Historically, Ferrari is noted for producing cars that are equally at home on the street or race track. In the late 1950's, Ferrari importers Jon Von Neumann, and Luigi Chinetti Sr. asked the Factory in Maranello for 'a simple spyder' that was a performance upgrade from the ageing Series I Pininfarina Spyder. What they received was nothing short of remarkable in the 250GT California Spyder long wheelbase. Its chassis, suspension and drivetrain came directly from the legendary 250 Tour de France, and its owners enthusiastically embraced the new car's dual personality. In 1960, the car's length was shortened by 200mm, and drivetrain and braking components were directly sourced from the all-conquering Ferrari 250 Short Wheel Base Berlinetta. This was the proverbial wolf in spectacularly stylish sheep's clothing. In the ensuing years, the California Spyders have become favorites of knowledgeable Ferrari collectors (and auction houses!).
Our 1:14 scale 250GT California Spyder was produced in the late '80s-early '90s by Milanese entrepreneur Paolo Tron, who named this series of larger scale models 'HE14', or 'Enrica', in honor of his lovely wife. A firm in Tradate, Italy called B.N.T. actually performed the construction duties, as they did for many of the early 1:14 pieces by Carlo Brianza. In fact, the products from HE14 and Brianza are remarkably similar because of this shared background. Our California Spyder is however, a much, much rarer model, in that Brianza is still manufacturing many of the same 1:14 scale pieces today, whereas HE14 ceased production in 1993.
The lovely Pininfarina body shape is captured very well, and certain detail areas are worth noting. The side hot air vents for the engine compartment are beautifully rendered, and the engine's air filter photo etch screening adds a very nice touch. Real leather covers the seats, door panels, and dashboard, with carpeting covering the cockpit floors. Of particular interest are the delicate (and accurate) windscreen wipers. Those on comparable Brianza pieces are usually flat, photoetched metal, simply glued onto the windscreen frame. The HE14's are three dimensional multi-piece affairs that are pinned into raised sections of the cowl, just like the original. It is these subtle but important differences that make the HE14 models stand a bit above others produced during the period.
We are fortunate to have an unmolested example that has suffered none of the ravages of time or improper display. Oftentimes, the opening body panels can become warped or distorted, but not so here. This model is as good as it gets, is complete, and is mounted on its original wood base with Perspex cover. Serial #92 in a very small worldwide edition.
With today's emphasis on large scale model production in the Far East, here is an opportunity for the sophisticated collector to acquire a significant Ferrari model assembled by Italian craftsmen over twenty years ago.