Words: Chris Rees
An extraordinary percentage of the highest-value cars sold at auction are Ferraris
It is a remarkable fact that, of the 20 highest prices ever achieved at auction for cars, no fewer than 15 are Ferraris. This is incontrovertible proof, if it were needed, that the brand from Maranello is definitively the most sought-after in the world.
Our list of the 10 most valuable Ferraris ever auctioned includes not only unique race-winning cars, but also elegant road cars owned by some of the greatest celebrities of their day.
1. Ferrari 250 GTO – $38,115,000
You’re looking at, definitively, the most valuable car in the world. The Ferrari 250 GTO has it all: the ultimate road car with a first-rate competition pedigree, as well as extreme rarity – just 36 examples were made between 1962 and 1964. The GTO that broke the $38 million barrier at Bonhams’ 2014 auction in California was raced by Jo Schlesser and Henri Oreiller in the 1962 Tour de France.
2. Ferrari 335 S – $35,711,359
The highest price ever achieved at auction in Europe – in excess of $35 million – came in 2016 when this 1957 Ferrari 335 S sold at Artcurial’s 2016 Paris sale. An official Scuderia Ferrari factory car, it was raced by Peter Collins and Maurice Trintignant in the Sebring 12 Hours, then Wolfgang von Trips in the Mille Miglia, and Stirling Moss and Masten Gregory in the 1958 Cuban Grand Prix.
3. Ferrari 290 MM – $28,050,000
Juan Manuel Fangio is regarded by many as the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time. So when his 1956 Ferrari 290 MM racing car came up for sale by RM Sotheby's in New York in 2015, excitement was feverish. After all, Fangio raced it in the 1956 Mille Miglia, while American driver Phil Hill won the World Sports Car Championship in it in 1956-1957.
4. Ferrari 275 GTS4 NART – $27,500,000
Rarity plays a major part in classic Ferrari values. The 275 GTS4 NART Spider is among the rarest, with just 10 examples made. These cars were built specifically to open-top specification for Luigi Chinetti, the US Ferrari importer and North American Racing Team (NART) owner. At the time it sold for $27.5 million at the RM Auctions Pebble Beach sale in 2013, it was the second highest price ever paid for a car.
5. Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione – $26,400,000
The 275 GTB is one of the most beautiful Ferraris ever built. As a road car, it was exceptional, but it also enjoyed a role as a racing car. In 1964, Carrozzeria Scaglietti took the GTB and lightened it by using thinner aluminium body panels and Plexiglas windows, while a more powerful version of the 3.2-litre V12 engine was fitted. This example fetched $26.4 million at RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale in 2014.
6. Ferrari 250 California – $18,500,000
Undoubtedly one of the prettiest convertibles of all time, only 55 examples of the 250 California were ever built. This one was owned by French actor Alain Delon but was hidden away for over 50 years before being rediscovered in a French farmhouse. When sold at Artcurial’s Paris auction, in 2015, it made a remarkable $18.5 million.
7. Ferrari 375 Plus – $18,400,177
The ferociously powerful 4.9-litre Ferrari 375 Plus racing car sold by Bonhams in 2014 for $18.4 million has an impressive CV. The Argentinean driver, José Froilán González, won in this car the Silverstone Formula 1 race in 1954. This car also won the Le Mans 24 Hour race the same year.
8. Ferrari 250 California – $18,150,000
Any 250 California is rare and desirable, but one in ‘Competizione’ spec is exceptionally desirable. As much was proven when Gooding & Company sold this example – one of only nine alloy-bodied LWB California Spiders – for over $18 million. It came fifth at the 1960 12 Hours of Sebring.
9. Ferrari 250 LM – $17,600,000
Ferrari’s mid-engined 250 LM was built for racing and only 32 examples were ever made. When this very fine 1964 example came up for sale in 2015 at RM Auctions’ Monterey auction in California, it broke yet another record, fetching $17.6 million.
10. Ferrari 250 California – $17,160,000
Another of the 55 examples of the 250 California built came up for sale at Gooding & Company’s Amelia Island auction in Florida in 2016. With only three Italian owners from when it was built and having featured in the film Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, it made over $17 million.