In the red for about $17m
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The 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider is described by international vintage and veteran car auctioneers Bonhams as one of the “most beautiful” Ferraris in existence.
The classic red sports car will be sold by Bonhams at auction in Arizona this week, and is one of just 56 examples of the short-wheelbase 250 GT California Spiders built.
Many were owned by prominent personalities such as movie stars James Coburn and Steve McQueen.
Bonhams says the model has evolved into one of the pre-eminent vintage Ferraris in the marketplace.
A black version of the same model was bought at auction by former Top Gear presenter Chris Evans, for about NZ$10.4 million.
Prices for such cars have continued to increase since that purchase, and the red model is expected to net about $17.4m when it comes up for auction on January 19.
The sports cars are popular because of their winning combination of Pininfarina design, Scaglietti coachwork, a three-litre V12 engine, and soft-top roof.
Bonhams says the model is perhaps the Modonese coachbuilder Scaglietti’s most successful vehicle design, and its advanced chassis made it ideal for driving events.
Between March 1960 and February 1963, just 56 examples of the short-wheelbase 250 GT California Spider were built, and this was the 11th.
It featured at the 41st Brussels Motor Show in 1961 before being sold to its first owner of record, Dino Fabbri, a Milan publisher and repeat Ferrari customer.
Bonhams says there is evidence to suggest the car was used during the filming of the 1968 movie Sissignore, known in English as Dismissed on his Wedding Night.
The movie starred Italian comic actor Ugo Tognazzi, who is featured as the befuddled valet to a megalomaniacal businessman named L’Avvocato, perhaps not so coincidentally the nickname of Ferrari customer and Fiat principal Gianni Agnelli.
“Tognazzi rides in a Lamborghini Miura as his boss aggressively overtakes slower cars. The Miura soon enters an extended series of passes with a California Spider driven by a beautiful blonde, and the two cars proceed to duel through a ravine-hugging byway,” says Bonhams.
“Described by some cinephiles as one of the most dangerous chase sequences ever filmed, the scene eventually sees both cars spin out when confronted by a large bus, which then plummets down the ravine.
"There is much speculation that the red uncovered-headlamp SWB California Spider in the scene is 2277 GT, which is quite possible considering that it is one of but a handful in Europe at the time.”
The model has been owned by the seller for more than a decade, and has undergone extensive but sympathetic restoration.
It has since featured in several international vintage and veteran car magazines, including a July 2012 issue of the British magazine Thoroughbred & Classic Cars.
As Richard Heseltine enthusiastically reported, “There’s a momentary pause before [the V-12] fires with a thoroughbred growl. The four-speeder is a joy with no baulking or snatching. The steering set-up is similarly precise, and easy to guide.
"The pedigree bellow from the exhaust pipes as the three Weber carburettors clear their throats is utterly addictive ... You ache for [this car’s] continued company.
“The Cal Spider is a real driver’s car, albeit one where onlookers get almost as good a deal.”
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