Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Scaglietti
Jean-Claude Simon, Vaud, Switzerland (acquired new in 1958)Ado Vallaster, Zürich, Switzerland (acquired by 1968)Rob de la Rive Box, Villmergen, Switzerland (acquired from the above in 1970)Minoru Kawamoto, Tokyo, Japan (acquired from the above in 1970)John Devine, Redondo Beach, California (acquired in 1998)Michael Marix, Palm Desert, California (acquired from the above in 2005)Todd Morici, Clifton, New Jersey (acquired from the above in 2008)Current Owner (acquired from the above in 2009)
Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, 2007 (Third in Class)Cavallino Classic, Florida, 2008 (Platinum Award, Judges Cup)The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, August 2008Cavallino Classic, Florida, 2009California Mille, 2011, 2017Colorado Grand, 2015
“Officially, it is known as the Ferrari 250 Granturismo Spyder California; but, to those who have driven, ridden in or seen one speed by, it can only produce an all-encompassing feeling of respect for what must be recognized as the epitome of a classic open sports car – solid power with reliability and versatility, a convertible top, excellent road holding and handling, and a style that speaks for itself.” — George M. Carrick, The Spyder California: A Ferrari of Particular Distinction
In late 1957, Ferrari was at work developing a new open 250 GT model for the booming North American market. Ferrari’s two most successful and influential dealers, Luigi Chinetti and John von Neumann, impressed upon the factory the need for a simple, dual-purpose 250 GT convertible – a car that could be used to commute during the week and to be raced with success on the weekend.
The result was the California Spider, a high-performance 250 GT with striking coachwork by Carrozzeria Scaglietti. As its name suggested, the model was aimed at a very specific segment of Ferrari’s American clientele: young, moneyed enthusiasts who wanted a stylish, thoroughbred sports car that was equally at home on the road and track. Like other high-end European sports cars aimed at the American market, the California Spider featured a racy, swept-back windscreen, minimal interior appointments, bucket seats, and a lightweight folding top. Faithful to its original concept, the California Spider was often put to use as a racing car, and in this capacity, it achieved a remarkable degree of success, including class wins at Le Mans and Sebring along with numerous victories in SCCA B-production events.
Between 1957 and 1963, Ferrari built just 106 California Spiders – 50 of the original long-wheelbase (LWB) version and 56 of the final short-wheelbase (SWB) variant. Today, the model remains one of the most iconic and desirable Ferraris ever built – a mechanical object of exceptional beauty and sophistication that has long captured the interest of connoisseurs. The California Spider presented here, a spectacular long-wheelbase model, is among the finest examples of this rare and exotic breed. Constructed in July 1958, chassis 0937 GT was the seventh California Spider built. Like other early production examples, it was originally equipped with the tipo 128C V-12 engine, which featured six-port cylinder heads, three Weber 36-mm carburetors, and a single rear-mounted Marelli distributor.
The California’s coachwork, constructed of steel and aluminum by Scaglietti in Modena, is one of 38 examples that possess the beautiful covered-headlamp treatment so desired by collectors. Consistent with its build date, this car shares many coachwork features with the contemporary Scaglietti-bodied Tour de France Berlinetta, including its side vents, taillights, bumpers, and headlamp covers. Taken together, these features imbue the first California Spiders with a simplicity and elegance that is distinct from the later series. Interestingly, Ferrari records do not record the car’s original color scheme.
According to the research of marque historian Marcel Massini, 0937 GT was delivered to its first owner, the noted powerboat racer Jean-Claude Simon, in September 1958. A dual resident of Switzerland and France, M. Simon registered his new Ferrari in the Swiss canton of Vaud, located outside of Geneva. In March 1959, M. Simon’s California Spider was seen in Cannes, France, with one of his friends, the great Swiss Grand Prix driver Baron Emmanuel “Toulo” de Graffenried, at the wheel. Two surviving photographs supplied by Mr. Massini show the car wearing its Swiss registration, VD 90536, and indicate that it was originally finished in a light metallic color with black leather upholstery.
According to legend, 0937 GT may have been used by the famous French actress Brigitte Bardot while she was residing in Saint-Tropez; however, its next documented owner was Ado Vallaster, an architect living in Lucerne and Zürich, Switzerland. A passionate and well-respected collector, Mr. Vallaster also owned a variety of other important Ferrari models over the years including a SWB Berlinetta Comp/60, 500 Superfast, 275 GTB, and 275 GTS.
In June 1970, Mr. Vallaster sold the California Spider to Dutch exotic car specialist Rob de la Rive Box, and it then passed, via dealer Rudy Pas, to Minoru Kawamoto, a pioneering Japanese collector who also owned a Brescia Bugatti and an Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ. The Ferrari remained the centerpiece of Mr. Kawamoto’s collection for at least two decades, during which time it was fitted with another 250 GT engine, numbered 0833 GT, and later restored in the US by J.R. Vallandingham of Houston. In the late 1980s, 0937 GT was reunited with its original engine, and the spare engine was sold to Swiss collector Robert Fehlmann and returned to 0833 GT.
In 1998, John Devine acquired the California Spider via Steve Tillack and Garry Roberts and kept it in his collection for about seven years before selling it to Michael Marix of Palm Desert, California. Soon after acquiring 0937 GT, Mr. Marix commissioned well-known Italian car specialist Tillack & Co. of Redondo Beach, California, to perform a complete, concours-quality restoration. Restored over a two-year period, and refinished in the handsome non-metallic dark red livery seen today, the California Spider went on to earn a class award at the 2007 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® as well as a Platinum Award and the prestigious Judges Cup at the 2008 Cavallino Classic in Palm Beach, Florida.
Later that year, the Ferrari Classiche Department certified 0937 GT, issuing a Red Book and verifying its compliance with the original construction specification and details. Importantly, this car still retains its original chassis, engine (internal no. 0276 C), gearbox (internal no. 120 C), rear end (internal no. 212 GTC), brakes, suspension, and bodywork. A further testament to its authentic presentation, 0937 GT was the car selected to promote the Ferrari Classiche program at featured displays throughout the Monterey Car Week in August 2008.
The current owner, a prominent Southern California collector with a stable of the finest antiques, classics, and sports cars, acquired 0937 GT at Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach Auctions in 2009. In the years since, he has shown the Ferrari on rare occasions, preferring to use it on the open road, including several outings on the California Mille and Colorado Grand.
Throughout his decade-long ownership, the consignor has maintained the California Spider in a meticulous, no-expense-spared fashion. Notable mechanical attention includes an engine rebuild carried out by Enzo Motors in Anaheim, California, and an overhaul of the differential overseen by Ivan Zaremba of Phil Reilly & Company in Corte Madera, California. The owner’s own in-house collection manager has also recently attended to the suspension, installed a new fuel pump, and performed regular service procedures to ensure the Ferrari is always on the button and ready to drive at a moment’s notice.
Beyond this important mechanical attention, the California Spider has been re-trimmed with tan leather upholstery and had a new soft top fitted. Thanks to this work, the car presents beautifully in all respects and its outstanding presentation is further bolstered by the presence of a rare factory hardtop, handbook set, tool roll, Ferrari Classiche Red Book, and a detailed history report compiled by historian Marcel Massini.
Today, 0937 GT stands as one of the most impressive examples to be found of the long-wheelbase California Spider – the original and, to many knowledgeable collectors, most elegant variant of this important Ferrari model. Not only does this car possess a well-documented history and noteworthy provenance, including pioneering Ferrari collectors in Switzerland and Japan, it has been treated to a high-quality restoration by one of the leading experts in the field, earned important prizes at some of the most competitive concours d’elegance, and proven itself on the open road, successfully completing some of the most challenging long-distance rallies. Most significantly, this California Spider is a genuine example – certified by Ferrari Classiche as retaining its original chassis, coachwork, and drivetrain – with a distinctive appearance thanks to its desirable covered headlamps and ultra-rare hardtop.
Having known this particular California Spider for many years and admired its outstanding aesthetic and dynamic qualities, Gooding & Company recommends it to any collector looking to experience one of the all-time great Ferraris.