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Lot 46

2015   |   Scottsdale Auctions 2015

1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider

Coachwork by Scaglietti

SOLD $7,700,000

Estimate

$8,000,000 - $10,000,000

Chassis

1425 GT

Car Highlights

One of Only 50 LWB California Spiders Built
Late-Production Example with Cold-Air Box and Velocity Stacks
Magnificent Unrestored Condition with Preserved Original Interior
Presented with Extensive Records, Tool Roll, and Sales Literature
Offered for Sale for the First Time Since 1969

Technical Specs

2,953 CC SOHC Tipo 128D V-12 Engine
Three Weber 36 DCL3 Carburetors
240 HP at 7,000 RPM
4-Speed Manual Gearbox
4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes
Independent Coil-Spring Front Suspension with Shock Absorbers
Live Rear Axle with Semi-Elliptical Leaf Springs and Shock Absorbers
Register to Bid

From the Estate of Jack CastorLivia Mustica, Naples, Italy (acquired new in July 1959)Guido Palermo, Naples, Italy (acquired in July 1968)Tom Meade, Modena, Italy (acquired circa 1969)Jack Castor, Half Moon Bay, California (acquired from the above in 1969)

Concorso Italiano, Monterey, California, August 2007Concorso Italiano, Monterey, California, August 2010

The extraordinary Ferrari presented here, 1425 GT, is the 27th of 50 California Spiders built on the long-wheelbase 250 GT chassis. Consistent with its May 1959 build date, this California Spider benefits from a number of significant evolutionary improvements introduced throughout the model’s two-year production run.

First and foremost, 1425 GT has, as its foundation, the 508D chassis, a highly developed version of the original 250 GT platform. The original engine, a Tipo 128D unit, with internal no. 0444D, represented the latest advances in the famed 250 series. Incorporating twin, rear-mounted distributors, strengthened connecting rods, a new crankshaft, and revised cylinder heads with new valves and larger intake manifolds, the Tipo 128D served as the basis for the 250 Testarossa engine, known internally as the 128 LM.

Other desirable qualities of 1425 GT’s specifications are the optional cold-air box and velocity stacks. More often seen on the contemporary 250 GT Tour de France, this sporting configuration was designed to force cold air from the hood scoop directly into the carburetors and was specified only on a limited number of California Spiders.

Upon completion, the chassis was entrusted to Carrozzeria Scaglietti in Modena for coachwork. In keeping with its mechanical specification, 1425 GT features the improved rear-end treatment (introduced with 1379 GT or 1411 GT) that gives the later long-wheelbase California Spiders a more resolved appearance, as well as a more sporting stance.

Originally specified with the open-headlight arrangement and finished in the elegant color scheme of white over black leather upholstery, 1425 GT was truly a sight to behold. In fact, the appearance of the new California Spider was so striking that Ferrari selected this car to take part in an official press photo shoot at the Port of Naples. A series of wonderful images from this shoot survive, showing the glamorous new Ferrari wearing a temporary cardboard registration plate.

According to factory records, 1425 GT was originally sold to its first owner, Mrs. Livia Mustica of Naples, on July 30, 1959. Evidently, the Ferrari remained with Mrs. Mustica for nearly a decade until July 1968 when it was sold to its second owner, Guido Palermo, a fellow resident of Naples.

In late 1968 or early 1969, 1425 GT was sold to Tom Meade. A California-born car enthusiast, Meade moved to Italy in 1960 and set up an operation outside of Modena brokering and customizing Italian sports cars. During this period, Meade commissioned the famous Thomassimas and the Nembo Spiders, 250 Ferraris with stylized custom coachwork. He also created a variety of mild-customs by updating classic Ferraris and Maseratis with more modern features and personalized touches.

Soon after acquiring 1425 GT, Meade refinished the Ferrari in red lacquer and updated the original Scaglietti coachwork with covered headlights.

Around this time, a young aerospace engineer in California by the name of Jack Castor was looking to buy his first Ferrari.

Jack’s introduction to sports cars came in 1961 when he took a job with the Convair aerospace company in San Diego and bought a used Jaguar XK150 Roadster. Two years later, Castor transferred to a position at Lockheed near San Francisco and soon joined the Lockheed sports car club, which put on two autocross events each year.

One day in early 1969, Castor struck up a conversation with another Lockheed engineer named Johnny Johnson, who had arrived at work in a 250 GT Pinin Farina Cabriolet. Johnson told Castor that he had purchased the car from Tom Meade in Modena and recommended him as a source, if he was interested in buying a similar Ferrari.

In a letter to Johnny Johnson, dated July 8, 1969, Meade provided a list of various sports cars he had available for sale. Among the advertised stock was a 1959 Ferrari California: “Bubble headlights bright Red/black excellent conditions also a collectors car. $2,950.”

Having read about the model in magazines, Jack was immediately drawn to the California Spider, but did not have the $3,750 to cover the price of the car in addition to the required shipping costs and import duties. Desperately wanting the Ferrari, Jack used his paid-of Volkswagen Beetle to secure a loan from the Lockheed Credit Union and, from there, made plans to visit Tom Meade in Modena.

In a recent article published by Forza magazine, Jack Castor recalled his visit to Meade’s shop and his first glimpse of the Ferrari:

“He took me across town to an old man who was just putting the car back together; it had been painted, and he was fitting the headlight trim and bumpers and stuff. It was in a one-car garage, so I really couldn’t stand back and see everything. I never even heard the car run, but I figured, ‘Well, I can always sell it when I get home and maybe pay for the vacation.’”

A deal was then settled for 1425 GT and, in August 1969, the California Spider was shipped from Genova to San Francisco aboard the SS Paolo d’Amico. Alas, when he arrived at the dock in San Francisco to collect his new Ferrari, Castor found that the windshield had been broken in transportation. On a trip to Modena in 1972, he brought the windshield frame to Scaglietti for repair and purchased a spare, which was then shipped back home to California.

Castor drove the California Spider on “an occasional basis” until 1979 or 1980, when he retired it from the road, after noticing that the oil pressure dropped during hard cornering.

Over the next 25 years the Ferrari sat idle while Jack, who possessed a well-developed sense of adventure, regularly set of to exotic locales around the world and indulged in his passion for antique transportation, once completing a cross-country trip on a century-old “Penny Farthing” high-wheel bicycle.

During this time, Jack continued to build an eclectic collection comprised of bicycles, gasoline pumps, various antiques, and nearly 20 classic cars, from a 1953 Kaiser Traveler to Elvis Presley’s BMW 507, currently undergoing a complete restoration by the BMW factory in Munich. Though it was kept in storage for many years, 1425 GT remained Jack’s most prized possession; it became, in many ways, an important extension of his personality. Even his letterhead featured a line drawing of a California Spider.

Finally, in the mid-2000s, Jack decided to get the Ferrari back on the road. With the help of respected marque specialist Patrick Ottis, the California Spider was carefully returned to running order.

Until his recent passing, Jack was often seen behind the wheel of 1425 GT, and each August he made the trip from his home in Half Moon Bay to Pebble Beach where he enjoyed turning up at the various Monterey week classic car events in his wonderfully original, unrestored Ferrari.

In the Forza article, Castor remarked that, “I drive this car now far more than I did back when I first bought it. Most Cal Spiders are restored, perfect, and are trucked to shows. I like this one the way it is, so I don’t have to worry about getting a scratch. I can just drive it and enjoy it.”

Despite his relatively modest means, Jack Castor happily rebuffed countless written and verbal offers to purchase the Ferrari. As letters arrived in his mailbox, promising ever-increasing sums of money in exchange for the California Spider, Jack politely dismissed each offer, telling hopeful suitors that he would prefer to drive and enjoy his car.

Although more than 55 years have passed since it left the factory, 1425 GT has never warranted a full restoration. Simply maintained as required, the Ferrari is largely unchanged since Jack Castor acquired it over 45 years ago. Still wearing its late 1960s red paint and original black leather upholstery, this California Spider possesses a glorious, irreplaceable patina that is sure to resonate with sophisticated collectors.

A reminder of its long and fascinating journey, 1425 GT retains important details, such as Tom Meade’s custom covered headlights, an accessory fender-mounted mirror that can be seen in the original Port of Naples press photographs taken in 1959, and is further accompanied by its personalized “FERRAR” blue and yellow California license plates. These distinguishing features present tangible evidence of the car’s continuous evolution over the years, speak to its long-term stewardship, and contribute to its authentic character.

Beyond its own intrinsic qualities, 1425 GT is offered with its tool roll, original spare, and an extensive file of original documentation that includes important ownership records, service invoices, shipping documents, period photos, sales literature, parts catalogues, written offers, and fascinating personal correspondence dating back to 1969.

Having known Jack Castor for many years, it is Gooding & Company’s great honor to have been entrusted to fnd a new home for the crown jewel of his collection. Offered for sale for the first time since 1969, this Ferrari’s appearance at auction represents the chance of a lifetime.

For the next caretaker, this opportunity ought to hold the same promise and excitement as the moment that Jack Castor arrived at Tom Meade’s garage in Modena and first laid eyes on his new California Spider.