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Ferrari 250 GT California Spider prototype for sale

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To paraphrase the epic Orc slaughterfest that is Lord of the Rings, this is, essentially, the one Ferrari 250 GT to rule them all. It’s the original 250 GT California Spider prototype, and it’s going up for auction.

Naturally, you’ll be aware of this car’s significance in the history of, say, the entire universe. Ferrari, following encouraging noises from Luigi Chinetti and John von Neumann, conceived of a dual-purpose sports car for Americans in the late 1950s, and turned to its highly regarded Tipo 128C chassis; a chassis that we’re reliably informed served every single 250 GT built.

They fitted the 3.0-litre Tipo 128C V12 with an estimated 225bhp to this chassis - number 0769 GT, if you care about such nuances - along with a reverse-pattern gearbox with a ‘Porsche-type syncromesh’. Once Ferrari had finished slotting together the quite important greasy parts underneath, the chassis was shipped to Carrozzeria Scaglietti in Modena, where it would literally take shape.

Scaglietti, more used to building competition cars, turned to Pininfarina’s road car designs of the era, and improvised the shape in steel (less expensive and easier to work with than aluminium). He pinched the grille, side vents, taillights and bumpers from the Ferrari Tour de France, added some leather and rubber mats and in doing so, created one of the most astonishing Ferraris in history. Remember how dewy-eyed James got when he drove Chris Evans’ 250 California Spider?

This Spider prototype was ultimately completed on 16 December, 1957, and used as the pin-up Ferrari for brochures and catalogues, raced (and won) the 1961 De Diego Trophy in Puerto Rico, displayed at numerous concourse events and was the subject of a very thorough recent restoration.

It’s going up for auction at Pebble Beach later this month via Gooding & Company, and is expected to go for between $6 and $8 million. Considering its significance, it could go for a helluva lot more…

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