1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione
RM Sotheby’s announced their star entries for the third New York sale, entitled ICONS, set for 6 December at Sotheby’s Manhattan heaquarters. Latest highlights for the auction certainly ring true to its theme, representing a pair of Le Mans racing legends from two of the world’s most revered marques: a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione and a 1952 Jaguar C-Type.
A Ferrari and motorsport icon himself, Luigi Chinetti was one of the major players in the U.S. sports car racing scene in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He was a highly successful racing driver in his own right, the official Ferrari distributor for the U.S. East Coast, and the man behind the fabled North American Racing Team (N.A.R.T.). Chinetti and N.A.R.T. entered a trio of Ferraris in the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans; a 250 Testa Rossa, a 250 GT LWB Berlinetta, and a 250 GT LWB California Spider, chassis 1451 GT – the very car set for RM Sotheby’s ICONS sale.
The second of just eight California Spiders bodied in aluminum and built to full competizione specifications, the 250 GT was piloted at Le Mans by owner Bob Grossman, a successful sports car dealer based in Rockland County, New York. The car left the factory just five days before Le Mans, arriving with a flash of paint covering the primer and unfinished seats covered with rags. In both Grossman and the Ferrari’s very first outing at the Circuit de la Sarthe, he and co-driver Fernand Tavano landed in an impressive 5th overall and 3rd in their class. After Le Mans, 1451 GT was properly finished in metallic silver and shipped to Grossman’s home in New York. He immediately returned the car to the track, racing in SCCA events at Thompson, Bridgehampton and the Watkins Glen Grand Prix before shiping it to Nassau for Speed Week, where it clinched 1st overall in the Memorial Trophy race. The California Spider left Grossman’s care after the 1960 season, and passed through a handful of American owners before landing with Jon Masterson of California, who commissioned a complete restoration, which earned the car 1st in Class honors at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The car never remained shy for long, returning to Pebble Beach in 1994, running the Colorado Grand, and racing at the Monterey Historics on four separate occasions.
Purchased by its current owner in 2007, the Classiche-certified California Spider continued to make the rounds at some of the hobby’s most important events before another full restoration was completed in 2011 by marque specialists Motion Products Inc., returing the car to its proper Le Mans livery. The restoration earned 1451 GT a platinum award at the 2011 Cavallino Classic, and it has been shown at only a handful of events ever since. For its new owner, continued entry to the world’s finest concours and vintage races awaits, including next year’s Le Mans Classic. The California Spider returns to its home state next month as surely one of the most significant Ferraris in existence (Est. $14,000,000 – $17,000,000).
The California Spider and C-Type lead a group of 31 iconic automobiles set for the 6 December sale, from Classic Era beauties through to the most technologically advanced supercars of today. Highlights include:
A 1932 Marmon Sixteen Convertible Coupe, chassis no. 144 859, one of just eight surviving authentic examples of an American masterpiece of styling and engineering (Est. $1,000,000 – $1,200,000);
Perhaps the most iconic automotive pair: a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing, chassis no. 040.5500593, a beautifully restored example of the first sports car to be a genuine, recognizable status symbol (Est. $1,300,000 – $1,500,000) and an exceptional 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster, chassis no. 198.042.7500649, the last complete restoration to leave Rudi & Company’s renowned British Columbia workshop (Est. $1,250,000 – $1,500,000, without reserve);
A multiple award-winning 1965 Aston Martin DB5 Convertible, chassis no. DB5C/1923/L, a rare factory left-hand-drive convertible example of one of the most recognizable cars in the world (Est. $2,450,000 – $2,650,000);
An exhaustively documented, Classiche-certified 1969 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Berlinetta, chassis no. 12301, both the final prototype and the first production Daytona – the automobile that defined a generation of sports cars (Est. $1,400,000 – $1,700,000);
A low-mileage 1990 Ferrari F40, chassis no. 87144, surely among the most iconic cars for anyone under the age of 40 (Est. $1,200,000 – $1,400,000); and,
A group of modern hypercars including a delivery mileage 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari, chassis no. 204687, the most technologically impressive street-legal Ferrari ever built (Est. $3,250,000 – $3,750,000), a one-of-100 2014 Pagani Huayra, chassis no. 078, the exceptional accomplishment of an upstart supercar company (Est. $1,900,000 – $2,300,000), and a 248mph 2018 Bugatti Chiron, chassis no. 069, the very first Chiron ordered for the U.S. market and a marvel of 21st century design (Est. $3,500,000 – $4,000,000)
For further information, to view the complete ICONS digital catalogue, or to register to bid, please visit www.rmsothebys.com. Call +1 519 352 4575 to speak to an RM Sotheby’s car specialist about any of the automobiles on offer.