The Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California SWB
Years produced: 1958-1963
Number built: 54
SWB stands for short wheelbase and, combined with the words Spyder California (as in "Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California SWB"), grown men get teary eyed. Achingly beautiful, the Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California SWB is also a high-performance sports car of the first rank. This Pininfarina-penned masterpiece rides a chassis with 94.5 inches between front and rear axles, down from its "long wheelabase" companion's 102.3 inches. That shortened span makes the Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California SWB stiffer and more maneuverable, to the benefit of performance on the road and, yes, on the track.
Inspired by Ferrari's California distributor, Johnny von Neumann, and powered by a 280-horsepower version of Ferrari's classic 3.0-liter V-12, the Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California SWB combined speed and style in brilliant harmony. Most of the 54 built had steel bodies and were intended primarily for public roads. But this was still the day when the finest sports cars were also expected to hold their own in competition, and so Ferrari produced a handful of race-ready Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California SWB. These had aluminum bodies and could be distinguished from the road models by the presence of a quick-fill fuel cap on the trunklid.
If the Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California SWB gets adults all misty, an alloy-body competition version makes them grow weak in the knees, and qualifies as the ultimate in collectible road going Ferraris.