Ferrari introduced the 250 GT California Spider in 1957 on their long-wheelbase (LWB) chassis for the booming North American market. Ferrari’s leading US dealers, Luigi Chinetti and John von Neumann, requested from the factory a dual-purpose sports car that was highly capable on the racetrack, but comfortable for use as a daily driver. In 1960, with the introduction of Ferrari’s new short-wheelbase (SWB) 250 GT Berlinetta chassis, Ferrari thoroughly redesigned the California Spider. The new 250 GT SWB California Spider benefitted from a much more sophisticated chassis, along with standard four-wheel Dunlop disc brakes, a refined suspension setup and new outside-plug engines.
The renowned Italian coachbuilder, Scaglietti, redesigned the California Spider’s coachwork around the updated chassis, resulting in a much more aggressive and sporting appearance. Despite being a more refined and well-rounded sports car, the SWB California Spiders were true thoroughbreds, with several examples raced at events such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Targa Florio. Between 1960 and 1963, Ferrari built just 56 examples of the SWB variant, with only 37 being highly sought after covered-headlight versions.