Wow Factor: 1961 Ferrari Could Set New Auction Record

1961 Ferrari 250 GT

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 hits the bull’s-eye on each point, say a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider, it’s guaranteed to demand a high price.

This particular 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider could fetch $14 million dollars or more at RM Sotheby’s upcoming Villa Erba sale held on May 23, at the eponymous estate that sits on the shores of Lake Como, Italy. It’s certainly a fitting setting to auction off one of the most coveted vintage cars ever sought.

The ’61 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider is rare, being one of only 16 open-headlight SWB California Spiders. It’s also fully restored and certified by Ferrari Classiche.

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, 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, Zrich, 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, it could potentially demand an asking price of over 14 million dollars, and that’s just the opening bid. The last 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider sold, one found in a barn with the Baillon collection, sold for $18.5 million and it wasn’t even restored.  The lovingly restored model that Ferrari saw fit enough for its president to drive could easily bring more.

Photo Credit: RM Auctions
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