This 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO will likely be the most expensive car ever sold at auction

Summer might be just getting underway, but Monterey Car Week’s recently announced headliner has us wishing it was already August. Headed to the RM Sotheby’s auction block this year is the third 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO built, chassis number 3413, and by all accounts it is expected to break the world record for the most expensive car ever sold at auction. The current record of $38.1 million, also for a ’62 250 GTO, sold at Bonhams’ auction during Car Week in 2014.

The 250 GTO is, of course, the last word in collectible Ferraris. The final iteration of the much-adored 250 that Ferrari introduced in 1953, the GTO is considered the holy grail of classic ownership for a few reasons, not limited to the car’s stupendous racing cachet with victories in more than 300 races internationally. Ferrari built just 36 examples of the 250 GTO by the time production ended in 1964, all of which survived and are accounted for.

“The 250 GTO has always been the ultimate Ferrari GT car,” says Colin Comer, Hagerty’s  marketplace director. “It’s the last of the true dual-purpose road and race cars. In the Ferrari world there is no other model you can say you own that is a mic drop of similar proportions.”

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO side
Patrick Ernzen ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO front interior
Patrick Ernzen ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

While the car is certainly worthy of the showers of praise it receives, ownership of a 250 GTO is about more than the Ferrari in your garage. “Being one of the 36 people in the world to own a GTO gets you access to arguably the most exclusive club and community in the entire motoring world,” notes Hagerty Price Guide publisher Dave Kinney. That club’s extravagant, private dining, and driving tours started in 1982 under the stewardship of a group of French owners. Taking place every five years since, the gathering has become something of a legend in vintage collector circles. “I have literally fielded calls from wealthy collectors asking me to help them secure a GTO simply so they could take part in the GTO tour,” Comer says. “Of course, this was back when they were a mere $25–$35 million each.”

In period, chassis number 3413 started life as a Ferrari factory test car, driven in the 1962 Targa Florio with Phil Hill behind the wheel. After it sold to Italian gentleman racer Edoardo Lualdi-Gabardi; the car won nine of 10 races it entered in 1962. Gianni Bulgari, of the renowned jewelry company, became the car’s next owner, followed by Corrado Ferlaino, both of whom saw the car win in class at the 1963 and ’64 Targa Florio. In December 1963 the car underwent conversion at the Ferrari factory to more aerodynamic (albeit less iconic-looking) Series II bodywork. Otherwise 3413 retains its correct 300-hp V-12 engine, five-speed manual transmission with gated shifter, and original rear axle.

Since then, 3413 has been accounted for in the care of several renowned collectors, including the car’s current owner, Dr. Greg Whitten. After purchasing the car in 2000 for a reported $7M, Whitten ran the car extensively in the vintage racing circuit.

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO on the road
Patrick Ernzen ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

RM Sotheby’s pre-sale estimate for 250 GTO 3413 is at least $45M, and we’d be shocked if it went for anything less. Most expectations place it somewhere in the mid-$50M range, seeing as this is known to be a largely misfortune-free, well-sorted car with an extensive period and recent vintage racing pedigree. (The fact that it comes from a known and respected collector doesn’t hurt either.) According to Bryan Ballatore, Hagerty Eastern Region Vice President and former manager for avid Ferrari collector Bruce McCaw, a GTO of this quality very rarely comes to auction, and all signs point to this being a stellar opportunity for any would-be owner. “The car’s recent vintage racing activity tells me the owner enjoyed the car and took excellent care of it. You also love to see a GTO that’s been used for exactly what it was meant to do,” Ballatore says.

Another 250 GTO sold earlier this year in May, changing hands privately for a reported $70M. While that is by a wide margin the most expensive GTO ever sold, that car (chassis number 4153) has a much more extensive racing history that justifies the outlandish price tag. To name a few highlights, 4153 came fourth overall at Le Mans in 1963, before winning the Tour de France the following year in 1964. So while chassis number 3413 might not have quite the same racing success, 4153’s huge sale has certainly pushed up the baseline 250 GTO market in the eyes of several experts.

We’ll have to wait and see what the final tally comes down to when the hammer drops at the RM Sotheby’s auction in August, but excitement is already brewing around what is almost certainly going to be the most valuable car ever presented for public sale. To hear a car this special start up and drive onto the block might be alone worth the trip to Monterey. Don’t forget your salmon-hued trousers, either.

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO turning corner
Patrick Ernzen ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO engine
Patrick Ernzen ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's
1962 Ferrari 250 GTO back 3/4
Patrick Ernzen ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's
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