Monterey never disappoints as a premium venue for the best cars coming to market. With specialists from five auction houses scouring the globe for the best and freshest cars, auction-goers have no shortage of fantastic machinery to ogle. And buyers have their pick.
But this year, Gooding & Company has seemingly iced the cake with its 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, s/n 0666 TR. Just 34 Testa Rossas were built, and this one happens to be the very first. As such, its history is one of trial and error, as the factory used it to discover what worked and what didn't in its sensuous new breed of sports racer.
In the annals of Ferrari racing history, the car's record is rather insignificant; it ratcheted up more DNFs in international competition than it did podium finishes, and a rather unknown chap managed to crash it heavily at Le Mans in 1958.
But racing provenance isn't the concern of interested parties who will be in the Gooding tent and on the phones come Aug. 20. No, when lot 18 crosses the block, what will matter most is 0666's significance as the test bed for one of the most seductive and iconic sports racers of all time.
Testa Rossas aren't exactly newbies on the auction block in recent years. In fact, the current record for a car sold at auction is held by another TR, s/n 0714 TR, which RM Auctions moved in May 2009 at its Maranello, Italy, auction for the princely sum of $12.4m. The Canadian auction house failed to sell another TR, s/n 0738 TR, at its annual Monterey sale in 2010, declaring the car not sold at $10.7m.
So if a "regular" TR made $12.4m, and another "regular" TR was bid to seven figures, where does that put Gooding's Testa Rossa? The latest Hagerty Price Guide pegs the current TR market for examples you’d want to own (but who wouldn’t want to own any one of these things, really?) at $7.7m–$10.8m, which of course falls well below record money.
But historically, "firsts" and "lasts" of any model have done well against those cars that came somewhere in the middle of production — in this case the “regular” Testa Rossas. It's hard to imagine the same won't hold true in this instance, and that could and should make all the difference. In fact, it's a safe bet the Gooding Testa Rossa will be an all-or-nothing affair: It will sell for record money, or it won't sell at all. It will receive big cheers and popping flashbulbs, or the collective sigh of disappointment in the tent will be audible in Maranello.
The pre-sale estimate is undisclosed, but you can see for yourself what transpires by watching the sale live, starting at 5pm PST on Saturday, August 20, at www.goodingco.com.
Stefan Lombard is the Managing Editor of Hagerty magazine.