Le Mans Ferrari 250 to lead New York sale
RM Sotheby's to offer one of the most significant Ferraris, an ex-Le Mans NART 250 GT California, on 6 December
An alloy-bodied Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione that claimed fifth overall at the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans will be headline lot at RM Sotheby’s 'Icons' sale in New York 6 December.
It's one of three Ferraris that were entered into the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans by the North American Racing Team, or NART (the other two were a 250 Testa Rossa and a 250 GT LWB Berlinetta). The fabled NART team was formed by Luigi Chinetti, one of the major players in the US sports car racing scene in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He was a highly successful racing driver in his own right, and the official Ferrari distributor for the US East Coast.
The 250 GT LWB California Spider, chassis 1451 GT, was the second of just eight California Spiders bodied in aluminum and built to full competizione specifications. It was driven 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 finished fifth overall and third 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 shipping it to Nassau for Speed Week, where it achieved first overall in the Memorial Trophy race.
The California Spider left Grossman’s care after the 1960 season, and passed through a several American owners, ending up with Jon Masterson of California, who commissioned a complete restoration that earned the car first in class honours at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The car returned to Pebble Beach in 1994, ran in the Colorado Grand, and raced at the Monterey Historics on four separate occasions.
Bought by its current owner in 2007, the Classiche-certified California Spider was restored in 2011 by marque specialists Motion Products Inc., returning the car to its original Le Mans livery. The restoration earned 1451 GT a platinum award at the 2011 Cavallino Classic. it is already entered into a number of concours and historic races for 2018, including Le Mans Classic.
The California Spider is estimated at $14,000,000 to $17,000,000. The sale takes place at Sotheby's Manhattan HQ. More details on the RM Sotheby's website here.