A Closer Look at the $18.5 Million 1961 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider

You never know what you’re going to find when you go through an old farmhouse. An extremely rare Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione was discovered at a farm in the countryside of Western France. This collectible car had been tucked away out of sight for more than 50 years. This is one of the most valuable barn finds in history and it yielded one of the most significant collectibles in unusually good shape for the conditions under which the vehicle that was worth millions was stored. This was a fortuitous find and it could have just as easily faded into oblivion with the fate of the rare car never determined by the larger world around. The luck of discovering this car is likened to finding a needle in a haystack which suggests that in the larger scheme of things, it was meant to be. This highly interesting back story compels us to take a closer look at the $18.5 million Ferrari.

The history of the vehicle

Roger Baillon bought a farm in Western France in the 1950s, and he knew that there were some significant museum pieces housed in the outbuildings, many of them cars, but the majority were giving way to the effects of time and the elements. He had the dream of creating a museum, not realizing the full value of the contents of the old makeshift structures. He was an automobile enthusiast, but his dream of opening a museum was not realized as financial issues plagued his business and many of the better pieces he discovered had to be sold off. The Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider was one that was found in good condition. After tracing the roots of the car it was discovered that it had once been the property of actor Alain Deleon and after trading hands, the car disappeared and it was assumed that it was forever lost, until the unusual find unearthed the missing car.

What makes this Ferrari so valuable?

First we begin with its rarity. There were only 56 of this model ever made in the history of the brand, and that’s a good start, but when we get down to the nitty gritty, there were only 16 of them which were designed with open headlights. This particular car just happens to be one of the 16, increasing its rarity, hence the value in the world of collectible cars. It’s a 1961 model which also makes it a vintage piece. The car has two interesting back stories associated with it. It’s not only a barn find that was hidden from the world for some fifty some odd years, it was also a model in the Ferrari lineup that was made upon the special request of a few Ferrari distributors to Ferrari for their American market. This car was inspired by the 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France model with a few alterations which include a convertible top so drivers could enjoy the beautiful California environment, hence, the name SWB California Spider. There were just a few which were circulated through the European market as the majority were sold in the United States. This rare example was purchased in 2007, then sent in for restoration to Ferrari Classiche with its completion accomplished in 2010.

Assessing the value

We went over a few of the factors involved in the assessment of the value of an ultra rare collectible piece, such as the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider. Why is it that this car went for $18.5 million at auction when there was another model of the same make and year that sold for just $10,976,000? When you place any collectible on the auction block it’s unknown precisely what it will sell for. You can have an idea of where to start the bidding and even lock in a minimum selling price to ensure that the piece isn’t let go for a low ball price at auction, but the final selling price depends upon the condition of the item and its value to the bidders. If you have a few enthusiasts who simple have to have the car, then they’re going to bid higher and drive the value up tremendously. Of course the inherent value of the example is the largest factor along with its rarity and assumed market value, but when you add the history and significance of a single item within the larger collection, it then bears a greater significance and to some with an emotional attachment to the history, the value is increased, hence the yield of a higher selling price at auction.

Final thoughts

The history behind the $18.5 million 1961 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider is one of the most interesting that we’ve come across. This magnificent vintage special and limited edition is in an elite class within the collection of the release intended for the U.S. market because of its increased rarity as a sub group within the group. To think that it was just sitting out in an old outbuilding for half a century, exposed to the elements yet without significant damage is mind boggling. The owner of the farm was sitting on a gold mine and didn’t realize the true value of the car that sat within what appeared to be a collection of rusting and dilapidated vehicles. This is one story that is well worth telling. It was believed that this car was lost in time and the happen chance discovery which led to its emergence has only served to make it more valuable to those who are aware of its significance in the history of Ferrari. It’s a story that bears re-telling and in the world of collectible cars, this one has a fairy-tale ending.



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