GALLERY: Go Behind The Scenes On Our 1961 Ferrari 250 California SWB Film Shoot
Sometimes we wake up to a reality that’s better than anything that can be seen in dreams. It’s a dewy morning in the UK, a bit nippy, and the sun is barely starting to punch through the haze of fog and mist that shroud the exterior of Hexagon Classics. Founder and chairman Paul Michaels has it pretty good when it comes to picking a car for an early drive to wake up the roosters, and today’s choice happens to be one of the definitive Ferraris from what is arguably the marque’s most triumphant era of design and engineering.
Le Mans winner, international sports car champion, frequent member of “Top 10” beauty lists, the 250 series requires no introduction, though like many low-production, high-performance coachbuilt Italian automobiles there exists a world of nuance and detail once you really start examining the the model range. Alongside the mid-engined 250LM (most commonly known as the last prancing horse to win overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans), the GTOs and the short-wheelbase Berlinettas are perhaps the best-known Ferraris in the long life of the 250 range, and the racing versions of those cars were built on the early success of their progenitor: the 250S that won the Mille Miglia in 1952; its debut race which saw it trounce the more powerful Mercedes-Benzes.
In other words, the 1961 California Spyder featured in today’s edition of Morning Coffee is part of a very strong gene pool. But while its Tipo 168 Colombo V12 is all well and potently powerful, the reason these later Sypders (which also feature a 2,400mm wheelbase compared to the 2,600mm of its long-wheelbase predecessors, a wider track, four-wheel disc brakes, and more modern Koni suspension) are so desirable lies in the marriage of performance and style. Yes, the idea of form and function meeting in a zenith of both aspects isn’t a new way to describe a superb car, but few can live up to the description like this one.
Back in the early 1960s, the California stood alone. In theory—and surely this was practiced by a lucky few—one could take an SWB Spyder to the track, outpace just about everything else that showed up with a roof and a roll cage, and then drive along the Pacific Coast Highway (where else does a car with this name belong?) looking far sexier than any tanned beach body. Surely it wouldn’t take much to drive home with one in the passenger seat, and the helmet could be chucked in the relatively ample trunk next to a few bottles of wine and some fresh ciabatta.
Again, it’s hard to find a mortal form that’s better-looking than a ‘60s Ferrari, and nothing ages quite as well as these cars. Scaglietti was the coach-builder that removed the roof from the short-wheelbase Berlinettas that were styled by Pininfarina for the 1960 update, and only 56 of the so-called second-series Sypders were ever built (the cars used for the jumping and window-smashing in Ferris Bueller were certainly not genuine examples, those replicas being built by Modena Design & Development atop MG platforms).
In keeping with their heritage, a few Spyders were raced at events like Le Mans and the Targa Florio, and of the total production it’s commonly agreed that only 16 cars were originally constructed with the open headlight design seen on the car in today’s film.
Supremely rare, beautiful, powerful, valuable, it’s hard to find any California Spyders outside of a place like Pebble Beach or Villa d’Este, so we hope you enjoy seeing this one in action on public roads. We definitely had a blast filming it.