When it comes to auctions, three major factors that influence a car’s value tend to be its vintage, its rarity, and its prestige. When you have a car that can bullseye each point, like this 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider, it’s guaranteed to demand a high price.
RM Sotheby’s is once again preparing for its Villa Erba sale, held at the eponymous estate that sits on the shores of Lake Como, Italy. It’s a fitting setting to auction off one of the most coveted vintage cars ever sought.
This model was born from an idea put forth by two Ferrari distributors in the U.S. who were convinced a convertible version of the 250 Berlinetta would sell like luxury Italian hotcakes. It did indeed, and, with a few sporty upgrades and a wheelbase shortening, we end up with the classic we see before us.
The beautiful Scaglietti designed convertible packs a 2.9-liter V12 engine that routes its roughly 280 horsepower through a four-speed manual transmission. This classic coach rides on an independent front suspension partnered with a solid rear axle rear which sports leaf springs.
While most of these cars, by design, were destined for American roads, this one was one of the few that stayed in its native homeland. As one of only 16 built with the open headlight design, the car was incredibly rare, ending up in private collections in Rome, Zürich, a few towns in Germany, and ending its journey back home in Maranello, Italy in 2007.
Ferrari Classiche then began a complete restoration and certification of the car, displaying it in Ferrari’s in-house museum and even seeing use as the car then-Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo drove during the opening parade lap of the 2010 Ferrari Challenge World Finals in Valencia, Spain.
When it goes to the auction block on May 23rd, it could potentially demand an asking price of over 14 million dollars, and that’s just the opening bid. The last time we heard about a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider being sold, it was when one was discovered amongst the Baillon collection, possibly one of the biggest barn finds in recent history. That unrestored model, which spent countless decades literally buried under bundles of magazines, sold for $18.5 Million. The lovingly restored model which Ferrari saw fit enough for its president to drive, could easily ask for more. We don’t have that kind of scratch to try our hand at picking it up, but we’ll be eager to see just how high the price goes when the bidding closes.