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Year: 1961

Manufacturer: Ferrari

Model: 250 GT SWB California Spyder

Country: UK

Owner(s):
"Hexagon Classics Paul Michaels"

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1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder

This is one of the earliest of approximately ten Spiders that feature open headlamps. According to the research of marque historian Marcel Massini, and as corroborated by original factory build sheets, this was sent to Scaglietti for mounting of coachwork on October 24, 1960. On January 2, 1961, the engine completed assembly under the supervision of famed foreman Amos Franchini, and five days later the gearbox was similarly assembled. On January 11, the California was officially completed, finished in the unusual metallic paint shade of Nocciola, and trimmed with a leather interior.

The Ferrari was immediately shipped to Belgium for display by preferred factory client Garage Francorchamps at the 41st Brussels Motor Show. After the exhibition concluded on January 22, the Spider was returned to the Maranello factory and soon sold to its first owner of record, Dino Fabbri, a well known publisher and repeat Ferrari customer residing in Milan.

There is evidence to suggest the California was used in the filming of Sissignore (known in English as Dismissed on his Wedding Night), a 1968 Italian film starring and directed by the comic actor Ugo Tognazzi (whose best known films included Barbarella and La Cage aux Folles). 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 blond woman, and the two cars proceed to dual through a ravine-hugging byway.

By late 1968, the Ferrari had been imported to the US, where it came into the custody of a car dealer in Mineola, New York. Around this time the California was repainted red and the bumpers were removed for a sleeker, less adorned appearance (a choice adopted by several other Spider owners, as well). In 1969 the 250GT was purchased from the dealer by William Caldwell of Syosset, New York, who retained possession for over ten years while occasionally presenting the car at local shows. In September 1975, the Spider was displayed at the second annual FCA Northeast Region meet on Long Island.

In late 1980, Mr Caldwell sold the car to Steven Kessler Motorcars in New York City, and two years later the car was purchased by Jerome Morici of Clifton, New Jersey (father of the well known tifosi and Ferrari dealer Todd Morici). In 1987, Morici presented the 250GT at the Greenwich Polo Club Car Show in Greenwich, Connecticut.

In 1993, after 11 years of care, Mr Morici sold the Spider to John Edelman  

of Arroyo Honda, New Mexico, and after an auction of his assets in April 1995, the car was acquired by the esteemed Symbolic Motor Car Company in La Jolla, California. A month later the dealer sold the Ferrari to Dean Becker, the owner of a paging company in Highland Park, Illinois. Symbolic continued to show the car, most notably at the fifth Annual Cavallino Classic in Palm Beach, Florida, where it was presented by Charles Arnot and George Carrick, the author of the widely respected volume on the California Spider model.

Mr Becker refurbished the Ferrari with a new tan interior and offered the car for sale in early 1996, eventually selling it back to Symbolic Motors. In May 1996 the Ferrari was purchased by Carlos Hank Rhon, a respected collector from Mexico City who returned the car to the Cavallino Classic in January 2002.

In the UK since 2006, the car has undergone a sympathetic restoration by Hexagon Classics that has included significant mechanical work by both GTO Engineering and by Roelofs Engineering in the Netherlands. This 250GT California Spider has now achieved Red Book Classiche certification.

Thanks to Hexagon Classics, London.

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