We’ve all heard it before, the promise from a used-car seller that a certain repair would be made – after you buy the car. Too often, it ends in disappointment and bad feelings.
That seems to be what’s happening on the grandest of scales, with the buyer of one of the world’s most valuable cars – a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO – suing the seller because the car is missing a crucial original part. And now, the buyer claims, the seller is reneging on his promise to make it whole.
Missing from the Ferrari, chassis No. 3387GT, is its factory 5-speed gearbox, the “matching numbers” transmission that would make the GTO closer to how it was originally manufactured, and more valuable as a result.
The Ferrari, by the way, was purchased in October 2017 for $44 million in a private sale, making it among the highest confirmed prices for any automobile. There have been a couple of 250 GTO sales that reputedly have gone even higher over the top, including one for $80 million.
Putting that in some kind of perspective, the four highest prices known to have been paid for single automobiles were each for Ferrari 250 GTOs, including the highest price ever paid at auction for any automobile. Just 39 of the V12-powered coupes were built from 1962 through 1964.
The buyer of 3387GT, British race driver and supercar dealer Gregor Fisken, is suing American attorney Bernard Carl in London High Court for breach of contract for not delivering the gearbox as promised. The original part is in the hands of a third party, which complicates the issue.
The two have been fighting for more than two years and are at an impasse, Fisken stating that Carl has refused to honor their deal by not acquiring and supplying the gearbox, and Carl contending that Fisken had turned down his offer to retrieve the gearbox at the time of the sale, and had paid a half-million-dollars less for the Ferrari as a result.
Further complicating the suit is that Fisken has since sold the GTO to another buyer for an undisclosed amount, which Carl’s attorney says makes the issue moot. Fisken says the car was resold to his client with the understanding that Carl would supply the gearbox.
Apparently, the entire point comes down to pocket change in relation to the $44 million price tag, with the current owner of the gearbox seeking just $25,000. Shipping costs from the U.S. to the U.K. also would be required.
But according to Fisken’s suit, it is Carl’s responsibility to provide the Ferrari gearbox, not his. Carl contends that since he located the gearbox, Fisken should pay him the $500,000 difference in what he paid for the car without the precious part.
What is unclear from the legal papers and various British media reports is whether 3387GT has any gearbox backing up its 302-horsepower engine; presumably, a non-original unit is now in the car.
The Ferrari 250 GTO is considered to be the most-desirable collector car in the world, the holiest Holy Grail of them all. The bodies designed by Ferrari engineer Gian Carlo Guerra are so spectacular, they are considered to be the most-beautiful Ferraris ever made. That’s saying a lot considering the wealth of shapely Ferraris designed by renowned coachbuilders over the years.
No. 3387GT is the second 250 GTO built, and it has an illustrious history of competition, achieving 17 podium finishes in 27 races and driven by such motorsport greats as American-born Formula 1 champion Phil Hill.
But as such, the Ferrari’s working life as a competition car would mean that various mechanical parts most likely were replaced before, after and even during races, due to repairs and improvements along the way. So, while the factory gearbox is a known quantity that undoubtedly enhances its value, it’s hard to measure with a veteran race car what is original and what is not.