Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Pinin Farina
The Last of Only 40 Examples Built From the Collection of Hilary Raab Jr.Eric Don Pam, Monaco, Monte Carlo (acquired new in September 1959)Sidney Simpson, Houston, Texas (acquired circa 1974)Hilary A. Raab Jr., Crown Point, Indiana (acquired from the above in 1976)
FCA National Meeting, St. Louis, Missouri, May 1976FCA National Meeting, Watkins Glen, New York, June 1977Inaugural Colorado Grand, 1989Copperstate 1000, April 1990Meadow Brook Hall Concours d’Elegance, August 1990 (Blue Ribbon)FCA National Meeting, Grand Rapids, Michigan, June 1992Colorado Grand, September 1997Quail Motorsports Gathering, Carmel Valley, California, August 2007FCA National Meeting, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, July-August 2009Milwaukee Masterpiece Concours, August 2009 (Best Exterior)
That the 40 Pinin Farina Cabriolets produced between 1956 and 1959 are referred to and grouped as a distinct “series” is somewhat misleading since each of these spectacular cars is utterly unique in its combination of mechanical specification, interior appointments, exterior details, and overall character. Despite their differences, all 40 examples share the same basic 250 Gt chassis and timeless style that have garnered the model a revered reputation with collectors.
All of the Series 1 Cabriolets were assembled by Pinin Farina in its custom shop, not just in the effort of maintaining a superior build quality, but also in the interest of accommodating the wide variety of requests specified by the car’s original owners – generally top clients of Ferrari. In fact, the people who bought series 1 Cabriolets new were often as glamorous as the cars they drove, with a roster of original owners that include Peter Collins, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, Pofrio Rubirosa, Count Giovanni Volpi, and Muhammed Al Faisal.
When compared directly to the Scaglietti-bodied 250 GT LWB California Spider, an open Ferrari of the period that shares a similar design and chassis, it becomes clear that Pinin Farina’s Cabriolet is an even more refined and mature product. This extraordinary quality, style, and exclusivity came at a price; when new, the Cabriolet was not only the most expensive 250 model by a wide margin, it was also one of the most expensive automobiles money could buy. Factory literature indicates 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 250 GT Series I Cabriolet presented here, chassis 1475 GT, is the very last example built. As such, this is a virtually unique example in terms of its coachwork and mechanical specification.
Given its late build, this body, number 19473, displays clear evidence of the transition from the ornate designs of the late 1950s to the clean, modern styling that characterized Pinin Farina coachwork in the early 1960s.
As with nearly all late-production Cabriolets, 1475 GT features full-width bumpers, and its flanks are unadorned with vents, emphasizing the long, elegant lines of the front wings. Additionally, this Series I Cabriolet is one of only four examples built with the open headlamp treatment, and one of only two that feature the tall vertical taillights that were later incorporated into Pinin Farina’s 250 GT Coupe and Series II Cabriolet. As completed, 1475 GT was finished in a striking color scheme of Giallo Solare (Sun Yellow) with brown Connolly leather upholstery.
In addition to its refined coachwork, this Series I Cabriolet possesses mechanical specifications that differentiate it from other examples. 1475 GT is one of a limited number of Pinin Farina Cabriolets (three known and possibly as many as 10) that were factory equipped with a Lucas starter, generator, voltage regulator, coils, plug wires, and twin rear-mounted distributors – the same as those used in contemporary Aston Martin sports racing cars. Additionally, 1475 GT is the only Series I Cabriolet that was constructed with a Lucas parallel wiper system, in lieu of the standard “clap-hands” system.
1475 GT also features an improved six-blade cooling fan, and its radiator was equipped with a roll-up blind instead of the standard actuating louver system. While later 250 GTs had a more resolved system to raise and lower the radiator blind, in this car the actuator for the louvers was modified by drilling a hole in the pivot pin, thus allowing the cable to pass through and pull up the blind.
Completed on August 27, 1959, 1475 GT was first sold to Eric Don Pam, an American citizen living in Monaco, who took delivery at the Ferrari factory and had the car registered on Italian tourist license plates “EE 30001.”
In January 1963, presumably while in Mr. Pam’s ownership, the Series I Cabriolet was serviced at the Ferrari Factory Assistenza Clienti in Modena. Records indicate that, by this time, 1475 GT had covered 36,000 km and was registered on American license plates.
In the mid-1960s, the Ferrari was exported to the US and spent approximately 10 years in Florida. By 1974, 1475 GT was owned by proprietor of Simpson Automobili Sidney J. Simpson, a Ferrari specialist in Houston, Texas.
Two years later, Mr. Simpson offered the Series I Cabriolet for sale in Ferrari Market Letter and his ad caught the attention of Hilary A. Raab Jr., a pioneering enthusiast whose early efforts to document Ferrari production have proved instrumental to the collector-car community.
Shortly after seeing the ad, Mr. Raab few to Houston, bought 1475 GT, and drove it nonstop from Texas to his home in Indiana, with only a brief detour to Sue and Dyke Ridgley’s home for breakfast.
Since that time, 1475 GT has served as Mr. Raab’s preferred driver and, in 1989, it was the car he chose to take on the inaugural Colorado Grand. Following this event, Scott Taylor rebuilt the engine and it has since covered approximately 8,000 miles including two other Colorado Grands and two Copperstate 1000 rallies. Beyond these long-distance tours, the Series I Cabriolet was regularly used to drive to events throughout the Midwest, from Ferrari Club of America National Meetings to regional concours d’elegance.
In a recent conversation, Mr. Raab stated that 1475 GT is a car that he “would drive anywhere” and hopes that its new caretaker continues to enjoy this beautiful Ferrari as he has for the past 38 years. Amazingly, since it was delivered to its first owner in fall 1959, this Pinin Farina Cabriolet has covered just over 70,000 km (42,000 miles).
As presented today, this Ferrari remains in outstanding condition throughout and is finished in a very attractive color combination of Amaranto Bull Lea, a rich metallic dark red, with Crema Connolly leather upholstery. Unlike the vast majority of 250 Ferraris, this Series I Cabriolet has never been fully restored from the ground up. Instead, it has been regularly exercised and meticulously maintained in good working order.
As a result, this car displays a refreshing, authentic character. Even today, it retains its factory-applied undercoating, hood pad, and original rubber matting under the spare tire. Most importantly, Mr. Raab reports that the engine, gearbox, and rear end are original to 1475 GT, with their respective internal numbers corresponding to the factory assembly sheets, copies of which are included in the sale.
This outstanding Series I Cabriolet is also accompanied by important accessories and documents, including the original registration book, Italian “EE” tourist plates, rare leather key fob, handbook pouch, owner’s manual, service directory, tool roll, and a set of rarely seen maintenance tools secured in the proper wooden box. In addition, 1475 GT is offered with two new Lucas distributor caps, points, and used rotors, as these components are now quite difficult to source.
As Ferrari 250 GTs 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 Cabriolets are the result of a brilliant collaboration between Ferrari and Pinin Farina, 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, Series I Cabriolets are found only in the finest collections and continue to reward those who seek out only the very best.
In all respects, this is a Ferrari of particular distinction. As the last of just 40 Series I Cabriolets built, 1475 GT possesses a robust 250 GT chassis, unique mechanical specifications, and special coachwork details that place it among the most distinctive and recognizable examples. Furthermore, its outstanding presentation and superb condition reflect the care and attention it has continued to receive while in the long-term stewardship of Hilary Raab Jr., a gentleman widely regarded as one of the most influential and knowledgeable members of the Ferrari community.
While all Series I Pinin Farina Cabriolets are among the top tier of collector cars, 1475 GT is surely a star among the best of them.