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Lot 211

1958 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series I by Pinin Farina

  • Chassis no. 0791GT
  • Gearbox no. 44C

Sold for $5,720,000


*Premium Lot – Bidding via Internet will not be available for this lot. Should you have any questions please contact Client Services.


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 certification in process


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.

Addendum

Please note Ferrari Classiche supplied the engine block, not the entire motor, as described in the catalog and although Classiche Certification remains in progress, it has not been completed at present.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more