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1960 Ferrari 250 California SWB from CMC

By Mark Savage
Published: September 14, 2012
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Product: Although pricey, for serious collectors, there are few, if any, models in the die-cast world as finely made as those produced by CMC.

This new 1:18 Ferrari 250 California is hand-assembled from 1,634 individual parts. No corners are cut, hence its premium price tag.

The 250 California short wheelbase (SWB) first showed up at the Geneva Auto Show in 1960 with a 3.0-liter V12 delivering 250 horsepower. Top speed was 145 mph and it was said to do 0–60 mph in about 6.5 seconds. That may not sound so impressive today, but in 1960, this was considered a supercar.

Why is it called California?

Well, that was Ferrari’s best market in the U.S., and its U.S. distributors suggested the name and that the car be a convertible. The 250 California was hand-built in limited numbers by Carozerria Scaglietti, which boosts its collector value; some being auctioned in the last few years for between $5 and $10 million.

The model may best be known for its central role in the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, in which the title character talks his best friend into taking his father's 250 California for a joyride around Chicago.

Start with the Ferrari’s immaculate body and brilliant red paint. The car looks elegant, but fast. It features chrome bumpers, door handles and windshield framing, plus chrome wipers with black blades. The bumpers even have chrome guards, with black rubber inserts.

The enclosed headlights look real, again with chrome rings, and the taillights are accurate down to their two-tone amber and red lenses. The Ferrari prancing horse sits mid-grille with a logo gracing the nose, and the name is etched on the trunk lid, just above the lock and latch, which actually works — a die-cast first. On the car’s side are stainless steel vents with real wire mesh.

Inside, the convertible shows off its tan leather seats and black dash with exquisite gauge detail. You can read the numbers on the main gauges and there are five smaller ones to their right, all ringed in chrome.

There are nine other levers and buttons below those gauges, plus the shifter with a black cue-ball knob and a wood-look steering wheel, again with the Ferrari logo on its hub. There’s also a rearview mirror atop the dash, in the style of the day, along with a wood 3-spoke Nardi steering wheel.

The engine bay is well detailed, too, with "Ferrari" cast in the famous Colombo V12’s header covers and all of the plumbing in place. I like seeing all the clamps and connectors, which is uncommon in most 1:18 models of lesser detail. Even the oil filter is properly labeled.

The hood hinge is realistic and the hood opens forward; the doors and trunk open smoothly, too without feeling delicate.

The Ferrari’s undercarriage is detailed with proper brake lines, a full cylindrical spring suspension and realistic brakes. The wheels are branded Michelins and are fully removable with locking wheel nuts that really work. Of course, the front wheels also are steerable, and in back are two sets of chrome dual exhausts, hinting at what must have been a beautiful exhaust note on the California. Next up, engines that really run?

The California also is available in blue, silver and black, all limited to 2,500 pieces and including a metal hard-top, a rarity among the real cars. Although a limited number were built, there will still be many more CMC models than exist of the real car.

All CMC models make exquisite centerpieces in a showcase, but you may want to send a special email to your best, most serious collectors to lock in orders early on this model. Once they are sold out and hit eBay, they will likely go for $600 or more.

Product: 1960 Ferrari 250 California SWB
Maker: CMC
Scale: 1:18
Stock number: M-091
MSRP: $438
Availability: CMC

• Museum-quality detail
• Famous movie tie-in
• It's a Ferrari ... and it's red!