Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta Sold For US$38M
There is now a new titleholder for the most expensive car ever to be sold at an auction. Last Thursday, at the prestigious Bonhams Quail Lodge Auction, a red 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta broke the record when it brought the hammer down on US$38 million. The two-seater coupe, with a 3.0-litre, 300hp V12 engine under its hood, usurped a 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 Formula One racing car, which was also sold by Bonhams just last year for close to US$30 million, from the top spot. The identity of the successful bidder was not disclosed.
Substantial as the amount is, it actually did not come close to prior estimates, which car experts placed at around US$70 million. Bidding began enthusiastically from US$11 million and swiftly reached US$34 million, and then it all but stagnated. Auctioneer and Chairman of Bonhams, Robert Brooks, did his best to encourage bids to continue with “When is the next time a GTO will be at auction and will the next one be any less?” The large crowd of attendees cheered each time the bid went up, in increments of US$100,000. The final sale price was US$34.65 million attached with an additional 10% buyer’s fees.
The GTO is regarded as one of the rarest and most coveted cars. In a private sale last year, a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO sold for more than US$52 million, which is perhaps why experts had expected a higher sale price. This particular one that was actioned by Bonhams, identified by its chassis number 3851GT, is the 19th of only 39 Ferrari 250 GTO’s and was completed on 11 September 1962. No one would have expected that it would be involved in a fatal crash just less than a month later. The GTO was co-driven by French drivers Jo Schlesser and Henri Oreiller in the 1962 Tour de France Automobile. During a race at Montlhéry Autodrome located at the south of Paris, according to a newspaper report (pictured left), a tyre blow-out sent the Ferrari careening off the track, flipping twice and throwing Oreiller out; he would later succumb to his injuries in the hospital. The Bonhams’ auction information page revealed that the car had hit a trackside building.
Ferrari fixed the badly damaged GTO in Italy and it was then sold to Paolo Colombo for the 1963 competition season. In 1965, it was bought by Fabrizio Violati, a wealthy Italian heir, for about US$4000, which is about $33,500 today; 3851GT remained in his possession for the next 40 years.
According to the list compiled by Car Magazine, Ferrari’s make up seven out of the ten priciest cars ever to be sold at auctions:
- 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta, US$38,115,000 (Bonhams Quail Lodge Auction 2014)
- 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196, US$29,605,000 (Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed 2013)
- 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spider, US$27,500,000 (RM Auctions, Monterey 2013)
- 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa prototype, US$16,390,000 (Gooding and co, Pebble Beach 2013)
- 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Berlinetta Competizione, US$12,745,500 (RM Auctions, Italy 2013)
- 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, US$12,402,500 (RM Auctions, Maranello 2009)
- 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster, US$11,770,000 (Gooding and co, Pebble Beach 2012)
- 1960 Ferrari250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione, US$11,275,000 (Gooding and co, Pebble Beach 2012)
- 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf, US$11,000,000 (RM Auctions, Monterey 2012)
- 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider, US$10,894,000 (RM Auctions, Maranello 2008)
On that note, you might also want to read our other article Classic Cars: Better Than Stocks, Gold Or Property.