The safest bet on a any car on the planet breaking records is a Ferrari 250 GTO. Among collectors, it’s considered the bluest of chips, the car that makes many purchasers and purchase-intenders feel, “from the moment you park one in your garage, you’ve won. There’s nowhere else to go other than down.” The 250 GTO is so prized, and so rarely parks its wheels in a public auction forum, that even auction houses find ways to dress their Sunday best when the occasion arises. Case in point, an Ohio collector placed a 1962 250 GTO in the hands of RM Sotheby’s. The auction house then placed the 250 GTO among the lots of its traditional end-of-year fine art auction in New York City, not its vehicle auctions. Sotheby’s European chief flew over to perform as auctioneer. The presentation backdrop was a painting by U.S. artist Jonas Wood. When the bidding and hammering were done, the Ferrari sold for $51.7 million after the 10% buyer’s premium.
This is a record for Ferraris at public auction. It is, however, lower than the presale estimate expecting “in excess” of $60 million, and below the rumored transaction values for other 250s sold privately in the past decade or so. Several factors could have contributed to the result. Fortune noted that through November 3, the classic car auction market is down 23.4% compared to last year, at $249.9 million in sales versus $321.4 million. Hagerty detailed this car’s foggy early history, the coupe supposedly built as what’s referred to as a Ferrari 330 LM, an evolution of the 250 that used the sturdier Tipo 538 chassis instead of the standard 250s Tipo 539 chassis so that it could support a 4.0-liter V12 instead of the 250’s 3.0-liter V12. This chassis, 3765LM in 330 guise, was the only Works version that Ferrari raced, finishing with a class win and second overall at the 1962 Nürburgring 1000 KM. After posting a DNF at Le Mans in 1962, Ferrari is said to have rebuilt the car with the 250’s original 3.0-liter, the key to this car receiving the 250 name and a simultaneous 3765GT chassis designation depending on where one sources the pedigree information. As one classic car dealer told the New York Times, “It’s a great car. I don’t think, unfortunately, that everybody understands it… In a market where appearances are very important and people like the comfort of belonging to a group of like-minded owners, anything that needs explaining is always a little bit more of a challenge to sell.”
RM Sotheby’s sold its last Ferrari 250 GTO in 2018, another example from 1962 that brought in $48.4 million after the buyer’s premium.
The owner cleaned up, anyway, in just the 20 minutes the auction took to conclude. Jim Jaeger, a co-founder of the Escort radar detector company, bought 3765LM/GT in 1985 for $500,000, about $1.4M in today’s money.
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1962 Ferrari 250 GTO sells for $47 million hammer price, $51.7M after fees
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