Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Pininfarina
Prince Alessandro “Dado” Ruspoli, Rome, Italy (acquired new in 1958)Theofanis Katramapoulos, Rome, Italy (acquired from the above in 1959)Various Italian Owners (1960–1974)Guglielmo Collizzolli, Padova, Italy (acquired from the above in 1974)Fabrizio Brigato, Vicenza-Grumolo delle Abbadesse, Italy (acquired from the above in 1988)Bob Marceca, North Salem, New York (acquired from the above in 1988)Len Immke, Columbus, Ohio (acquired from the above in 1989)Ron Hein, Los Angeles, California (acquired from the above in 1990)Current Owner (acquired from the above in 1998)
Coppa d’Oro Storica delle Dolomiti, 1978Ferrari Days, Modena, Italy, 1983Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, 1994 (First in Class)Santa Barbara Concours d’Elegance, 1994 (First in Class)Newport Beach Concours d’Elegance, 1994 (First in Class)Ferrari at Rodeo Drive, California, 1995 (First in Class)Le Cercle Concours d’Elegance, 1996 (First in Class, Best of Show)Ferrari Club of America Vintage Concours, California, 1996 (First in Class, Best of Show)Concorso Italiano, California, 1996 (Best of Show)Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance, California, 1997 (First in Class, Outstanding GT Ferrari)Ferrari Club of America Concours, California, 1997 (Best of Show)Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, Florida, 2004 (Best Open Car)The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, California, 2007 (Series I Cabriolet Display)
Between 1957 and 1959, Carrozzeria Pinin Farina produced a series of 40 special Cabriolets – each exquisitely designed and constructed – on Ferrari’s legendary 250 GT chassis.
The Series I Cabriolets, as they are referred to today, were constructed in Pinin Farina’s custom shop in Torino. This was done not only to maintain superior build quality, but also to accommodate the many special requests made by Ferrari’s most important clients.
Although many detail differences can be found from car to car, nearly all of the Series I Cabriolets share the same elegant proportions and memorable design cues such as the beautiful razor-edge taillights, pronounced rear haunches, and a dramatically raked windscreen – sans quarter windows, which Battista “Pinin” Farina believed interrupted the flow of his designs. Interiors were trimmed in high-quality Connolly leather hides, highlighted by a unique console-mounted control panel and wrinkle-finish dashboard carrying the full complement of Veglia gauges and pastel-colored warning lights.
Pinin Farina’s refined Cabriolet was aimed at Ferrari’s most discerning clientele. When new, it was the most expensive 250 GT by a significant margin. Factory literature records a list price of $14,950 for a new Cabriolet – $3,000 more than the California Spider, and $2,500 more than the Tour de France Berlinetta.
The Series I Cabriolet has long been regarded as one of the most successful collaborations between Ferrari and Pinin Farina and, by all accounts, an undisputed masterpiece of the coachbuilder’s art. In the eyes of many connoisseurs, these cars are among the most beautiful Ferraris ever made, and the model remains eminently desirable, with most held in significant private collections.
The Series I Cabriolet presented here, chassis 0789 GT, is the 13th example built. It entered the Pinin Farina custom workshop on October 18, 1957, was assigned job number 19459, and was completed that fall, finished in Grigio Metallizzato (Metallic Gray) with black leather upholstery. As every Series I Cabriolet was essentially hand built to order, no two were exactly alike. This car has the remarkable distinction of being fitted with the most desirable coachwork features, including covered headlights, front bumperettes, and dramatic chromed side air vents in the front fenders. According to the research of Ferrari historian Marcel Massini, just four of the 40 Series I Cabriolets were originally delivered with this highly sought-after combination of features, those being chassis 0705 GT, 0737 GT, 0777 GT, and 0789 GT.
After the certificate of origin for 0789 GT was issued in January 1958, the new Ferrari was delivered to its first owner, Prince Alessandro “Dado” Ruspoli.
Born in Rome in 1924, Ruspoli was just the type of customer that Ferrari had envisioned for the Series I Cabriolet. Young, handsome, fashionable, and of aristocratic descent, Dado Ruspoli was the quintessential playboy of the jet-set era, well known for his extravagant, devil-may-care lifestyle. Described by one journalist as “a hedonist of epic proportions, with an ego as large as his sphere of social influence,” Ruspoli was the inspiration for the main character in Fellini’s classic film La Dolce Vita, played by Marcello Mastroianni.
During the 1950s, his primary residence, Castello Ruspoli in Vignanello, a 16th century castle famed for its pristine Renaissance-era gardens, became the epicenter of Roman high society. Throughout this period, he surrounded himself with a diverse cast of fascinating characters, and counted Brigitte Bardot, Salvador Dali, Roger Vadim, Orson Welles, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, and Truman Capote among his close friends. A lifelong patron of the arts, Ruspoli supported ballet and musical companies, studied transcendental meditation, and even dabbled in acting during his later years, taking a small part in The Godfather Part III.
As would be expected of an Italian playboy prince, Ruspoli had a particular affinity for exotic sports cars. In 1948, he commissioned a Ghia-bodied Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Cabriolet, with which he won the Grand Prix d’Honneur at the Monte Carlo Concours d’Elegance. In the 1950s, he became enamored with Ferraris and owned several including a 340 America, a one-off 250 GT Speciale, and a 410 Superamerica. By the late 1960s, he had become loyal to Maserati, owning both a 3500 GT and a Mistral Spider. Of all these cars however, the rakish Series I Cabriolet was perhaps the most fitting choice for Prince Ruspoli, as it perfectly reflected his appreciation for artistry, design, speed, and excitement.
The Cabriolet did not remain in his hands for long, however. In 1959, 0789 GT was sold to a friend, Theofanis Katramapoulos, and throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, it passed among a succession of owners in northern Italy, most likely to minimize exposure to Italy’s notorious tax regulations.
In July 1974, Guglielmo Collizzolli, a resident of Padova, purchased the Ferrari from a gentleman in Milan and had it sent to Carrozzeria Fantuzzi for restoration. Refinished in burgundy, and fitted with Dunlop disc brakes, the Ferrari was then driven in a variety of historic events including the Coppa d’Oro Storica delle Dolomiti in 1978 and the Ferrari Days celebration held in Modena during 1983. The Series I Cabriolet remained in Sig. Collizzolli’s ownership until 1988, when it was sold to another Italian enthusiast, Fabrizio Brigato, whose stable of important sports cars included a Ferrari 250 GT SWB Comp/61, a Maserati 300S, and an Alfa Romeo Giulia TZ.
Later that year, 0789 GT left Italian ownership for the first time and, by 1990, it had been sold to noted collector Ron Hein of Los Angeles. During Mr. Hein’s ownership, the Series I Cabriolet was restored to the highest standards, with the objective of creating a spectacular, 100-point show car. To this end, the Ferrari was completely disassembled and taken down to bare metal, while Mr. Hein consulted with leading marque experts to ensure accuracy in each and every detail. As the Pinin Farina coachwork was meticulously prepared and refinished in black lacquer, the drivetrain was completely rebuilt by Charles Betz and Fred Peters. Before the reassembly stage, all of the ancillary mechanical components were restored by experts, and a copy of the car’s build sheet was secured, confirming that 0789 GT retains its original engine (internal no. 0124C), gearbox (38 C), and differential (56 GTC).
Completed in the summer of 1994, the Series I Cabriolet made its post-restoration debut at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, where it earned First in Class honors. Over the next three years, 0789 GT was campaigned on the concours circuit to great effect, capturing six consecutive First in Class awards and four Best of Show trophies at premier events, including Concorso Italiano and the Ferrari Club of America Vintage Concours.
Since 1998, this exquisite Series I Cabriolet has remained a fixture in an extraordinary East Coast collection composed of only the finest coachbuilt and one-of-a-kind Ferraris. Although it has always been maintained in show-ready condition under its current owner, the Ferrari has been exhibited on rare occasions, most recently in 2007, when it was invited to take part in a special display of Series I Cabriolets at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering in Carmel, California.
In keeping with its impeccable presentation, this award-winning Pinin Farina Cabriolet is offered with a comprehensive file of supporting documentation. This includes a report produced by Ferrari historian Marcel Massini, copies of the invaluable factory build sheets, extensive Automobile Club d’Italia registration records, correspondence, and period photographs. Also included are voluminous restoration records that attest to the meticulous nature and comprehensive scope of the work performed.
Beyond these important records, the Ferrari’s outstanding current condition is a lasting testament to the exceptional quality and accuracy of the original restoration effort carried out 25 years ago. Tastefully finished in elegant black lacquer over rich, olive green leather, this Pinin Farina Cabriolet is an absolute jewel of a sports car, possessing perfect proportions, sculpted bodylines, and intricate details – mirroring the finest characteristics of the Ferrari chassis that lay beneath.
With just 40 examples built, the 250 GT Pinin Farina Series I Cabriolet is among the most rare and exclusive road-going Ferraris of the 1950s. As in the case of 0789 GT, these were cars built for glamorous people, powered by Ferrari’s legendary race-proven 12-cylinder engine, and hand built by the craftsmen who perfected the art of bespoke, custom coachbuilding. These extraordinary automobiles rarely trade hands, either at auction or privately, as most are fixtures in major collections or heirlooms in long-term family ownership.
An ideally specified, matching-numbers car restored to the highest standards, this particular Series I Cabriolet possesses every aesthetic, technical, and historic quality one looks for in a classic Ferrari. Its history is clear and well documented, and its provenance superb. Arguably the finest example of its type, this Series I Cabriolet has remained an object of desire since Prince Ruspoli first took delivery in Rome over 60 years ago. Today, it remains as beautiful and appealing as ever. Having known this outstanding Ferrari for many years and admired its wonderful qualities, Gooding & Company recommends serious consideration of this magnificent Series I Cabriolet – truly a car for the connoisseur.