Few Ferraris make the heart beat faster than a 1959 250 GT Long Wheel Base California Spider, or as its simply known to those who know — a Cal Spider.
Seductive, powerful and rare, these iconic Prancing Horses typically can only be glimpsed in books or on posters. Which is why David Gooding is especially proud that his eponymous auction house, Gooding and Company, just got word that they’ll be offering one for sale at the company’s Scottsdale event Jan. 16 and 17.
A treasure from the garage of late collector Jack Castor, this Cal Spider - one of only 49 LWB models produced - has been in the same hands since 1969, which gives it a particular cache for enthusiasts who prize authenticity and originality. From its Rosso Rubino paint to its black leather interior, the car presents itself not as a restored time machine but rather a well loved and regularly driven piece of history.
“They just don’t come up at auction period, but add the fact that this is one of the longest term ownership Cal Spiders in existence and you’ve got something really special,” says Gooding. “This and the other Ferrari we just received really are two of a kind.”
Ah, yes, the other Ferrari. That would be a 1962 400 Short Wheel Base Superamerica Coupe Aerodinamica. For short, just call it outrageous. A cross between a Ferrari road racer and something from a ‘60s artist’s rendition of a land-based rocket, this wholly unique Ferrari is guaranteed to cause a stir even if it were surrounded by $30-million GTOs.
“This 400 is typical of an era where the greatest coachbuilders were doing daring work and producing the highest form of automotive expression,” says Gooding. “Few cars before or since have had this jet-age look. And they were amazing on the inside, too, very lavish. As one of the world’s most expensive cars, only kings and heads of state could afford them.”
Speaking of prices, Gooding predicts the Cal Spider should bring between $8 and $10 million while the Aerodinamica between $4 and $5 million, a significant jump from the $2.6 million a similar car fetched at auction in 2013 and in keeping with the galloping pace of Ferrari values overall. A 1958 Cal Spider sold a year ago for $8.8 million, so there seems little doubt Gooding will hit his mark next month.
“These cars aren’t just among the most beautiful Ferraris ever made, but they have an amazing story,” he says, alluding to the model’s creation at the hands of leading North American importer Luigi Chinetti, a former Ferrari works driver and Enzo pal who almost single-handedly turned the Italian cars into legends stateside.
As the story goes, Chinetti and fellow Ferrari distributor John von Neumann felt certain that if the top was chopped off the highly successful 250 GT Berlinetta racer (also dubbed the Tour de France) then wealthy American customers would come calling, particularly those from weather-friendly California.
Production began in 1958 and it wasn’t long before the model was snapped up, as predicted, by well-heeled clients looking for top-down motoring with panache. That said, these cars were no mere poseurs. A number of Cal Spiders turned wheels in motorsport anger, and successfully so, including a 12 Hours of Sebring GT class win in 1959 and, that same year, a fifth overall posting by Chinetti’s own North American Racing Team at Le Mans.
A car with that sort of lineage may well encourage this Cal Spider’s next owner to splurge on a seven figure restoration of Castor’s prized baby. And that would be their prerogative, allows Gooding. But he’s willing to make a prediction on that front.
“Cars in their original state really stand out so much more than their perfectly restored counterparts,” he says. “In years to come, I wouldn’t be surprised if these cars will be more valuable left as is than completely redone.”