1958 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series I by Pinin Farina
Chassis no. 0791 GT
240 bhp, 2,953 cc SOHC V-12 engine with triple Weber 36 DCL/3 carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with unequal-length A-arms and coil springs, live rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs and parallel trailing arms, and four-wheel hydraulic Dunlop disc brakes. Wheelbase: 102.3 in.
- The 14th of 40 Series I Cabriolets built
- Purchased new by John R. Fulp Jr.; owned for 40 years by Robert Donner Jr.
- Fully restored to original specifications and color
- Ferrari Classiche certified
Since the mid-1950s, Ferrari’s road-going automobiles have been integral to the longevity of the company. Founded in the pursuit of domination in international motorsport, Enzo Ferrari quickly realized that, in order to fund his racing efforts, his company would have to produce road cars alongside his racecars. Utilizing lessons learned in competition, Ferrari’s road cars were some of the fastest and most desirable automobiles on the planet, all in an effort support the company’s indomitable reputation on the track.
Considered by many to be one of Pinin Farina’s most elegant designs, the Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet is the quintessential open-top gentleman’s Ferrari. Whereas the earliest iterations of the California Spider were simply long-wheelbase 250 GT Berlinettas without a roof, this was a much more refined automobile, built for touring rather than racing. The Series I Cabriolet dripped with sophistication, benefitting from smooth and unobstructed lines defined by its closed headlamps and graceful taillights artfully crafted into the rear wings. It was the gold standard for the upper class, and ownership showcased not only the owner’s appreciation of engineering and performance but also their refined and sophisticated taste in transportation. The Series I Cabriolet was always in style—no matter the time, place, or occasion.
THE 14TH OF 40
The cabriolet presented here, chassis number 0791 GT, is the 14th of approximately 40 examples built. It was finished in a very fetching color combination of Bianco (MM 10019) over a Blu (VM 3315) Connolly leather interior, reflecting the model’s subtle and refined personality. It was also fitted with four-wheel Dunlop disc brakes by the factory. Shortly after its completion, it was delivered new to Ferrari dealer Parauto S.r.l. of Genova, Italy, in March of 1958. It was then sold to Luigi Chinetti Motors of New York and was subsequently shipped to the United States.
Chinetti sold the car to its first private owner, John R. Fulp Jr. of Greenville, South Carolina. Fulp was a young and highly successful gentleman racer, and his garage was often home to a variety of incredible vehicles bearing the Cavallino Rampante. Fulp enjoyed much success behind the wheel of Ferraris at some of the world’s most prestigious and competitive racing events, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring. However, as 0791 GT was not built for racing, it is likely that his Series I Cabriolet was enjoyed solely on public roads during his ownership. Fulp only kept the car until the fall of 1959, when it was traded back to Luigi Chinetti for a 410 Superamerica Coupe (1311 SA).
After returning to Luigi Chinetti in New York, chassis 0791 GT was later sold to James Harrison, an American then living in Paris, France. Harrison had the car refinished in silver with red upholstery by French Ferrari distributor Charles Pozzi, who he also commissioned to revise the dashboard layout in a style similar to the 400 Superamerica. Harrison kept the car in the United States and was living on Park Avenue in 1969 when issues with the engine arose, leading him to source a newer, outside-plug replacement motor through Chinetti. The car was then moved to Florida in July of 1970 but remained with Harrison at his home in Palm Beach.
SINGLE-FAMILY OWNERSHIP FOR 40 YEARS
The following year, the car was sold by Harrison to its third owner, Robert Donner Jr., another noted gentleman racer based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Donner was a much-admired figure in the racing world and enjoyed success racing MGs, Jaguars, and Porsche Spyders in particular. Donner further grew fond of Ferraris, and over the years, he owned a number of significant Ferraris, including a 250 GTO. In 1975, Donner rebuilt his cabriolet’s engine and refinished the car in red over red. From that point on, it became his car of choice for top-down cruising. In his ownership, 0791 GT was driven on the Colorado Grand no less than a dozen times. While the car was primarily used as a warm-weather driver, Donner did take this car to The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering in 2007, where it was displayed in a special Series I Cabriolet class.
Following Donner’s passing, chassis number 0791 GT was purchased by West Coast-based enthusiasts and received a minor cosmetic restoration prior to being sold to its current and fifth custodian. The Ferrari was then shipped to Europe, where it has resided ever since.
Shortly after its arrival, it was decided that the car should be brought back to its as-delivered specification, and it was sent to Ferrari specialists DK Engineering, where work began almost immediately. The car’s older outside-plug engine was replaced with a brand-new and correct type 128-C engine from Ferrari Classiche, providing the car with a powerplant that is not only factory correct but also arguably better than new. It was then refinished in its original color combination of Bianco over Blu Connolly leather, returning it to its original specification inside and out.
The Series I Cabriolet showed that Ferrari could toe the line between sporting and elegant automobiles. It brought in new customers to Maranello who would not normally have been interested in racing and turned them into regular customers, instantly enamored by the Ferrari’s visual subtlety coupled with dynamic performance. Following its recent restoration and benefitting from known history from new with just five owners, this is surely one of the finest first-series cabriolets.
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