One family ownership until 2001 and less than 20,500km from new
1967 FERRARI 365 SPYDER CALIFORNIA
COACHWORK BY PININFARINA
Engine No. 9889
Light metallic blue with black leather interior
Engine: V12 (Type 217B), single overhead camshaft per bank, triple Weber carburetors, 4,390cc, 320bhp at 6,600rpm; Gearbox: five speed manual; Suspension: front, independent with double wishbones, coil springs, rear, rigid rear axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs; Brakes: four wheel disc. Left hand drive.
Introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in the spring of 1966, the 365 California was billed as a successor to the 500 Superfast. Its 4.4 litre engine was a development of the long block Colombo V12 engine that was used in the 330 series and with an 8.8:1 compression ratio it produced some 320 horsepower at 6,600rpm. A similar engine had first been developed for use in the privateer 365P prototype sports racing cars of the mid sixties. The body was designed and built by Pininfarina and borrowed heavily from other PF designs, the front from the 500 Superfast and 330GTC, the body sides and air intake around the door handles were like the 246 Dino. The rear, however, was unique to the 365. Unlike many of its contemporaries, this luxury convertible Ferrari came equipped as standard with air conditioning and power steering as well as Borrani wire wheels.
The 365 Spyder California is so rare that Ferrari never actually printed a separate brochure for it. The 14 examples built all went to VIP clients. Its design was authored by Tom Tjaarda, who was then in the employ of Pininfarina. Tjaarda was a young American revered by some West Coast Ferrari chroniclers as a designer of significance. 9889 was sold to Mrs. Carla Sacchi Toffolini for her husband Mr. Sacchi. It was finished in azzuro metallizato (blue metallic) with nero (black) leather interior and blue carpets, with lap belts. While it was registered with a Milan plate MI E02428 in the family's main residence in Milan where Mr. Sacchi was an industrialist, it was kept at the family's seaside residence in Santa Margherita Ligure a village right next to one of the most famous little ports in Europe, Portofino.
There 9889 was enjoyed in grand style, taking the couple on leisurely drives to restaurants along the coast and enjoyed in spirited drives by Mr. Sacchi. The beauty of the surrounding coast, its hilly roads, stunning architecture, romantic villages and aristocratic villas combined with the elegance and regal performance of the 365 California conjure heady images of real life dolce vita and lend this example a wonderful aura and provenance. It was also, most unusually for a Ferrari, driven by the family chauffeur, Salvatore Paletta, when taking Mr. or Mrs. Sacchi to their destinations. It was kept scrupulously original bar period twin Heuer stopwatches that were fitted on the center console.
Mr. Sacchi passed away in 1980 and his widow Carla Sacchi Toffolini became the owner of 9889. The last public appearance of the beautiful cabriolet was at the 1983 Ferrari Days in Modena where Salvatore Paletta brought the car for Ferraristi to enjoy. A color photograph taken that day is published on page 165 of The Complete Ferrari by Godfrey Eaton. After that it was put away and only taken out for cleaning and buffing, like the family silverware.
While researching the history of this car, Ferrari historian Marc Sonnery, realized that he had visited the two beautiful small towns of Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure immediately after the 250GTO 30th anniversary in 1992 at the Ferrari factory in Maranello. Little did he know that hidden behind the high walls of one of the patrician residences there lay a treasure twice as rare as a GTO! The fact is, little did anyone know! 9889 lived in complete anonymity with the Sacchi family for decades, lost to the world.
Then, in late 1999 in a bar in New York City a chance meeting occurred between a relative of the Sacchi family, a young man working in a New York City bank, and Randy Simon a US specialist dealer. When the conversation turned to Ferraris the Italian mentioned the elusive 365 California, an ocean and half the Mediterranean away. It then seemed a distant dream to Simon but he immediately set about trying to purchase it. According to Simon it turned out to be one of the most protracted and eventful roller coaster negotiations ever to involve a motor car. Indeed the transaction took no less than one and a half years!
Firstly the elderly Mrs. Sacchi Toffolini felt an emotional attachment to her late husband's car, but it was no longer being used and he had passed on almost twenty years earlier. She had no need for the substantial funds the car could be sold for, but she understood that it would be right for the 365 California to be released into the world where it could be enjoyed by a new owner and admired by Ferraristi at large. Finally a general price range was agreed and a partner of Simon's, Peter Brotman, flew to Italy. To say that he was crossing from the new world to the old could not be truer. While classic car transactions are for the most part notoriously quick, unemotional and matter of fact in America, in an old European family particularly so in Italy, when a car has been within it for decades it very much becomes a family member. Optimistically, Simon had already coordinated a truck to pick up the car via a German collector friend from whom he was buying a rare 365GTS. The truck was due to arrive from Germany one hour after Brotman, but it was not to be that simple.
Brotman began to realize he was entering a different universe when he arrived at the ancient Sacchi Toffolini Villa. As he crossed the gate he entered a world of age-old elegance, a residence filled with antiques of the highest order, numerous servants and a park maintained by over a dozen gardeners. He was ushered in to meet the lady of the house, feeling very far away from his usual environment and was then led to the car in the villa's garage. He had to telephone Simon immediately; the azzuro blue Spyder was in stunningly original condition, having seen little use and been much pampered, it was truly an extraordinary find.
Then, very unexpectedly, Mrs. Sacchi Toffolini and her advisors decided that the family lawyer should handle the transaction and, equally out of the blue, an interpreter also appeared. The lawyer was exceedingly firm and at one point stated loudly, this is the price; pay it or leave. Brotman then called Simon in the US who sensing disaster called the Sacchi relative in New York who in turn called the Villa in Santa Margherita, only to tell a rather surprised Simon that all seemed to be proceeding normally! Finally a price was agreed upon but the lawyer stated that the cashier's checks had to clear, which was anathema to a US dealer, especially when a European (i.e. expensive) truck which had traveled across the Alps sat waiting outside the gates. Faced with having neither the car nor his funds, Simon became very worried but when the Sacchi family offered to host Brotman for the week, the latter realized how minute the transaction was when compared to the value of some of the antiques in the villa and he felt quite comfortable leaving. At last a few days later he was notified that the cashier's check was accepted and collected the car. Understandably Salvatore Paletta found it very hard to see the California Spyder depart from its decades long cocoon into its new life.
The German collector who had arranged the truck for Simon had shown an interest in purchasing 9889 but hesitated when the new, post negotiation price became clear and before the truck even left Italy the car had been sold elsewhere by telephone, sight unseen, to its second ever owner, Mel Weiss of Smoke Rise, New Jersey. Upon the truck's arrival in Munich the German collector immediately regretted his mistake when he saw the 365 in person, but it was too late! In a final and bizarre twist Simon's US banker then contacted him explaining that the cashier's checks had arrived back by mail, so after having neither car nor his funds a few days before, he now had both! He immediately sent the payment back to Mrs. Sacchi Toffolini of course but not without pointing out her lawyer's less than competent handling of the matter, his abrasiveness repaid in kind! 9889 was then flown from Germany to the US in May of 2001.
In April of this year it was acquired by the current owner, a very knowledgeable collector who brought it to the Ferrari Club of America national meet at the historic Sebring Raceway in central Florida. To his great satisfaction it won both a Premio d'Arento award as well as the National Preservation Award. Upon a recent inspection the odometer was reading 20,350 and the condition and color combination is truly magnificent for an original vehicle. As expected it retains its original top boot cover, tool roll (missing a few items) and jack with bag.
Christie's is proud to offer one of the greatest Ferrari finds in recent years, as lovingly preserved by Salvatore Paletta as the other Sacchi Toffolini heirlooms in the great villa in Santa Margherita Ligure. This is a truly great opportunity to acquire a rare example of one of the last limited edition Ferraris meant for Ferrari's elite clientele, preserved as well as could be feasible.