Instant classic: new record at RM Sotheby’s Ferrari Auction

RM Sotheby’s, in partnership with Ferrari, recently helds its 2017 “Leggenda e Passione” auction at the Fiorano race track, just outside Maranello. This eagerly awaited sale was part of the celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the great Italian car manufacturer. In all, 42 cars (one was added at the last minute) and 11 lots of Ferrari automobilia were offered for sale, and the auction recorded a sale rate of 92.5% (38 lots), an excellent result corresponding to overall takings of EUR 63,068,000 (10% commission included). Four lots set new world record prices.

RM Sotheby’s Ferrari Auction: A contemporary supercar sets a new standard. Photo by Massimo Delbò.

The most expensive car was also the most modern — a brand new 2017 Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta, the last one built, car 210, sold directly by the manufacturer to benefit the charity Save the Children. For this reason, no commission was applied, only Italian VAT payable on the full purchase price. After some fierce and protracted bidding, during which Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne took on the role of RM specialist, taking telephone bids, the hammer finally came down at EUR 8,300,000. This price is a new world record not only for a Ferrari LaFerrari, but for 21st century hypercars in general. The second most expensive car, also recording an impressive price, fetched EUR 7.8 million, while one car sold for more than EUR 4 million, a further two broke the 3 million barrier, and five sold for more than 2 million. Finally, nine cars passed the EUR 1 million mark.

The first car to fall short of a 7 digit figure was the auction’s 20th most expensive. New price records for their respective models were set by a 1969 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Berlinetta Alloy (EUR 1,807,000), a 1983 Ferrari 400i (EUR 345,000), and a 2016 Ferrari 488 Spider “Green Jewel” (chassis ##221719). This last car was the first model prepared by Ferrari to mark its 70th birthday; it has already been shown in many different car shows. Sold in “as new” condition, it fetched EUR 1,090,200, a price well above its EUR 320–380 K estimate. The auction’s cheapest car, offered without reserve and with an estimated value of EUR 125–150 K, was, unsurprisingly, the 1991 348 TS, which sold for EUR 149,500. The 1960 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione (chassis #2163 GT) with a non-matching numbers but correct-type engine, which had been assigned the highest pre-sale estimate (EUR 8.5–10 million), was a no sale, confirming that only absolutely perfect cars are truly in demand on today’s market. All the cars offered were Ferrari Classiche certified. All the reported prices are inclusive of the buyer’s commission of 15% + IVA (Italian VAT) on amounts of up to EUR 500,000 and 12% + IVA on any sum paid over this threshold.

RM Sotheby’s Ferrari Auction: The six cars we previewed

The six cars we picked out for our preview of RM Sotheby’s “Leggenda e Passione” auction all sold, one of them fetching the second highest price of the sale and two setting new world records for their respective models. The “runner up”, nevertheless fetching an impressive EUR 7,855,000, was the 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider, a rarely seen matching numbers Spider coming from a single ownership of more than 20 years, during which, after a restoration in 1998, it covered only 700 kilometers. Offered with an estimate of EUR 7.5–9.5 million, it met its target!

Another car in our selected six became the day’s 7th most expensive, namely the 1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupé by Vignale, one of the four cars of this model dressed by Vignale. It was shown at the 1954 World Motor Sports Show in New York. Sold to the consignor in 2015, it was offered for sale with an estimated value of EUR 2.8–3.4 million and sold for EUR 2,871,000. Another of our selected cars was, without doubt, the most admired car of the sale. We refer to the 1969 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 “Daytona” Berlinetta Alloy, the only road specification alloy-bodied Daytona in existence, recently discovered in a Japanese barn after being considered lost for almost 40 years. Featured in the January 1972 issue of the Japanese magazine Car Graphic, this matching numbers car featuring the Plexiglass nose was shown totally covered in dust, but complete. It was offered without reserve, with an estimate of EUR 1.4–1.7 million, and sold for EUR 1,807,000 — a new world record for a Daytona Coupe.


Fresh from a Japanese barn – a Ferrari Daytona Alloy. Photo by Massimo Delbò.

Moving on, the next in our selection was the 1960 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Pinin Farina Series II, the 13th of the second series built, whose first owner was Umberto Agnelli, younger brother of Gianni of the FIAT dynasty. Coming from a more than 20-year single ownership, this seldom seen car, which also boasts some special features, was offered with an estimate of EUR 1.35–1.65 million, and fetched EUR 1,341,000. The 1950 Ferrari 195 Inter Coupé by Touring, the first of the 25 195 series chassis manufactured and one of the only three dressed by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan, was the penultimate in our selection and the oldest car in the catalog. It was exhibited in April 1951 at the Turin Motor Show. Offered with an estimate of EUR 1.1–1.5 million, it changed hands for EUR 900,000. The last of our “top six”, the perfectly preserved 1983 Ferrari 400i with the five-speed gearbox and less than 4000 km from new, came from a single, and rather special, ownership. This car, belonging to Rolling Stone Keith Richards, was offered without reserve, with an estimate of EUR 125–175 K. This was already a potential world record for the model, but it sold for considerably more than that: EUR 345,000.

The Top Ten of RM Sotheby’s Ferrari sale

This sale produced a very unusual mix of cars in its Top Ten. The list was headed by the youngest car of the sale, a brand new hypercar ready to be delivered to its first owner and sold directly by the manufacturer (for charity). A final bid of EUR 8,300,000, made by telephone, secured the sale for the new owner of this 2017 Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta, painted in a special livery of Rosso Fuoco with a Bianco Italia double racing stripe on the bonnet and rear deck (see above). The interior will be trimmed in black Alcantara with red leather inserts on the seats, red stitching, and glossy black carbon fiber trim. Ferrari has still not disclosed the chassis number of this car, but it will soon be discovered, when the car is delivered. It sold for EUR 8,300,000, without commission, and the entire amount is being donated to Save the Children, for an international program focusing on education.

Photo © Darin Schnabel.

As we have already described the 2nd most expensive car in the review of our selected six, we move straight on to the car in third place: a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Pinin Farina Series I (chassis #0791 GT), the 14th of the 40 making up the first series (see above). Boasting a known history, including a 40-year ownership, it sold for EUR 4,719,000 after an estimate of EUR 4,7–5,5 million. The fourth most expensive car was a 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider Scaglietti (chassis #0534 M) with a rich racing history that took it to Italy, Cuba and Venezuela (see Header top of the page). It underwent a mechanical restoration in 2000; this was followed, in 2013, by some work on the body which resulted in its current “almost perfect” status. Coming from a Japanese collection, it was sold for EUR 3,375,000, just below its pre-sale estimate of EUR 3.4–3.8 million.

Fifth spot in the Top Ten went to a 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO, the first supercar of the company’s modern era, which, thanks to its incredible power and speed, helped to restore the prancing horse to its former glory after a rather lack-luster period (see above). A model much revered and dreamed of, this particular car (chassis #ZFFPA16B000057709) is a perfect example of one of Leonardo Fioravanti’s best designs. It was offered with a single ownership since 1993 and only 729 kilometers from new, and is therefore one of the least used and best preserved examples in the world. Ready to be used after a recent service, it fetched EUR 3,263,000, a price perfectly matching its EUR 3.25-4 million estimate.

The sixth highest price was paid for a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Alloy (chassis #08111), a matching numbers “long nose” car, still with its original alloy body. Its first owner was American senator Adlai Stevenson III. It topped its pre-sale estimated value of EUR 2.4–2.8  million, coming under the hammer at EUR 2,927,000. Having already mentioned the car that fetched the 7th highest bid, we move on to the auction’s eighth most expensive car, a 1973 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider (chassis #16783), one of the most iconic sporty open car models ever built in Maranello. This particular one is among the only 123 originally made, and also one of the only two originally painted in Rosso Bordeaux. Never restored and therefore offered for sale in wonderful preserved condition, with only 6,688 kilometers covered from new, it sold for EUR 2,479,000 after an estimate of EUR 2.1–2.6 million.

The sale’s ninth most expensive lot was a modern 2004 Ferrari Enzo (chassis #ZFFCZ56B000136733) in the always admired black-on-black color combination and with 21,500 kilometers covered since it was first delivered in Germany. With two owners from new and always serviced correctly, it was offered in “ready to drive” condition; it sold for EUR 2,300,000, more than its pre-sale estimate of EUR 1.8–2 million, proving that a well-maintained supercar, even if driven, retains its value.

The final place in the Top Ten went to a 2012 Ferrari LaFerrari, specifically a prototype (chassis #194925), which was added to the sale after the catalog had been printed. This is the car that was used for the private LaFerrari preview in 2013, and has since been used by the manufacturer as reference car in the factory Atelier for customer configuration sessions. Offered for sale for the first time, directly from the factory, this prototype is not homologated for road use and cannot be road registered. Ferrari stated that it should be used is it as, for static display only, and required the winning bidder to sign a form acknowledging this. Despite this important limitation, this refined maquette, offered with an undisclosed estimate, sold for EUR 2,129,560. These 10 top-selling cars, representing 23.8% of the lots in the catalog, sold for a total of EUR 40,229,560 (about 63.8% of the total value of the sale), and they all passed the two million euro mark.

Some other cars of RM Sotheby’s Ferrari sale

In an auction like this, it is easy to spot interesting cars. One, in particular, was a 1966 Ferrari 500 Superfast Pininfarina Series II (chassis 8897 SF). This matching numbers car  is the 37th and last 500 Superfast manufactured, and one of the only eight built in RHD configuration. Finished in Avorio over Beige leather, it was originally equipped with power windows, a rear window wiper and three air ducts on the front fender, as well air conditioning, and without rear seats. It was delivered in England, through Maranello Concessionaires (the dealership of official importer Colonel Ronnie Hoare), on August 6, 1966, and registered KGH 8D by its first owner. The car was soon modified, being given a heated rear screen, built-in compass, a burglar-proof switch fitted in the trunk, and a more powerful servo for the brakes. Some owners later, in 1993, it entered the ownership of the consignor, by then repainted in brighter shade of white. It has covered little more than 72,000 miles from new. Offered with an estimate of EUR 1.6–2.3 million, it fetched EUR 1,635,000.

Photo © Bernard Canonne.

One of the best purchases of the auction was made by the new owner of chassis #5421, a 1964 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 Pininfarina. This series 1, matching numbers car is the 28th of the series, and it came complete with a four-speed + overdrive transmission. Delivered new in Germany, it was repainted in red in the 1980s and remained this color until 2016, when it was completely restored in France and returned to its original Grigio Notte over Nero combination. It was offered with an estimate of EUR 275–325 K and sold for 253,000.

All photos except M. Delbo’s courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.

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