1960 FERRARI 250 GT 'NEMBO SPYDER'
COACHWORK BY NERI & BONACINI
Chassis No. 1777 GT
Engine No. 2271 GT
Rosso Corsa with beige leather interior and beige soft top
Engine: V12, single overhead camshaft, 2,953cc, 235bhp at 7,000rpm; Gearbox: four speed manual; Suspension: front, independent with helicoidal springs, rear, semi-elliptic springs; Brakes: four wheel disc. Left hand drive.
The new Pininfarina-styled 250 GT coupe was first seen at the 1958 Paris Salon having been built in the mold of a semi-luxury grand touring car. This coincided with the opening of the new, larger Farina factory at Grugliasco. Following a first Series of 40 cabriolets built on the 250 GT platform, the coupe had a low waistline, increased window area and large rectangular front grill, with the first Series II cabriolet delivered in early 1959. The Series II was supremely elegant and provided generous space for both driver and passenger and also a large trunk area. Other features included telescopic shock absorbers, contributing to make the car more pleasant to drive.
The tradition of custom coachbuilding lived well into the 1960s, admittedly in a microcosm compared with the '20s and '30s, but still available to the persistent and creative as an expression of individuality or an opportunity to try new and different ideas. Rolls-Royce and Mercedes-Benz had abandoned bespoke bodywork in search of better automobile structures and the economies of scale. 'Frames' were about to become a thing of the past.
Maserati and Ferrari stand out among the last constructors still building separate frame automobiles, and these great marques' persistence in perpetuating proven practices account for much of the pre-eminence of Italian coachbuilders. The carrozzerie, supported by sporting chassis and powerful drive trains from these two marques and nurtured by the Italian passion for design, survived and even prospered. This supremacy drew not only the best talent from Italy, but attracted adventuresome and creative souls from around the world to the one place where there were resources, artisans, a ready market and a supportive environment, namely Italy.
Among these pilgrims was one Tom Meade, a Californian drawn to Italy to realize in metal the shapes in his mind. Taking advantage of the resources in Italy, Meade penned a series of cars, both mainstream and extreme, and became recognized at the time as a leader in the Italian community of automobile stylists. In 1964 Meade secured a patron, Sergio Braidi, for the first of a series of three similar designs, a Ferrari-based spyder echoing the elements of the 1964 GTO race cars.
To execute his concept Meade chose Neri & Bonacini, the establishment of Srs. Giorgio Neri and Luciano Bonacini in Modena. Neri & Bonacini were well known mechanical specialists serving the Ferrari market, often associated with Piero Drogo's Modena Sports Cars carrozzeria. The three Ferrari 250 GTs built under Meade's supervision were called Nembo, not only a neat contraction of Neri & Bonacini but also the name of an Italian cartoon character with Superman-like powers!
The base for the first of his Nembo creations was the car we offer here, originally a Series II Pininfarina cabriolet bearing the chassis number 1777 GT. Thanks to historical research collated by respected historian Marcel Massini, we can confirm that it was sold new to Gian Marco Moratti of Milan. On February 23rd, 1963 Moratti sold 1777 GT to fellow Italian, Aldo Moteni of Como who kept the car for just over three years until it was acquired in mid-1966 in order to become the basis for the Nembo design exercise. According to Meade, Braidi had originally wanted to use a GTO as the basis but the American convinced him that a longer wheelbase would make the car more stylish and appealing: thus the Series II Pinifarina Cabriolet was appointed.
Crafted from steel, the elegant and well proportioned result was completed and handed over to Braidi on September 13th, 1967. It was painted dark blue and had tan leather interior, and as displayed in the period images shown, it initially wore Neri & Bonacini's dealer plates 'MO 103'. Despite the body being made of steel the car was reported to have been lighter than it was when in Pinifarina form and it is this reason that the rear arches were squared off in order to keep the rear wheelarch gaps in keeping with the lines of the car. Perhaps what the Nembo achieves best in many eyes is that it encompasses and combines the beauty of both the 1964 250 GTO and that of the 275 NART Spyder to glorious effect.
Braidi kept the car just three months before Meade sold the car to the Los Angeles based serial Ferrari dabbler Ed Niles who used 1777 GT for a while before selling the car. By 1973 it was owned by Mr. Carl T. Hedden of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania and in 1976 he sold the Nembo to Mr. Chris Waldron of Waldron Motors in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. At this time it already had engine number 2271 GT installed, a unit that was originally installed in a 250 GTE of similar vintage. Waldron showed the car that summer at the annual Ferrari Club of America meeting at Pine Isle near Atlanta, Georgia and later that year he advertised the car for sale. In 1977, it was bought by Dr. Earle Heath in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and in his custody the Nembo was painted red for the first time. The following year Heath part-exchanged it with Mike Schudroff of Carriage House Motorcars in Connecticut. Schudroff was very fond of the car, drove it regularly, had it repainted and retrimmed (again in the red tan combination) and even kept the car in his showroom so he could always admire it. In 1987 he sold it to California-based auctioneer Rick Cole who in turn sold it to Mr. John Colling of Hong Kong, and the following year it was offered by Christie's in Monaco where it was purchased by the vendors' husband.
Over the past seventeen years the car has only been shown three times, once at the Swiss Ferrari Club meeting in Lausanne in April 1990 and a subsequent meeting at Annency, with the most recent show outing at Bagatelle in Paris in September 2000. Recently the car has been seldom used and kept in storage but in the last few months it has been the subject of substantial renovation by marque specialist Sportgarage Ruch in Switzerland, whose work has included a full repaint and interior retrim, again keeping the red and tan livery the car has enjoyed for so many years.
Whilst driving the Nembo spyder is reported as being somewhat restrictive due to the fixed seats and intrusive windshield, it is a wonderfully flamboyant motor car of glorious stature. The Nembo spyder design is perhaps best summed up by authorities Warren Fitzgerald and Richard Merritt in their definitive book Ferrari - The Sports and Gran Turismo Cars, 'the Neri and Bonacini spyder combines the best of GTO and GTB lines...Neri and Bonacini is one of the most beautiful Ferraris of all time and looks good from any angle.' It certainly does and in our opinion is ideal for fair weathered cruising or show display.