modena Spyder, in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), the Ferrari 250 GT California Spider was intended to be a do-it-all sports car for the gentleman driver, one capable of winning races on the weekend after tackling the daily commute from Monday through Friday. Launched in 1957, the California Spider was built in two variants, with the long wheelbase (102.4 inches) model replaced by the short wheelbase (94.5 inches) version in 1960. In total, just 106 examples (50 LWB and 56 SWB) were built before production ended in 1962.
Power for the 250 GT California Spiders came from a tipo 128D 3.0-liter, overhead-camshaft V-12, fed by a trio of Weber downdraft carburetors. With 9:1 compression, the engine produced 240 horsepower, though in other tunes was rated as high as 280 hp. A four-speed synchromesh transmission was the sole gearbox choice.
This example was imported through Luigi Chinetti Motors in New York City, then shipped to a dealership in Lubbock, Texas. It was sold to the first owner of record in 1959, but soon made its way east, where it was sold to Florida resident John Cheek in 1962. Under his ownership, the Ferrari was raced in two SCCA events by veteran driver Ross Durant, who earned a second-place finish during the Ferrari’s first outing, the Osceola Grand Prix. Within a month, Durant campaigned the car in an SCCA Regional race at Sebring, where he finished first in class and third overall.
That’s where the car’s known racing history ends, though it later competed successfully on the show and concours d’elegance circuit. Restored in the mid-1970s, it was shown at a Ferrari Club of America (FCA) annual meeting in 1981. Following a fresh restoration in the mid-‘90s, it appeared at the 1994 Cavallino Classic (taking First in Class), the 1994 FCA International Concours, the 1994 Concorso Italiano, and the 1994 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. More recently, it received a fresh cosmetic restoration and appeared at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance (taking third in class), and earned several Platinum Awards from the FCA and Cavallino Classic.
1975 Ferrari 312T chassis 022. Photos by Mike Maez, copyright and courtesy of Gooding and Company.
Other lots in the Gooding & Company top-10 included a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Series I cabriolet, which sold for $6.8 million; a Niki Lauda-raced 1975 Ferrari 312T, which sold for $6.0 million; a 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT, which sold for $3.6 million; a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France, which sold for $5.1 million; a 1939 Alfa Romeo Tipo 256 coupe, which sold for $2.76 million; a 1913 Isotta Fraschini Tipo IM, which sold for $2.65 million; a 1930 Duesenberg Model J Sport Berline, which sold for $2.04 million; a 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS, which sold for $1.77 million; and a 1993 Porsche 964 Carrera RS 3.8, which sold for $1.71 million.
Overall Gooding & Company sold 108 of 140 lots offered, for a sell through rate of 77-percent and gross sales of $76.82 million. For complete results from the Pebble Beach sale, visit GoodingCo.com.