Italian Flag Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder ~ 1958-63

Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder LWBAfter the introduction of Ferrari’s first “mass produced” convertible, the 250 GT PF Cabriolet made between 1957 and 1962, the master coachbuilder Sergio Scaglietti was again asked to build a convertible using the race proven and stiffer, 1956 Ferrari 250 TDF chassis.Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder LWB

The wheelbase was 2600 mm (102.4 in) creating one of the most beautiful Ferraris ever produced and thus one of the sexiest sports cars ever made. This now legendary 1958 Ferrari is the 250 GT California Spyder LWB (Long WheelBase), named after the market that it was intended for. The idea behind this new convertible came from Jon Von Neumann and Luigi Chinetti. These two North American Ferrari importers convinced Enzo Ferrari that a niche market existed for a sportier and more exclusive convertible in the North American market.

Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder LWBThe design was inspired by Pinin Farina’s 1957 all hand built Ferrari 250 GT PF Cabriolet series I (visit file). This new stallion was produced with or without Plexiglas covered headlights, and the traditional egg-crate grill could adorn the optional extra driving lamps inserted at each side. A hood scoop swallowed cool air into the three twin-choke Weber carburetor set, and the front fender side air-vent openings were fitted with three slats on this Long WheelBase model. The windshield was as rakish as the first series 250 PF cabriolet, and it also had an ultra thin chrome frame around it without side window vents.Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder LWB The rear fenders had a raised shoulder line and the rear taillights were vertically slanted as seen later on with the MGBs (not a Pinin design), Peugeot 404 Coupes and others of that era. The rear displayed the traditional four exhaust pipes, and to complete this late 50’s design, the California Spyder was fitted with Borrani wire wheels. Also offered was the optional and now very rare fiberglass hardtop. Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder LWB

The engine was the 3 liter (180 cu in) V12 Colombo developing 240 hp at 7000 rpm with the help of three Weber carburetors. The engine was then matted to a four speed transmission, and higher specification camshafts could be ordered, boosting the power up to 280 hp.

The interior had two main Veglia dials behind a wooden Nardi steering wheel and a series of five smaller gauges were placed at the center of the dashboard with a rearview mirror planted just above them on the dash itself.

Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWBIn 1960 the even more desirable Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWB (Short WheelBase) made its debut. This latest California Spyder was based on the shorter chassis also found on the iconic 250 GT SWB. This stiffer and more predictable 2400 mm (94.5 in) wheelbase chassis gave this new Scaglietti masterpiece a more compact and sportier look.Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWB The front independent suspension had double wishbone and coil springs, while the rear had a live axle with spring leaves, same as the California Spyder LWB, but now front disc brakes replaced the drum units adding some more sportiness to the mix.Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWB

As with the LWB California, the SWB was available with or without covered headlights, and aside from an 8 in (20 cm) shorter chassis, the only distinct features between them came from the side front fender air vents now having two vertical slats instead of three, and from the recessed hood scoop instead of the flush LWB air scoop entry.

The interior’s two main Veglia dial pods received a rounder sun visor design, but aside from that the dashboard layout remained the same to the pleasure of many.

Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWBTop speed performance reached 140 mph (225 km/h), and around 6.5 seconds to get to 60 mph for the LWB, while the SWB was marginally faster.

The SWB was nimbler and the better balanced car of the two. It also was the most harmonious to look at, especially in its covered headlights form. In 1963 the production of the magnificent Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWB ended with 125 Californias produced including 12 lightweight alloy racers, which contributed to the legend of one of the three most beautiful Ferraris ever produced.

JJP.

Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder Specifications
Model/Year Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder LWB / 1958-60 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWB / 1960-63
Designer Pinin Farina Pinin Farina
Engine Type All alloy V12 @ 60˚, SOHC. 2V  
Capacity 2953 cc / 180 cu in  
Fuel Feed 3 Weber 36 DCL carb. 3 Weber 40 DCL/6
Power 240-280 hp @ 7000 rpm (depending on specs) 260-280 hp @ 7000 rpm (depending on specs)
Torque 188 lb-ft @ 5500 rpm - 203 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm (comp. car) 188 lb-ft @ 5500 rpm - 203 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm (comp. car)
Transmission 4 speed - RWD  
Top Speed 140 mph - 225 km/h 145 mph - 233 km/h
"0-60" mph
0-100 km/h
6.5 sec 6.3 sec
Chassis Oval Steel Tubular  
Weelbase 2600 mm / 102.4 in 2400 mm / 94.5 in
Front Suspension 2 Wishbones, Coil Springs, Tube Shocks. Anti-roll Bar  
Rear Suspension

Live Axle - Semi-elliptic Leave Springs

 
Brakes Drums Front Discs - Rear Drums
Front Tires 6 x 16 in 6 x 16 in
Rear Tires 6 x 16 in 6 x 16 in
Steering Worm & Sector  
Weight 2646 lb / 1200 kg steel body; 2315 lb / 1050 kg alloy body 2976 lb / 1350 kg steel body; 2315 lb / 1050 kg alloy body
Country of Origin Italy  
Production Num. 50 LWB - 105 total 55 SWB - 105 total
Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder swb - SWB Californias
received rounder sun visor pods on the main dials.
Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder swb - Less pronounced rear
fender lines compared to the early lwb Californias.
Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder swb - Whale shark look on this SWB California
which can be identified as a SWB by its recessed hood air-scoop.
Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder swb - Same gracious
cat pupil like tail lights since the 1st lwb cars.
Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder swb - SWB with smaller
covered headlights than the ones found on the lwb.
Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder lwb - The exposed headlights
on this lwb give it a clean & unpretentious look.
Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder lwb - LWB California
with racy & elegant covered headlights.
Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder lwb - Beautiful wooden
Nardi steering wheel with traditional Veglia dials.
Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder lwb - Later lwb California
model (1959) with bumper mounted overriders.
Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder lwb - The covered headlights
on this lwb really give the California a Shark look .
Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder lwb - LWB "standard" dashboard design with slightly
squared-off sun visor pods & five small horizontal dials on the center dashboard.
Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder lwb - LWB models offer a flush hood air-scoop.
Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder lwb -Very early & rare lwb
California with more pronounced arched rear fender lines.
Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder lwb - Very early & rare lwb
California with a color coded "podless" metal dashboard.
Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder lwb - Very early & rare model with
4 slat air-vents instead of the usual 3 slats found on the lwb model.