1962 Ferrari 250 GT Short Wheelbase California SpyderCoachwork by Pininfarina
Just 55 examples of what most Ferraristi regard as the ultimate soft-top Ferrari- the SWB version of the 250GT California Spyder- were ever built. This is one of them.
Of that number, there can be few with a more fascinating or better documented provenance. Ordered new on 7th June 1961 by 39-year old foreign exchange trader Dr Vincenzo Comi of Milan, the history file with the car details the exact and unique specification he required: open headlights (we know that around 16 cars had this feature, making it rarer than the nowadays fashionable covered option), shorter gear lever, spare wheel mounted differently to allow a suitcase or golf bag to fit, tools set into the bottom of the luggage compartment, slightly larger side air intakes, different seat cushions, heater cut-off tap (for summer use), underbonnet light, outside fuel filler (concealed under a flap), central cockpit console with different switches and a radio. Dr Comi chose Grigio Argento (silver grey) paintwork with blue leather trim and a hard top was also requested. The base price of the model was 5,750,000 Lire, which after a 250,000 Lire discount plus the various options and taxes took Ferrari’s total invoice, issued on 12th April 1962, to 5,865,065 Lire.
Dr Comi obviously made the most of his new Ferrari. Photos in the file show him in the company of an attractive female passenger enjoying a stay in the mountain resort of Sestriere, hard top in place, that same winter. The original 1962 road tax disc is even with the car, which was registered ‘MI 641834’.
Eventually Dr Comi parted with his California Spyder, first to a company in Aosta before another lady enters the story- it’s that kind of car, this time a new owner in Vimercate near Milan. Around 1970 the Ferrari was registered to an agent of industrialist and well-known Italian collector Carlo Bonomi of Turin, in whose ownership the headlights were altered to the covered type. The current owner, another long-term Italian collector, major industrialist and gentleman driver, purchased the car from Dr Bonomi in 1986 and has looked after it ever since. Work has included returning the headlights to their correct configuration and the outside colour to its original shade of silver, this work carried out by Dino Cognolato. The upholstery, retrimmed many years ago, is in black leather. Homologation by FIVA and ASI followed together with certification by Ferrari Classiche confirming the car to be authentic, as if there was any doubt…Chassis ‘3345GT’ was also borrowed by Ferrari for the launch of the 550 Barchetta (2001) and the recent California (2008), spending time on display in the Galleria Ferrari. It is probably the only California Spyder never to have left its home country.
Uniquely specified, comprehensively documented, well maintained and as good looking as any car ever built, this Ferrari 250GT SWB California Spyder is destined for a great collection. If the new owner would like to meet the first, Dr Comi still lives and works in Milan, aged 89!
Photo credit: Archivio Ruoteclassiche