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The Holy Grail of collector cars. The ultimate collector car. The most-valuable collector car that has ever come to public auction.
What might otherwise sound like hype and hyperbole certainly rings true when considering the recent consignment to RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale in August: a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO with period racing history by legendary drivers, never crashed or altered, and in immaculate condition.
The value estimate, staggering but undoubtedly accurate, is $45 million.
The landmark race car, chassis number 3413 GT, is one of just 36 built (plus three subsequent 330 GTOs) of what is still considered among the greatest and most beautiful competition machines ever constructed, as well as the most glorious of all Ferraris. Powered by booming 3.0-liter V12 engines, the GTOs were highly successful racers, admired and collected throughout their existence: all 36 examples still exist.
The announcement by RM Sotheby’s comes on the heels of the private sale late last month of a 1963 250 GTO for a world-record $70 million, making it the most expensive automobile sold in known history. Chassis number 4153 GT was reportedly purchased by an American businessman.
The last time a Ferrari 250 GTO was sold at auction happened in 2014, when a 1962 example sold for $38.1 million during Bonhams’ sale at the Quail Lodge in Monterey, California, setting the mark for the highest-priced collector car sold at auction.
The 250 GTO now set for auction comes from long-term ownership of well-known collector and vintage-racing enthusiast Greg Whitten, the chairman of Numerix and former chief software architect at Microsoft, where he was an early employee. A video supplied by RM Sotheby’s shows Whitten driving the car on a private race course, accompanied by the spirited music of the high-performance V12 engine, which is original to the car.
Chassis 3413 GT was the third Series 1 GTO produced, with a known history of factory racing exploits and subsequent ownership. After its competition introduction at the 1962 Targa Florio road race, driven by the great U.S. driver Phil Hill, the GTO went on to claim the 1962 Italian National GT Championship after winning nine out of 10 races, and first-in-class victories at the 1963 and 1964 Targa Florio races.
After its racing successes – and this GTO never failed to finish a race – the car was updated with a Series II body created by Sergio Scaglietti, while keeping all of its original mechanical parts.
“A rare case and incredible feat for any race car, it retains its original engine, gearbox, and rear axle, as well as its factory Series II body, in which it was clothed by Carrozzeria Scaglietti in 1964,” according to the RM Sotheby’s description.
The auction of the Ferrari 250 GTO is expected to gain worldwide attention, as did the Bonhams GTO sale of 2014.
“This marks just the third time that a GTO has been offered for public sale in the new millennium,” Shelby Myers, car specialist for RM Sotheby’s, said in a news release. “I can think of no better place than our flagship Monterey event, an auction that has borne witness to the record-smashing sale of some of the most important cars in history, for the presentation of such an exceptional example of Ferrari’s most successful racer and the world’s most sought-after collector car, full stop.
“The fact that the GTO exists as it did in period, along with Dr. Whitten’s long-term, enthusiastic ownership, only adds to the car’s impeccable pedigree.”
RM Sotheby’s California auction takes place August 24-25 at the Monterey Conference Center during the famous week of collector car auctions, shows and events leading to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. For information, visit the auction website.