1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder – Review

1961-ferrari 250 gt california spyder review

1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder

Usually, Most of the supercars in the world are auctioned at a very high rate in terms of money, but on May 18, 2008. There was a classic car manufactured by Ferrari which was auctioned at $10.9 million. That car was 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder. The car was auctioned at a very high price because it has a very impressive history. The 250 GT SWB Spyder was featured in a Hollywood movie in 1986 a that was “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and was formerly owned by Oscar-winning actor James Coburn. In addition to that this car had also a very good performance i.e 260kw, 276HP, that is a very good figure for a classic car.

For the most vehicle enthusiast, I am just quoting the words “California Spider”. This combination of alphabets stir up the feelings of “La Dolce Vita” and the joyful riding experiences that everyone wants. Pininfarina and Scaglietti did amazing drop-top finishing with lavish Colombo 3.0-litre V-12 engine. And it was embellished with a Prancing Horse. In addition to this, GT Spyder is accommodated with free luggage space and race-bred specifications.


Ferrari’s two U.S. distributors, Luigi Chinetti, and John von Neumann discerned that a convertible 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France would hit the market well in the United States. The GT Spyder has proved its name on various platforms. Besides this Ferrari has also updated the version to compete for the market fight.

The main difference between the older and newer version is the change of wheelbase sizing. It was an effort for developing better handling and boost cornering speed. The size of the wheel base had decremented from 2,600 millimeters to 2,400 millimeters. An incredible engine was now confirmed to provide the horsepower of 280. And it is done through new Tipo 168 Style with updated heads and larger valves. Furthermore, the shock absorbers of the car were replaced with latest Koni Convertible and Telescopic shock absorbers. The braking system was modified with the insertion of four-wheel Dunlop Disc Brakes.

After all these updating SWB GT Spyder became the inheritance of the mythological 250 SWB Berlinetta.

What could be better?

The smoothest driver could drive his California GT Spyder to the racing track and outrun near Aston Martins and Jaguars. Many film stars such as Alain Delon, James Coburn, and Roger Vadim. European aristocracy, including Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy, and even racing drivers, Jan De Vroom owned this beast.

What is it?

The 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder is basically a two-door two-seat convertible that measures 173.6-inch length, 66.5-inch width, 49.6-inch height, and a 94.5-inch wheelbase. The car is also offering good front legroom with everything placed perfectly. Ferrari has a track record of manufacturing high end, stylish and classic cars. So the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder is exactly a car representing the same charm and elegance of traditional Ferrari. The black exterior paint is making it extraordinary with a distinctive attitude. The car looks extremely sporty that make people stare at.

1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB

The interior is also very fabulous that is equally complementing the exterior of this classic metal machine. As the car is about five decades old. So for sure, it has an interior looking highly classic but precious and elegant. The steering wheel is large just like other old classic cars have. The instrument panel is well built with an analog speedometer, fuel, and temperature clocks. The floor mat is adding a feel of luxury to the car.

1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder

Image Credit: char1iej

Powertrain and Performance

Ferrari never disappointed its shoppers in terms of performance. The classic 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder is historical evidence of it. The car is equipped with a naturally aspirated 3.0-liter V-12 engine that was known for 276 horsepower and 203 lb-ft of torque which was a big hue at that time. The engine is also mated with a 4-speed manual transmission and the car sprints from 0-60 mph in 6.1 seconds. The rear wheel drive is also standard for the car. Moreover, the fuel economy at that time was 13.7 mpg city/17.5 mpg highway. The total curb weight of the car is 2540 lbs.

Pricing and Availability

The Italian brand Ferrari manufactured only 55 units of the classic 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder. At that time it was priced at about $9,500. It is really surprising that the car is sold at $10.9 million. Whereas initially at the auction, it’s expected to sell out around $5.5 million. But just after the 30-minute bidding war ended with a double price. The winner of the auction is 43-year-old British Broadcasting Radio 2, DJ Chris Evan. The owners of new California’s are just happy but at the same time are wondering too.


Suhail is a journalist who loves everything about technology driven cars. He keeps a keen eye on the latest developments in automotive industry and shares the news as it breaks.

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