It’s been described as “the world’s most important, desirable, and legendary motor car.” Of course, that was by the people selling it, but the hyperbole must have worked somehow, because this 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO became the most expensive car ever sold at auction this weekend at an RM Sotheby’s sale during Monterey Car Week. The price tag: a staggering $48.4 million.
The auction shop won’t say who bought it (was it you? It was you, wasn’t it? Nice.) but the seller was Greg Whitten, an early Microsoft employee who is now slightly richer than he was Friday. Bloomberg reports this Ferrari smashed the old auction record, which was for a 1963 250 GTO sold for $38.1 million four years ago.
Nearly $50 million for any car is a shocking number, but the 250 GTO is no ordinary car. As the auction house notes, only 36 were ever made, and this one—chassis 3413—was one of just four upgraded at the time by Scaglietti and one of only seven to have this more aggressive coachbuilt body. From the listing:
Designed by Pininfarina, this improved bodywork was lower, wider, and shorter, with a more aerodynamic, steeply raked windshield, larger tires, wider track, and the engine sitting lower, all with the aim of improving handling and balance – a critical consideration on the curves and shorter straights through the towns and seaside hills along the coasts of Sicily.
It was driven by Phil Hill, one America’s greatest racing drivers, in the 1962 Targa Florio, and came in first in its class in the Targa Florio events the following two years. It hails from the golden age of modern racing, its 3.0-liter V12 engine and stunning design helping to make Ferrari into the legend it is today. This particular car’s history in both racing and private ownership is very much worth a read. It entered and finished 20 races in its career and remains absolutely period-correct today.
The 250 GTOs regularly command probably the highest prices for any cars sold. Earlier this year a 1963 GTO sold for a record $70 million in a private transaction, and in 2013 another GTO went for $52 million in another private sale. (The former car was reportedly bought by the founder of WeatherTech, so don’t let anyone tell you the floormat game isn’t lucrative as hell.)
Anyway, congrats to its new owner. I look forward to seeing it at a Cars and Coffee somewhere.