For Ferrari Friday today we have Steve Arnaudin to thank for sending his Dad Ed Arnaudins pictures for me to share, the vehicle we are looking at today is a Ferrari LWB 250 GT California Spyder at Lime Rock, Terry O’Neil’s book ‘Northeast American Sports Car Races 1950 – 1959‘ * suggests these photographs might have been taken on the 9th May 1959 from a meeting held over form the 24th April 1959.
Allegedly when it started raining during the second race on the original date Connecticut Law Enforcement officers moved in to cancel the rest of the days activities !
This 250 GT California Spyder LWB was powered by a 240 hp 2,953 cc /180 cui Colombo designed V12 similar to that in the 250 GT Ellena featured last week. The car is capable of in excess of 140 mph.
The California was the brain child of US importers Jon von Neuman and Luigi Chinetti who wanted a competition car for their biggest market from which the car derives it’s name, the interior is deliberately sparton with a ‘small’ heater the only concession to occupants comfort. Notice there is no seat harness.
The bodywork by Scarglietti on this car was made from steel there were two body types available one with closed in headlights seen here the other with regular headlights lights on the front of the wings, this is particularly important because Bob Grossman the driver seen here drove both sorts of body style and both were painted silver. Seven competition versions of the California Spyder were built with aluminium alloy bodies again in both body styles.
Note despite the absence of a seat harness the car is fitted with a roll bar behind the drivers head. It is not clear why Bob added several rolls of masking tape to the front of his car, it may have been a cheap way to protect his paintwork from chips, scratches nicks and bugs.
Originally finished in dark red this chassis #0919, one of just 45 examples, was built in 1958 and sold to Julio Batista Falla in Cuba before Bob Grossman turned up with it in silver and raced it within the USA, clocking up several wins and class victories in SCCA sanctioned events.
Bob more famously raced another silver 250 GT California in 1959, chassis #1451 one of the seven original competition spec vehicles featuring all aluminium bodies, but curiously without the headlight fairings.
#1451 was part of a three car attack on the 1959 Le Mans 24 hour race by the North American Racing Team, Bob and Fernand Tavano came in 5th overall and 3rd in class (not 1st in class as erroneously stated by an auction house recently). Bob also won the Nassau Memorial Trophy Race in #1451.
(Paragraph on subsequent history of #1451 removed 03/04/11)
* Please note :- I do not in anyway endorse, or have any commercial interest in the products or distributors highlighted in today’s feature, I am merely passing information on as an enthusiast of all things motoring, I have no experience of handling these products nor have I used these vendors. I recommend anyone interested in these items or distributors do their own thorough investigation into suitability, reliability and particularly prices of both products and vendors before making any purchasing decisions.
26 11 10 Erratum Julio Batista’s son has informed me that today’s featured car was white when his father owned it in 1958, his Dad had never raced it, if he had he would have painted it yellow as he did with his TR # 0698. Apologies for any confusion.