On September 9, Ferrari made history when the 210th model of its 2017 Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta sold for $10 million — the highest value that any modern car has been auctioned off for in the 21st century. Even without the newly-set world record, the LaFerrari Aperta’s reigning position at the top of the list of cars sold at RM Sotheby’s Ferrari 2017 auction is a remarkable feat on its own.
Of the 20 cars that had fetched over a million dollars at the Ferrari auction in Maranello last week, the LaFerrari Aperta is only one of five cars built in the last two decades to have gone under the hammer. The rest of the list is peppered with classic models of the late 1950s to early 1970s, back when founder Enzo Ferrari’s DNA was still very much part of every car rolling out of the factory.
It isn’t hard to see why the Ferrari’s vintage models perform exceptionally well at auctions. Now seven decades old, Ferrari boasts a rich heritage that is unparalleled by any other carmaker. The roots of Ferrari’s glory lie in Formula 1: Scuderia Ferrari is the only team to have participated in all editions of the Formula One World Championship since its inception in 1950. It has since gone on to hold the most constructors’ championships and the highest number of winning drivers.
Ferrari’s racing success is indebted, of course, to its marvellous cars. Since 1947, the Italian carmaker has released some of the most phenomenal grand touring cars ever known, from the Ferrari 250 series and the F40 to the Dino 246 and the Testarossa. It is these cars, now highly-prized rarities in the auction world, that many a multimillionaire Ferrari collector is eager to get their hands on. (Call it their raison d’être, if you will.)
When they do go up for auction, though, these Prancing Horses go down in the pages of history books. In light of the record-breaking sale of the LaFerrari Aperta and as a tribute to the iconic Italian carmaker’s 70th anniversary, we revisit the 5 most expensive Ferrari cars to ever go under the hammer.
5. 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale
Kicking off the list is one of only three 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciales ever built. Like the rest of the trio, the pictured chassis number 6701 was made for racing, as indicated by the “C” (which stands for Competizione) in the car’s name. Designed by Pininfarina, the car’s body was based on the 275 GTB road car and built by Scaglietti. Modifications such as lightweight aluminium body panels and thinner chassis tubes were made to reduce the weight of the car and make it more ideal for racing. The 275 GTB/C also came with a 316bhp 3.2-litre V12 engine; when it fetched $26.4 million at RM Sotheby’s Auction’s Monterey sale in 2014, it became the most expensive front-engined car ever sold at the event.
4. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S NART Spider
It may be number 4 on this list, but don’t underestimate the merits of the 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider. For a time, in fact, the car was the world’s second most expensive car to be auctioned when it made $27.5 million in 2013 during Pebble Beach by RM Auctions. The car was only one of 10 Ferrari 275s ever built specifically in an open-top and Spider configuration, as requested by Ferrari importer Luigi Chinetti. Far surpassing its pre-auction estimate of between $14 million and $17 million, the 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB remains the most desirable Ferrari droptop of all time. Its appeal wasn’t lost on celebrities either; Hollywood legend Steve McQueen owned his very own model, which later went under the hammer in 2014.
3. 1956 Ferrari 290 MM
The 1956 Ferrari 290 MM is the stuff of legends, and for legends. This red sports car — complete with the classic race car Ferrari styling — comes with a lot of history, dating from way before it was even sold in 2015 at RM Sotheby’s New York sale. Christened as “the Holy Grail for car collectors and aficionados the world over”, the car is only one of four 290 MM’s ever built. Chassis 0626, however, was extra special: it was built for El Maestro himself — that is, Juan Manuel Fangio, who is widely heralded as the greatest Formula One racers of all time. The car has even had a taste of the adrenaline on the racetracks when it finished fourth at the 1956 Mille Miglia with Fangio behind the wheel. It was also later raced by Phil Hill, the sole US-born Formula One champion, securing the crown at the World Sports Car Championship in 1956/57. Despite its long and storied racing career that lasted until 1964, the car has never once crashed, which is great for whoever bought it for $28 million two years ago.
2. 1957 Ferrari 335S
Racing is in the lifeblood of Ferrari, and it’s exactly what fuelled the 1957 Ferrari 335S. As an official Scuderia Ferrari factory team car, chassis 0674 has switched hands from the likes of Peter Collins and Maurice Trintignant for the Sebring 12 hours, to Wolfgang von Trips for the Mille Miglia. The sports car had only brought its owners to the sixth and second place respectively, but it finally tasted victory when it won the 1958 Cuban Grand Prix in Havana in the hands of Stirling Moss and Masten Gregory. A racing car in every sense, the 335S eventually found itself in Pierre Bardinon’s world-famous private collection of winning Ferraris. Thankfully, it didn’t stay that way forever. In 2016, Paris by Artcurial sold the blue chip Ferrari for $35.7 million — the second highest dollar price ever paid for a car at a public auction, and the highest ever for an auction in Europe.
1. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
The most valuable car in the world boasts the perfect combination of performance, good looks — and scarcity. In fact, Ferrari only made 39 models of the 250 GTO between 1962 and 1964. Functioning as both a road car and a race car, the 250 GTO was at the pinnacle in Ferrari design and engineering at its debut. The one that tops this list, however, wasn’t even in mint condition when it went under the hammer in 2014 at Bonham’s Quail Lodge Auction in California. The car first raced in the 1962 Tour de France Automobile at the hands of French racer Jo Schlesser and ski racer Henri Oreiller. The French pair took the car out for its second spin at the Coupes du Salon race, which ultimately led to a crash that killed Oreiller. The badly-damaged car was then returned to the factory for repairs before it was resold several times and finally retained by the Maranello Rosso Collezione. The jaw-dropping $38.1 million price tag is a testament to the unparalleled lure of the 250 GTO line, which counts celebrities such as fashion designer Ralph Lauren and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason as fans. The sale is also reflective of Ferrari’s position in the world of cars: sitting nicely at the top, timeless and incomparable.