2023 |Amelia Island Auctions 2023
1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider
Coachwork by Scaglietti
$18,000,000 - $20,000,000
One of Only 37 Covered-Headlight SWB California Spiders
The Sole Example Delivered New in Spectacular Azzurro Metallizzato
Built for the 1962 New York International Auto Show and Factory-Equipped with Unique Features
A Fixture in Just Two Significant Ferrari Collections Since 1972
Awarded the Prestigious SWB California Cup at Cavallino Classic
Ferrari Classiche Certified; Retains Original Chassis, Body, and Driveline
2,953 CC SOHC Tipo 168/61 V-12 Engine
Three Weber 42 DCL6 Carburetors
240 BHP at 7,000 RPM
4-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Dunlop Servo-Assisted Disc Brakes
Front Independent Coil-Spring Suspension with Tubular Shock Absorbers
Rear Live Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs with Tubular Shock Absorbers
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Ferrari Representatives of California, Hollywood, California (acquired new in 1962)
John Lane, Los Angeles, California (acquired by 1970)
Rudi Klein, Palos Verdes, California (acquired in 1971)
Charles Betz and Fred Peters, Orange, California (acquired from the above in 1972)
Current Owner (acquired from the above in 2008)
New York International Auto Show, 1962
FCA National Concours, Monterey, 2004 (Silver Award)
Cavallino Classic, Palm Beach, Florida, 2006 (Platinum Award, Judges Cup)
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, 2006
60 Anni Ferrari Concours d’Elegance, 2007
Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, 2010 (First in Class)
Casa Ferrari, Pebble Beach, California, 2018
Cavallino Classic, Florida, 2020 (250 GT SWB California Cup)
In late 1957, just as production of Pinin Farina’s Series I Cabriolet was getting underway, Ferrari was in the process of developing a new open 250 GT variant for the booming North American market. Ferrari’s leading US dealers, Luigi Chinetti and John von Neumann, impressed upon the factory the need for a simple, dual-purpose 250 GT Spider – a car that could be used to commute during the week and then raced with success on the weekend.
As a result, Ferrari produced the California Spider, a high-performance 250 GT with striking coachwork by Carrozzeria Scaglietti. As its name suggested, the California Spider was aimed at a very specific segment of Ferrari’s American clientele: young, well-heeled enthusiasts who wanted a stylish, thoroughbred sports car that was equally at home on road or track. Like other high-end European sports cars built for the American market, the California Spider featured a racy, swept-back windscreen, minimal interior appointments, a lightweight folding top, and supportive competition-inspired bucket seats.
The earliest examples were built on the long-wheelbase (LWB) chassis shared with the 250 GT Tour de France Berlinetta and Series I Cabriolet. It was not until late 1959 that the California Spider was finally made available with outside-plug engines, disc brakes, and tubular shock absorbers.
With the introduction of Ferrari’s short-wheelbase (SWB) Berlinetta in 1960, the California Spider was thoroughly redesigned to complement its new stablemate. When compared to its predecessor, the 250 GT SWB California Spider benefited from a much more sophisticated chassis, with standard four-wheel Dunlop disc brakes, a more refined suspension, and new outside-plug tipo 168 engines.
Scaglietti redesigned the California’s coachwork around the updated chassis. The result was a much more aggressive and sporting appearance, with curvaceous front fenders and muscular rear haunches. While the earlier LWB California Spiders featured a rather spartan interior, the updated SWB variant was more spacious and luxuriously appointed. Stitched leather took the place of wrinkle-finish paint on the dashboard, wool carpeting replaced rubber mats, and redesigned seats made the new car more comfortable for long journeys.
Despite being more refined and well-rounded sports cars, the SWB California Spiders were true thoroughbreds, just like their Berlinetta counterparts. Several examples raced at major European events, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Targa Florio.
Between 1957 and 1963, Ferrari built just 106 examples of the 250 GT California Spider – 50 of the early LWB version and 56 of the final SWB variant.
The Ferrari 250 GT presented here, chassis 3099 GT, is surely among the most desirable California Spiders as it is a SWB version featuring the preferred covered-headlight treatment that Scaglietti applied to just 37 examples. According to Ferrari factory records, this car was completed in February 1962 and finished in a color scheme that is unique among SWB California Spiders: Azzurro Metallizzato (Metallic Blue) with Naturale (Natural) Connolly Vaumol leather upholstery. While Ferrari applied the generic name Azzurro Metallizzato to several different shades of metallic blue, this car’s spectacular aquamarine livery is more accurately identified by its official Max Meyer paint code, MM 16240. Rarely seen, this striking color was originally specified on a limited number of Pinin Farina-bodied 250 GT models produced between 1960 and 1962.
Mechanically, 3099 GT was equipped with features typical of the late-production SWB models, albeit with two notable distinctions: In lieu of the usual 40 mm Weber carburetors, Ferrari fitted this car with larger 42 DCL6-model carburetors and slightly wider Borrani model RW3690 wire wheels.
Perhaps the reason for this car’s dramatic color scheme and unusual mechanical features was its original intended purpose. According to the research of historian Marcel Massini – which is further supported by correspondence on file from well-connected Ferrari enthusiast Jean Sage – 3099 GT was one of several new models displayed on Luigi Chinetti’s stand at the New York International Auto Show, held April 21–26 at the New York Coliseum in Manhattan in 1962.
Following its show duties, 3099 GT was shipped to the West Coast and delivered to John von Neumann’s Ferrari Representatives of California, located in the heart of Hollywood. While little is known regarding the California Spider’s earliest ownership history, it remained in the Los Angeles area and was eventually acquired by an enthusiast named John Lane. By the late 1960s, it had been repainted in a deep burgundy color and retrimmed with black leather upholstery.
Around 1970, the Ferrari spun and slid into a curb at what must have been a fairly high rate of speed. This accident damaged the California Spider’s driver’s side front wheel, brake rotor, pedal box, left-front suspension components, and exhaust, but left no mark on the bodywork, nor did it harm any of the chassis or drivetrain. As the difficulty of sourcing parts and resulting cost to repair the nearly decade-old Ferrari Spider surely exceeded its then-modest market value, 3099 GT was sold to Rudi Klein, the proprietor of Porsche Foreign Auto Wrecking in Carson, California.
Among the most enigmatic and mysterious figures involved in the classic car hobby, Rudi Klein was born in Rüsselsheim, Germany, in 1936. He worked as a butcher in his native Germany before moving to Canada at age 25, and later emigrated to the US, where he eventually settled in the exclusive enclave of Palos Verdes, California. In 1967, Klein began buying up wrecked, damaged, and worn-out European sports and luxury cars, leading him to establish his own breaker’s yard.
A shrewd businessman with a nose for a deal, Klein’s connections in the used-car business enabled him to amass a secret cache of exceptional exotics among the more prosaic write-offs that fueled his core parts business. While his famous open-air junkyard contained many derelict examples of relatively common Mercedes-Benzes and Porsches, several buildings on the closely guarded property housed Klein’s hidden treasures: multiple 300 SL Gullwings and Roadsters, Lamborghini Miuras, four-cam and prototype Porsche race cars, the Iso Grifo A3/L Spider, a Horch Special Roadster, and a one-off Mercedes-Benz 500K Coupe that had once belonged to works racing driver Rudolf Caracciola.
It was in one of these buildings that local Ferrari enthusiasts Charles Betz and Fred Peters first spotted 3099 GT around 1970. According to Betz, the California Spider appeared to be in fine, lightly used condition, only noting its damaged wheel and brake rotor upon closer inspection. As Klein had a reputation for being a difficult negotiator, Betz and Peters politely inquired about the Ferrari each time they visited to purchase parts for other projects. Finally, in October 1972, they caught Klein in a selling mood.
In correspondence on file, Charles Betz recalls the day he managed to purchase the California Spider from Rudi Klein for $2,400:
“One day Fred and I drove out to his wrecking yard in San Pedro area to get a couple of Porsche items. We had driven out in a nice 250 GT/E we had for sale and while there we had our usual conversation with Rudy about Ferrari cars. No mention of 3099 was made, he knew we wanted to buy it and we had, on other occasions, told him what we were willing to pay. He would not sell. Rudy was quite negative about Ferraris. As we were preparing to leave, I reached into the car [Betz’s GT/E] and started it. It started instantly and idled perfectly. There was no smoke coming from the exhaust and it sounded great. Rudy had stopped talking and was listening carefully, after a brief pause, he said ‘OK, I sell you damn car!’ When we went to the Alameda facility where 3099 lived, along with numerous really great cars, he presents us with the invoice, the total, including sales tax and license fees was less than we offered to pay him.”
Once in Betz and Peters’ ownership, 3099 GT was promptly repaired and stored among their growing collection of cars and parts. While many significant Ferraris came and went, the partners recognized the special nature of this SWB California Spider; it became one of their prized possessions, sharing their garage in Orange, California, with the prototype 250 Testa Rossa, a Tour de France Berlinetta, and a SWB Berlinetta.
By the early 2000s, Betz and Peters decided the time had finally come to return 3099 GT to its original splendor. The decision was made to restore the California Spider to concours standards. During this process, undisturbed sections of the original Azzurro Metallizzato paint were discovered and carefully matched by Stan Betz, the legendary Southern California hot rod painter. Completed in 2004, the freshly restored California Spider was debuted at the 40th Annual Ferrari Club of America National Concours at Quail Lodge in Carmel. Two years later, it was displayed at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® and the Cavallino Classic in Florida, where it earned both a Platinum Award and the prestigious Judges Cup.
In 2007, the California Spider was inspected by the Ferrari Classiche Department and granted full Ferrari Classiche certification in June 2008. The accompanying Certificazione di Autenticita and Red Book confirm that 3099 GT still retains its original chassis, coachwork, engine (internal no. 914 E), gearbox (internal no. 29/61), and rear axle (internal no. 406 F), as well as other ancillary components.
Since 2008, this remarkable California Spider has been the centerpiece of one of the most important North American Ferrari collections, a carefully curated stable consisting of the finest coachbuilt and limited-production GT models, each hand-selected for their unique qualities. Over the past 15 years, 3099 GT has been displayed on rare occasions, always to great acclaim. In 2010, the Ferrari earned a First in Class award at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and most recently, at the 2020 Cavallino Classic, 3099 GT was selected from several sterling examples presented in that year’s featured class to receive the 250 GT SWB California Cup. Presented in magnificent, concours-quality condition and appearing today just as it did when it was delivered in 1962, this California Spider benefits from a completely re-trimmed and correct interior, as well as a recent service and inspection by Rare Drive Inc. of East Kingston, New Hampshire, the noted specialists who have continuously maintained 3099 GT for the consignor throughout his 15-year ownership.
In the six decades since it left the Ferrari factory, 3099 GT has led a fascinating journey. After its debut on Luigi Chinetti’s stand at the 1962 New York International Auto Show, this car was delivered new to its intended marketplace – Southern California. Despite being one of the most exclusive road-going sports cars of its day, the California Spider was used as daily transportation throughout the first decade of its existence. Acquired as a used car by the opportunistic exotic car-hoarder Rudi Klein, 3099 GT was rediscovered and restored to its former glory by Charles Betz and Fred Peters, pioneering Ferrari enthusiasts who rescued this magnificent machine from an uncertain fate. Since 1972, this utterly unique SWB California Spider has been cherished by just two caretakers – respected Ferrari collectors who have occasionally exhibited this rare jewel to great acclaim at the leading concours d’elegance.
As classic Ferraris of all types have become increasingly sought after, the most desirable open models are especially prized and difficult to come by. These magnificent 250 GT SWB California Spiders are the result of a brilliant collaboration between Ferrari and Carrozzeria Scaglietti, each firm operating at the height of its powers. They are mechanical objects of exceptional beauty and sophistication that have long captured the interest of connoisseurs. Today, these rare Ferraris are found only in the finest collections and continue to reward those who seek out only the very best. Any collector determined to own a SWB California Spider is strongly encouraged to give serious consideration to 3099 GT. After all, the opportunity to acquire a Ferrari Classiche-certified, covered-headlight example with a well-documented history, fascinating provenance, and brilliant, singular color scheme may well be the chance of a lifetime.