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CMC Ferrari 250 GT California Spider 1962


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#1 OFFLINE   Guiddy

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Posted 01 January 2018 - 10:04 AM

Early in his career Enzo Ferrari encouraged a popular American customer of his, Luigi Chinetti, to act as the Official Importer of Ferraris to America.
His West Coast representative, John Von Neumann thought there was potential for an open top Spider version of the successful Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta to suit the glorious sunny Californian climate.
Chinnetti convinced Ferrari this would be a good idea and Carozzeria Pininfarina and Scaglietti in Modena where given the job of styling and building the bodies for the 2400mm and 2600mm 250 chassis.
The term Spider was used to describe the California but that isn’t technically correct as it does have wet weather protection. But as there was already a 250 GT Cabriolet or convertible the term was used to distinguish it from the other open top variants.
Ferrari went on to produce 106 Californias, 50 LWB and later some 56 SWB models.
The biggest difference between the original California Spider and the newer series that had first been shown at the Geneva Salon in March 1960 was the change in wheelbase. In an effort to improve handling and increase the car’s cornering speeds, the wheelbase was reduced from 2,600 millimetres to 2,400 millimetres. Through utilising the newer Tipo 168 design with new heads and larger valves, the engine was now reported to produce up to 280 horsepower. Additionally, the track was wider than that of the outgoing California Spider, and the car’s lever-type shock absorbers were replaced with newer Koni adjustable and telescopic shock absorbers. Braking was transformed by the inclusion of four-wheel Dunlop disc brakes, and the SWB California Spider became the contemporary of the legendary 250 SWB Berlinetta.

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CMC decided to model their 1/18 scale, 1634 part 250 California model on the more desirable SWB chassis and have chosen one of the most pretty of all the variants, the American Market model with bumper over riders.
Some of the Californias had a blunt nose with a distinctive swage line above the grille but this one has a design that swoops straight down to the grille and pronounced haunched rear wings, some other bodies had quite square rear wings. I’m surprised that in modelling the American Market version the number plates look like European versions but that is a small detail!
It’s hard to pick which chassis they used to model the car on but Chassis #1915GT is a German registered car and may well have been the subject for CMCs research as it lives in Germany, but without asking them I am only speculating. The specifications seem to fit though it is a black car which is one of the four colours they do this model in.
Nice they chose a specific shape rather than lazily mishmash various cars together as they have with some of their models.

Starting with the exterior the paint is the lighter of the Ferrari Rosso shades and similar to what is used on the 250 GT Berlinetta. It’s quite orangey and a little lacking in depth. The red used on the Testa Rossa is deeper and more vibrant and has the benefit of being a perfect match for Ford Vibrant Red which I use to touch up most of my CMC collection.
Hopefully I won’t have to do any touching up on this beauty though, it is free from any paint rash that can blight CMC models.
The chrome work is exceptional and there is much of it. The chrome sills and screen are beautifully done.
Opening her up holds a surprise! I expected the doors to feel heavy to open like the Berlinetta but they are the opposite! Light in resistance and quite fragile to touch! The bonnet (hood!) is the usual story, a finger nail under the air intake and a small lift before pulling the rest of the bonnet up by hand. It stays open nicely thanks to it’s own stay.

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Opening the bonnet (hood) reveals that amazing engine, the Colombo V12!
Ferrari’s 250 series was the company’s most successful early production car.
It was powered by the much loved Columbo V12 engine which was used in the first Ferrari, the 125 S, though in the 250 GT Berlinetta it had grown to 3 litres in size and developed between 237 and 276hp depending on spec.
Here in the California it was tuned to that higher figure of 276hp. Perfect for those summer evening blasts on Mulholland Drive!
CMC did a wonderful job of it. So much so I have an engine I removed from a damaged Testa Rossa which I display next to my Colombo engined CMCs, a 250 Testa Rossa, 250 GTO, 250 GT Berlinetta and this California.
During this build period CMC spent a lot of care getting the texture of the wires right and they can all be traced to various points on the model, they are not just there where they can be seen. Anything visible in the real engine bay can be traced back to miniature in here!

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The boot (trunk!) is the first CMC model to use a proper latch mechanism and they suggest using an included tool to press the little button and release the latch but mine worked well enough using my finger. It is exceptional in it’s operation and epitomises everything I love about CMC models. It almost feels like a miniature working car, not merely a static model!
Once opened and held in place by it’s own strut you are treated to a real spare held in with a leather strap and felt carpet. The fuel filler is present too and the rubber seal is neatly done.

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What is so nice about a model of a cabriolet, convertible or spider is seeing all that interior detail all of the time!
The makers really did the California justice here too and the various interior options amongst the four body colours are sublime!

Red/Cream
Black/Red
Blue/Cream
Silver/Black

I understand how the leather is thinned to look scale but how they get the beading to look so good amazes me and is testimony to how much love goes into the initial build. Even the graining on this one looks scale!
The wooden Nardi wheel has a correct scale rim and the dials look very convincing. There is a good reason for this! Each gauge is a separate turned metal piece and sits into a recess in the dash. The end result is fantastic.

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Ash tray, carpet, mats, door handles, window winders, everything is there and in scale. Nothing looks irksome to the eye! Check out those toggle switches! There is even rubber blades under the windscreen wiper arms!!! To even attempt a handbrake lever cover in leather in 1/18 is madness, yet if you look to the right of the steering wheel, that's exactly what CMC have done! They thought doing the same for the gear lever was a step too far though! Shame!

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The stance of the model is good, the ride height about perfect. They got the wheels spot on with this model. The wheels on the 250 GT Berlinetta look a little small to me and they have a deep lip which exaggerates the illusion. No such problem with this model. The spokes on the desirable Borrani wheels go straight into the rim through tiny nipples and are held in place with intricate engraved three ear spinners or knock offs. Tyre valves are present and are strong. I have hand polished some of my CMC rims and have never knocked a valve off! In an age where tyre sidewall detail has been diminishing, check out the detail on these tyre walls! You could order the real thing from all the information on that!

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The only thing I can complain about is the camber. Stance is very important to me, a model can be ruined easily if it doesn’t sit right and many of my CMC models have odd wheel camber or toe in or out.
This suffers from the same and can be seen in a few of the pictures. The illusion can be cured by loosening the knock offs a little and then tweaking the wheel into position by hand, but this is irksome at best, and is lost the moment the model is moved again!
I guess it is a lot to ask the makers to assemble each model with perfect camber and toe in when thousands are made so it’s something I may try and address myself.

Underneath the miniature car rather than model continues! The brake lines continue towards the rear discs, fuel lines reach the fuel tank and the leaf springs are in scale and function.
The steering is simple and the wheel only moves a tiny bit, unlike the stunning steering box on the Bugatti Type 57 which requires many turns lock to lock and can only be operated via the steering wheel!
Brakes are discs all round which took some convincing to force Enzo Ferrari to fit! He was often slow to move onto new technology, especially when it wasn't designed by him! Dunlop developed discs brakes and Peter Collins, one of the Ferrari Team drivers was a big fan of them, even retro fitting them to his one off 250 GT cabriolet special after it left the factory with drums!
They spin very nicely thanks to another first for CMC with this model, ball bearing hubs! I can only imagine how small the ball bearings are and that they even attempted this is crazy! Just check out the picture and you'll see what I mean!

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The exhaust and tail pipes look great and are the perfect size. The chrome coating the tail pipes is excellent and one feature that excels over my 250 GTO. On that they look plastic and the chrome is fading, a real shame when they are so visible on a GTO.
Here they are simply beautiful and look like metal. Perfectly aligned too!

I didn’t think I’d be lucky enough to find an affordable CMC 250 GT California in red in 2017. Prices shot up a long time ago and at the time of writing only the silver ones where regularly for sale at around £300, getting snapped up instantly.
I paid that for a brand new unopened one in red and don’t plan to move it on fast, even though they sell for as high as £500 now. The red version is the only one that wasn't limited to 2500 copies but that hasn't stopped it becoming very desirable!

As our hobby naturally evolves and costs are cut at the expense of detail or material used, the CMC M-091 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider typifies a moment in time when passion was the highest factor in producing a model car.

I hope this model will stand as an example of that for many years to come!

Edited by Guiddy, 03 January 2018 - 02:49 AM.


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#2 OFFLINE   mcaf123

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Posted 01 January 2018 - 11:57 AM

Great review Guiddy! I'm currently photographing the Lancia D50 and peeling all the body panels off one by one. CMC just keeps amazing me with the complexity and detail of their models. I love seeing your collection coz it's so CMC heavy and short of being sent them for review, there's no way I can afford to add any when I'm too busy spending money on my main collection theme so I'm living out my fantasies through you :)
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Posted 01 January 2018 - 02:21 PM

Nice review but I have to add few details! :)

No 1
Every dial, is a part on its own.

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No 2
When you "run" model on a table you will notice some noise and it will feel bit different then any other model. . . And there is a really good reason why. This one has real bearings inside breaks. . .

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#4 OFFLINE   Guiddy

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Posted 01 January 2018 - 02:26 PM

... I can add those details to my review if you don't mind? Thanks for that extra info!

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Posted 01 January 2018 - 04:08 PM

Sure, you can :) I thought they might be interesting for the other people to know them as well. CMC did really god job on that one with all the details. I remember when it came out it was expensive as hell. By standards back then :) Maybe even for todays. . . But man, it had quite a bit of details, never seen before. . . And some of those were these two I mentioned. . . Great model.

#6 OFFLINE   ironsim

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Posted 01 January 2018 - 09:02 PM

Superb model and very complete review, if I may add an old pic of mine, the tires's details are classic CMC! :-O

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#7 OFFLINE   ferrariforever

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 06:02 AM

Thanks for sharing the great pictures. I remember the bearings, CMC back then made quite a fuzz about it. I wonder whether the other CMC models following the California all has the bearings or just the California has?

Also I would like to add one, but I'm doubting about the color. Red is of course THE ferrari color, I have the CMC 250 SWB in red, and every other Ferrari model of mine is in red. But the red CMC California doesn't have the roof + standard and is less limited than the other colors. I tend to minimize black color, because it hides the details. So blue and silver remain. Shall I go for the blue one?

Edited by ferrariforever, 02 January 2018 - 05:59 AM.

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#8 OFFLINE   Craig

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 06:20 AM

Congrats on getting one Guiddy! That price is really good given what most of them are selling for nowadays! :omg:  I bought the Blue one on release & love it to bits! Their models just have that something about them that most makers don't get close to, congrats again on getting it! :occasion14: :yahoo: :yahoo: :yahoo:

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#9 OFFLINE   Guiddy

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 10:14 AM

 ferrariforever, on 02 January 2018 - 06:02 AM, said:

Also I would like to add one, but I'm doubting about the color. Red is of course THE ferrari color, I have the CMC 250 SWB in red, and every other Ferrari model of mine is in red. But the red CMC California doesn't have the roof + standard and is less limited than the other colors. I tend to minimize black color, because it hides the details. So blue and silver remain. Shall I go for the blue one?

I loved it in red from the moment I drooled over it during Ferris Bueller's Day Off (even though that was actually a kit car called a Modena and powered by a 289 ci V8!) Plus my main collection in the living room at home is fully red! Anything in any other colour has to go in my cabinet in the office!
For your choices....well!
The silver one has a black interior which although I love the range of options, as I mentioned in my review, I feel lacks the pizazz of red or cream leather. So that leaves you with blue, which really does look stunning! Another pricey one though, I think they fetch near £400 also!

 Craig, on 02 January 2018 - 06:20 AM, said:

Congrats on getting one Guiddy! That price is really good given what most of them are selling for nowadays! :omg:  I bought the Blue one on release & love it to bits! Their models just have that something about them that most makers don't get close to, congrats again on getting it! :occasion14: :yahoo: :yahoo: :yahoo:

Thanks Craig! Congrats on bagging a blue one at the time! A keeper for sure!

Edited by Guiddy, 02 January 2018 - 10:26 AM.


#10 OFFLINE   Arnage

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 09:24 PM

Congrats. Very nice model and perfect review you did.

Ferrariforever: As for the color, I personally really wanted a blue but when I was shopping (2 years ago) not a single one was available on the market at a reasonable price. So I went with the silver that I really love. Almost all my Ferrari are red and back then I even had the opportunity to get a red for about $450 (vs $250 for the silver) and I passed. I guess that orange hue in the red and the huge price difference was a deal breaker for me. Remember that in the sixties not so many Ferrari clients were purchasing their car in red. So unless you absolutely need a red for your collection, any other color of your choice is good. Blue is probably the best choice but good luck finding one.
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#11 OFFLINE   ferrariforever

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 03:49 AM

Thanks guys for the suggestions. I will keep on looking :)
@Arnage, you are talking about US dollars right?

Out of the CMC Ferrari street cars:

250 SWB
250 TR
California
250 GTO

I think the GTO is historically the most important, and the most expensive 1:1 Ferrari. But in my opinion, I think the Califonia is the most gorgeous one. Also I already have a Kyosho GTO.
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#12 OFFLINE   Arnage

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 09:11 AM

FF: Yes my prices are USD.
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#13 OFFLINE   Mike K

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Posted 04 January 2018 - 10:23 PM

Excellent review :occasion14:  Congrats on getting your grail and having all 4 CMC 250s, wow!

The blue one is my #1 holy grail too.  I had the chance about a month ago to get it for relatively cheap, well under the $600-$700 that I've seen it go for on eBay, but I was put off because the seller didn't want to take PayPal.  Hoping for another chance soon.

#14 OFFLINE   UDPride

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Posted 02 July 2020 - 11:27 PM

I have the red 250 GT California. I was watching an Ebay auction on one today that just ended at $921.00.  Holy smokes.  Im of the opinion that anytime CMC unveils a new model from a desirable manufacturer - Ferrari, Jag, Aston, etc, that you need to try to pick it up b/c it makes a lot of cents/sense.

I kick myself for not getting a 250 GTO when they came out. Stupid stupid stupid!  I was smart enough to get the Cali and the SWB coupe but then cheaped out. Major mistake. Will never happen again.

Edited by UDPride, 02 July 2020 - 11:28 PM.

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#15 OFFLINE   Uzair

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Posted 03 July 2020 - 03:19 AM

Late to the party but man oh man these classic CMCs are something else! LOVE the fact that they have actual honest to goodness ball bearings on the shafts, and that the inscribed lettering on the tire sidewalls is sooooo minute and crisp it is unbelievable! Honestly after checking out the details of a CMC model all other manufacturers are left in the dust!
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#16 OFFLINE   simondc07

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Posted 03 July 2020 - 06:46 AM

I can't believe I missed this review. Very detailed write up and some excellent pictures to boot.

The 250 SWB California is an absolute stunner, my only detraction on the red version being the US bumpers. Having the side louvres and covered headlights are two very desirable styling options across the limited production run that are rarely found on the 1:1. It would be great if there was also a high quality LWB California as well, but the SWB is certainly the prettier of the two.

As far as I am concerned the SWB California is one of the best CMCs available. The red being the classic colour selection with the blue probably the most exotic. If you get a chance to grab one, don't hesitate.

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#17 OFFLINE   Craig

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Posted 03 July 2020 - 02:39 PM

I think that it I were looking to buy one now, I'd seriously have to think about it. Prices have gone absolutely mental!! It's still a great model though, one of the best 1/18's in my opinion.

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#18 OFFLINE   Guiddy

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 04:38 AM

 UDPride, on 02 July 2020 - 11:27 PM, said:

I kick myself for not getting a 250 GTO when they came out. Stupid stupid stupid!  I was smart enough to get the Cali and the SWB coupe but then cheaped out. Major mistake. Will never happen again.

There is still time! It may not be a red one but in any other colour it still a good option. They are only going to go up even more!!!




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