Ferrari, Jaguar Highlight RM’s New York ICONS Sale
RM Sotheby’s has announced that its third New York sale, entitled ICONS, set for December 6 at Sotheby’s Manhattan headquarters, will present a pair of Le Mans racing legends from two of the world’s most revered marques: a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione and a 1952 Jaguar C-Type.
A Ferrari and motorsport icon himself, Luigi Chinetti was one of the major players in the U.S. sports car racing scene in the late 1950s and early 1960s. A highly successful racing driver in his own right, Chinetti became the official Ferrari distributor for the U.S. East Coast, and the man behind the fabled North American Racing Team (N.A.R.T.). Chinetti and N.A.R.T. entered a trio of Ferraris in the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans; a 250 Testa Rossa, a 250 GT LWB Berlinetta and a 250 GT LWB California Spider, chassis 1451 GT — the latter car being the one set for RM’s sale.
The second of just eight California Spiders bodied in aluminum and built to full competizione specifications, the 250 GT (above, Diana Varga photo courtesy of RM Sotheby’s) was piloted at Le Mans by owner Bob Grossman, a successful sports car dealer based in Rockland County, New York. The car left the factory just five days before Le Mans, arriving with a flash of paint covering the primer and unfinished seats covered with rags. In both Grossman and the Ferrari’s very first outing at the Circuit de la Sarthe, he and co-driver Fernand Tavano finished an impressive 5th overall and 3rd in their class. After Le Mans, 1451 GT was properly finished in metallic silver and shipped to Grossman’s home in New York. He then raced the car in SCCA events at Thompson, Bridgehampton and the Watkins Glen Grand Prix before shipping it to Nassau for Speed Week, where it took 1st overall in the Memorial Trophy race. Leaving Grossman’s care after the 1960 season, the car passed through a handful of American owners before landing with Jon Masterson of California, who commissioned a complete restoration, which earned the car 1st in Class honors at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Purchased by its current owner in 2007, the Classiche-certified California Spider continued to make the rounds at important events before another full restoration was completed in 2011 by marque specialists Motion Products Inc., returning the car to its proper Le Mans livery. The restoration earned 1451 GT a platinum award at the 2011 Cavallino Classic, and it has been shown at only a handful of events since. It returns to its “home state” next month as one of the most significant Ferraris in existence.
Joining the California Spider in Manhattan is another car whose reputation was built at Le Mans, a 1952 Jaguar C-Type, chassis no. XKC 007. Combining robust engineering with beautiful aerodynamic coachwork, three factory C-Types debuted at Le Mans in 1951, with one of the cars becoming the first British car to win the race in nearly two decades. Jaguar reprised the win with a second Le Mans victory two years later, and in the meantime approximately 43 customer cars were built, with XKC 007 being the seventh. Believed to be the very first C-Type to reach the U.S., XKC 007 was delivered new to Charles Hornburg’s West Coast distributorship, and was retained for competition and promotional purposes, most notably in the hands of the legendary Phil Hill.
The C-Type debuted at Elkhart Lake in September 1952, with Hill actually driving the car from California to Wisconsin and back for the race. He finished 4th in the main event and won the Sheldon Cup outright — scoring the first win by a C-Type on American soil. The Jaguar subsequently passed through a string of owners who also raced it, before landing with Jeffrey Pattinson of the U.K., who commissioned a full concours-quality restoration by Jaguar specialist Terry Larson. XKC 007 was eventually sold to collector Gary Bartlett of Indiana, who retained the respected Chris Keith-Lucas to prepare the car for vintage events, including the 2010 Mille Miglia Storico and the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Under current ownership, the Jaguar has continued to enjoy a life of pampered care and maintenance and is notably documented with a copy of an original factory test report for this chassis, C-Type registry histories, and restoration invoices.
“Both the Competition California Spider and the C-Type represent two of the most important vintage racecars found in the United States today and are offered from an exceptional collection,” commented Donnie Gould, Car Specialist, RM Sotheby’s. “Apart from the original three Jaguar Works cars, the C-Type on offer is easily the best and most desirable of the customer cars, while the 250 GT LWB is one of the most successful and significant competition California Spiders. The pair are perfectly at home in our New York sale as true icons from the golden era of sports car racing.”
The classic pair will lead a group of 31 iconic automobiles set for the December 6 sale, including: a 1932 Marmon Sixteen Convertible Coupe; a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing; a 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster; an award-winning 1965 Aston Martin DB5 Convertible; an exhaustively documented, Classiche-certified 1969 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Berlinetta, chassis no. 12301, that is both the final prototype and the first production Daytona; and a low-mileage 1990 Ferrari F40, the last Ferrari whose design was supervised by Enzo Ferrari himself.