A 52-year old 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta sold for a record price of $38.1 million at a California auction hosted by Bonhams. The $38,115,000 paid for the car eclipsed the previous auction record set last year for a Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 race car. That sale went for $30 million in England. However, the Ferrari did not reach the overall record of $52 million set by another Ferrari GTO last year in a private sale. The amount the car sold for is not the only surprising aspect of this prancing horse masterpiece.
When it was introduced to the world, the Ferrari 250 GTO quickly raced to the top of the charts for most desired automobiles and quickly earned the respect and reputation from car experts and enthusiasts as the ultimate expression of a GT car model. The car, when introduced, was celebrated at its prowess on both the track and on the road, which added to the desirability, even a half century later. It was the final dual purpose road going race cars constructed by Ferrari. Today, while many Ferrari’s would be at home on the track, specific competition models are typically produced as a track-only ride.
The 250 GTO that was sold, setting the record auction price, is one of only 39 models made. When introduced, the car was an immediate success with a sound from the engine that brought a feeling of pure formula racing thoroughbred. Originally costing $18,000, buyers were personally approved by Enzo Ferrari or Luigi Chinette in the North American markets. That exclusiveness of ownership opportunity is still part of Ferrari today. Special editions of current cars have been offered by Ferrari, typically to current owners of a prancing horse super car already.
This specific example of the rare Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta that drew such a surprising amount at the auction has an almost mystique to its heritage. This car, according to Bonhams, was built for the FIA GT World Championship race series. In October of 1962, the car was involved in a crash in Montlhéry, France during a race that killed the driver, Henri Oreiller. Oreiller was a former French Olympic ski champion. After the fatal crash, the car was rebuilt in Italy at its place of birth, the Ferrari factory and continued on in life. The fact that the car had to be rebuilt has not decreased its value one bit. Auction experts really feel that the well documented history of the car has actually enhanced the value.
Adding to the value of this Ferrari 250 GTO, like many Ferrari’s, is that the Italian cars are viewed as more than just a fast car. Interest has grown from art investors worldwide who look at the design of the cars as beautiful pieces of art. Over the last two decades, interest in the artistic aspect Italian car designs exploded to levels that have greatly increased the values of the automobiles. The design, by Sergio Scaglietti of the 250 GTO was the last for Ferrari by the designer.
While the price set a new auction record, the GTO did not come close to meeting the expected price. Industry auto experts believed that this specific car could have fetched near $70 million, or at the very least surpass the $52 million dollar private sale mark set by it’s sibling from the prancing horse stable last year. Jonathan Klinger from Hagerty commented that at $38.1 million, the buyer bought a great specimen of a classic Ferrari and at an exceptional price.
The sale was part of the six days of auctions by Bonhams for collectors of vintage cars. The event began on August 12 at the Pebble Beach golf course and in the towns of Monterey and Carmel. Bonhams reported that the classic Ferrari that sold for the record auction price was bought in 1965 by Fabrizio Violati, who owned the car for most of its life after being rebuilt by the Ferrari factory after the 1962 fatal accident. This was the last of the front-engine coupes to be to be built by the Maranello, Italy for competition. Ferrari then moved to the mid engine design for the 250 LM in 1965 which has continued through the current 458 Italia model today.
By Carl Auer