1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder specs 280 bhp, 2,953 cc single overhead camshaft V-12 engine, three Weber carburetors, four-speed gearbox, independent front suspension via A-arms, coil springs, and telescopic shock absorbers, live rear axle with semi-elliptical springs and telescopic shock absorbers, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,400 mm.
• One of only 37 covered headlight examples built
• Unquestionably one of the most attractive and desirable Ferraris in existence
• Matching numbers and Ferrari Classiche certified
• Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance class winner
Without a doubt, the 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder is one of the most beautiful cars ever to pass through Ferrari’s fabled gates on Via Abetone Inferiore. With its stunning bodywork designed by Pininfarina and masterfully executed by Scaglietti, the car was a collaboration of the very best.
As with all other road cars, the California Spyder’s design was based on the experience gained from the Scuderia’s sports and Grand Prix racing efforts. Convertibles, in particular, were readily marketable to a select clientele in Europe and were especially attractive to the burgeoning market in North America, served by Luigi Chinetti and John von Neumann. To respond to this market, Ferrari created two legendary series of road cars: the cabriolets and the spyders.
The 1962 Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarina Series II Cabriolets were based upon one of Ferrari’s earliest volumes of series-built production cars, the 250 GT Pininfarina Coupes, and like the PF Coupe, they were nicely trimmed and fitted for everyday use and long trips. Combining the exciting performance of Ferrari’s race-proven 3.0-litre V-12 engine with the excellent handling and supple ride of the 2,600 mm wheelbase chassis, the Series II 250 GT PF Cabriolet had a well-earned and highly justified reputation as a superb, elegant, and understated touring car with quality interior appointments, soundproofing, and classic Ferrari styling.
On the other hand, there was the California Spyder. Also designed by Pininfarina, it was based upon the 250 GT Tour de France, Ferrari’s dual-purpose berlinetta, and it shared its character: lighter, more responsive, and faster, with characteristics closer to those of a racing car than its more luxurious stable mates. The California Spyder, first offered on a 2,600 mm wheelbase, was developed for a group of performance-oriented drivers who wanted both the pace of the berlinettas and the open-air feel of a convertible.
In 1959, Ferrari introduced a short wheelbase 250 GT Berlinetta that offered quicker, more responsive handling, followed a year later by its California Spyder variant, introduced at Geneva in 1960. While the SWB Berlinetta got a newly designed body, the SWB California Spyder continued with its LWB sibling’s coachwork, with its styling drawn and executed more tautly and sharply over the shorter wheelbase. True dual-purpose automobiles, they were at home on the streets of Beverly Hills and the open roads and racing circuits of Europe and North America, epitomizing both style and prestige. Many of Ferrari’s clients were wealthy, famous, and titled patrons. In Hollywood, a number of leading actors owned Ferraris, including such famed actors as Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood, and James Coburn.