World’s Most Coveted Ferrari Heads to Auction
James Dean & Phil Hill fancied this 1954 500 Mondial Spider, and on Jan. 17, it goes to the highest bidder.
Bonhams has revealed that a very special vintage Ferrari has been consigned to the auction house’s annual sale next month. The 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider that was owned, raced and/or admired by four notable auto enthusiasts will be featured at Bonhams’ 2019 Scottsdale Auction on January 17 in Arizona.
Most recognized – indeed immortalized – in photographs with an admiring James Dean, the Italian sports-racer has the fingerprints of a host of iconic personalities.
When new, the Mondial was owned by one of the world’s greatest playboys, Dominican Republic diplomat Porfirio Rubirosa. Accompanied by his then paramour Zsa Zsa Gabor, Rubirosa raced the new Spider in Santa Barbara where the couple was extensively photographed.
Shortly thereafter, it was bought by John von Neumann, the man who introduced Porsche and Volkswagen to California and sold sportscars to the stars through his dealership Competition Motors. Once again at the Santa Barbara road races, an admiring James Dean (who had taken his Porsche Speedster) was shown the car and, too, was extensively photographed.
While under Neumann’s ownership, the Ferrari was also raced at Palm Springs and then at Torrey Pines by a young driver by the name of Phil Hill, who went on to become a motorsport legend.
Even without its glamorous history, this is a very special automobile. One of only 12 made, the rare competition Ferrari was restored by the “men with the golden hands” at Ferrari’s in-house Classiche department in Modena and then, as testament to its quality and history, received 1st in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Platinum Award for Best Restored Ferrari from the Ferrari Club of America, and the Phil Hill Trophy for Best Competition Ferrari by the Ferrari Club of America – a rare and prestigious trio of accolades.
Associated with such illustrious personalities, this Ferrari Mondial Spider is a significant piece of California car and pop culture that will hit the auction block next month at Bonhams’ 2019 Scottsdale Auction.
Photos: Bonham’s; Getty Images