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Robb Design Portfolio: Ritzy, Glitzy Spider

Gregory Anderson

1959 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB

"The client is not always right," Enzo Ferrari once remarked. However, in 1957, when Hollywood, Calif., Ferrari dealer John von Neumann requested that Ferrari build a versatile car that could conquer the road as easily as it competed on the track, the Italian sports-car manufacturer conceded that this customer might be on to something. Ferrari commissioned Pinin Farina to design a topless version of the 250 GT Tour de France Berlinetta, which featured a race-proven chassis propelled by a powerful V-12 engine. In a nod to von Neumann, Ferrari christened the new vehicle the California Spider. Famed coachbuilder Sergio Scaglietti constructed 106 of the convertibles. The first 51 rode on a 2,600 mm wheelbase, while the subsequent 55 cars featured an abbreviated 2,400 mm wheelbase that allowed for greater maneuverability. While the Cal Spider was not a tremendous commercial success, its honorary appellation proved apt: Ferrari has sold more cars in California than in any other state.

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