Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder prototype to go under the gavel

Check out this classic-looking roadster
Aug 8, 2012
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The Ferrari 250 GT is one of the most--if not the most--sought-after of today's classic Ferraris. So, you can only imagine just how special a 250 GT California Spyder is if it's the prototype upon which all the succeeding production units were based on.

Developed as an open, dual-purpose sports car for the United States market, this particular Spyder sports the same 3.0-liter Tipo 128C V12 powerplant that powers the 250 production model. For reasons that remain unclear, though, the engine was coupled with an unusual drivetrain that included a reverse-pattern gearbox with a Porsche-type synchromesh.

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For the California Spyder prototype's body, coachmaker Carrozzeria Scaglietti borrowed the grille, side vents, taillights and full-width bumpers from the 250 GT "Tour de France" berlinetta. The cockpit was also reminiscent of the "Tour de France" berlinetta with its unique gauge cluster, Nardi steering wheel and, crackle- finish dash. These features, along with the distinctive offset shifter and reverse-cut hood scoop, are reportedly unique to the prototype model and did not appear on any California Spider that followed.

The California Spyder prototype was completed on December 16, 1957. With its production slated to start six months later, the prototype was used to introduce the new model with the factory taking a series of photos to illustrate its latest creation. Significantly, a selection of these images was used in the first California Spyder brochure as well as other sales literature produced for the model.

Recently, the California Spyder prototype was certified by Ferrari Classiche. During this process, Ferrari verified the authenticity of the original engine through a study of the unaltered internal number. For a more accurate appearance, the carmaker re-stamped the main engine pad number in the correct font. Finished in Rosso with natural leather interior and chrome Borrani wire wheels, the California Spyder prototype is accurately presented and corresponds to the factory’s record of the original build.

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To be auctioned off by Gooding and Company at Pebble Beach later this month, the car is expected to go for between $6 (over P250 million) and $8 million (over P334 million). Judging by its provenance, it could probably command even more than that.

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