03 September 2012
CMC's stunning Ferrari 250 California SWB 1960 gets our vote as top model this month ...
Synonymous with speed, power and luxury, Ferrari’s 250 GT California ushered in a new era for wealthy West Coast Americans. It was also a dream come true for US distributor John von Neumann, who already built a lucrative business selling high-end cars to the rich and famous. With California’s wonderful climate and affluent status, von Neumann surmised that jet-setters and Hollywood’s big names needed something new on which to spend their cash and to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. Enter the 250 GT which, with its Pinin Farina design and Scaglietti styling, literally took one’s breath away.
The original models were built on a long wheelbase chassis but the short wheelbase version soon appeared and was fitted with a modified 280bhp V-12, 3-litre engine. It became what is considered the forerunner to modern coupé sports cars most of us appreciate today... and emerged as a potent and succesful tool for racing. Indeed, that bastion of motorsport, Le Mans, was the proving ground for the 250 SWB and, in 1960 it secured fourth to seventh overall in the legendary 24-hour event.The Intereuropa Cup also fell to the type and Stirling Moss employed a 250 SWB in 1961 to win Goodwood’s Tourist trophy.
Such sound performance undoubtedly came from the chassis length, 2,400mm being thought of as the optimum measurement for a car of that period to promote superb cornering. Another reason was the lightening of the body; this aluminium shell weighed just 960kg, as opposed to its predecessor that tipped the scales at 1,145kg.
Now, in terms of collecting and enjoying beautiful cars in scale form. CMC’s new model isn’t for the faint-hearted or those on a budget. Many readers will feel that it is patently beyond them... but others may just recognise that it’s a lifetime purchase and an unmissable treat, and we all deserve one of those sometime, don’t we?
This replica, in simple terms, is as good as they get. Starting with the bodywork, it is eye-catcing in the extreme courtesy of a flawless finish and vivid shade of red. One will want to handle the model with cotton gloves to avoid sullying the shine with greasy fingerprints! On lifting the bonnet, the engine detail is breathtaking; it’s here that one can justify the price tag and it’s arguable that no one in the business does it better.
If one can eventually bring themself to close the bonnet, there’s much more to appreciate. The leather upholstery is incredibly realistic, with deft stitching and piping on the seats. All the dash dials have readable scales, while the doors swing open with all the grace of a silk gown gliding over a ballroom floor.
Lifting the boot lid provides a view of equally plush lining and a convincing strapped-in spare wheel and tyre. Most enviable are the wheels – highly impressive renditions of the real Borrani units on the real machine and these are hand-woven.
If one can bare to over-turn the model, its underside is as equally thrilling as the body, with all engine, steering, transmission and inner brake disc detail leaping out to provide further visual bombardment. The trademark oval grille, inner lights and the recessed, faired-in headlamps are delightful.
In a Ferrari press release, the writer branded the 250 SWB “...a timeless car, as beautiful today as it was then”. In years to come, the same will certainly be said of CMC’s model, regardless of whether one becomes lucky enough to own one or not.
To find out more about this model and your nearest distributor, visit www.ayrey.co.uk