$38 Million Ferrari Becomes The World's Most Valuable Car
A 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO became the most valuable car in the world selling for $38 million at the Bonham’s Auction in Carmel, California on Thursday. But the gavel price disappointed the Ferrari cognoscenti, who predicted that the car might bring as much as $60 million.
The bidding went to $31 million within a minute, but stalled out before reaching the lofty heights that vintage car experts had predicted. The Ferrari GTO is widely considered the most coveted modern automobile, and this example, chassis number 3851, is one of only 39 made. The GTO is considered especially desirable because of its beautiful styling, its racing pedigree, and the fact that it can be driven both on the road at prestigious rallies like the Mille Migilia and on the track at vintage racing events.
While the GTO fetched a world record price–the previous auction record for an automobile was a Mercedes W194 Grand Prix car, once driven by legendary racer Juan Manuel Fangio that commanded $29.7 million–the expectation was that the price would have climbed higher. This is the first GTO to go on the auction block in several years, and earlier this year a GTO reportedly changed hands for $52 million. The owner of the car, Paul Pappalardo, did not confirm the sale price.
Another private sale, an apple green GTO that was built for Stirling Moss, reportedly sold for around $35 million in 2012. That topped the previous private sale record held by a Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic that changed hands for over $30 million in 2010.
The owner of record setting Ferrari GTO number 3851 had bought the car only two months ago with an eye toward turning a quick profit. It was one of 73 cars purchased for between $150 and $200 million.
“Good god no! It’s a world record!” auctioneer Robert Brooks said after the event, in response questions about whether the gavel price was a disappointment. “I mean the previous world record was $30 million, and we’re nearly 30% ahead of that. That’s a lot of money; that’s a big up.”
The GTO has become the ultimate status symbol in the exotic car world. GTO owners include Ralph Lauren RL +0.22%, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, and Wal-Mart heir Rob Walton, and in recent years GTO owners have held ultra-exclusive get-togethers, so the car comes with admission to one of the world’s most exclusive clubs.
“They kind of trade in their own little world, “David Brynan, of Gooding and Co. told me in 2012. “The GTO name is easy to understand, it’s memorable, it rolls off the tongue. It’s in the sweet spot between a road car and a race car. You know you’re in a very special car when you’re in one.”
Number 3851, was the 19th GTO completed on September 11, 1962. It was owned for most of its life by Fabrizio Violati who bought it for around $4,000. The car’s previous owner, Henri Oreiller, was killed when he crashed the car into the wall. The car was subsequently rebuilt at the Ferrari factory, and Violati raced it in vintage events until his death in 2010.
The highly anticipated Ferrari auction at the Quail Lodge was one of the highlights of a week-long celebration of all things automotive that included historic races at Laguna Seca and the Concours ‘d Elegance classic car show at Pebble Beach.